AT ONE time, one in five households in the world had a Singer Sewing Machine.

And such was success of the machine, it helped create and develop the town that is Clydebank.

The incredible story of how a sewing machine factory changed the face of the west of Scotland, and the imprint it had on the world, is told in a new documentary.

The Singer Story: Made In Clydebank, offers a fascinating insight into how a new industry impacted on a world and changed an incredible amount of lives.

The sewing machine was the brainchild of an American, Isaac Singer, who patented his first model in 1851.

But Glasgow wasn’t chosen to become a major manufacturing centre because of assumed lurking talents.

Social and Economic Historian, s Dr Valerie Wright says; “Kilbowie in Glasgow was chosen because it had a cheap labour force.”

And there was the River Clyde, of course, which provided a distribution outlet.

The massive factory opened in 1884, a mile and a half wide, where every part of the machine was built in Glasgow.

The machines were enamelled and finished in gold leaf, a “technological marvel,” but the tooling and engineering departments were dark and dirty.

At first sold to factories, sometimes a thousand at the time, the machines were even used for bookbinding. But the machines were hugely expensive. They would have cost a worker half a year’s salary.

Singer however came up with the Hire Purchase scheme, where individuals could pay for their machine over a number of years.

Sales rocketed, from 5- 20,000 in the first year.

The company were also leaders in marketing. They put beautiful women in shop windows to demonstrate the machines. Meanwhile, salesmen approached every home in Britain.

But Singer’s was also a social development centre. Many young people who came to work their were clearly unused to mixing with the opposite sex.

Colin Scott recalls his terrifying beginnings as an office boy. “Sometimes I had to go into areas that were all females and I had to endure some really rude remarks,” he says, smiling.

“Then a voice would call out ‘That’s my wee brother. Leave him alone. He’s a virgin – and that’s the way he’s going to stay!’ ”

Friendships formed that have lasted until today. Women recalled entering the men’s work areas, to have their eardrums blasted by over-excited men banging hammers and spanners.

Singer’s history also includes dark chapters. Sexism was rife. Women were paid far less than men. “The girls weren’t happy about that,” says Anna.

In 1911, the women led the famous strike. Then the whole factory came out. “Red Clydeside began in Clydebank,” says Dr Wright.

But the strike had its impact. Management made moves to placate the workers, setting up football teams, galas and tennis courts.

One year Hollywood film star Dorothy Lamour was drafted in to open the Gala.

After the war, the demand for sewing machines soared. Saville Row loved them.

But there would come a time, when the world stopped sewing and bought cheap imported clothes from abroad.

The documentary features a wealth of archive film, running through to the factory’s demise in June, 1980.

Former worker Isa McKenzie is clearly emotional as she recalls that fateful moment.

“No one ever though Singer would close,” she says, “because it had been such a big part of our lives.

“You thought it would be there for ever.”

The Singer Story: Made In Clydebank, BBC1 Scotland, Wednesday, 9pm.