Thomas Morton

1783 - 1862

Engineer and inventor. Born in Mauchline (East Ayrshire), Morton is best known as a scientific instrument maker, notably constructing a number of fine telescopes. Based in Kilmarnock, he invented a barrel loom revolutionised carpet-making in the town. When asked to mend a barrel organ, he realised the same principle could be used to encode the patterns necessary for weaving a carpet. He made instruments for Sir John Ross (1777 - 1856), the Arctic explorer.

He died in Kilmarnock and lies buried in the graveyard of the Old High Kirk. He gave his name to Morton Place, to the west of the centre of the town, where he built an Astronomical Observatory in 1818.

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