Henry's Songbook

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Women O' Dundee

  • (Sheena Wellington)

    And the wailin' o' the bummer and the clackin' o' the looms
    Brocht the women o' Dundee oot o' their bed
    And they walked tae mills and factories and they wrought fae seven tae four
    And the women kept the bairns o' Dundee fed

    The men they were nae lazy but the wark was hard tae find
    The parish and the means test they'd tae face
    But the lassies' hands were nimble and the lassies' wages small
    So the women o' Dundee warked in their place

    My mother and my granny and my aunties ain and a'
    Went tae the looms the day they left the school
    They didnae wark for freedom, independence or the rest
    They just warked tae get some kitchen tae their kail

    The rhythm o' their livin' was the clackin' o' the looms
    Their youth and health and strength was lost tae jute
    But the weavers and the spinners and the winders o' Dundee
    Had a spirit that the hard times never beat

    You may boast your noble lineage and sing of your highland clan
    And hail some gallant chief who shares your name
    But my line's as good as any and I'm very proud tae say
    It was fae a Dundee weaver that I came

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1979:] 'The life of the women workers of Dundee right up to the thirties was ... a living hell of hard work and poverty. It was a common sight to see women, after a long ten-hour-day in the mill, running to the stream wash-houses with the family washing. They worked up to the last few days before having their bairns. Often they would call in at the calenders from their work and carry home bundles of sacks to sew. These were paid for at the rate of 5d for 25, 6d for a coarser type of sack. Infant and maternal mortality in Dundee was the highest in the country.' (Mary Brooksbank, 'No Sae Lang Syne: A Tale of This City', quoted in Henderson/Armstrong 154f)

  • [1986:] From the latter half of the 19th century until the late 1960s, Dundee was the centre of a thriving jute industry, which employed a large segment of the town's labour, adults and children alike. For most of the 20th century women dominated the workforce. Men were due pay rises at the ages of 16, 18 and 21, and employers often preferred to lay men off rather than grant the extra wages. There is some evidence to suggest that men were not keen to adopt the new power looms when they were introduced in the 19th century, and so the employers willingly replaced the workforce with women. This also ties in with the theory that the employers, keen to avoid strike action from the male unions, found women 'more manageable'. It was quite common for a married woman to go out to work at the mill, and for her husband to stay at home, looking after the house and children. (Gatherer 80)

  • [1990:] My home town of Dundee was for many years dependent on the jute trade. Women were the mainstay of the labour force, partly through aptitude and partly because they could be paid less than men. The working conditions were hard, noisy and dirty - the fine jute stoor got in hair, eyes, clothes and lungs - but the women survived by strength, spirit and solidarity. In 1906, dissatisfied with the male-dominated textile Workers Union, they formed their own Jute and Flax Workers Union, half of whose Executive Committee had to be women. They also managed to raise fine families, often in appalling slum conditions. This song is for these women of Dundee, particularly of my own family, with respect and love. (Notes Sheena Wellington, 'Clearsong')

Quelle: Scotland

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aktualisiert am 11.06.2002