With strong support from the community, Friends of the Weavers are passionate about instilling a renewed sense of identity and pride in the Calton area through its weaving history. Now young people and older adults are living, learning and working together to revive the strong human relationships that once characterised the area. Celebrating Calton’s weaving history is providing the foundation for a renewed sense of community spirit and positive identity.
The Calton weavers from the East End of Glasgow became Scotland’s first working-class martyrs. The weavers had been on strike for twelve weeks as a protest against a cut in wages. On previous occasions strikes had been resolved by settlement but in 1787 the army was sent in and six weavers were killed. 6000 people attended the funerals.
Looms and webs burn in the background as the militia march away leaving the weavers to tend to the dead and wounded. A banner with the weavers’ traditional slogan frames the group. Currie explains, ‘I decided to show the aftermath of the massacre in order to highlight its intense tragedy’. The incident was the earliest recorded industrial dispute in Scotland and the weavers who died were buried in the Calton Cemetery in Abercromby Street.
Sadly this piece of history and the story of the weavers had been almost forgotten locally until the Friends of the Weavers was set up by the Calton people in 2007 to promote and interpret the weaving history of Glasgow. ‘Weaving Yarns’ has been made possible by funding provided to Friends of the Weavers, the Scottish Community Foundation and Generations Working Together.
A community artist and a storyteller were enlisted to work with Primary 7 pupils to capture their interest from a series of historical visits. For the older participants, the visits and work with the story-teller stimulated their memories of stories handed down. The two groups came together in celebratory events where they shared their knowledge and interest. As long as the wider Friends of the Weavers project continues, so will intergenerational activities. In addition, the project has provided an ideal vehicle for a wide range of Curriculum for Excellence outcomes.
The people behind this project are all community-based volunteers who are passionate about promoting the history and heritage of their local area. Key challenges have been dealing with the business side of the project and developing management skills. They have had support from Clyde Gateway (the local regeneration organisation) and Culture and Sport Glasgow. Hopefully they will continue to be key sources of support along with Community Learning staff.
What has been learned:
- do research to become knowledgeable about the past
- build your own and others’ confidence step at a time
- be positive and engage all of the community.
“The history should be put up in lights. I have spoken to people who have lived in this area for 20 years and they don’t know about the weavers. The story has just been forgotten.” Local resident and project champion Joanna Moore.
To listen to Joanne speak enthusiastically about the project go to Open Source Audio – Calton Weavers. Aficionados of Scottish folk will be familiar with the ‘Calton Weaver’ song, also known as ‘Nancy Whiskey’. To listen to the Calton Weaver sung by Hamish Imlach and see the old weaving images on YouTube click here