Scots Sangs Fur Schools

Traditional and new Scots songs for use in Scottish schools

COLLIER SWEETHEART

Ewan McVicar was asked to write songs with the P5 class in East Plean Primary School, near Stirling. Ewan’s mother was born in Plean and Ewan remembered that his grandfather, Hugh Reynolds, had told him about being in a mining disaster. Ewan's grandfather had heard the sound of the 1921 explosion when he was hewing (cutting coal) in the next-door pit. Ewan looked up old newspapers to get details of what happened. Then he and P5 wrote this song.


My mother said I could not have a collier

If I did it would break her heart

I didn’t care what my mother told me

I had a collier for my sweetheart

 

But one day up Cadger’s Loan

The siren screamed at Pit Four head

All of Plean ran to find out

How many living, how many dead?

 

Lowsing time in the Carbrook Dook

The young shotfirer fired his shot

Dynamite blew up the section

Twelve lads dead, seventy caught

 

Their holiday bags were lying waiting

The men were lying down below

he wee canaries they died too

Salty tears in the sad Red Rows

 

The young shotfirer had no certificate

My young collier gave his life

Fate was cruel to my sweetheart

And I will never be a wife

 

My mother said I could not have a collier

If I did it would break her heart

I didn’t care what my mother told me

I had a collier for my sweetheart


A collier is a coal miner. Cadger’s Loan ran from Plean village up the hill to where the coal pits were. The Loan has been renamed President Kennedy Avenue.

The shotfirer is the man who bores a hole, packs it with dynamite, then fires the dynamite to open up a new area of rock for the miners to get the coal from.

The men expected to come up after their shift and collect their holiday bags for their annual two weeks' holiday from work. The miners lived in streets called the Red Rows, because they were built of red brick.

The first verse is from a traditional song about a girl who wants to marry a coal miner. The tune is sometimes called 'Willie Taylor'.

'Collier Sweetheart' was written for a Stirling Tolbooth project.

'Collier Sweetheart'

Performed by Ewan McVicar, accompanying himself on guitar and mouth organ.