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Scots Sangs An Tunes Fur Schools

Traditional and new Scots songs and tunes
for use in Scottish schools - and everywhere else

Coalmining Songs

About Coalmining Songs

The most popular Scots coalmining song for schools is Matt McGin''s Coorie Doon.  

Others on this site are The Blantyre ExplosionCollier Sweetheart and Winter Sun.

Scroll down for song lyrics of Collier Laddie [a very old beautiful song of love], The Little Collier Slave [till 1799 Scottish colliers were slaves], My Collier Sweetheart [a song about a 1921 pit disaster in Plean beside Stirling], and Working At The Washing Rake [a girl laments her hard work at the pithead].

 The site Collier Tracks has many more Scottish coalmining song lyrics and information about them. Press here.

Lanarkshire songwriter Billy Stewart has written a whole album of fine songs about coalmining, including THE GARRIONGILL, TWELVE FOOT DOWN AND DROPPING, JIMMY DID YOU HEAR, and OLD KING COLE.

To contact him go to http://www.billystewart.co.uk/



I've traivelled east and I've traivelled west
And I hae been tae Kirkcaldy,
But the bonniest lass that e'er I spied
She was followin her collier laddie.

O whaur live ye my bonnie lass?
Come tell me what they caa ye.
Bonnie Jean Gordon is my name,
And I'm following ma collier laddie.

See ye not yon high high hills
That the sun shines on sae brawly?
They are mine and they shall be thine,
Gin ye'll leave yer collier laddie.

Though ye had aa the sun shines on,
And the earth conceals sae lowly,
l wad turn my back on you and yours
And follow my collier laddie.

Then he has gane to her faither dear,
To her faither gane sae brawly;
Says: Will ye gie me your bonnie, bonnie lass
That's followin' a collier laddie?

Her faither then he vowed and swore
Though he be black he's bonnie;

She's mair delight in him, I fear,
Than in you wi' a' your money.

O, I can win my five pennies a day,
And spend it at nicht fu brawly,
And I'll mak my bed in the collier's neuk
And lie doon wi my collier laddie.

Love for love is the bargain for me,
Though the wee cot-hoose should haud me,
And the world before me to win my breid,
And fair faa my collier laddie.

By Ewan McVicar

Tune The Handloom Weaver and the Factory Maid

I'm a handloom spinner, and my tale is sad
I fell in love with a collier lad
My father slighted him and his, and so
I went to live down in the Collier's Row

My mother tore her hair and wrung her hands
She cried aloud to hear the wedding banns
But still she helped me when my time had come
And I brought forth my little collier son

My little collier, born to be a slave
To wear his master's collar and be brave
To delve below the ground all alone
And listen every day for falling stone.

Until 1799 Scottish colliers were slaves, they and their families could not leave their employment.

By Ewan McVicar
Tune Original

When you work at the washing rake
Picking out stones while your fingernails break
Your hair gets grubby and your muscles ache
Working at the washing rake

Up at the big house, I've been told
Are fine young ladies decked in gold
Dining on tea and cake
Not like here at the washing rake

Take take take me away
Over the hills and far off
Take take take me to where
I can't hear old miners cough

Broken old miners, cheeky young boys
Noise and dirt, dirt and noise
God have pity, come and take me
Far away from the washing rake.


Collected by Stravaig member Phyllis Martin from 87 year old Agnes Mclean, a miner's daughter, at Kirkconnel.

O the collier lad he's my delight
He comforts me baith day and night
And though he's black his money's white
And ah dearly lo'e the collier o

O ma mither sent me tae the well
Tae get some water for ma tea
Ah tripped on a stane an doon ah fell
And a collier lad cam coortin me

O ah wish ah was a collier's wife
Then ah would live a happy life
A happy live as a collier's wife
And a lang lie in the mornin o

Ma mither warned me awfu weel
A wee wee bag would haud ma meal
And we'd aa gae mairchin tae the deil
The day ah merrit a collier o


Words Norman Buchan

Tune Skipping Barfit Through The Heather

In Auchengeich there stands a pit
The wheel above, it isna turnin
For on a grey Septmenber morn
The flames o Hell below were burnin

Though in below the coal lay rich
It's richer noo, for aw that burnin
For forty seven brave men are dead
Tae wives and sweethearts ne?er returnin

The seams are thick in Auchengeich
The coal below is black and glistenin
But och, its cost is faur ower dear
For human lives there is nae reckonin

Oh better though we'd never wrocht
A thousand years o work an greivin
The coal is black like the mournin shroud
The women left behind arre weavin

By Sheila Douglas

Ma faither workit doun the pit
He wis gey prood o it
Tae dae ony ither wark wis niver his dream
Ilkie day o life that he gaed tae the seams

There's the wee pick, an the big pick
The knee-pads an the lamp-check
The helmet an the blue dust
Ingrained in his hauns

There?s the back shift, the early shift
Wi nae sign o sun or lift
Down in the roads whaur the Fife miner stuns

He wrocht hard, he wrocht lang

His days they were aye thrang
An when he cam hame, he wis tired fit tae drop
I mind how my mither toiled
Tae get plenty water boiled

For the tin bath an the wash tub
Tae clean him tae tae top

But these days are past an gane
Naethin is noo the same

The miner's redundant, the pits aa awa
Afore my day is dune
I?ll be shair tae tell ma son
Aa the memories o the miner that I can recaa

When I was engaged a coalbearer to be
When I was engaged a coalbearer to be
Through all the coal pits I maun wear the don brat [apron]
If my heart it should break I can never win free

The collier has a dochter
And oh, she's wonderous bonnny
A laird he was that sought her
Rich baith in lands and money
She wadna hae a laird
Nor wad she be a lady
But she wad hae a collier
The colour o her daddie

O when she come ben she bobbit fu law
O when she come ben she bobbit fu law
O when she come ben she kissed Cockpen
And syne she denied she did it at aa

And was na Cockpen right saucy withaa
And was na Cockpen right saucy withaa
In leavin the cdochter o a lord
And kissin a collier lassie an aa

O never look down, my lassie, at aaa
O never look down, my lassie, at aaa
Thy lips are as sweet and thy figure complete
As the finest dame in castle or haa

Tho thou hast nae silk and holland sae sma
Tho thou hast nae silk and holland sae sma
Thy coat and thy sark are thine ain handywark
And Lady Jean was never sae braw

Other Scottish miners' songs you can look for include
The Colliers' Eight Hour Day

The Donibristle Disaster
The Starlaw Disaster
Down In A Coal Mine
The Garriongill
The Pitman?s Union
The Model Village Plean
The Truck masters