Oops! This site has expired. If you are the site owner, please renew your premium subscription or contact support.

Scots Sangs An Tunes Fur Schools

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

Songs Of Thread And Cloth

The songs in this section are about weaving at home and about working in a thread mill.

Weaving At Home - The Shuttle Rins

Working In A Thread Mill - Shift And Spin

Below are lyrics for more songs:

Bannockburn Tartan [making cloth in an old factory], 

The Handloom Weaver’s Lament [a sad working song], 

The Handloom Weaver and the Factory Maid [a sad love song], 

Oh Dear Me [a sad song about working hard in the mill], 

 and The Wark O The Weavers [handloom weavers sing of their work].


By BORESTONE PS, P6 with Ewan McVicar for the Tolbooth Project
Tune: Calleen Morunsa

Bannockburn tartan, the best in the land.
Made by our nimble and hardworking hands.
Fourteen long hours a day we must stand,
For Bannockburn tartan, the best in the land.

Five in the morning we rise from our beds.
We don't go to school, to the factory instead.
Drowsy and hungry we trudge to the mill,
Down by the burn at the foot of the hill.

The dyers of Stirling they send us their thread,
Blue black and yellow, grey brown and red.

We have to weave them on the machines,
Then there is tartan fit for the Queen.

Plaids kilts and stockings made by us bairns,
For our brave Highland battalions to wear.
We work like men, in the heat and the cold,
Though some of us are just eight years old.

The factories were a few hundred yards from where the school now stands.

By Ewan McVicar  Tune Shift and Spin

Shift and spin, weave and twine
Making cloth coarse and fine
Poor folk work while rich folk dine
Make your shuttle fly

Spin your yarn, spin it well
Spin enough to weave an ell
Weave enough to claith yersel
Make yer shuttle fly

As the spinning mills come in
We'll go there, our bread to win
Singing sadly in the din
Workin in the mill

Traditional song rewritten by Archie Fisher and Ewan McVicar

I’m a handloom weaver to my trade
Long time I’ve courted a factory maid
And if I could her kind favour win
I’d stand beside her and weave by steam

My father often times to me has said
‘How can you fancy a factory maid
When you could have girls of grace and style
More fit to win a master weaver’s smile?’

But the daisy portion of my father’s age
Is withered now to a meagre wage
The dark mill factories of Anderstown
Have brought the prices and the weavers down

Where are the girls now? I’ll tell you plain
The girls have all gone to weave by steam
And if you’d find them you must rise at dawn
And trudge to the mill in the early morn

By Mary Brooksbank of Dundee

Oh dear me, the mill's gaen fast,
The puir wee shifters canna get their rest,
Shiftin bobbins, coorse and fine,
They fairly mak ye work for your ten and nine.

Oh dear me, I wish the day was done,
Rinnin up and doon the pass is nae fun.
Shiftin, piecin, spinnin, warp, weft and twine,
Tae feed and cleed my bairnies affen ten and nine.

Oh dear me, the world's ill-divided,
Them that work the hardest are the least provided,
But I maun bide contented, dark days or fine.
There's no much pleasure living affen ten and nine.

An old song by David Shaw

We're aa met thegither here tae sit an tae crack,
Wi' oor glesses in oor hands an oor wark upon oor back
There's nae a trade amang them aa can either mend or mak,
If it wasna for the wark o the weavers.


If it wasna for the weavers what wad we do?
We wadna hae claith made oot o oor woo
We wadna hae a coat, naa, neither black nor blue,
If it wasna for the wark o the weavers.

There's some folk independent o ither tradesmen's wark,
For women need nae barber an dykers need nae clerk
But there's none o them can dae withoot a coat or a sark,
No, they canna want the wark o the weavers.

There's smiths an there's wrights and there's mason chiels an aa,
There's doctors an there's meenisters an them that live by law,
An oor freens that bide oot ower the sea in South America,
They aa need the wark o the weavers.

Oor sodgers an oor sailors, we ken they’re aa bauld,
For gin they hadna claes, faith, they couldna fecht for cauld
The high an low, the rich an puir - aabody young an auld,
They aa need the wark o the weavers.

The weavin is a trade that never can fail,
Sae lang's we need ae cloot tae keep a body hale,
Sae let us aa be merry ower a bicker o guid ale
An drink tae the health o the weavers.

This tune was used for the 1970s song If It Wisnae For Yer Wellies.]