The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #151940   Message #3551642
Posted By: Jim Carroll
22-Aug-13 - 03:22 AM
Thread Name: Linen Industry Songs
Subject: RE: Linen Industry Songs
RE earlier posting
Sorry - did it in a hurry - the name I suggested was Maurice Leyden, he is originally from Cookstown in County Tyrone and has dedicated a huge amount of time to research on the the songs of the weaving industry.
I was lucky enough a few years ago to attend one of his talks - fascinating stuff.
His edited book of songs 'Belfast, City of Song, gives five titles in the chapter headed 'Cotton and Linen.:
Campbell's Mill, The Cotton Mill Song, Young McCance, You might Easy Know a Doffer and The Doffing Mistress.
These links will give an overview of his work - I think the BBC one is now defunct, but it gives examples of some of that work.
Just Googling his name brings up loads more to follow through.
Hard to know from your posting, but if it's just songs you're looking for - plenty about - particularly in the Sam Henry collection.
If you want to go further, you could do worse than seeking out a copy of 'Picking Up The Linen Threads - A study in industrial folklore' by Betty Messenger.
One of the best contemporary (1960s) songs about the textile industry was written by Pete Smith of Manchester, who was a shop steward at Clayton Aniline, a firm making dyestuffs for The ICI, and was so appalled at the conditions there he wrote this.

1 Been working at dyework for nearly five years ,
Been charging the naptha's that give yer the pap*,
They send it from I.C.I.* for us to shove in
This vitrol and chloric as makes us all thin.

2 Well arise up for Clayton at five in the morn,
And for smoke and for fumes, yer can't see the dawn,
I'm releivin' old Albert, he's been here all night,
The poor old bugger looks barely alive.

3 Well, 'is chest is sunk in and his belly's popped out out,
And believe me, my friends, I't's not bacco or stout –
It's the napthas and paras* have rotted his bowels,
While making bright colours for Whitsuntide clothes.

4 I gave him my milk ration* and packed him off home,
I've five tons of this naphtha to charge on me own,
I'm wet through with steam and the sweat of me back
And through wieldin' this shovel, I'm beginning to crack.

5 Well I'm damned if I'll work in this hole any more,
For my belly feels tight and my chest is right sore-
I think of old Albert his face white and drawn,
He'll be back here tonight and just prayin' for dawn.

* Pap Nickname for a liver disease caused by fumes from dyes
* Vitrol and chloric - chemicals used in making dyes
* I.CI. is pronounced " ICKEY' - Industrial Chemical Industry
* Milk ration - ref to custom of giving a daily pint of milk to workers who were constantly in contact with cancerous chemicals.
Jim Carroll