Showing posts with label Dick Gaughan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dick Gaughan. Show all posts

Friday, November 01, 2013

The Balladeer of Revolution

The current issue of the Socialist Standard has a sympathetic review of a Dick Gaughan gig. So Socialist Courier thought a clip of Dick singing about the major topic of the media since Russell Brand's Paxman interview and a subject that this blog has had several posts about - a song about revolution. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Workers Song

The Workers Song

Yeah, this one's for the workers who toil night and day
By hand and by brain to earn your pay
Who for centuries long past for no more than your bread
Have bled for your countries and counted your dead

In the factories and mills, in the shipyards and mines
We've often been told to keep up with the times
For our skills are not needed, they've streamlined the job
And with slide-rule and stop-watch our pride they have robbed

We're the first ones to starve, we're the first ones to die
The first ones in line for that pie-in-the-sky
And we're always the last when the cream is shared out
For the worker is working when the fat cat's about

And when the sky darkens and the prospect is war
Who's given a gun and then pushed to the fore
And expected to die for the land of our birth
Though we've never owned one  handful of earth?

All of these things the worker has done
From tilling the fields to carrying the gun
We've been yoked to the plough since time first began
And always expected to carry the can

Monday, October 22, 2012

No one is forgotten and nothing is forgotten

A few hundred yards from where missionary David Livingstone was born, stood five pits run by William Dixon Ltd. Together they produced hundreds of thousands of tons of coal and made wealthy men of the mine owners. In 1871, the first two pits were sunk in High Blantyre and by 1876 there were 8 pits in production in the area. The demand for an increased labour force was high, and there was reluctance among the local mill and farm workers to work in the new mines. This labour force was found principally in Irish emigrants who were refugees from the suffering and deprivation caused by the potato famine in Ireland (and later many Lithuanians both of whom the coalmasters exploited to full advantage, particularly in times of industrial unrest).  Blantyre was at this time; "a district of pits, engine houses, smoke and grime" and led to the nickname "Dirty Auld Blantyre". The miners and their families carried out back-breaking work for little more than a pittance and were housed in cramped tied cottages. The High Blantyre pits were known locally as "The Fiery Mine" because of the heavy presence of a gas called firedamp, which consisted chiefly of methane.

The Blantyre mining disaster, on  22 October 1877, in Blantyre, Scotland, was and remains Scotland’s worst mining accident. Pits No. 2 and No. 3 of William Dixon's Blantyre Colliery were the site of an explosion which killed 207 miners, the youngest being a boy of 11. The accident left 92 widows and 250 fatherless children.

Repeated complaints about the working conditions at High Blantyre had been ignored. In fact, a year before, Blantyre miners had been so fearful for their safety in the mines that, when Dixon's refused them a wage rise to compensate, they went on strike and were immediately sacked. They and their families were evicted from their homes, with police officers using clubs on hand if necessary. Just two months before in Dixon's number 2 pit,  Joe McInulty had died of severe burns after an explosion of "firedamp" which had also injured his two younger brothers Robert and Andrew, leaving them also badly burnt. Despite this tragic occurrence and the concerns of the miners themselves, Dixon's pits were not considered by the management to be particularly dangerous, all the pits in this area were subject to "firedamp" and it was accepted as being part of everyday mining life. The mine was known to be very gassy but complaints by miners a few days before the disaster were fobbed off by the foreman, Joseph Gilmour. He told the miners 'There'll not be a man fall in this pit, I'll guarantee that'.

Six months after the accident, Dixon's raised summonses against 34 widows whose husbands had been killed and who had not left the tied cottages which they and their husbands had rented from the mining company. The Sheriff stated that it was out of kindness that the company had allowed them to remain in their houses for so long. One widow claimed that they had a cruel way of showing their kindness. They were evicted two weeks later, on 28 May 1878. No-one knows what became of these unfortunate widows and their children. In all probability they had to seek accommodation in the Poor House. The ejection of the Blantyre widows was a disgraceful end to the tragic story of the Blantyre explosion.

On 5th March 1878 at Dixon's No. 3 pit six men were killed in a cage accident.

On 2 July 1879, there was a second explosion at Dixon's Pit No. 1, with the loss of 28 lives.


By Clyde's bonny banks where I sadly did wander
Among the pit heaps as evening drew nigh,
I spied a young woman all dressed in deep mourning,
A-weeping and wailing with many a sigh.

I stepped up beside her and thus I addressed her:
"Pray tell me the cause of your trouble and pain." Weeping and sighing, at last she made answer;
"Johnny Murphy, kind sir, was my true lover's name.

"Twenty-one years of age, full of youth and good looking, To work down the mines of High Blantyre he came,
The wedding was fixed, all the guests were invited
That calm summer evening young Johnny was slain.

The explosion was heard, all the women and children With pale anxious faces they haste to the mine.
When the truth was made known, the hills rang with their mourning,
Two-hundred-and-ten young miners were slain.

Now husbands and wives and sweethearts and brothers, That Blantyre explosion they'll never forget;
And all you young miners that hear my sad story,
Shed a tear for the victims who're laid to their rest. 

The list of victims