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The Spinner’s Wedding

[ Roud 12503 ; Mary Brooksbank (1897-1978)]

Norman Buchan and Peter Hall: The Scottish Folksinger Karl Dallas: One Hundred Songs of Toil Nigel Gatherer: Songs and Ballads of Dundee Marek Korczynski, Michael Pickering, Emma Robertson: Rhythms of Labour: Music at Work in Britain

The Spinner’s Wedding is a poem from Mary Brooksbank’s book Sidlaw Breezes. She sang it (without verse 3) to Hamish Henderson in 1968, which was included in 2008 on the Greentrax anthology of songs, tunes and customs, Wooed and Married and Aa (Scottish Tradition 23). The accompanying booklet commented:

Mary Brooksbank, well-known for her song Oh Dear Me, sings a song the composed about the marriage of a jute-mill worker in Dundee. She recalled: “They gathered up and gave her a present, and they danced and they sung, and made life unbearable for the day for the gaffer… It was a happy time, too.” [SA 1968.317.B2] Jessie Brodie married Wull Fach, a painter and decorator, around 1925 (information from forthcoming student project by Erin Farley).

Ray Fisher sang The Spinner’s Wedding in 1963 on the Topic anthology of industrial folk music, The Iron Muse.

Norman Buchan and Peter Hall included The Spinner’s Wedding in 1973 in their book The Scottish Folksinger.

Artie Trezise and Cilla Fisher sang Spinner’s Wedding in 1976 on their Trailer album Balcanquhal.

Danny Spooner sang The Spinner’s Wedding on his 2013 CD Gorgeous, Game Girls. He noted:

This industrial song from the Scottish Tradition tells of the happiness of colleagues about the forthcoming wedding of a friend. Industrial spinners had a hard life—but would her married life be any easier? It’s unlikely, but they all hoped well for her.


Mary Brooksbank sings The Spinner’s Wedding

Oh, the gaffer’s lookin worried
The flett’s in a steer
Jessie Brodie’s gettin mairried
And the morn she’ll no be here.

Chorus (after each verse):
Hurrah, hurro, a daddie o,
Hurrah, hurro, a daddie o,
Hurrah, hurro, an a daddie o,
Jessie’s gettin mairried o.

Oh, the helper an the piecer
Gaed doon the toon last nicht,
Tae buy a wee bit present
Jist tae mak her hame look bricht.

[They bocht a cheeny tea-set,
A chanty fu’ o’ saut,
A bonnie coloured carpet,
A kettle and a pot.]

Oh, the shifters they’re aa singing,
The spinners dancin tae,
The gaffer he’s fair worried
But there’s nothin he can dae.

Here’s best wishes tae ye, lassie,
Standin at your spinnin frame,
May ye aye hae full and plenty
In yer wee bit hame.

Oh, ye’ll no make muckle siller
Nae maitter hoo ye try
But hoard your love an loyalty,
That’s what money canna buy.

Danny Spooner sings The Spinner’s Wedding

Oh the boss is looking worried
For the fletts are in a stir,
Jessie Brodie’s getting marrit
And the morra she’ll no’ be here.

Chorus (after each verse):
Hurrah, hurro, a daddy o,
Hurrah, hurro, a daddy o,
Hurrah, hurro, a daddy o,
Jessie’s getting marrit o

The shifter and the piecer
They gaed doon the toon the neet,
Tae buy a wee bit present
Just tae mak her hame look bright.

They bought a china teapot
And a chaunty fu’ o’ salt,
A bonny coloured carpet,
And a kettle and a pot.

The shifters they are singing
And the piecers dancin’ tae.
The boss is lookin’ worrit
But there’s naethin’ he can dee.

Here’s t’ you ma’ bonny lassie
Standin’ by ye’r spinnin’ frame,
May ye aye hae fu’ and plenty
In yer wee bit hame.