Work of the Weavers

A wonderful little trade propaganda song, and it can be found in the book “Victoria’s Inferno” (Jon Raven, editor) in which it is stated that the lyrics and tune was composed by David Shaw, a Forfar weaver; he composed the song in the 1840’s and he would perform it, “with other of his compositions, at trade and Chartist meetings during that period. Printed in ‘Vagabond Songs and Ballads of Scotland’ by Robert Ford, 1899 and 1901.”

It has been recorded in varying degrees of appropriateness from the Clancy Brothers’ more reasonable laid back performance – as I like it – to rocked up by folk groups that simply cannot help themselves.  The version I sing is as follows:  (I see it as 2/4 but at a slow speed of around 50 to 52 beats/measure) More of the original verses to be added later.  Can’t you just see the old men sitting around their pints musing on the importance of their trade, singing this song and from the heart??



          G                                    C            G
We’re all met together here to sit and to crack*
               G                                           C         G          D
With our glasses in our hands and our work upon our back

             G                                               C                 G
There’s not a trade among ’em that can mend or can mak

       G        C         G                D     G
If it wasn’t for the work of the wea-vers


Chorus: (1 beat pause)

       G                     D            Em                     Bm
If it wasn’t for the weavers, what would you do?
        C                               G                   C       G  D
You wouldn’a have your clothes that’s made of wool

        G                                                 C                 G
You wouldn’a have your coat of the black or the blue

       G                                         D    G
If it wasn’t for the work of the wea-vers


There’s soldiers and there’s sailors and glaziers and all
There’s doctors and there’s ministers and them that live by law
And our friends in South America, though them we never saw
But we know they wear the work of the wea-vers


There’s folk what’s independent of other tradesman work.
The women need no barbers and dykers** need no clerk
But none of them can do without a coat or a shirt
No, they cannot lack the work of the weavers.


The weavin’ is a trade that never can fail
As long as we need clothes for to keep another hael***
So let us all be merry o’er a pitcher of good ale
And we’ll drink to the health of the wea-vers

Chorus: 2x
*talk or chat
**a Scottish term for a stonemason

4 thoughts on “Work of the Weavers

  1. Ray

    I’ve loved this song since I was a little boy listening to the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem Live with my big brother. Great to see the song preserved and available here.

  2. Robyn Schwebe

    We are actually listening to this song as part of our English class in Germany. The line above also confused me, but it makes sense now. Thanks for the information!

  3. Mark Kleiman

    Surely not “for to keep another hale.” That makes no sense.
    But “As long as we need clothes for t’ keepin’ of our hael” (where for “hael” read “health”) is both good sense and good poetry.

    1. JosMorn Post author

      Thank you Mark. The “hale” actually came from one of the printed sources I used, but you’re right. I’ll make the change.



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