Mill Lassies, The [Radio Scotland]

Episodes

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2017050920171226 (RS)

Billy Kay talks to the women who worked in Paisley's threadmills.

In this archive programme from his People's History series from 2001, Billy Kay talks to the women of Paisley who recall the prosperous heyday of the towns threadmills and their domination by a formidable female workforce. The threadmills had evolved out of the older textile trade - the Paisley hand loom weavers wrought fine silk shawls in the distinctive Paisley pattern - and the females in the family worked alongside them. In the 19th century when the big industrial mills replaced the cottage industry of the handloom weavers, females often became the family's principal bread winners. Over ten and a half thousand Paisley buddies worked in textiles when these women got their start in the Anchor Mill in the early 50's. By then the days of the barefoot lassies - the toe typists of the twining department - were gone - and conditions were reasonable but it was still a culture shock for young girls when they experienced the noise of the mills for the first time. Although men were in the minority, those who had power, used it, and one of the women despised the time and motion study man who got her unfairly suspended, after she had the temerity to stand up to him. The legacy of such confrontations remained in male/female relationships. Also, despite the high status and wages - they were among the first working class Scots to take foreign holidays in the 50's - there were still people who looked down on the mill girls they disparaged as "mill dumpers" As you will hear, however the women had a guid conceit of themselves and their role in the history of their town. As Catriona MacDonald of Glasgow University says in Billy's new introduction to the programme, when you hear these women, you think "sassy", you think "gallus"!

20171226

Billy Kay talks to the women who worked in Paisley's threadmills.

In this archive programme from his People's History series from 2001, Billy Kay talks to the women of Paisley who recall the prosperous heyday of the towns threadmills and their domination by a formidable female workforce. The threadmills had evolved out of the older textile trade - the Paisley hand loom weavers wrought fine silk shawls in the distinctive Paisley pattern - and the females in the family worked alongside them. In the 19th century when the big industrial mills replaced the cottage industry of the handloom weavers, females often became the family's principal bread winners. Over ten and a half thousand Paisley buddies worked in textiles when these women got their start in the Anchor Mill in the early 50's. By then the days of the barefoot lassies - the toe typists of the twining department - were gone - and conditions were reasonable but it was still a culture shock for young girls when they experienced the noise of the mills for the first time. Although men were in the minority, those who had power, used it, and one of the women despised the time and motion study man who got her unfairly suspended, after she had the temerity to stand up to him. The legacy of such confrontations remained in male/female relationships. Also, despite the high status and wages - they were among the first working class Scots to take foreign holidays in the 50's - there were still people who looked down on the mill girls they disparaged as "mill dumpers" As you will hear, however the women had a guid conceit of themselves and their role in the history of their town. As Catriona MacDonald of Glasgow University says in Billy's new introduction to the programme, when you hear these women, you think "sassy", you think "gallus"!

-20170509

Billy Kay talks to the women who worked in Paisley's threadmills.