A GROUP has been set up in Glasgow to keep alive the memory of the first sunrise of the Trade Union movement’.
The Calton Weavers from the East End of Glasgow became Scotland’s first working-class martyrs’ when six of them were killed by soldiers sent in to quell their strike.
The incident – at Drygate Bridge in 1787 – was the earliest major industrial dispute in Scottish history.
Those who died were buried in the Calton Cemetery in Abercromby Street, but the graveyard has become dilapidated over the years.
Even the plaque commemorating the strikers is in such a bad state that only one name – James Page – can be made out.
The new group, Friends of the Weavers (Abercromby Cemetery), wants to emphasise the importance of the old graveyard and to promote all aspects of the weaving industry.
Joanna Moore, whose house overlooks the cemetery, said: “This history should be put up in lights and people should be learning about it.
“I have spoken to people who have lived in this area for 20 years and they don’t know the history of the weavers. The story has just been forgotten.
“The graveyard itself is absolutely stunning. If it was brought back to its former glory it would be a wonderful place.”
Also buried in the graveyard, owned by Glasgow City Council, is the Rev James Smith, who was Abraham Lincoln’s minister and later US consul in Scotland.
Ms Moore said she felt the story of how the weavers had fought and died for their rights should be taught to city children to give them role models to look up to’.
When the strike took place, Calton was a working-class district just outside the city boundary and most of the 6000 population were weavers.
The dispute was prompted when they were told that the price paid for weaving muslin was to be cut. On September 3 the Glasgow authorities learned that a large crowd of weavers had gathered at Drygate Bridge near the Gallowgate.
The 3rd Regiment of Foot was called in and during the stand-off that followed soldiers opened fire.
Six strikers were killed. Only three of their names are known – James Page, Alexander Miller and James Ainsley.
An inaugural meeting of the Friends of the Weavers was held this week.
Publication date 17/05/07