This small piece of Scots translates into English as – “There isn’t long to go.” And it resonates down the years in a story my auntie a weaver in Dundee’s biggest jute mill Cox’s the once biggest jute mill in the world, used to tell me. But I’ll get to that. The pic is of the weaving shed in another jute mill in Dundee where there were over a hundred at the peak (around 1900).
The weaving shed in question was in Taybank Works in Arbroath Road Dundee in the east end of the city. And I used to walk past it on my way home from school as a boy. The windows of the mill were open a few inches as I passed and the thing I remember to this day more than fifty years later is the noise. It was so bad on the street I sometimes covered my ears as I passed. Now I had other things on my mind at that stage in my life such as football bikes and girls to name but three. And it was only when I was older than I began to think that if the noise was so loud out on the street for passers-by what on earth must it have been like for the workers who spent all day in that environment for years? And of course many people went deaf and suffered hearing damage working in the city’s mills.
It was long hours of a hard brutal existence and another illustration of that was my auntie’s story from an earlier generation. Before modern technology there was apparently one clock at the end of the line which only ‘Jeanie’ could see. The other women kept asking the time and always got the same reply – “No be lang noo!” Eventually they realised “Jeanie” couldn’t tell the time and that they would get the same answer whether there were five minutes or five hours left! When I recall that story it reminds me how lucky I am compared to what my forebears and thousands like them had to contend with in Dundee’s jute mills.
All of which is a long way of reminding you dear reader that Verdant Works Dundee Scotland’s Jute Museum is currently hosting a free exhibition called “The Warp and Weft of Life.”. That’s where the pic comes from.