What the Govan Weavers represent, in a sense, is not so much the art and craft of weaving, or the physical realities of working in this trade, rather they are part of the continuum of social awareness, social responsibility and caring in the community, which seems to be a common thread (sorry!) when you start looking at the history of weavers in different areas.
They were not established like a professional association to set a standard of work, but to safeguard the interests of members and their families, through thick and thin, in order that weavers and their families did not face destitution because of injury , poor health or even the death of the breadwinner. Very soon, after its establishment, Govan Weavers admitted members from many other trades.
But what of weaving itself? Are there still any traces of weaving in and around Govan? There were many different types of textiles produced in Govan, including silk, cotton, calico and jute, and there were also chemical and dye works, dependent on the River Clyde.
This Thursday, (7th March) the Seniors Film Group will be interviewing a local man called Mighty Kerr. Mighty was a weaver in Govan for many years – but not a textile weaver. He was a time server Wire Weaver at Christies Wire Works on Broomloan Road. Previously, in discussion with various people, we had all questioned exactly what was produced at Christies – we all thought that they extruded fine wire from thick rods of steel. They did. I imagined that they produced steel cables and hawsers for the shipbuilding industry, (they didn’t!)
The Weaving done by Mighty at Christies involved his working at a loom and producing fine wire meshes, for use in mold making in the paper industry. Although Mighty did not weave textiles, the same physical principles apply to the actual weaving and the loom. The weaving done at Christies was an industrial process, noisy and repetitious.
On Friday, the following day, the Seniors Film Group will be visiting the NTS Weaver’s Cottage at Kilbarchan, which is run by Christine MacLeod – this place is a fantastic resource, and its history is really brought to life by Christine’s deep and wide knowledge of Kilbarchan as an important weaving community, and her skills as a weaver.