King Billy Sessions
  Jute Mill Song  

Jute millOh dear me, the mill's going fast
The poor wee shifters cannae get their rest
Shifting bobbins coarse and fine
They fairly make you work for your ten and nine

Oh dear me, I wish the day was done
Running up and down the pass is nae fun
Shifting piecing spinning, warp weft and twine

To feed and clothe my bairnies off of ten and nine

Oh dear me, the world's ill divided
Them that works the hardest are the least provided
But I must bide contented, dark days or fine
It's no much pleasure living, off of ten and nine

[Key F=D+3]

 This outstanding song was written by the diminutive Mary Brooksbank from Dundee. Shifting, piecing and spinning were three jobs of work on the 'flett' - the platform on which the spinning machinery stood. The shifter was the person who removed full bobbins from the spinning frames and replaced them with empty ones. These workers were also called 'doffers' [...]. Some parts of this song are likely to have been taken from an older song. Charlie Lamb heard from his father that 'ten and nine' [ten shillings and ninepence] was the pay rate for jute workers before the First World War, in the form of a gold half-sovereign and ninepence. (Gatherer 96)

From a BBC children's programme many years ago.

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