• All Listings
  • Art
  • Birthplace
  • Bookstores
  • Cohousing
  • Collectives and Cooperatives
  • Communities
  • Community Centers
  • Eats
  • Ecovillages
  • Egalitarian Communities
  • Entertainment
  • Events
  • food
  • Historical Sites
  • Infrastructure
  • Intentional Communities
  • Memorial
  • Monuments
  • Murals
  • People
  • Points of Interests
  • Publishers
  • Sites of Resistance
  • Societies
  • Vegan
  • Venues
  • Workers Associations

The Calton Burial Ground in the Abercromby Street Cemetery in Glasgow is crucial in labor history. In 1787, the Calton Weavers, skilled artisans in the textile industry, protested against wage cuts and harsh working conditions, initiating one of the first recorded industrial strikes in Scotland. Tragically, the British military was called in to suppress the protest, resulting in the deaths of six weavers and injuries to many others.

This strike was a pivotal moment in the history of workers’ rights, highlighting the extreme measures authorities would take to maintain control and suppress labor movements. Despite the violence and loss of life, the courage displayed by the Calton Weavers inspired future generations to continue the fight for fair wages and better working conditions.

The burial ground is the final resting place for many of these weavers, and visiting this site provides a solemn reminder of their sacrifices and the ongoing struggle for labor rights. The site includes memorial plaques and gravesites that pay tribute to these early labor activists.

In the late 18th century, Glasgow was a burgeoning center for the textile industry, with the Calton Weavers playing an integral role in its success. These highly skilled workers faced significant wage reductions, prompting them to organize and demand fair compensation for their labor.

The strike, which began peacefully, escalated when manufacturers refused to meet the weavers’ demands. British authorities, eager to maintain order and protect economic interests, deployed the military to quell the strike. On September 3, 1787, soldiers fired on the crowd of weavers, killing six and wounding many others. This violent suppression starkly illustrated the lengths to which those in power would go to maintain control and suppress dissent.

Despite its tragic end, the Calton Weavers Strike of 1787 was a catalyst for future labor movements. It underscored the necessity for organized labor and collective bargaining, setting the stage for subsequent workers’ rights struggles.

This historic site continues to inspire ongoing movements advocating for fair labor practices. Visitors to the Calton Burial Ground can pay their respects to the brave weavers who fought for justice and reflect on the enduring importance of their struggle.

Key Memorials and Inscriptions:

  • The Calton Weaver: “I am a weaver, a Calton weaver I am a brahs and roving blade I have silver in my pouches and I follow a roving trade.”
  • Memorial to John Page, Alexander Millar, and James Ainsley: “This is the property of the Weaving Body under the charge of the five Calton Districts erected by them to the memory of JOHN PAGE, ALEXANDER MILLAR, and JAMES AINSLEY who at a meeting of that body, for resisting a reduction of their wages, were upon the 2nd of September 1787 martyred by the military under the order of the Civic Authorities of Glasgow, firing upon the multitude also to the memory of their brethren in trade viz: JAMES GRAINGER, JAMES GRAY, ALEXANDER MEGGET, DUNCAN CHERRIE, JAMES MORTON, THOMAS MILLAR, JOHN JAFFRAY. The first four highly distinguished for zeal on behalf of their trade.”
  • The Lords of Labour: “THE LORDS OF LABOUR They come, they come in glorious march, You can hear their steam-steeds neigh, They dash through skill’s triumphal arch Or plunge ‘mid the dancing spray. Their pale fires blaze in the mighty forge, Their life-pulse throbs in the mill, Their lightnings shiver the gaping gorge, And their thunders shake the hill. Ho! these are the Titans of toil and trade, The heroes who wield no sabre, Yet mightier conquests reapeth the blade, That is borne by the Lords of Labour.”
  • Warning Against Whiskey: “So come all ye weavers, ye Calton weavers Weavers where e’er ye be. Beware of Whiskey, Nancy Whiskey She’ll ruin you like she ruined me. Each bares his arm for the ringing strife That marshals the sons of the soil, And the sweat drops shed in their battle for life Are gems in the crown of toil.”
  • Memorial Rededication (1957): “In 1957 the memorial was rededicated. The two original stones were moved to the southern gate and replaced with two granite slabs.”
  • Decision to Build: “The decision to build Calton Burial Ground was made in December 1786 by the Incorporation Weavers of Calton and Blackfaulds.”
  • Significant Stones: “Significant stones in the burial ground include The Weaver’s Memorial Stone, which commemorates the Weaver’s Strike of 1787.”
  • Demonstration Tragedy: “During a demonstration on 3rd September 1787, soldiers opened fire on the protestors, three weavers were killed and three mortally wounded.”
  • Interment of Weavers: “On 5th September 1787, three of the dead weavers were interred in Lair 83. The lair lay unclaimed until 1825 when a memorial slab was laid over the plot.”

Additional Information:

  • Significance: Site of the Calton Weavers Strike of 1787, one of the earliest industrial strikes in Scottish history.
  • Visit: Explore the cemetery and find the memorial plaques dedicated to the Calton Weavers. Reflect on their struggle and its impact on labor rights movements.