The Sad Demise of The Crieff and Strathearn Hand Loom Weavers
Life in Crieff about 1860 – a fascinating social history
Weavers Hall Crieff ( Commissioner Street /Scott Terrace ) now flats
This little gem is culled from the tattered little book I have quoted from before . Published in “Crieff in the Victorian Era “( Brown. Crieff. 1897 ) it reflects on the collapse of hand loom weaving in the town in and around 1860 . Prior to this weaving dominated occupations in the town with over 50 % of the populous weavers, spinners or associated trades . The linen weaving had disappeared and given way to cotton . The cotton “ webs “ were brought to the town by cart and middle men like James MacRosty’s father controlled supply and distribution . With the outbreak of the American Civil War the supply of raw cotton dried up and the end was nigh ! The Weavers’ Hall in
closed and the Weavers’ Guild folded causing
untold poverty and famine . Read on !
“ Coming to later times , say forty years ago , we find a change of a striking character has passed over the face of Strathearn’s capital .One by one the looms break down and fall to pieces , and the weavers , outmatched by the mechanic and the engineer , leave their well- worn stools , and seek some new and more remunerative field of labour . But , however great is the change in the labour market , the thoughts , habits and constitution of the people remain as of old , and they observe the march of science as something to be deplored . By no means ambitious , the weavers take to dyking and ditching , and with such occupations they pass their lives , as contented as the Belgian butter makers in the time of Napoleon .
On a cool September night a few old cronies gather round a neighbour’s pig- sty to discuss subjects which they have so often discussed before . One worth sits on a barrel , another on a broken wheel – barrow , another leans on a spade , another lounges against the wall , and there remain for hours , guiding the world politically and socially , and suggesting reforms and improvements in the Government of the Empire , that would astonish and amaze many latter –day politicians . “