Working Women in Kidderminster

I regularly perform for Alzheimer’s Society cafes. In January I was booked to do a performance/workshop for the Kidderminster group and, for obvious reasons, focused on the carpet industry. Here are the lyrics to a short song which quotes some of the women who were there that day. The photos, taken by Liz Evans, are from a session at a day centre for people with dementia, Among Friends, also in Kidderminster.

I’ve added a new poem by Eric Harvey to the Your Stories page. It’s an atmospheric piece called Memories of a Draw Boy.

Heather Wastie at Among Friends 1

 

 

 

Working women in Kidderminster

Clocking in early
or clocking in late.
Shopping in the town at lunch time,
passing through the gate.

Reelers, Doffers, Colour finders,
Pickers, Weavers, Setters, Winders.
Working women in Kidderminster.

Laughing with good yarnHeather Wastie at Among Friends 2
or struggling with bad.
Independent working women.
Such good times we had.

Reelers, Doffers, Colour finders,
Pickers, Weavers, Setters, Winders.
Working women in Kidderminster.

© Heather Wastie
January 2014

Kidderminster Shuttle & the Weaver Poet

In the midst of preparing for a private performance of Kidderminster Stuff next week (for the Museum of Carpet Friends), I have just seen an item in the Kidderminster Shuttle about some new audio dramas which will shortly be available to listen to at the Museum. The project to create these ran in parallel with my residency and I’m very much looking forward to hearing them. Here’s a link to the newspaper article http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/10834259.Weaving_looms__tell_their_story__at_Kidderminster_carpet_museum/

In the nineteenth century, there was a poet called Noah Cooke living in Kidderminster. Born in 1831 in very poor circumstances, he became a draw-boy in a carpet factory at the age of nine and eventually became a weaver. He was known as the Weaver Poet and wrote many a broadside ballad. His poem A “Quill” for The Shuttle was written for the first issue of the Kidderminster Shuttle, February 12th 1870.

Here are the first and last stanzas:

Clear the way ye sons of labour
Toiling at the busy loom!
Make a passage for the Shuttle,
Let it have sufficient room ….

…. Wisdom, like a well-fill’d shuttle,
Nicely wrought in every part,
Leaves behind as it progresses
Works of usefulness and art.

In our show, I perform the poem and Kate sings a song she wrote in response to it, juxtaposing the past with the present.