> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > The Weaver and the Factory Maid
> Steeleye Span > Songs > The Weaver and the Factory Maid
> Martin Carthy > Songs > The Handweaver and the Factory Maid
> Bellowhead > Songs > The Hand Weaver and the Factory Maid

The (Hand)Weaver and the Factory Maid

[ Roud 17771 , 3085 ; Ballad Index DTwvfact ; VWML CJS1/10/1/34/1 ; Bodleian Roud 17771 ; EBBA 21142 ; trad.]

Robert Cinnamond sang one verse titled The Weaver (Roud 3085) to Sean O'Boyle, probably in Co. Antrim, in August 1955 (BBC recording 24835). This recording was included in 1975 on Cinnamond's posthumous Topic album You Rambling Boys of Pleasure. Proinsias Ó Conluain commented laconically in the sleeve notes:

Although Robert Cinnamond spent some time as a weaver himself, and although he was reared among weavers, this fragment represents almost his total repertoire of songs connected with the craft.

A broadside of unknown origin with the title The Weaver in Love (Roud 17771) is in the Cecil Sharp Manuscript Collection [VWML CJS1/10/1/34/1] . And John Holloway and Joan Black's 1975 book Later English Broadside Ballads has The Weaver and his Sweetheart from the Madden Collection. In both versions the weaver still fell in love with a servant maid, while in the following versions from A.L. Lloyd on she was changed to a factory maid.

A.L. Lloyd claimed that he collected The Weaver and the Factory Maid from William Oliver of Widnes, Lancashire, in September 1951; he sang it on the 1963 Topic theme LP The Iron Muse: A Panorama of Industrial Folk Music. This track was not included in the same-named 1993 compilation CD, but it appeared in 1994 on his posthumous Fellside compilation Classic A.L. Lloyd. Lloyd commented in this CD's notes:

The earliest weavers' songs are from the time when handloom weavers went from village to village, setting up in farmhouse and cottage kitchens. Amorous chances were plenty. The invention of the powerloom and the establishment of textile factories brought a great change in the handloom weavers' lives. This song, lyrical and wry, curiously illuminates this moment in history when the handworkers were finding themselves obliged to follow the girls into the factories and weave by steam, and when country song was changing to town song.

In 1973, Steeleye Span recorded a version with lyrics nearly identical to A.L. Lloyd's, but they added Robert Cinnamond's fragment in front and end, and two more verses from a children's rhyme. This was released on the LP Parcel of Rogues whose sleeve notes commented:

There was a great bitterness felt between the hand-loom weavers and those who worked on the steam looms introduced during the industrial revolution. This feeling polarised in the Luddites (named after their mythical leader Ned Ludd) who were unemployed hand-loom weavers bent on destroying the steam looms which had put them out of work.

Steeleye Span recorded this song for a second time for their CD Present to accompany the December 2002 Steeleye Span reunion tour. And at least four live recordings of The Weaver and the Factory Maid with several Steeleye Span line-ups are or were available:

Mike Harding sang The Hand Weaver and the Factory Maid in 1972 on his Trailer album A Lancashire Lad, giving A.L. Lloyd as his source.

Isla St Clair sang The Weaver and the Factory Maid in 1981 in the BBC television series The Song and the Story.

Richard Grainger sang Weaver and the Factory Maid in 1984 on his Fellside album Herbs of the Heart.

Scotch Measure sang The Handweaver and the Factory Maid with somewhat different verses—three already known to us and two new ones—in 1985 on their eponymous Topic album Scotch Measure. They commented in their album's notes:

A simple love song set in the Anderston area of Glasgow against the backdrop of the decline of the traditional craft of the hand weaver in the face of the Industrial Revolution.

Martin Carthy sang this ballad as The Handweaver and the Factory Maid on Brass Monkey's 1986 album See How It Runs, which was re-released in 1993 as half of the CD The Complete Brass Monkey. The LP sleeve notes commented:

Romantics such as I would like to believe that it was The Unknown Genius who took the rather ordinary song The Handweaver and the Chamber Maid and, by altering just one word, generated real movement, moments of real tension, and something of a minor masterpiece. Certainly the present song has not yet been found in printed sources. It was collected from a William Oliver of Widnes and partially refurbished by A.L. Lloyd from the “chambermaid original.” Martin [Carthy] learned it from the actor Roger Allam.

Martin Carthy also recorded this song with the Imagined Village, with Chris Wood singing, for their 2010 CD Empire and Love. They performed it life at the Cambridge Folk Festival 2010:

Bellowhead sang The Hand Weaver and the Factory Maid in 2010 on their CD Hedonism, with three new verses compared to A.L. Lloyd and Steeleye Span, and Jon Boden sang it as the November 27, 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

Barry Lister sang The Handloom Weaver and the Factory Maid as part of his Factory Set in 2010 on his WildGoose CD Ghosts & Greasepaint.

Megson sang The Handloom Weaver and the Factory Maid on their 2010 CD The Longshot.

Pilgrims' Way sang The Handweaver and the Factory Maid in 2010 on their eponymous debut EP, Pilgrims' Way, and in 2011 on their CD Wayside Courtesies. Their singer Lucy Wright commented laconically in the EP's sleeve notes:

An intriguing song of changing times and social conflict. It also features breasts.

And their CD notes commented:

In the decades before the invention of automatic looms, machine spun thread was sent to professional handweavers like the one in this song, but when the textile mills also began to weave my machine, these craftsmen lost their profession to lower paid factory workers. In this song, the handweaver has fallen in love with his replacement, the lowly factory girl—despite all advice, he can't resist her charms! Lucy has been singing this song since childhood, learned from her uncle, Michael Wright.

Pete Wood sang The Factory Maid on his 2014 CD Young Edwin. He noted:

Another song commenting on the industrial revolution, as the weavers' cottages on the Pennine slopes gave rise first to water power, and then to steam, with the tyranny of factory conditions. If you want to know more about this subject, read Roy Palmer's book Working Songs.

A related ballad is Ewan MacColl's and the Silly Sisters' Four Loom Weaver.

Lyrics

Robert Cinnamond sings The Weaver

When I was a tailor, I carried my bodkin and shears;
When I was a weaver, I carried my reed and my gear.
My temples also, my small clothes and reed in my hand,
And wherever I went, “Here's the jolly bold weaver again.”

The Weaver and His Sweetheart The Weaver in Love

I am a Weaver by my Trade,
I fell in love with a servant maid
If I her favour could but win,
Then I shall weave, and she shall spin.

I am a Waver by my Trade,
I fell in Love with a Servant-maid
And if the favour I could win,
Then I would Wave and she should Spin.

His father to him scornfully said,
How can you fancy a servant maid,
When you may have ladies fine and gay,
Drest like unto the Queen of May.

My Father Scornfully to me said,
How could I fancy a Servant-maid,
Whilst I may here live fine and gay,
Just like unto the Queen of the May.

As for your ladies I don't care,
Could I but enjoy my only dear;
It makes me mourn when I thought to smile,
And I will wander the woods so wild.

As for what he says I do not care,
Could I but enjoy my dearest dear;
She looks at me whilst others smiles,
I left her Heart with them awhile.

I went unto my love's chamber-door
Where oftimes I had been before;
But I could not speak nor yet go in,
To the pleasant bed my love lay in.

I went unto my Love's Chamger Door
Where I had often times been before;
I durst not speak, nor yet go in,
To the pleasent Bed where my Love lay in.

How can you tell what a pleasant bed,
Where nothing lies but a servant-maid;
A servant-maid altho' she be,
Blest is the man that enjoyeth she.

How can [you say?] that a pleasent Bed,
Were nobody [lies?] but a Servant-made;
A Servant-made altho' she be,
Blest is the Man that is lov'd by she.

A pleasant thought came in my mind,
I turned down the sheets so fine;
There I saw two white breasts hang so low
Much like two white hills covered with snow.

A merry thought came in my mind,
I turned down the sheets so fine;
Her beeast so white hung down [low?]
Just like unto the drifter Snow.

My love she lives in the country of North,
And I myself live a great way off;
And when I weave in the county of Down,
Then I will weave her a holland Gown.

My love lives in the Co[…]

My love is sick and like to die,
A most unhappy young man am I;
But at length the Weavers joy was blest,
And he got the servant Maid at last.

A.L. Lloyd sings
The Weaver and the Factory Maid
Brass Monkey sing
The Handweaver and the Factory Maid

I'm a hand weaver to my trade
I fell in love with a factory maid
And if I could but her favour win
I'd stand beside her and weave by steam

I am a hand weaver to my trade
I fell in love with a factory maid
And if I could but her favour win
I'd sit beside her and I'd weave by steam

My father to me scornful said
How could you fancy a factory maid
When you could have girls fine and gay
And dressed like to the Queen of May

My father to me scornful said
'How can you fancy a factory maid,
When you can have lasses fine and gay
And dressed like unto the Queen of May'

As for your fine girls I don't care
And could I but enjoy my dear
I'd stand in the factory all the day
And she and I'd keep our shuttles in play

As for your fine girls I don't care
For if I could but enjoy my dear
I'd go to the factory all the day
And she and I'd keep our shuttles in play

I went to my love's bedroom door
Where often times I had been before
But I could not speak nor yet get in
To the pleasant bed that my love laid in

I went to my love's bedroom door
Where I had been many times before
But I could not speak nor yet get in
To the pleasant bed where my love lay in

How can you say it's a pleasant bed
Where nought lies there but a factory maid?
A factory lass although she be
Blessed is the man that enjoys she

How can you say it's a pleasant bed
When none lies there but a factory maid
A factory maid though e'er she be
Blessed is the man that enjoy she

O pleasant thoughts come to my mind
As I turn down the sheets so fine
And I seen her two breasts standing so
Like two white hills all covered with snow

Pleasant thoughts run in my mind
As I fold down the sheet so fine
See her two breasts a-standing so
Like two white hills covered in snow

Where are the girls I'll tell you plain
The girls have gone to weave by steam
And if you'd find them you must rise at dawn
And trudge to the mill in the early morn

O, where are the girls I'll tell you fine
They all have gone for to weave by steam
And if you would catch them you must rise at dawn
And trudge to the factory in the early dawn

Steeleye Span sing
The Weaver and the Factory Maid
Bellowhead sing
The Hand Weaver and the Factory Maid

When I was a tailor I carried my bodkin and shears;
When I was a weaver I carried my roods and my gear.
My temples also, my small clothes and reed in my hand,
And wherever I go, “Here's the jolly bold weaver again.”

I'm a hand weaver to my trade
I fell in love with a factory maid
And if I could but her favour win
I'd stand beside her and weave by steam

I'm a hand weaver to my trade
I fell in love with a factory maid
And if I could her favour gain
I'd sit beside her and weave by steam

My father to me scornful said
How could you fancy a factory maid
When you could have girls fine and gay
Dressed like unto the Queen of May

My father to me scornful said
How could you fancy a factory maid
When you could have girls both fine and gay
All dressed up like the Queen of May

As for your fine girls I don't care
If I could but enjoy my dear
I'd stand in the factory all the day
And she and I'd keep our shuttles in play

As for your fine girls I do not care
If I could but enjoy my dear
I'd sit in the factory all the day
And she and I'd keep our shuttles in play

I went to my love's window last night
Just as the moon was shining bright
And such a light came from her clothes
Like the morning star when it first arose

I went to my love's bedroom door
Where often times I had been before
But I could not speak nor yet get in
The pleasant bed that my love lies in

I went to my love's bedroom door
Where I had been oft times before
But I could not speak nor yet get in
To the pleasant bed where my love lay in

How can you say it's a pleasant bed
Where nought lies there but a factory maid?
And a factory lass although she be
Blessed is the man that enjoys she

How can you call it a pleasant bed
Where nought lies there but a factory maid?
A factory maid although she be
Blessed be the man who enjoys she

O pleasant thoughts come to my mind
As I turn down the sheets so fine
And I seen her two breasts standing so
Like two white hills all covered with snow

Pleasant thoughts ran in my mind
As I turn down her sheets so fine
And see her two breasts standing so
Like two white hills all covered in snow

I turned down her milk-white sheet
To view her body so fair and neat
And underneath I did espy
Two pillars of the finest ivory

Beneath those pillars a fountain lay
Which my poor wandering eye betrayed
But of all the fountains e'er to be found
I could have wished myself there drowned

The loom goes click and the loom goes clack
The shuttle flies forward and then flies back
The weaver's so bent that he's like to crack
Such a wearisome trade is the weaver's.

The loom goes click and the loom goes clack
The shuttle flies forward and then flies back
The weaver's so bent that he's like to crack

The yarn is made into cloth at last
The ends of weft they are made quite fast
The weaver's labour are now all past
Such a wearisome trade is the weaver's.

Where are the girls I will tell you plain
The girls have gone to weave by steam
And if you'd find them you must rise at dawn
And trudge to the mill in the early morn

Where are the girls I'll tell you plain
They all have gone to weave by steam
And if you would find them you must rise at dawn
And trudge to the factory in the early morn

(Repeat the first verse)

Scotch Measure sing
The Handweaver and the Factory Maid

I am a hand weaver tae my trade.
Long time I've courted a factory maid,
And if I could her kind favour win,
I'd stand beside her and I'd weave by steam.

It's many's the year now I've plied my skill,
By my ain fireside lang before the mill
I've wove fine linen and silk sae fair
While the pitchin' shuttle sings my lassie's name.

My father's often unto me said,
“How could you fancy a factory maid
When you could have women o' grace and style
Who'd like tae win the master weaver's smile?”

But the weaver's fortune of my father's age
Has faded now tae a meagre wage.
And the darkened factories of Anderston
Have brought the prices and the weavers down.

Where are the lassies now, I'll tell you plain:
The girls have all gone to weave by steam.
And if you would find them you must rise at dawn
And trudge tae the mill in the early morn.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café threads Origins: The Weaver and the Factory Maid, Handweaver & Factory Maid (from Pilgrims Way), and AL Lloyd, is he the one that got away.