Mr William Sharp was a Blantyre man. During the General work strikes of 1921 William and his family lived in a small , cramped and basic room in Shuttle Row, Blantyre Works Village, in the very same building as David Livingstone did 100 years earlier. William was thankful for what he had, which was, by all accounts a one roomed flat 12 foot x 12 foot for the whole family. We take things for granted these days, so it’s time to stop and reflect what our kinsmen had to endure. This poem was written by Mr Sharp in 1921
My Worldy Goods
Midnight, enclosed in a twelve foot square,my ain wee hoose, it’s clean tho’ poor,
I have a fire blazing finely,
the coal was given to me kindly
’tis no a blaze to cause alarm
but just enough to keep us warm
and here, i find all life’s enjoyment
only one thing wrong, i’ve no employment!
For goods and gear, i’ve very little,
a teapot, goblet and a kettle
a sideboard and a dresser sitting
that are a nuisance when i’m flitting.
Two, three chairs, that’s lost the splendour
they had, when bought from the vender,
forbye a pram, the wean lies in,
the need for such, is no surprising.
A rocking and a easy chair
that needs a seal of springs and hair
its legs by looks, are very unstable
as rickety as what’s on the table
a home made desk, to hold my papers,
such as this and other capers.
then i’ve some pictures on the wall
One a brother that did fall
On flander’s field, in Death’s cold grip
When all hell let loose, did Europe rip
Two panels too, with natures flowers
And over above the brace there tower’sHim in a frame, no Scotchman spurns
Our own Immortal Robert Burns.
A wife and three wee rosy daughters
the eldest but a eleven summers
a regular sweet wee modest beauty
and natured like my precious Beattie,
the other when in the door she scuds
in like Phoebus bursting threw the clouds
a rougish elf, when dressed neatly,
fair steals my heart completely.
The youngest but some four months old
that i’ll protect whilst in the fold,
God grant that i can win their fodder
and keep them brawly all together.
This to everyone in Blantyre,
are the wordly goods of Wull the Ranter.
William Sharp – 1920
Thanks to Mary Cooper for the 1920 photo of Shuttle Row. It’s most likely given the dates, that the people here would have known William Sharp very well and his house was just out the right of the photo.