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Peter Hall

(Sydney, Australia.)

The Glasgow clearances


After the end of World War One 
The world said Scotland shipbuilding is done,
No longer would anyone pay their bills
For lowland coal and cotton mills.

Fifty thousand Scots per year
Boarded ships with immigrant fears,
The roaring twenties was not just fashion
But Atlantic jet-streams and cheap ticket rations.


Great Grandpa Fleming whose name is John
Considered himself a proud Scottish son,
Answered the British army call
Became a drone in the Kaiser's war.

But after John Fleming blew his last bugle
It wasn't enough to be just frugal,
The lack of income took its toll
So he sailed away to the immigrants roll.


Scotland's loss was Australia's gain
The bleeding talent was Scotland's pain,
The proud Glaswegian with daughter in arms
Became children of the Southern stars.

They bought with them the seed of life
So men like me can live and laugh,
So remember those of Scottish appearances 
And benefits gained from the Glasgow clearances.

Submitted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Edited: Friday, August 23, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

Note: In the 1920's,50,000 Scots per year left the ports at Glasgow and Greenock for Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. After WW1, many mills, mines and shipbuilding companies closed down. The world didn't need Scottish resources because The war was over and Scotland didn't invest in upgrading capital equipment. The biggest loss was the cargo - it's people! . My great grandfather, a Shipbuilder, was one of them. He carried my grandmother in his arms to a ship bound for Australia.

I have called those times, 'The Glasgow clearances' as a simile to the highland clearances.

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