The singer Mary Brooksbank talks about her father, his early...
Date June 1970
Track ID 58761
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The singer Mary Brooksbank talks about her father, his early working life and his trade unionism.

Mary Brooksbank's father was born in 1867 at Cairnconan near Arbroath; his family later moved to Carnoustie. At the age of eleven, he worked in Scroggie's boot factory, where he lost three fingers in an accident; he also earned money as a golf caddy. When he was older, he took the tobbar [road], as he called it, and travelled all over Britain, working in the fields, in the coal pits, and even on the building of the Forth Rail Bridge. He married Mary's mother in Inverness in 1888; they were penniless after paying for a big wedding celebration, and walked hand-in-hand all the way from Inverness to Aberdeen.

There, Mary's father became involved with the trade union movement, and as a delegate was introduced to James Connolly. He wept when Connolly was executed. When the young Mary asked why her father was weeping for a 'traitor', he tried to make her understand. The family moved to Dundee when Mary was very young; her father was in his thirties at that time. He continued his work as a union delegate, and would sometimes get into scuffles with the workers. He died in 1953 at the age of 86.

Item Notes

George Borrow ('Romano Lavo-Lil', 1907, p. 63) gives 'tobbar' as a Romany word for 'road'.

James Connolly (1868–1916) was shot by the British for his part in the Easter Rising in Dublin on 24th April 1916.

Item Subject/Person

Soutar, Alexander [Soutar, Sandy]

Item Location

County - Angus