Sma' Shot Day

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Sma' Shot Day parade, at Neislton Road, Paisley, showing the Charleston Drum in the foreground
Sma' Shot Day parade, at Neislton Road, Paisley, showing the Charleston Drum in the foreground

Sma' Shot Day is one of the oldest workers’ festivals in the world. Sma' (Small) Shot Day celebrates the historic victory of the weavers over their employers in 19th century Paisley and has developed into an annual celebration of arts and culture.

The Sma' (small) Shot itself was a cotton thread which bound all the colourful weft threads into the warps of the celebrated shawls. The shot was, however, undeen in the final product, and consequently the manufacturers refused to pay for it. The workers, therefore, ahd no choice but to pay for it themselves because without it the shawls would fall apart and the workers would not be paid.This lead to a long dispute, with a drum- the Charleston drum- being used to summon the weavers to protest marches. The weavers eventually won.

The day is celebrated on the first Saturday in July and traditionally begins with a parade which starts in Brodie Park, and makes its way to Abbey Close. The parade is led by a replica of the Charleston Drum and featuring banners representing Ferguslie, Toonheid, Sandholes, Sneddon, Causeyside, Newtoun and Charleston. There are various activities, including stalls, funfairs, street theatre and onstage entertainment, including a re-enactment of the Sma’ Shot Story by local youth theatre PACE, and the ‘Burning of the Cork', the burning of an effigy of one of the manufacturers involved in the dispute.

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