The Singer Factory Strike

I was commissioned by Hopscotch Films to write a short film for their programme 1911: A Year in Review.

There were 6 shorts in all, based around the major news events from that year, and I was given the Singer Factory strike at Clydebank. It was a tricky brief; the strike was historically significant and led to Red Clydeside and the success of the Glasgow rent strikes among others, but the Singer strike itself was unsuccessful. But I soon found a champion in Jane Rae, one of the leaders, who went on to be politically important. (She has a street in Clydebank named after her now). There were a few accounts of the strike, mostly interviews from decades later, and I was also able to follow the coverage in the papers of the time, but I didn’t have much more to go on in terms of personal details. Rae’s brother described Jane as “a fiery customer” and the phrase stuck with me. I must have rewritten the end a dozen times, as I attempted to glimpse the silver lining in the doomed strike.

Hopscotch were keen to have animation in the short, and I thought a patchwork quilt would be a nice storytelling device. The animator John McGeoch did a fantastic job, using felt characters to make it visually stunning.

You can see the other films here.

singer small

Writer Emma Lennox

Actor Pauline Goldsmith

Director Clara Glynn

Animator John McGeoch


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