From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes

The Ballad of Wester Hailes

 In January 1986, the Sentinel launched a competition under the banner of Wester Hailes Folk.  As the paper pointed out, folk music can be a lot more than “people sitting around log fires in fisherman’s jumpers singing about herring boats.”  It has a history interwoven with movements for civil rights, empowerment and community identity.  The medium of folk could be used both to protest and to unite.  The Sentinel competition sought to utilise this, looking to capture the distinctive history of Wester Hailes and to promote its sense of identity.  To encourage entrants, it published The Ballad of Wester Hailes by Ricky Brines as inspiration.

The Ballad of Wester Hailes
(If it Wasnae Fur Oor Centres)

If it wasnae fur oor Centres
Where wid ye be?
you’d be in the hoose the noo
Watching your T.V.
Cause you’d be watching Match of the Day
Or even Dynasty
Because ye didnae ken all aboot yer Centres.

Oh Wester Hailes is wonderful, Oh Wester Hailes is brave
It’s no got any harling, and dampness as well
But one thing for sure, you could always tell
The Tory Cooncil all had pairs o’ wellies.

Oh Wester Hailes is beautiful, Oh Wester Hailes is great
We’ve got a Labour Cooncil noo
And hope they’re working straight
But one thing for sure, they will have to know
They cannae come here withoot their wellies.

If it wasnae fur oor Centres
Where wid ye be?
you’d be in the hoose the no0
Watching your T.V.
Cause you’d be watching Match of the Day
Or even Dynasty
Because ye didnae ken all aboot yer Centre.

You can read the details of the competition in full by clicking here on Wester Hailes Folk. 

As the entries for the competition came in, those acting as judges were impressed by their variety and quality.  The Sentinel applied to the Recreation Department of the Edinburgh Council for funding to produce a booklet entitled Wester Hailes Folk.  The resulting publication contained a mixture of poems, songs, prose and photographs. Norman Buchan, the then Shadow Minister For the Arts provided the introduction, emphasising the importance for all people of the right and need to be listened to.  You can read the introduction in full by clicking here

The overall winner was a Mrs C Emery who received her prize from the Lord Provost of Edinburgh at the Wester Hailes Folk event held in Clovenstone Community Centre.  You can read all about the event and other prize winners here at Provost Presents Prizes.  And this was the winning poem:

A Damp Nuisance

My budgie’s got bronchitis
With the dampness in the hoose
He tells me he’s fair scunnered
And is threatening to break loose.

When the cold east wind is blowing
And the rain comes seeping in
He squawks and squeals in anger
That his wing should be a fin.

With his feathers wet and tattered
He stamps his claws in rage
And croaks that his wee thrapple
Feels like the bottom of his cage.

So unless the building’s remedied
He’s reaching for the stars
As he disnae see why it should be him
And no’ the cooncil behind bars.

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