The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside ballad entitled ' The Sunday Steamer Emperor'


Verse 1: 'Arouse true friends to Freedom's cause. / Ye working men arise! / repel with scorn your sneaking foes, / Their lawless schemes despise. / United stand! defend your cause - / be faithful, firm and true - / By sound and honest argument / The right will wrong subdue, / Then flourish long the Sunday boat, / The captain and the crew.' This ballad was to be sung to the tune 'Scotland Yet'. The publisher was James Lindsay of King Street, Glasgow.

This ballad is based around an event in 1853 that came to be known as the 'Battle of Garelochhead'. Sir James Colquhoun, an owner of land around the Clyde estuary, objected to Sunday tourist cruises down the Clyde, and refused to allow day trippers on to his land. When the paddle steamer 'Emperor' tried to moor at Garelochhead pier, locals mobilised by Colquhoun barricaded the pier, but eventually were routed by the tourists, most of whom were from Glasgow.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

previous pageprevious          
Probable period of publication: 1852-1859   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(146)
Broadside ballad entitled ' The Sunday Steamer Emperor'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland