The banner of the Govan Weavers' Society, 19th century.
The Society was instituted in 1756 primarily to control entry to the weaving trade and to provide assistance to handloom weavers who had fallen on hard times. The Society's funds came from the weavers themselves through quarterly subscriptions and payments to the swear box.
The banner is painted with a variety of symbolic images including two spindles (representing the industry), a fish with a ring (refering to the story of St Mungo) and Scottish thistles. "Nihil Sine Labore" is the motto of the Burgh of Govan, which existed from 1864 until it was annexed by Glasgow in 1912. The inclusion of the ram's head has a more colourful history. According to legend, a Govan minister had refused to give his maidservant permission to marry. The people of the village showed their disapproval of his behaviour by cutting off the heads of his flock of sheep. The ram's head was kept and it was paraded around the village each year in the weavers' procession at the Govan Fair.
Reference: 44.87.376c / PP.1992.8.5
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums
fairs, fish, friendly societies, Govan Fair, Govan Weavers' Society, handloom weavers, maidservants, ministers, rings, sheep, spindles, thistles, trade union banners, trade unions, trades unions