Calton has had an industrial character for many years – pottery was a major local trade, indeed Saint Mary’s is built on a clayfield and there were several brickworks in operation as the church was built. The locals were somewhat dismissive of the building commenting that it was certainly not built on rock!
Handloom weaving was another significant industry and textiles brought prosperity to the area. The story of the Calton Weaver’s strike in 1787 is one which lives on in the local memory and in the history of industrial relations.
The weavers became less financially secure as they relied increasingly on piecework. During a demonstration, three of the weavers were shot and killed as a result of the military being called in to break the demonstration. The strike has since been celebrated as one of Glasgow’s most dramatic early experiences of industrial militancy.
The graves of the Calton Weavers are in the Arbercromby Street Cemetery a few hundred yards from Saint Mary’s. The burial ground was created by the Calton Incorporation of Weavers in 1786 although the ground was not solely used by them. The graveyard still exists, but it no longer takes burials.