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ROBERT MACLEOD: Cowdenbeath Miner poet, A Collection by Arthur Nevay. EDITED by MARGARET BENNETT


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Robert MacLeodCowdenbeath Miner poet- A collection by Arthur Nevay - EDITOR BY MARGARET BENNETT

Arthur Nevay has collected over 120 compositions by former Cowdenbeath miner, Robert MacLeod (1876–1958), who became an entertainer after a mining accident ended his career. He wrote for music-hall performances at the Cowdenbeath Tivoli and sang round pubs and clubs, selling broadsheets to earn money, to help soup kitchens, disaster funds, war wounded and other needy causes. MacLeod lived through two World Wars, the 1926 Strike, the Great Depression, eight decades of colliery disasters, and he wrote ‘lest we forget’. He also raised the spirit of the community, with his droll, witty, ‘one-liners’ that made folk laugh. His work was greatly valued by the late John Watt, whose songs such as ‘Fife’s Got Everything’ and ‘The Kelty Clippie’ share MacLeod’s irreverent wit. Among Arthur’s papers is a letter from John stating that ‘lines like these should not be forgotten’ – neither should we forget the miner who penned them. 

Folklorist Margaret Bennett interviewed Arthur for an oral history project, ‘The End of the Shift’, which inspired her to write the introduction, edit and annotate the collection. Thanks to Arthur Nevay, we can now enjoy MacLeod’s legacy.

This collection is a treasure trove of life in Fife in the early part of the 20th Century, created by the pen of Robert MacLeod. My generation caught the tail end of those riches of song and poetry, but Bob MacLeod was there and captured the age in his writings. The great John Watt appreciated him hugely and, thanks to this lovingly restored archive, we all get to know the man and his work, so long forgotten. It’s wonderful, colourful and full of the human spirit.

Barbara Dickson, October 2015


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Margaret Bennett
Grace Note Publications

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