Nell Hannah: Aye Singin an Spinnin Yarns

Nell Hannah: Aye Singin an Spinnin Yarns


  • AUTHOR: Margaret Bennett and ILLUSTRATOR: Doris Rougvie
  • GENRE: Oral History - "End of the Shift" Project
  • PUBLISHER: Grace Note Publications C.I.C.
  • ISBN: 978-1907676406 & 978-1-907676-38-3

Nell Hannah: Aye Singin An Spinnin Yarns

Nell Hannah was born in rural Aberdeenshire in 1920 and grew in Turriff, where her family scraped a meagre living as domestic and farm servants. After the outbreak of World War Two, Nell and her sister Margaret moved with their mother to Perthshire, where all three got jobs at the Stanley Mill. At the time, it was running full tilt to produce webbing for military requirements and despite long hours and austere conditions; Nell recalls her years as a mill lassie as being memorably happy.

   In conversation with folklorist Margaret Bennett and long-time friend and fellow-singer, Doris Rougvie, Nell shares a life-time of reminiscences and songs. In recalling the hey-day of an industry that shut down in the 1980s, she constructs an oral history of life in war-time Perthshire. Then, following life’s paths with its twists and turns, Nell tells how, at the age of sixty-nine, she discovered her gift of singing and entertaining. Having made her first recording, a cassette, at the age of seventy, and her fifth, a CD, at the age of 90, Nell can hold an audience in the palm of her hand. 

Project on collaboration with Grace Notes Scotland on a project ‘The End of the Shift’, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Gannochy Trust.



  • Introduction                                                           
  • Noteson  fieldwork methods,
  • editing and production                                          
  • Earlydays                                                            
  • Grandparents                                                           
  • Turra in theTwenties an Thirties                           
  • Poor,but never hungry                                          
  • Granny’s kitchen                                                   
  • Christmas and NewYear                                         
  •  Childhood Games and Rhymes                                
  • Entertainment                                                          
  • Moving to Stanley                                                  
  • Wartime                                                                 
  •  A new life…                                                             
  • A whole new world                                                 
  • Biographic Notes                                                     
  • Endnotes    


  • The Bonnie Lass o Ballochmyle
  • Mary ofArgyll
  • I Met Her in the Garden Where the Praties Grow
  •  Mill o Tifty’sAnnie
  • Auld Turra Cronies
  • The Twa Recruitin Sergeants
  • How’d you Like to be a Baby Girl?
  • The Wanderer’s Warning
  • The Barnyards o Delgaty
  • Nicky Tams
  • McGinty’s Meal anAle
  • The Buchan Bobby
  • Let Him Go, Let Him Tarry
  • If I Were a Blackbird
  • My Mither Milked the Turra Coo
  • Oh Sing tae me theAuld Scots Sangs
  • One Spare Kiss
  • Who Pays The Piper?
  • Bonnie Wee Lochee Lass
  • The Jute Mill Song
  • Shift an Spin



 Margaret Bennett is a folklorist, writer, singer and broadcaster who comes from a family of tradition bearers, Gaelic on her mother’s side (from Skye) and Lowland Scots on her father’s. From 1984 to 1996 she lectured at The University of Edinburgh’s School of Scottish Studies and now teaches part-time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Based in Perthshire, she is a Trustee of ‘Grace Notes Scotland’, a Scottish Charity dedicated to handing on tradition.


Collaborator Doris Rougvie, whose drawings illustrate the book, is a singer, artist and long-time friend of both Nell and Margaret. Originally from Perthshire, she has a life-long interest in local history and folk song.