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Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet

DigiTrad:
A YOU'RE ADORABLE
SAILOR'S ALPHABET
THE LUMBERMAN'S ALPHABET


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Crowdercref 02 Jun 08 - 03:19 AM
Crowdercref 02 Jun 08 - 07:23 PM
Hawker 03 Jun 08 - 05:26 AM
Crowdercref 03 Jun 08 - 07:32 AM
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Hawker 03 Jun 08 - 08:55 AM
Mrrzy 03 Jun 08 - 08:55 AM
Hawker 03 Jun 08 - 09:04 AM
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Crowdercref 03 Jun 08 - 02:56 PM
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Subject: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 03:19 AM

In the new Cornwall Songwriter's show 'Cornish Lads' Mike O'C sings a newly invented Cornish miners alphabet. This song has the virtue that at its conclusion Lucy Burrow throws Mike off stage by one ear!

The song deliberately uses the well known formula and tune for such alphabets. Which prompts me to ask what is the earliest documentary of oral source for such an alphabet? Do they exist in rural employment contexts, or are they just a product of either industrial or maritime employment.

Just for the record this particular Cornish Miners' Alphabet begins:

A is for Agar the aristocrat,


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 07:23 PM

and it continues:

B is for Busy, the bal that went scat,


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Hawker
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 05:26 AM

For the non- cornish, scat is another way of saying bankrupt, bust, broke, to the wall, to pot etc.
Cheers, Lucy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 07:32 AM

C is for Crofty the biggest and best.

Closed about a decade ago, but now a new diamond drill explores long forgotten seams,
For as much tin lies in the granite heart of Cornwall as ever was taken out ...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Hawker
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 08:50 AM

Agar refers to Wheal Agar, or East Pool & Agar Mine located NW of Carn Brea, beside the main Camborne - Redruth road at Pool.

Originally known as Poor Old Bal, East Pool mine was worked for copper from the early 18th Century until 1784 In 1834 It became East Pool Mine and changed from Copper to Tin and produced also some arsenic and tungsten.

In 1897 It was amalgamated with Wheal Agar, named after the landowners of Lanhydrock and became East Pool & Agar.
In 1945 East Pool and Agar mine finally closed. Its beam engine continued pumping, to prevent the nearby South Crofty mine from becoming flooded, until September 1954, when pumping for the enlarged South Crofty sett was done by electrical pumps.

When the engine was no longer needed to pump out South Crofty in 1954, Grenville Bathe, a wealthy American historian bought the engine and gave it to the Trevithick Society, a group of volunteer enthusiasts for industrial history. The Trevithick Society also owned Michell's Whim which had been given to them by Treve Holman, one of the directors of Holman Bros who had saved the engine house after a rock collapse in 1921.

The high costs involved in preserving the engine houses led to the National Trust taking over the property in 1967. So today the site has two preserved engine houses. One is on Taylor's Shaft which has the largest preserved engine in Cornwall and across the road is Michell's Whim with its winding engine. The letters EPAL, East Pool and Agar Limited, can be seen on the chimney.

The Whim on Michell's shaft was used to hoist men and ore. It is a a 30-inch rotative beam engine and is open to the public in the summer season.

Taylor's shaft adjacent to the Morrison's supermarket at Pool houses a 90 inch engine. There are also working models of the mine, a film show and a walk through the flue of the EPAL chimney.

In 1993 the Trevithick Trust was set up by the Trevithick Society and local authorities in Cornwall to manage various industrial museums in Cornwall. The site was boosted in 1997 when building began on the Industrial Discovery Centre at Taylor's.
Cheers, Lucy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Hawker
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 08:55 AM

Busy refers to Great Wheal Busy mine, worked from some time before 1720 until 1909. It first mined copper and later changed to tin. In 1900, a considerable quantity of arsenopyrite was recovered.

In 1775: Smeaton (of Eddystone Lighthouse fame) erected the most powerful engine then built in Cornwall at Wheal Busy;

Great Wheal Busy was the site where in the 1770s James Watt introduced some of his early improvements to the steam engine.

Probably the most dramatic engineering achievement in Cornwall in the 18th century was the Great County Adit. Begun in 1748 by John Williams of Scorrier to drain Poldice. This drainage system was extended to the other mine and by 1778 had been driven through Wheal Busy to North Downs and on into Wheal Peevor. Another branch was cut by 1792 into Wheal Unity and Gorland, and Consolidated and United Mines also discharged their pumped water into the Great County Adit, which eventually extended some 40 miles.

The year 1777 saw the first Watt engine in Cornwall at work; this was at Wheal Busy, otherwise known as Wheal Spirit, Chacewater. The engine for Tingtang mine, near Redruth, had been ordered first, but there was delay in getting the parts to Cornwall and it was not at work until the following year. So the first Watt engine actually erected in that county was the Wheal Busy engine, a 30-inch cylinder.

The cylinders and other castings for both Wheal Busy and Tingtang were ready at Bersham early in May 1777, but when it came to actually shipping them, the Tingtang cylinder was too big to go through the hatches of the boat taking them. So the Wheal Busy engine was dispatched first, much to the annoyance of Watt. The erection of the Wheal Busy engine was entrusted to Thomas Dudley, but Watt himself went down to supervise the completion of the engine. Upon his arrival in Cornwall in August 1777 he found 'Wheal Busy in considerable forwardness', and that 'what ironwork had been made there is little inferior to our own, if any'.

The engine was soon set going, and the reports on the performance were very good. The Wheal Busy engine apparently made "as many converts as a Methodist meeting and inspired them with as great a fever of enthusiasm." Orders for Watts engines soared. In December I778Watt wrote from Redruth to his friend Black: "Our success here has equaled our most sanguine expectations; we have succeeded in saving three-fourths of the fuel over the engines here, which are the best of the old kind in the island."

By 1855 the description of the mine was

" in the parish of Kenwyn, and within the mining district of Chacewater, 4 miles from the town of Truro. The nearest shipping place is at Hayle, 14 from the mine, and the nearest railway station is at Chacewater. The mine is held under a lease for 21 years , from 1855, at a royalty of 1-24th, granted by Viscount FALMOUTH; it is now worked for tin and copper. "

1866 At Wheal Busy there was an outbreak of sabotage against those "adventurers" who were said to be infiltrating the tin industry.

1873 Wheal Busy closed.

In 1907 Wheal Busy re-opened primarily for arsenic production for the Anglo-Belgian Company. The celebrations were such that Lord Falmouth gave a whole bullock to roast for the party. Arsenic was roasted on site until World War II; shortly after this the engine was broken up for scrap

.During the middle of the 1920s Killifreth took over Wheal Busy, mainly to mine arsenic, but this brief revival was over by 1927, and mining there was over.

Remains of calciner, engine houses and smithy can be seen today.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Mrrzy
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 08:55 AM

Wonder if this inspired the Gashlycrumb Tinies...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Hawker
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 09:04 AM

Crofty refers to South Crofty Mine, mid-way betwen Camborne and Redruth at Pool in Cornwall. It was first mined as a small sett called Penhellick Vean in the 1590's, and became South Wheal Crofty in 1854. Initially as most of the mines here, it was a shallow tin mine and then a copper mine. The mine switched to the deep tin zone from the 1860's onwards. From the 1890's onwards the mine acquired other setts as the surrounding mines closed, including New Cook's Kitchen Mine, Tincroft & Carn Brea, North Roskear, South Roskear and Dolcoath Mine in 1930, to become a huge underground mine spanning nearly 4.5 km across. The workings reached almost 3000 feet in depth.

The mine was worked for tin, arsenic and tungsten during the early 20th century, but by 1960 tin was the sole product. When it closed in 1998 it had been producing for 400 years of almost continuous work. It still posesses significant reserves.

In the 1680s Penhellick Vean and Tyn Croft - the forerunners of South Crofty are first mentioned in the historical records.

In the 1730s Newcomen engines were introduced to the mine.

In the 1740s Cooks Kitchen Mine was started.

In 1787 The Great Copper Slump caused many Cornish mines to shut for about a decade.

In 1822 The sett of East Wheal Crofty recorded.

In the 1850s The former large sett of East Wheal Crofty was sub-divided into North Wheal Crofty and South Wheal Crofty.

1859 A 'man engine' was installed on Dunkin's shaft at Cook's Kitchen, followed by the sale of part of the South Wheal Crofty sett in 1861. The capital from the sale funded the construction of Palmer's pumping Engine house near the boundary with the neighbouring East Pool sett.

1872 The sett of Cook's Kitchen on the western boundary with Dolcoath is subdivided into the northern New Cook's Kitchen sett with the southern half remaining as Cook's Kitchen sett.

1895 Cook's Kitchen Mine is sold to Tincroft mines with Tincroft and Carn Brea Mines amalgamating the following year.

1899 The new company purchased New Cook's Kitchen sett and pumping recommenced.

1901 The sinking of Robinson's shaft began followed by construction of Robinson's pumping engine house by 1903.

1906 The former 'South Wheal Crofty' company becomes 'South Crofty Limited' in July. 1907 The shaft at New Cook's Kitchen commenced sinking with a modernisation of the stamps and mill areas the following year.

1914-1918 World War One causes an increased demand for tin copper and other metals.

1921 The post war slump caused the neighbouring mines at Dolcoath, Carn Brea and Tincroft to close. A large collapse of rock underground blocked both shafts at the neighbouring East Pool Mine. With no pumping occuring in the neighbouring setts parts of South Crofty mine began flooding. So in 1922 South Crofty had to purchase the 90 inch pumping engine formerly at Fortescue's shaft at Wheal Grenville.

1922-27 Taylor's shaft at East Pool was constructed and commissioned as well as other shafts at New Tolgus and New Roskear.

1936 The large sett of Dolcoath to the west was purchased. Considerably increasing the size of the mine.

1985 Price of Tin crashes causing unemployment and hardship all through the Cornish mining industry.

March 6th 1998 Closure of South Crofty. South Crofty was the last working tin mine in Cornwall. South Crofty did not actually mine the Great Flat Lode but mines the lodes to the north of Carn Brea.

2001 reopened by Baseresult Ltd as New Cook's Kitchen Mine and then abandoned. Although flooded to adit level (~140 feet) Baseresult intended to restart it as a working mine. A section of the workings above adit, on North Tincroft Lode, were in 2003 been opened for tourist visits with access from the Tuckingmill Decline. This quote from their South Crofty website

"The underground tour starts at the portal of the Tuckingmill decline. This 5m by 3m inclined tunnel was excavated during the mid 1980's and was intended to be the main mine access. The upper sections which pass through poor ground close to surface contain steel arches for support. 50m down from the portal on the right-hand side is the connectiion to Eastern Valley Shaft which was part of the famous Dolcoath Mine. The decline was driven approximately 600m from surface and in 1988 all work stopped, only the top 250m is accessible above the water level. At a point 200m from the portal, access has been gained to the series of parallel stopes which belong to the North Tincroft Lode, sections of these are very old, late 1600's but the last major period of working dates from the early 1900's to the 1940's. Traditional open shrink stoping has been employed and pillars left for support, this has given rise to some very large voids. The maximum depth below surface that you will reach on the tour is about 150 feet (45m)."

Crofty Tin make jewellry from South Crofty Tin

The words to the chorus of Roger Bryant's song 'Cornish Lads' were painted on the wall at South Crofty after its closure and are still there to this day. The song is a part of the New Cornwall Songwriters show of the same name.

Cheers, Lucy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Hawker
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 09:09 AM

D is for Dolcoath the queen of the West....
Mike your turn for the History lesson!
Cheers, Lucy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 02:53 PM

In reference part II of the original question, "What is the earliest documentary of oral source for such an alphabet? Do they exist in rural employment contexts, or are they just a product of either industrial or maritime employment.":

The two that I've seen are in the DT:

Lumberman's (Woodman's) Alphabet
Sailor's Alphabet

There are links to Forum discussions on those pages.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 02:56 PM

E is for Emily the pride of Penwith.

Penwith is historically claimed to be the whole area of Cornwall West of Redruth.
In early Norman times the Lord of Penwith had his manor at Connerton, near Hayle. And, being a good lad it seems he employed (at least) one musician 'Robert le tabourer' being mentioned in the Arundell papers before c. 1200-1230.

West Penwith is the Peninsula West of Penzance plus whatever the politicians decide of the rest of Cornwall.

There were several mines called Wheal Emily in both Cornwall and West Devon. The Wheal Emily of the song (perilously close to West Wheal Fanny) is not far from Gwithian and shafts and an adit remain. I think they were worked-out quite early on.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Hawker
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 06:13 PM

Dolcoath is Cornish for "The Old Pit" The mineral rights were owned by the Bassett family of Tehidy who are recorded on a deed in 1588 as leasing the ground to a family called Crane.
The early history of the mine - like most others in Cornwall - is obscure. The first documented reference to Dolcoath was in 1738. Even during the 18th century, this was a deep mine - workings were down to 290m by 1780, and the mine was already complex and extensive at surface, water power being of particular importance for pumping and winding with leats (some in a shallow tunnel system) being brought into the site over long distances from both east and west. Dolcoath was also very early (by 1758) equipped with the new atmospheric steam engines. The collapse of the Copper Standard during the 1780s forced its closure; it was reopened in 1799 and continued to produce copper until the mid 1840s.


Dolcoath weathered the slump in copper prices of the late 18th century brought about by the development of the Parys Mountain sulphide deposit on Anglesey, and continued to develop in depth - reaching 500m below surface by the 1820's. By the 1840's, however, the copper reserves were economically almost depleted, and following the example of the Carn Brea mines to the east, the adventurers extended the mine ever downwards in search of the tin that was likely to lie below. The finding of massive, rich lodes of tin in depth ensured that the second century of activity at Dolcoath was quite as rich as the first, and the mine became a byword for Cornish Mining - a blue chip concern of the first order.

F is for Fuse and the Great Bickford Smith..........


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Joybell
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 06:30 PM

Also referring to the second half of the question --
There are several bawdy versions of alphabet rhymes.
I first read one at primary school when it was passed around in class. 1950s in Melbourne Australia. It begins:
A for the artful words he uses
B for the blush as she gently refuses ....
Finishes with
Z for the zip as he zips up his fly.
The last letter dates this version as fairly recent. Can only wonder what they used for a rhyme before zips.

It's online in several places -- or you can fill in the gaps easily.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 03:52 AM

There is a 'Sailor's Alphabet,' a 'Fisherman's Alphabet,' a 'Shantyboy's Alphabet,' and a 'Miner's Alphabet,' I'm conscious of several versions of the Sailor's Alphabet. This sort of thing

A is the Anchor that holds a bold ship,
B is the Bowsprit that often does dip.
C is the Capstan round which we must wind, and
D are the Davits on which the jolly boat hangs.

So hi derry, hey derry, ho derry down,
Give sailors their grog and there's nothing goes wrong,
So merry, so merry, so merry are we,
No mortal on earth like a sailor at sea.

Which seems to come form the world of the sailing ship, perhaps 19th century, and before the age of steam ships. Certainly post a certain level of education. Where I live the first charity schools we're started in the late 18th century. I could certainly imagine these songs having a genesis about then.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 06:31 AM

F is for Fuse and the great Bickord-Smith.    Ah yes ...

William Bickford invented the safety fuse for igniting gunpowder, which saved many lives. Cornish mines did not suffer from explosive gasses, but many miners were killed by misuse of gunpowder. Early fuses were often tubes of reeds filled with powder and were extremely unreliable. Either they exploded too early not giving miners time to get away, or took too long to ignite and killed miners who assumed the fuse had gone out.

William Bickford was born in Ashburton, Devon in 1774. He moved to Truro. He then moved on to Tuckingmill near Camborne in the Cornwall mining area.

At first he had no connection with the mining industry. But he saw many accidents occurring because of faulty or unreliable fuses. One day watching a rope maker, his friend James Bray who owned a rope factory in Tolgarrick Road. spinning his threads, he realized that a strand of yarn, impregnated with gunpowder could be included in the rope to make a reliable, predictable fuse.

He designed a machine, which would do on an industrial scale, the job of winding rope around a central core of gunpowder. The winding another strand of rope in the opposite which stopped the fuse untwisting. The rope was waterproofed by varnishing it. By cutting the required length, the time of fuse delay could be accurately predicted. Once the end was lit the rope burnt at a steady rate, and did not go out.

In 1831 he took out a patent on his "safety rods" and manufactured them in a factory at Tuckingmill near Camborne. In its first year his factory produced 45 miles of fuse. This shows the scale of mining, as only a few feet would be needed for one blast. Bickford died son after this in 1834 just before the fuse factory opened.

It took some time to get miners to use these safer fuses, as the older, unpredictable ones were cheaper. Eventually common sense prevailed and the mining industry moved over to the safety fuses

Bickford-Smith & Company took their operation to America in 1836.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Susan of DT
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 06:54 AM

The next version of the DT will have at least four more of these alphbet songs: three soldier's alphabets and a working man's alphabet. And the Rig Worker's Alphabet available in the DT posted here has been separated from Robin and Gambolin, which got stuck together in this one.

Crowderdref and others: if you have more versions of these alphabet songs, post them and I'll get them into the DT.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 09:02 AM

Thank you Susan of DT.
^^
Sailors Alphabet, recorded by Peter Kennedy from Bill Barber, Cadgwith, Cornwall 195.
Published in Canow Kernow, ed. Inglis Gundry, Soundpost, 1965

A is for the Anchor the 'angs o'er the bow.
B is for the Bowsprit that bends like a bow
C is for the Captain that merrily goes roun'
And D is for the Davits that lower our boats down.

chorus

So merry, so merry, so merry are we,
There's no man on earth like a sailor at sea
Blow High, blow low, as the ship sails along.
Give the sailor his grog and there's nothing goes wrong.

E is for the Ensign we fly at our peak
And F is for the Fo'c'sle where the sailors do sleep
G is for the Galley where the cook flies aroun'
And H is for the Halyards we haul up and down.

I is for the Iron so stout and so strong
And J is for the Jackstay the topsails bent on,
K is for the Kelson at the bottom of the ship
And L is for the Lanyards we oft times do whip.

M is for the Mainmast so stout and so strong
N is for Needle the Compass stands on
O is for Oars our jolly boat we row
and P is for the Pump where we all take a go.

Q is for the Quarter deck the Old ma p'rade on
R is for the Rudder that steers us along
S is for the Stunsail whose booms up we ship
And T is for the Topsails we hoist with a song.

U is for the Union Jack we fly at the fore,
V is for the Vane that we all do adore
W is for the Wheel where we all take our turn
and XYZ is the name on our stern.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 04:42 AM

Not traditional, but there's also Alan Burbidge's "Sailor's (flag of convenience)alphabet":

Chorus: Oh it's happily and cheerfully and carelessly we
Are a tax loss ashore and a hazard at sea
If we should explode with a bloody great bang
Well, the owners are Greek and they don't give a damn

Now, A's for the anchor of which we are proud
B for your beaches, with filth we will shroud
C is for cycles; the decks we ride round
D for the 'Decca' on the bridge broken down
E for the engine that's likewise gone wrong
F starts the Chief's curse, both vicious and strong
G is the Gulf, where we've picked up our load
While H is our hatred for rules of the road

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Susan of DT
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 04:32 PM

Crowder - It starts off identical to the Sailor's Alphabet we have, but since it diverges, I harvested it.

Kitty - Have you the rest of that?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 06:18 PM

Read up on Bal Maidens of Cornwall..very interesting. I think I might be descended from some..not sure..how and when did Cornish come to America?


Vietnam alphabet

A for the ambush that comes in the night
B is for Bravo the boys that could fight
C is for Charlie cruel and red
D is for dying and d is for dead

E for enlisted men sturdy and true
F for the fear we knew through and through
G for guerrila for grunt and granade
H for a hundred degrees in the shade

H furthermore is for straight out of hell
H for the horrors we never will tell
H for the Hueys flying around
H is for hover and H hit the ground

I is for incoming deadly and near
J is for Jesus Christ why are we hear
K is for kill our mission in short
K for K rations in case we abort

L is for lots of things that come to mind
L is for leaving our lovers behind
L for lieutenants the good and the bad
L for the limbs that we wish we still had

M is for memories munitions and mom
N is for napalm the nastiest bomb
O is for opium easy and cheap
P is for punji sticks plunging in deep

Q for the quiet that's worse than the noise
S for what separates men from the boys
T is for torture and t is for Tet
T is for try really hard to forget

U for our uncle who sent us away
U for our homeland the US of A
U is for really unless you were there
You can't understand and we're not sure you care

V is for Vietnam everyone knows
V is for vanquish our villianous foes
V for the victory we were denied
V for the very fine men who have died. mg


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 06:38 PM

The Cornish emigrations began as early as 1836. However, the main influx to the New World was 1850 to 1890. The best known, but not the only, communities grew up in Grass Valley California and Mineral Point Wisconsin. Migration continued into the 1930s. Others were in New Hamphire, Pennsylvania Colorado Utah and Nevada. These links may help.

The Cornish Emigrations

The Cornish American Heritage Society

oll an gwella

Crowdercref


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Hawker
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 07:36 PM

G is for Geevor, they're singing there still.........


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 04:43 PM

Susan - yes I do have all the words, because I have the book of Alan's songs. The Alan Burbidge Song Book was published in 2003 by Umber Music, ISBN 1 898878 12 9. Umber Music is Tom and Barbara Brown - Mudcat's own BB, so if you're interested in harvesting the song for the DT I suggest you PM her. The copyright resides with Friendly Overtures - the address at time of publication was Walkers cottage, 26 Ashton Lane, Remenham Hill, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1EJ (England).

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 10 Jun 08 - 04:23 PM

Geevor stands on the Cornish cliffs close to the other well known mines: Levant, Botallack and the Crowns. They all went out under the sea.

MIke O'Connor's powerful song, Last Shift at the Crowns was in fact written after a conversation with Nelson Daniels, last cage man at Geevor. One of his tasks was to check the watertight doors were shut at the end of the shift, having first checked to ensure that no salt water was finding its way into the mine.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Hawker
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 06:32 PM

And H is for Holman, the man with the drill...........


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 16 Jun 08 - 06:39 PM

H is for Holman, the man with the drill. In the 19th century Cornwall was the world's leading centre for the development and manufacture of equipment for the mining industry. The development of the rock drill for boring holes in rock, was led by the Camborne engineering company of Holman Brothers.

Holman had been a blacksmith who assisted the father of the locomotive, Richard Trevithick of Camborn, with the development of his early high pressure steam boilers.

Holman Bros, Camborne, made their first patented compressed air drill in 1881. Before this all drilling was done by hand. Holman drills were synonymous with mining and won many competitions, and held a number of mining and tunneling world records.

Through various mergers Holman's eventually became Comp Air Ltd. They ceased operation in 2003.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Joybell
Date: 16 Jun 08 - 07:51 PM

Can't find the rude one anywhere. Might be just as well. I imagine it's in many heads anyway.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Snuffy
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 08:41 AM

I imagine it's in many heads anyway

As in "written on the wall"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 09:09 AM

There is also a Cornish Alphabet.
My cousin knows it but wont write it down for me.
A was for 'andsome I think because H was for heavy cake.
My brother worked above ground at Wheal Jane for a while.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: pavane
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 05:05 AM

There are many copies of similar alphabets in the Bodliean library dating from the 1800's, so it is not a recent thing.

Here is one example
Temperance Alphabet


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: pavane
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 05:08 AM

And here is one from the 1700's

The virgin's abc


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Joybell
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 08:22 PM

On walls in heads, Snuffy? I imagine it is too.
pavane's link to "The virgin's abc" gives a good alternative for the zip in the naughty alphabet, doesn't it?
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 19 Jun 08 - 03:27 AM

Brenda Wootton with John the Fish
Pasties and Cream
Sentinel Records 1971        

A         is for ansum which we d'think we are (Es, no-one else would, would they?)
And         B         is fer bussa, a git Cornish jar -
And        C         is fer cream (which we d'like a lot),
Our cream is that thick you could call'n a clot!
        D        is for Digey - down St Ives, dawn't 'ee see,
And        E        is fer thee and fer me and fer she.
(She eden no 'ee! 'Es she is cause if she was with 'ee and I saw her coming down the street, I would say "Well, where are 'ee off to now I wonder?")
        F        is fer fairings you d'get up at the Fair -
They d'go a bit sticky, but the flavour is rare!
And        G        is fer gulls, as they d'fly cross the bar -
But if you're underneath them, then watch out my gar!
        H         is fer heavy - a git slab o'cake,
All dough and currints, like mo-ther d'bake.
        I        is fer 'idna' - my dear soul I cain't think!
All this'ere rhymin' d'drive me to drink!
And        J        is fer Janner - that's our cousin Jack -
You give 'ee some cheek and he'll give'ee one back!
        K        is fer klunk, you know, when you d'swalla -
And        L        is fer larrups - a git lout of a fella.
        M        is fer mo-ther, for whom we d'all care,
And        N        is fer nawthen that's going nowhere.
        O        is the ore ('No, no - not that kind of ore!') - that's the copper and tin,
That we dig down the mines midst the darkness and din - ('Oooh, very profound!')
And        P        is fer wan thing - that's pasties galore!
My dear, when I've 'ad a pasty, I don't want nawthen no more!
And        Q         is the queue where we patiently stood -
For two pennorth of butter and a bit of 'og's pud!
        R        is fer ray - now, there's a sweet bit o' fish,
Boiled taties and butter d'make a rich dish.
And        S        is fer saffron and Sunday School treat -
'Es - remember the banner we carr'd in the street?
And        T        is fer toe-rag, all salty and wry -
When I've 'ad some of that I could drink the sea dry!
And        U        is fer 'us' - well, we d'say 'we' -
('That edn't very good! 'S'better n'your 'idna', anyhow!')
And        V        is fer 'varmint' - some trouble is he!
        W        is fer withies, fer making pots fer the crabs,
And sticking up chimblys when cleaning the slabs;
And        X        marks the spot - of a h'old Cornish cross,
All covered in lichen and soft silky moss ...
And        Y        is fer 'Yeow!!' - 'es, you d'hear that in the street!
Now that's a true Cornish greeting wherever you d'meet.        
Z        Well - all I can think of fer
here is Zennor -
Aw, come's'on - lets go home and have denner.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 06:27 PM

Of course there is the Nancegollan alphabet, which mysteriously has no letter G ...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 05:07 PM

I is Imperial. Imperial mine was in the St. Austell/Lostwithiel area and seems never to have been a going concern. Clearly a very optimistic name. The ore in that area was not good - much of it was sufficiently old to have rotten into china clay.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: GUEST,Cornish Rower
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 05:58 PM

Does anyone know the full lyrics to the miners alphabet song if so any chance you could put them up here?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 06:26 PM

I was about to ask the same question... please someone, put em up!

Sal


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 05:44 PM

please someone, put em up!

I want to know the words, that's all! How can we have a thread about a song without seeing them?

Sal


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 06:15 PM

I believe they're not being posted because permission should be asked -- as implied by:

Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Herga Kitty - PM
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 04:43 PM

Susan - yes I do have all the words, because I have the book of Alan's songs. The Alan Burbidge Song Book was published in 2003 by Umber Music, ISBN 1 898878 12 9. Umber Music is Tom and Barbara Brown - Mudcat's own BB, so if you're interested in harvesting the song for the DT I suggest you PM her. The copyright resides with Friendly Overtures - the address at time of publication was Walkers cottage, 26 Ashton Lane, Remenham Hill, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1EJ (England).

Kitty

--------

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 04:41 PM

Except, Becky, that my post wasn't about the Cornish Miners' Alphabet, it was about the parody of the Sailor's Alphabet, written by Alan Burbidge, so was thread creep really. (As it was Susan of DT who was asking about the full words, I assumed she's thinking of havesting it for DT, and would need to contact the copyright owner. Alan was only too happy for people to sing his songs, but they are all copyright. The publisher's note says "The songs here are for learning and singing - but please, always credit Alan and let more people know about the man and his writing".)

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 06:29 PM

Oops, sorry! Not reading carefully enough.

In which case, I'll join the outcry -- words to the Cornish Miner's Alphabet, please! (Or a reason why not, too shut us up. ;)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 03:52 AM

But surely if one writes a song one would like people to sing it. I wouldn't think it would matter if the words were published. That is taking PRS a tad too far, me thinks.

sal


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 04:01 PM

As I was singing

I is Imperia; (which it was not)
J- Cousin Jack who is never forgot.

By the way what has PRS got to do with anything on this thread?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 05:31 PM

Okay, okay, they're insisting on trickling the words in.

Here they are to date:

A is for Agar the aristocrat,
B is for Busy, the bal that went scat,
C is for Crofty the biggest and best,
D is for Dolcoath the queen of the West.
E is for Emily the pride of Penwith,
F is for Fuse and the Great Bickford Smith.
G is for Geevor, they're singing there still,
And H is for Holman, the man with the drill.
I is Imperia; (which it was not),
J- Cousin Jack who is never forgot.

---

I assume references to PRS are in response to reluctance to post copyrighted words without the artist's permission...

~ Becky in Tucson
(sing already, if that's what yer about!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 08:54 AM

"I assume references to PRS are in response to reluctance to post copyrighted words without the artist's permission..."

Yes that is what I mean.

Sal


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Crowdercref
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 06:12 PM

K is for kibble, a bloody big pail!

.. very heavy, used for lifting the ore up the shaft. It's a dialect word, inevitably.

By the way just cos' a song is registered with PRS, MCPS or anyone else doesn't stop anyone from singing it. But it does enable songwriters to get their (very modest) dues if anyone else is making money out of it! Copyright is a completely different thing, but if the writer says you can copy a song, for example to learn it, then go for it. No hassle.

oll an gwella

Crowdercref


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 14 Jul 08 - 07:35 AM

So that's it then? Does no one know it? Or is it a secret?

Sal


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 14 Jul 08 - 02:31 PM

Miss Lemon, Crowdercref and Hawker obviously know them, but their approach to this thread seems to be to work us through the text a line or two at a time, and damn the torpedos! ;-)

We must all breath deeply and sip slowly. I'll compile the accumulated lines as they come in (or anyone else may).

The one thing that seems to be missing in the process is the chorus...

~ Becky in Tucson


A is for Agar the aristocrat,
B is for Busy, the bal that went scat,
C is for Crofty the biggest and best,
D is for Dolcoath the queen of the West.
E is for Emily the pride of Penwith,
F is for Fuse and the Great Bickford Smith.
G is for Geevor, they're singing there still,
And H is for Holman, the man with the drill.
I is Imperia; (which it was not),
J- Cousin Jack who is never forgot.
K is for kibble, a bloody big pail!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 14 Jul 08 - 03:12 PM

Or, assuming this goes to the same tune & format I'm familiar with in other versions:


A is for Agar the aristocrat,
B is for Busy, the bal that went scat,
C is for Crofty the biggest and best,
D is for Dolcoath the queen of the West.

E is for Emily the pride of Penwith,
F is for Fuse and the Great Bickford Smith.
G is for Geevor, they're singing there still,
And H is for Holman, the man with the drill.

I is Imperia; (which it was not),
J- Cousin Jack who is never forgot.
K is for kibble, a bloody big pail!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cornish Miners' Alphabet
From: Hawker
Date: 14 Jul 08 - 06:52 PM

L is levant where the man engine failed

Info about the mining disaster where the man engine failed at Levant mine, killing 32 men can be found here

Sorry we are taking time to share this song with you, there were so many mines in Cornwall, we thought we'd give you time to mtake each one in............

Oh, and the Chorus goes.......

Drill and Blast
Bar and fill
If Bucca don't get you
The Bal Maiden will.

You can hear the song performed as part of the show Cornish Lads at Bideford Folk festival, visit the Cornwall Songwriters website for info on other venues (sorry all in UK) or you could buy a CD with it on for £12 - pm me or Crowdercref for more info.

Cheers, Lucy


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