At the end of the 84/85 miners' strike I was teaching local history in Bilston, a former coal and iron town. We dealt with the forgotten life of the Manchester-born Chartist Joe Linney, and one afternoon went to look at his unmarked grave in Bilston cemetery. The song that follows was the result:
Joe Linney lies in Bilston Town, where he's lain a hundred years,
In Plot 755, a pauper's grave, and I wonder if he hears
The news, and I wonder if he hears.
Joe Linney came from Manchester, to spread the Charter's cause,
That those who make the nation's wealth should make the nation's laws,
He said, should make the nation's laws.
The furnaces were all blown out, the pits were all shut down,
And soldiers held the masters' rule in every Midland town
That year, in every Midland town.
July of '42 came round, the pitmens' anger flared,
From town to town the county round Joe Linney's voice was heard
Each day, Joe Linney's voice was heard.
The pitmen marched on Brummagem, they marched ten thousand strong,
And with their banners, rank on rank, Joe Linney led the throng
That night, Joe Linney led the throng.
The Magistrates in Stafford Town, they sent their order out
To constables the county wide, to stop Joe Linney's mouth,
They said, to stop Joe Linney's mouth.
They took Joe Linney from his home, in chains to Stafford Town,
Where by the lies of Police and spies they sent Joe Linney down
To jail, they sent Joe Linney down.
Two years they gave Joe Linney then, but when his time was done,
With bands and banners all the way, the pitmen took him home
Again, the pitmen bore him home.
Joe Linney lived in Bilston Town another forty years,
Till worn by age and poverty, a pauper's grave was his
At last, a pauper's grave was his.
Repeat first verse
Does he hear of furnaces blown out, does he hear of pits shut down?
Does he know the masters rule by force, does he know his works not done,
By half, doers he know his works not done?
The tune is traditional --- 'Hay Marshall' -- which is in the DT. The words are copyright to me, buyt you're very welcome to sing them.