The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #2778   Message #1818931
Posted By: Matthew Edwards
25-Aug-06 - 04:46 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Copshawholme Fair (Steeleye Span)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Copshawholme Fair
Jack, that's a splendid version from Willie Scott; is that from Alison McMorland's book?

Another person who deserves mention here is Robert Forrester of Carlisle who was recorded singing it in 1953 by Jack Little, although he had to wait until 1982 for the recording to be issued!

Sue Allan discovered the recording in the archives in Carlisle Castle and issued it on a wonderful LP, 'Pass the Jug Round' and Veteran re-issued it on CD, VT142CD, in 2001.

Robert Forrester's singing can also be heard on the Topic CD TSCD655 Come all my lads that follow the plough in the Voice of the People series. (In the same series there is a recording of him playing the song tune in waltz time on a mouth organ with the Alf Adamson Square Dance Band at Low Hesket village hall in 1956.)

The Topic booklet gives a transcription of Robert Forrester's 12 verse version, but it leaves out the spoken introduction of the 1953 recording which is well worth adding here:-
"My name is Robert Forrester, and I'll sing you this song of Copshawholme Fair; a song of the Border where my ancestors hail frae. It is the story of a country fair, and the hiring of farm servants. This air, played by my friend Norman Alford has, you may have noticed, a strong Scottish flavour. To do it with the tin whistle, much used at northern fairs in days gone by, matches the wildness of the border country."

Robert and Norman collected and played many traditional Cumberland songs and tunes in the early 1950's, but this ended following Norman's early death from leukaemia in 1954. Robert had a successful career as a commercial artist with the Metal Box Company. He died in 1988; a recent exhibition of his art was held in Carlisle in 2004, and some more of his pictures are on display at Tullie House Museum in Carlisle.