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Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The

Pilgrim 23 Mar 07 - 06:27 AM
Scrump 23 Mar 07 - 08:15 AM
Les in Chorlton 23 Mar 07 - 08:20 AM
Grimmy 23 Mar 07 - 08:27 AM
Grimmy 23 Mar 07 - 09:03 AM
Pilgrim 23 Mar 07 - 09:21 AM
Grimmy 23 Mar 07 - 10:02 AM
Pilgrim 23 Mar 07 - 10:09 AM
Grimmy 23 Mar 07 - 10:18 AM
Pilgrim 23 Mar 07 - 10:23 AM
GUEST,Andy 23 Mar 07 - 01:50 PM
Mark Dowding 23 Mar 07 - 02:04 PM
Grimmy 23 Mar 07 - 02:11 PM
Grimmy 23 Mar 07 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,Andy 24 Mar 07 - 01:52 PM
mg 24 Mar 07 - 04:22 PM
Mark Dowding 24 Mar 07 - 05:20 PM
Mark Dowding 25 Mar 07 - 06:05 AM
Grimmy 26 Mar 07 - 06:04 AM
GUEST, Sminky 09 Jan 08 - 01:04 PM
sallonby 17 Jan 08 - 03:32 AM
GUEST,Calandrath 09 Feb 13 - 11:26 PM
GUEST,singingjay 14 May 15 - 05:05 PM
GUEST 14 May 15 - 05:08 PM
GUEST 23 Nov 16 - 04:53 PM
GUEST 10 Jan 18 - 07:34 AM
leeneia 11 Jan 18 - 05:38 PM
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Subject: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Pilgrim
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 06:27 AM

I can't find a tune this one anywhere. It relates to the time that the work dried up in the Lancashire mills during the American Civil War, and people were put to work building a road over feather bed moss. The chorus says; "Shovel and scrape now, for pennies and bread, where mosses cross over the old feather bed".
First verse, if it jogs anyone's memory, says,
"Come all of ye weavers in old cotton rags,
There's work to be done now acroos the peat hags
A road we must build 'cross old Feather Bed
A road we must build, or soon we'll be dead"


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Scrump
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 08:15 AM

This is very interesting. I've heard about the road, but I don't know about the song. Mark Dowding will probably know... Mark? I'd be interested to see it too.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 08:20 AM

Strange cobbled Road over moors! It's not a bad walk, lots of interesting views south over Manchester and to North Wales most other directions various bits of Pennines.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Grimmy
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 08:27 AM

Me too. There's a trackway between Rossendale and Rochdale called Cotton Famine Road and another near Oldham.

Pilgrim, where did those those words come from?


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Grimmy
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 09:03 AM

For those who want further info, there is a Project Gutenberg copy of Waugh's "Home-Life of the Lancashire Factory Folk during the Cotton Famine" here.
WARNING: it makes harrowing reading. Eg:

"This family had been driven from house to house, by increasing necessity, till they had sunk at last into a dingy little hovel, up a dark court, in one of the poorest parts of the town, where they huddled together about a fireless grate to keep one another warm. They had nothing left of the wreck of their home but two rickety chairs, and a little deal table reared against the wall, because one of the legs was gone. In this miserable hole which I saw afterwards her husband died of sheer starvation, as was declared by the jury on the inquest. The dark, damp hovel where they had crept to was scarcely four yards square; and the poor woman pointed to one corner of the floor, saying, "He dee'd i' that nook." He died there, with nothing to lie upon but the ground, and nothing to cover him, in that fireless hovel. His wife and children crept about him, there, to watch him die; and to keep him as warm as they could. When the relief committee first found this family out, the entire clothing of the family of seven persons weighed eight pounds, and sold for fivepence, as rags."


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Pilgrim
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 09:21 AM

Bluddy hell Grimmy, it's bleak, but it's also an accurate portrayal of where my ancestors came from, and of an event that is only relatively recent, (America being, after all, a pretty new concept). The song was sung by a fella who is from Stalybridge, where my folks came from, and the words are the best that I can remember through the beer induced mist that surround most of that night after about ten o'clock. Various characters are introduced in the (i suspect many) verses, for instance:
Why, Why must we do this? cries poor hobbling Sue
Because all the looms now have nothing to do.
Think I'll save having a walk over to Rossendale for when it is a little warmer.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Grimmy
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 10:02 AM

Sorry! Some of the accounts in Waugh refer to properties less than 200m of where I'm sitting right now.

My great-great-grandfather was a cotton weaver in Ashton (Audenshaw). He joined the Police force in 1860 - now I know why. A very good career move.

If you should bump into Stalybridge man again, Pilgrim, it would be great if you could get the whole song. Some of the Harland songs are a tad too sentimental for my taste.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Pilgrim
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 10:09 AM

I'm on the case for the whole song. I've pretty much got the words that the bloke sang (although I suspect there are more verses, but as I say, it's the music I'm struggling with. From the reference to Harland, are you saying that you think it was written by this fella? If nothing else I'll pick it out on the piano from what I remember, but as I say my memory of that night is sketchy at best. Bluddy beer. Same thing happened with the Coal and Albert Berry. Cracking song, heard it one night down the battle cruiser, found the words on here, but can't get the tune into my head for love nor money. I'm four miles away from Audenshaw now, opposite a cemetry.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Grimmy
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 10:18 AM

Small world - tho I wouldn't like to have to paint it ;-)

I was referring to John Harland's Ballads and Songs of Lancashire (1865) which contains a few 'famine' songs. He obviously missed 'yours' (unless that came later?)


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Pilgrim
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 10:23 AM

It's about the right sort of time, although of course it could have been written any time between then and last Thursday.

I've got a mate who'll paint it for you. Very good price. Cash up front. ;>)


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: GUEST,Andy
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 01:50 PM

The 'Cotton Famine Road' that goes eastwards from Running Hill Pits in Saddleworth and across Featherbed Moss was rather inconveniantly created many years before the American Civil War and resultant Cotton Famine as it is clearly shown on Ordnance Survey maps surveyed 1849-1851 and the Cotton Famine is generally agreed as 1861-1865.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Mark Dowding
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 02:04 PM

Can't say I know this song but I'll see if I can find anything out about it. We don't use it in the Cotton Famine Show but we do mention that men were sent out to break stones for road improvements which didn't do any of them any good - their hands were used to soft cotton not shovels and picks!

Harland had this habit of putting in a few verses of songs in his book to give a flavour - reading the book today you want to know more. I'll check my copy for this song.

Grimmy - got your email thanks (I'm assuming it's you!)

Cheers
Mark


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Grimmy
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 02:11 PM

GUEST Andy, you may be right, but it's also possible that an existing route was paved/improved during the famine - hence the name.

As I've already indicated, there were several of these roads throughout Lancashire, including another one near Todmorden which, according to a relative of the landowner, was built in 1862.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Grimmy
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 02:15 PM

Just missed your post, Mark. Yep it's me - thanks for your help.

I was going through Harland just the other day and I'm pretty sure it's not there (all the 'hardship' songs are grouped together).


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: GUEST,Andy
Date: 24 Mar 07 - 01:52 PM

Hi Grimmy, This 'road' is very unlikely to have seen any improvement and is of much earlier construction than the rest of the Lancashire Cotton Famine roads. It was probably constructed with the intention of carrying stone from the quarrries at Running Hill Pits across to the Holmfirth area.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: mg
Date: 24 Mar 07 - 04:22 PM

I have never heard of this...can people say more about the famine and other songs. mg


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Mark Dowding
Date: 24 Mar 07 - 05:20 PM

Have a look HERE This is a link to the script that I use with Sid, Mike Norman and Mary.
Hope it tells you what you want to know. A CD of this is available HERE

If a mudcatter wants a copy it's available for 8 pounds including p+p

Cheers
Mark


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Mark Dowding
Date: 25 Mar 07 - 06:05 AM

Not sure if the link to the script is working properly - internet explorer asks for a name and password - Mozilla doesn't it just gets on with it
Maybe it's my settings on my machine but if it isn't then IE users cut and paste www.folknorthwest.co.uk/cotton famine 1.doc into your address bar and it should come up.

I think it still comes up if you get the password box and press cancel

It's not actually on the site itself to look at - it's a file in the site directory structure that I've dumped there for this exercise.
Let me know if it's a problem

Cheers
Mark


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: Grimmy
Date: 26 Mar 07 - 06:04 AM

Well, the song's definitely not in Harland. Though he does note that there were enough street ballads about the famine 'to fill a volume', so maybe it's one of those. When I get the chance I'll go through the Harkness MSS here in the local library.

mg - for info on the famine itself, this is as good place to start as any. It was one of those events that seems to have been swept under the historical carpet - possibly because it 'only' affected a specific region of the country. However, we still remember.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 01:04 PM

If anyone is interested in seeing an actual example of a Cotton Famine road, here is one.

Take a good look though, cos it's likely to be bulldozed soon if the quarry company gets its way.

I would consider it a great favour if, while visiting the website, you consider signing the petition to stop the proposed quarry. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: sallonby
Date: 17 Jan 08 - 03:32 AM

The song you're referring to was in 'Music Workshop' broadcast and booklet by the BBC in 1971 0r 1972. I've also been looking for the song, and there's apparently one in an arts ed. archive at Bretton Hall, although you have to visit to view it. The archivist is called Leonard Bartle and works there Mons & Tues.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: GUEST,Calandrath
Date: 09 Feb 13 - 11:26 PM

I remember this from the late 60s, we sang it at school in a combination class of history and music. I recall the words slightly differently, but then I was only 9 and it was a long time ago! :

"Come all you poor people in old cotton rags,
for there's work to be done now across the peat crags,
A road we must build now on old Feather Bed
A road we must build now or soon we'll be dead"

Sing each syllable and 'punch' each word to a steady beat, repeat each time getting slightly faster, you will get a gist of the tune.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: GUEST,singingjay
Date: 14 May 15 - 05:05 PM

I remember learning this song as a schoolchild form the 'singing together' radio programmes provided to my school by the BBC light programme. It has stayed in my memory since the mid 60s. I have no idea about its origins before the radio


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: GUEST
Date: 14 May 15 - 05:08 PM

Second message. I have written the tune out. If anyone out there is still looking at this blog, I could send you the dots. It is a great tune.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Nov 16 - 04:53 PM

The tune is in a book I have called the pennine way published by bbc radio for schools spring 1971.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jan 18 - 07:34 AM

Just seen this thread - I've got an old book I wrote some songs in back in 1973 when I was at junior school, including Cotton Famine Road. In case anyone is interested, these are the words:

Come all ye poor people in old cotton rags
For there's work to be done across the peat hags
A road we must build now on old feather bed
A road we must make now or soon we'll be dead.

(Chorus)
So shovel and scrape now for pennies and bread
Where mosses cross over our old feather bed.

"Why why must we do this" cries poor hobbling Bill
Because there's no work now down there at the mill
"Why why must we do this" cries poor one-arm Sue
Because all the looms there have nothing to do.

(Repeat Chorus)

O famine's our master and famine's our boss
And famine's the devil on featherbed moss
O famine will starve us for famine's no friend
And famine will drive us to graves in the end

(Repeat Chorus)


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Cotton Famine Road, The
From: leeneia
Date: 11 Jan 18 - 05:38 PM

This presents a sobering view of the effects of war, which can cause people hundreds of miles away to starve and be cold.


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