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Origins: Blantyre Explosion

DigiTrad:
BLANTYRE EXPLOSION
JIMMY WHELAN
LOST JIMMY WHELAN
LOST JIMMY WHELAN 2


Related thread:
DTStudy: Lost Jimmy Whalen/Whelan (36)


Les in Chorlton 12 Aug 07 - 04:47 AM
John Routledge 12 Aug 07 - 06:02 AM
Les in Chorlton 12 Aug 07 - 06:40 AM
Long Lankin 12 Aug 07 - 06:44 AM
GUEST 12 Aug 07 - 11:43 AM
Malcolm Douglas 12 Aug 07 - 01:00 PM
Les in Chorlton 12 Aug 07 - 01:33 PM
John Routledge 12 Aug 07 - 06:34 PM
Les in Chorlton 12 Aug 07 - 07:02 PM
Les in Chorlton 14 Aug 07 - 03:28 AM
Folkiedave 14 Aug 07 - 05:24 AM
Folkiedave 14 Aug 07 - 06:34 AM
Les in Chorlton 14 Aug 07 - 02:52 PM
Jack Campin 14 Aug 07 - 06:41 PM
Malcolm Douglas 14 Aug 07 - 07:22 PM
Les in Chorlton 15 Aug 07 - 02:54 AM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 15 Aug 07 - 03:10 AM
Malcolm Douglas 15 Aug 07 - 07:12 PM
GUEST 16 Aug 07 - 02:57 AM
Joe Offer 18 Sep 13 - 07:19 PM
Joe Offer 19 Sep 13 - 12:53 AM
Acorn4 19 Sep 13 - 10:28 AM
Jack Campin 19 Sep 13 - 10:43 AM
Joe Offer 19 Sep 13 - 01:08 PM
Jack Campin 19 Sep 13 - 01:41 PM
Joe Offer 24 Sep 13 - 06:30 PM
Joe Offer 24 Sep 13 - 07:01 PM
Joe Offer 24 Sep 13 - 07:08 PM
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Subject: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 12 Aug 07 - 04:47 AM

I have had a look on the Forum and the DT and a long trawl through Google.

The song is easy to find and has been recorded by lots of people. The words are remarkably consistent. But I cannot find out from whom it was collected or who wrote it.

Anybody know?


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: John Routledge
Date: 12 Aug 07 - 06:02 AM

As I understand it Les it was one of several created in the community at the time of the explosion. Only one seems to be sung nowadays.


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 12 Aug 07 - 06:40 AM

Thanks John. It seems to have been re-discovered by Lloyd and McColl in the early 50's when Lloyd was collecting via the NUM, does that sound right?

We are thinking of having another Folk Night in October as part of Oxfam / Oxjam. are you up for some more songs?

Cheers

Les


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: Long Lankin
Date: 12 Aug 07 - 06:44 AM

Les,

John is most probably correct about the origins of this song. It was common for songs to be composed for such events. They were usually printed up and sold (sometimes to raise money for the widows and orphans.

The disaster happened at Dixon's Colliery, High Blantyre, Lanarkshire (near Glasgow) on 22 October 1877.

The tune most commonly used is a varient of "St James' Infirmary"; "The Soldier/Sailor Cut down in his Prime" "Streets of Larado" family. I have heard it sung to the tune commonly used for these.


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Aug 07 - 11:43 AM

Rena Jerrom, who some of you might remember as Rena Swankie of the Reivers, used to sing a tremendous version of it.


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 12 Aug 07 - 01:00 PM

Lloyd, Come All Ye Bold Miners (revised edition, 1978, 179-182) prints two sets. The first is from R Greening, Glasgow, February 1951; the text was fragmentary and is collated with another from Mrs Cosgrove, Newtongrange, Midlothian, 11 May 1951. This is the form that I've heard sung by revival singers, though sometimes the tune has turned into 'Streets of Laredo'.

The second was recorded by Robin Morton from John Maguire, Tonaydrummallard, Fermanagh, August 1968 (and also appears in Morton's two books of Ulster folk song). Although obviously related, tune and text differ quite a lot; Maguire learned it in Glasgow, 1920, and recalled that a number of differing versions were in circulation at that time.

Lloyd also prints an extract from a broadside contemporary to the event, 'Fearful Colliery Explosion in Scotland' (Mitchell Library, Glasgow, nd and without imprint). Although -according to Lloyd- it is on the same subject, the text quoted is not otherwise related to the song.

The Roud Folk Song Index lists a further two Scottish examples, and one found in Pennsylvania, under number 1014 (Laws Q35). Note that three examples of 'The Duke of Grafton's Hounds' are currently listed with 1014; this is an error of some kind and will be corrected in a later revision.


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 12 Aug 07 - 01:33 PM

Thanks Malcolm that very clear and very helpful, Mrs Cosgrove rings a bell. Was she the source of other songs?

Is their any evidence of printed versions from the 19th century?


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: John Routledge
Date: 12 Aug 07 - 06:34 PM

Many thanks Malcolm. Now I know why I want my own volume of "Come All Ye Bold Miners"

Happy to join you in October Les. Pl let me have details when firmed up. Your last "Do" was excellent.


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 12 Aug 07 - 07:02 PM

Thanks John, will be in touch!


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 14 Aug 07 - 03:28 AM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: Folkiedave
Date: 14 Aug 07 - 05:24 AM

And if you go to the Frank Harte link here and listen again to the RTE broadcast then it is sung in the first programme.

Though I couldn't get to the website when I just tried.....


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: Folkiedave
Date: 14 Aug 07 - 06:34 AM

Working fine now - 11.30 am Tuesday August 14th 2007


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 14 Aug 07 - 02:52 PM

Thanks Dave, it's an excellent version by the mighty Luke Kelly.

Dick Gaughan does it justice as do McColl, the Spinners and any number of others. I will ahve a fih about in what people have offered and see where we are.

Thanks again


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Aug 07 - 06:41 PM

As I live in Newtongrange I'm curious about Mrs Cosgrove. Could somebody post what Lloyd published about her?

There are no Cosgroves in Newtongrange now (the mine closed in the early 1980s and any miner who could left to work somewhere else) but there are a lot in West Lothian, and I'd bet some of them are related.

Where are Lloyd's research notes for that book? The Scottish Mining Museum is in Newtongrange - they'll have the book, but they really ought to have copies of everything Lloyd recorded about the place.


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 14 Aug 07 - 07:22 PM

If Lloyd's notes survive, they will probably be among the papers he left to Goldsmiths' College. The song was in the first edition of CAYBM, so it may be that he didn't visit the place at all but received the material as correspondence, possibly via the NUM.

Roud lists a set of 'The Gresford Disaster' recorded by Alan Lomax from a Mrs A Cosgrove of Newtongrange; perhaps the same person.


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 15 Aug 07 - 02:54 AM

I guess no broadside printed version has turned up?


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Aug 07 - 03:10 AM

Malcolm,
Do you know what happened to Bert's collection finally?
I know it went to Goldsmiths, but was horrified to learn that shortly after his death it was possible to find some of the more esoteric stuff in the bargain box of a local second-hand paperback-bookshop. Did anything ever come of the work that Dave Arthur embarked on regarding Bert?
There is now talk of the MacColl/Seeger collection at Ruskin ending up in a store-cupboard as the new management has no interest in traditional song; hope this is just another tale, as there is a great deal of important material there also.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 15 Aug 07 - 07:12 PM

Goldsmiths actually have both the Lloyd and MacColl/Seeger collections (or at any rate part of the latter; presumably the books as opposed to the papers). Bert's books are catalogued, but apparently his papers are not.

http://libweb.gold.ac.uk/collections/speccoll.php

It may be (and this turned out to be the case, I think, when similar rumours circulated about Kenneth Loveless' books) that the material that ended up with dealers was mostly review copies and the like, rather than part of the core collection. Do you have any more information on that?

Whether or not Dave will ever finish the biography remains to be seen...


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Subject: RE: Blantyre Explosion - the song
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Aug 07 - 02:57 AM

Malcolm,
No more information, but it came from a source I would have complete trust in.
I raised the point because the accessibility to such important collections concerns me.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: Lyr Add: BLANTYRE EXPLOSION
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Sep 13 - 07:19 PM

Here's a YouTube recording of Christy Moore singing this song:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KgoMFobAAk

This song is related to "Lost Jimmy Whelan." Both seem to be derived from an earlier song. The lyrics for this song seem to be derived from this broadside: http://digital.nls.uk/broadsides/broadside.cfm/id/14972.

-Joe-


Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

    High Blantyre Explosion, The [Laws Q35]

    DESCRIPTION: The singer tells of meeting a young girl mourning her lover, John Murphy. Murphy, only 21, was killed in the mines of High Blantyre in a great explosion. She transplants the daisies they walked among to his grave and waters them with her tears
    AUTHOR: John Wilson? (source: broadside, NLScotland L.C.Fol.70(46b))
    EARLIEST DATE: 1951 (collected by A. L. Lloyd); c.1877 (broadside, NLScotland L.C.Fol.70(46b))
    KEYWORDS: mining death love flowers
    HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
    Oct 22, 1877 - Explosion at the Dixon Colliery in High Blantyre near Glasgow. Over two hundred are killed
    FOUND IN: US(MA) Britain(Scotland) Ireland
    REFERENCES (5 citations):
    Laws Q35, "The High Blantyre Explosion"
    Morton-Ulster 6, "The Blantyre Explosion" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Morton-Maguire 27, pp. 69-70,115,167, "The Blantyre Explosion" (1 text, 1 tune)
    DT 543, BLANTYRX*
    ADDITIONAL: Jon Raven, _VIctoria's Inferno: Songs of the Old Mills, Mines, Manufacturies, Canals, and Railways_, Roadside Press, 1978, pp. 94-95, "The Blantyre Explosion" (1 text, 1 tune)

    Roud #1014
    BROADSIDES:
    NLScotland, L.C.Fol.70(46b), "The Sorrowful Lamentation of Jane Sneddon for the Loss of her Lover, John Murray, in the Disaster at High Blantyre," unknown, c.1877
    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "The Collier Lad (Lament for John Sneddon/Siddon)" (theme, characters?)
    NOTES: Broadside NLScotland L.C.Fol.70(46b) is "signed" by "John Wilson, B.S.,G." - BS
    And that broadside poses rather a conundrum, because of the name "Sneddon." The broadside is clearly this song (though unusually full), but the name might well be derived from "The Collier Lad (Lament for John Sneddon/Siddon)." Since both are on the same theme, I have to suspect some sort of connection. - RBW
    Last updated in version 3.1
    File: LQ35

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Song List

    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2013 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


For the record, here's the Digital Tradition version:

BLANTYRE EXPLOSION

By Clyde's bonny banks where I sadly did wander
Among the pit heaps as evening drew nigh;
I spied a young woman all dressed in deep mourning
A-weeping and wailing with many a sigh.

I stepped up beside her and thus I addressed her:
"Pray tell me the cause of your trouble and pain."
Weeping and sighing, at last she made answer
"Johnny Murphy, kind sir, was my true lover's name."

"Twenty-one years of age, full of youth and good looking
To work down the mines of High Blantyre he came,
The wedding was fixed, all the guests were invited
That calm summer evening young Johnny was slain.

The explosion was heard, all the women and children
With pale anxious faces they haste to the mine.
When the truth was made known, the hills rang with their mourning
Three-hundred-and-ten young miners were slain.

Now husbands and wives and sweethearts and brothers
That Blantyre explosion they'll never forget;
And all the young miners that hear my sad story
Shed a tear for the victims who're laid to their rest.

From Songs and Dances of Scotland, Thomson
DT #543
Laws Q35
@Scottish @mining @disaster
filename[ BLANTYRX
TUNE FILE: BLANTYRX
CLICK TO PLAY
RG

The lyrics in the DT version are exactly the same as the lyrics in Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland, compiled and edited by Ewan MacColl (Oak Publications, 1965), pages14-15. MacColl says the lyrics and tune came from Come All Ye Bold Miners, by A.L. Lloyd.

    Notes from the book: The disaster described in this song occurred at Messrs. Dixon's Colliery, High Blantyre, near Glasgow, on October 22nd 1877. Over two hundred miners were killed.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE SORROWFUL LAMENTATION OF JANE SNEDDON
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Sep 13 - 12:53 AM

Here's the text from the broadside at the National Library of Scotland, http://digital.nls.uk/broadsides/broadside.cfm/id/14972, with a possible publication date of 1877:

THE SORROWFUL
LAMENTATION OF
JANE SNEDDON,
For the Loss of her Lover, JOHN MURRAY,
who lost his life at the late disaster
at High Blantyre.


On the Clyde's bonny banks,as I lately did wander,
Near the village of Blantyre I chanced for to rove;
I saw a young female dressed in deep mourning,
She sadly lamented the fate of her lover.
I stepped up to her, and my poor woman
Pray tell me the cause of your sorrow and woe;
I hear you lamentns (sic) the fate of some young man,
His name, and what happened, I'd like for to know.

While sobbing and sighing, at length she made answer,
John Murphy, kind sir, is my true lover's name
Twenty-one years of age, and of a mild, good behaviour,
For to work in the mines of High Blantyre he came.
The twenty second of October I long will remember,
In health and in strength to his labour go;
On that fatal morning, without one momen's (sic) warning,
Twa hundred and ten there in death did lie low.

Now widows and orphans, for husbands and fathers,
In Stonefield and Blantyre in hundreds do mourn,
And old aged parents for the sons they loved dearly,
By the dreadful explosion they will never return.
I knew that 'tis right for the dead to be grieving,
But comfort to me none on earth can rer (?)
He has gone from this world but a short time before me,
And I hope I'll rejoin him where parting's no more.

Oh never again will I walk with my lover
With band locked in hand on the bangs of hhe (sic) Clyde
Where we told our love tales in a green shady bower
'Twas here I consented for to be his bride.
The day it was fixed and the guests were invited.
And had he but lived my dear husband he'd be,
But by the disaster that occured at High Blantyre
He was killed and in life I no more him will see.

But spring will return, and the flowers of the summmer (sic)
Will bloom in their wildness so lovely and fair,
And I'll gather snowdrops, primroses and daisies—
On my true lover's grave I'll transplant them there
With my tears I will water those wild little flowers,
And fervently pray to the Ru'er on high,
For I know that my days on this earth are numbered
And soon in the cold grave beside him I'll lie.

By John Wilson, B.S.,G.

Now, it's my opinion that the words from this broadside were adapted to fit the tune and format of "Lost Jimmy Whelan."

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Blantyre Explosion
From: Acorn4
Date: 19 Sep 13 - 10:28 AM

By coincidence we're learning this song at the moment - going unexpectedly into the major key in two of the verses is a rather unusual touch and really gives the song a character - not sure who was the first to do that but I know it's in the EMc version.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Blantyre Explosion
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Sep 13 - 10:43 AM

I've never heard of "Lost Jimmy Whelan" before (seems to be from 1926), but the tune in Lloyd is "The Banks of the Devon", first made into a hit by Burns in the 1780s and used by topical ballad writers in Scotland and elsewhere ever since. I have one in my "Embro, Embro" pages about the prisoner of war camp in Midlothian in 1811 - the basic verbal patterns are the same as in the later songs. There's no need to look for an obscure North American song as the model.


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Subject: Lyr Add: LOST JIMMY WHELAN
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Sep 13 - 01:08 PM

Yeah, Jack, I guess I'd concede that the "Blantyre" melody might be similar to "Banks of the Devon"; but "Blantyre" and "Jimmy Whelan" have almost exactly the same melody, and share several lyrical elements including the line, "weeping and wailing with many a sigh." I think I can safely say that "Lost Jimmy Whelan" is part of the American Folk Canon. Hell, it has even been collected in Canada. Sorry that you haven't heard it on your side of the pond - it's a good song.

-Joe-
Here's the DT version of "Lost Jimmy Whelan," so you can see the parallels and believe:
LOST JIMMY WHELAN

All alone as I strayed by the banks of the river,
Watching the moonbeams as evening drew nigh,
All alone as I rambled, I spied a fair damsel
Weeping and wailing with many a sigh.

Weeping for one who is now lying lowly,
Mourning for one who no mortal can save.
As the foaming dark water flow gently about him,
Onward they speed over young Jimmy's grave.

She cries, "Oh, my darling, please come to me quickly,
And give me fond kisses that oft-times you gave.
You promised to meet me this evening, my darling,
So now, lovely Jimmy, arise from your grave."

Slowly he rose from the dark, stormy waters,
A vision of beauty more fair than the sun,
Saying "I have returned from the regions of glory
To be in your dear loving arms once again."

"Oh, Jimmy, why can't you tarry here with me,
Not leave me alone, so distracted in pain."
"Since death is the dagger that's cut us asunder,
Wide is the gulf, love, between you and I."

"One fond embrace, love, and then I must leave you;
One loving farewell, and then we must part."
Cold were the arms that encircled about her;
Cold was the body she pressed to her heart.

Slowly he rose from the banks of the river,
Up to the heavens he then seemed to go
Leaving this fair maiden, weeping and mourning,
Alone on the banks of the river below.

G. Malcolm Laws, Jr., assigns the number C8 to this ghostly tale,
in his NATIVE AMERICAN BALLADRY (1964), stating, "It is possible
that this beautiful Irish ballad originated in America." It was
sung in the Maine woods as early as 1886. Phillips Barry tells
us that "no trace of it exists in old country tradition." Thus
it would seem that this "Irish" ballad is purely American.

Sung by Joan Sprung on FSI-75
DT #602
Laws C8
@ghost @love
filename[ JIMWHEL
TUNE FILE: JIMWHEL
CLICK TO PLAY
DC

LOST JIMMY WHELAN 2

Lonely I strayed by the banks of a river
Watching the sunbeams as evening drew nigh.
As onward l rambled l spied a fair damsel,
She was weeping and wailing with many a sigh.

Crying for one who is now lying lonely
Sighing for one who no mortal couId see,
For the dark rolling waters now gently around him
As onwards she speeds over young Jimmy's grave.

She cries, "O my darling won't you come to my arrums
And give me fond kisses which ofttimes you gave ?
You promised to meet me this evening, my darling,
So now, lovelie Jimmy, arise from your grave."

Slowly he rose from the dark stormy waters,
A vision of beauty far fairer than sun.
Pink and red were the garments all round him,
And unto this fair maid to speak he began,

Saying, "Why do you rise me from the re-alms of glory
Back to this place where I once had to leave?"
"lt was to embrace in your strong loving arrums,
So now lovelie Jimmy, take me to your grave."

"Darling," he says, "you are asking a favour
That no earthly mortal couId grant unto thee,
For death is the debtor that tore us asunder,
And wide is the gulf, love, between you and me."

"Hard, hard were the struggles on the cruel Mississippi
But encircled around her on every side,
Thinking of you as we conquered them bravely,
I was hoping some day for to make you my bride."

"But in vain was the hopes that arose in my bosom,
And nothing, oh nothing, on earth could be saved.
My last dying thoughts were of God and you, darling,
Till death took me down to the deep silent grave."

"One fond embrace, love, and then I must leave you.
One loving farewell, and then we must part."
Cold were the arms that encircled around her,
And cold was the torm that she pressed to her heart.

Slowly he rose from the banks of the river,
Up to the sky he then seemed to go,
Leaving this fair maid on the banks of the river,
Sighing and weeping in anger and woe.

Throwing herself on the banks of the river,
Crying as though her poor heart it would break,
She cried, "O my darling, my lost Jimmy Welan,
I'll lie down and die by the side of your grave."

From Penguin Book of Canada Folk Songs, Fowke.
note: according to Fowkes, this was widely sung in Ontario, and
spread to the Maritimes, Michigan, Maine and Wisconsin. "This
ballad is almost certainly adapted from an older British one: The
Blantyre Explosion in A. L. Lloyd's Come All Ye Bold Miners is a
relative, but the ancestor has not been identified."
DT #602
Laws C8
@ghost @love
filename[ JIMWHEL2
TUNE FILE: JIMWHEL2
CLICK TO PLAY
RG


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Subject: RE: Origins: Blantyre Explosion
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Sep 13 - 01:41 PM

The Lloyd tune (which I know from MacColl's book, I assume he didn't mess with it) is exactly "The Banks of the Devon", not just similar to it. It's not a tune that changed much.

Broadside writers didn't set their work to tunes that were only available in undocumented oral tradition. The fact that Wilson didn't even bother to print the name of the tune suggests he had a locally familiar one in mind. And "Banks of the Devon" was certainly that.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BLANTYRE EXPLOSION (i - Lloyd + MacColl)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 06:30 PM

As Malcolm says above, there are two versions of the song in A.L. Lloyd's Come All Ye Bold Miners (1978 edition, pp 179-181)

THE BLANTYRE EXPLOSION (I)

By Clyde's bonny banks where I sadly did wander,
Among the pit-heaps as evening drew nigh,
I spied a fair maiden all dressed in deep mourning,
A-weeping and wailing with many a sigh.

I stepped up beside her and thus I addressed her:
'Pray tell me, fair maiden, of your trouble and pain.'
Sobbing and sighing, at last she did answer:
'Johnny Murphy, kind sir, was my true lover's name.

'Twenty-one years of age, full of youth and good-looking,
To work down the mines from High Blantyre he came.
The wedding was fixed, all the guests was invited.
That calm summer evening young Johnny was slain.

'The explosion was heard, all the women and children
With pale anxious faces they haste to the mine.
When the truth was made known, the hills rang with their moaning
Three hundred and ten young miners were slain.'

Now husbands and wives and sweethearts and brothers,
That Blantyre explosion they'll never forget.
And all you young miners that hear my sad story,
Shed a tear for the victims who're laid to their rest.


THE BLANTYRE EXPLOSION (I). Melody and fragmentary text from R. Greening, Glasgow (February 1951). Additional text from Mrs Cosgrove, of Newtongrange, Midlothian (11 May, 1951). The disaster happened at Messrs William Dixon's colliery, High Blantyre, near Glasgow, 22 October 1877. Of 233 men and boys working in the pit at the time, 207 were killed. The management were felt to be much to blame, their economies resulting in poor ventilation and little inspection. Naked lights were used almost throughout the colliery. The miners were aware of the unusual danger but, said one, 'We durst not make any complaint because we would get no redress', and another declared: 'Had I not been long idle previous to going to the colliery, and the rent becoming due, I would not have gone down that pit.' It took the eloquence of the miners' leader, Alexander McDonald, to dissuade the indignant pitmen from violence against the owners and officials. The song has lasted well, and spread to America where Samuel Bayard collected a version from a Pennsylvania singer, Mrs Jennie Craven. The Blantyre Explosion is a sprig off the same (ultimately Irish) tree as Lost Jimmy Whalen, a persistent ballad in the American North-East.


The text in Ewan MacColl's Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland (page 15) is only slightly different. MacColl says he got his text and melody from Lloyd's Come All Ye Bold Miners.

THE BLANTYRE EXPLOSION (MacColl)

By Clyde's bonny banks where I sadly did wander
Among the pit heaps as evening drew nigh,
I spied a young woman all dressed in deep mourning,
A-weeping and wailing with many a sigh.
I stepped up beside her and thus I addressed her:
"Pray tell the cause of your trouble and pain."
Weeping and sighing, at last she made answer:
"Johnny Murphy, kind sir, was my true lover's name.

"Twenty-one years of age, full of youth and good looking,
To work down the mines of High Blantyre he came.
The wedding was fixed, all the guests were invited
That calm summer evening young Johnny was slain.
The explosion was heard, all the women and children
With pale anxious faces they haste to the mine.
When the truth was made known, the hills rang with their mourning,
Three-hundred-and-ten young miners were slain.

Now husbands and wives and sweethearts and brothers,
That Blantyre explosion they'll never forget;
And all you young miners that hear my sad story,
Shed a tear for the victims who're laid to their rest.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BLANTYRE EXPLOSION (II - A L Lloyd
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 07:01 PM

Also from A.L. Lloyd's Come All Ye Bold Miners (1978 edition, pp 179-181)

THE BLANTYRE EXPLOSION (II) (Lloyd)

On Clyde's bonny banks where I lately did wander,
Near the village of Blantyre where I chanced to stray,
I espied a young woman, she was dressed in deep mourning
So sadly lamenting the fate of her love.

I boldly stepped to her; said I, My poor woman,
Come tell me the cause of your trouble and woe.
I do hear you lamenting the fate of some young man,
His name and what happened him I'd like for to know.

With sighing and sobbing she at length then made answer,
John Murphy, kind sir, was my true lover's name,
Twenty-one years of age and a mild good behaviour,
To work in the mines of High Blantyre he came.

On the eleventh of December I long will remember,
In health and in strength to his labour did go,
But on that fatal morning without one moment's warning,
Two hundred and ten in cold death did lie low.

There was fathers and mothers, there was widows and orphans,
In Stonefield, High Blantyre, where hundreds do mourn,
Ah, there was old aged parents for their sons they loved dearly,
By that sad explosion will never return.

But the spring it will come with the flowers of summer,
That blooms through its wildness so lovely and fair.
I will gather the snowdrops, primroses and daisies,
Round my true lover's grave, I will transplant them there.

For they say it's not right for the dead to be grieved,
There's nothing but trouble bestowed on me.
He is gone from this world but a short time before me,
In hopes to rejoin him in sweet purity.


THE BLANTYRE EXPLOSION (II). A high proportion of the miners killed at High Blantyre were Irish. Perhaps that is why sundry versions of the song commemorating the explosion circulate among Irish workers at home or in emigration. The present example was recorded by Robin Morton from John Maguire, Tonaydrumallard, Co. Fermanagh (August, 1968), and printed in Morton's Folksongs sung in Ulster (Cork, 1970). In a private communication Robin Morton says: 'John learned this while working as a miner in the Glasgow area in the 1920s. He tells a lovely story about them all sitting in a pub in Blantyre one night and they sang different versions of the song. This version was naturally decided on as best.'
The Glasgow Herald (23 October 1877) reported that when the bodies of the burnt and suffocated miners were brought up, there were 'feelings of a painful intensity amongst the at all times excitable Irish element. The women set up a loud wail, tore their hair, and rushed about in a half-crazed state, and strong men had to interfere to
prevent them throwing themselves on the corpses.'


FEARFUL COLLIER Y EXPLOSION IN SCOTLAND. From a broadside, no imprint
or date, in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow. The song refers to the explosion at High Blantyre.


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Subject: Lyr Add: FEARFUL COLLIERY EXPLOSION IN SCOTLAND
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 07:08 PM

One more from A.L. Lloyd's Come All Ye Bold Miners (1978 edition, p 182)

FEARFUL COLLIERY EXPLOSION IN SCOTLAND

A dreadful and heartrendering sight in Scotland has been seen,
Where far away from friends and light poor men destroyed have been.
When working down beneath the ground, toiling for their bread,
About two hundred living souls were numbered with the dead.

The men were hard at work we find in Dixon pit that day,
Gallant hearts, both good and kind, God help them now, we say.
Without a moment's warning then the fatal firedamp came,
And about two hundred boys and men were killed by the deadly flame.

Hundreds stood around the pit in solemn silence there.
By the winter's sun each face was lit, but only showed despair,
Mourning for some missing one they never more would see,
Until the pathway they have trod of dark eternity.

FEARFUL COLLIERY EXPLOSION IN SCOTLAND. From a broadside, no imprint or date, in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow. The song refers to the explosion at High Blantyre.


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