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Origins: The Pit Boy

Tootler 28 Nov 07 - 06:34 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 28 Nov 07 - 08:31 PM
Peace 28 Nov 07 - 09:44 PM
Peace 28 Nov 07 - 09:47 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 29 Nov 07 - 12:29 PM
Tootler 29 Nov 07 - 02:31 PM
GUEST, Sminky 30 Nov 07 - 05:29 AM
GUEST, Sminky 30 Nov 07 - 05:50 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 30 Nov 07 - 07:15 AM
GUEST, Sminky 30 Nov 07 - 10:09 AM
MoorleyMan 28 Feb 15 - 06:41 PM
r.padgett 01 Mar 15 - 05:37 AM
Steve Gardham 01 Mar 15 - 12:53 PM
r.padgett 01 Mar 15 - 02:54 PM
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Subject: Origins: The Pit Boy
From: Tootler
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 06:34 PM

I got the song below at a workshop recently. The workshop leader had not been able to find out much about and she said the book she got it from wasn't very informative.

From the reference to the Clee Hills in the second line, I guess it could be from the coalfields in the West Midlands somewhere. The Clee Hills themselves saw a lot of quarrying activity, but this seems more like a mining song.

Does anyone know anything about the song, where it came from, how old etc.? Are there any more verses?


THE PIT BOY

The Sun is sinking fast, Mother,
Behind the far Clee Hills
The signal bell has ceased, mother,
The breeze of evening chills.
They call me to the pit, mother,
The nightly toil to share;
One kiss before we part, mother,
For danger lingers there.
One kiss before we part, mother,
For danger lingers there.

My Father's voice I hear, mother.
When o'er his grave I tread.
He bids me cherish thee, mother,
And share with you my bread.
While I see you smile, mother,
My labour light will be
And should his fate be mine, mother,
Then heaven will comfort me.
And should his fate be mine, mother,
Then heaven will comfort me.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Pit Boy
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 08:31 PM

Martha Vicinus prints the ballad in her The Industrial Muse (and also in her Ballads of the Industrial North according to Roud, who also gives other sources).

In The Industrial Muse, while discussing disaster songs, she says:

"One of the most popular recitation pieces of the time was 'The Pit Boy' by G.P.Codden:

  The Sun is sinking fast, Mother,
    Beyond yon blue hills,
  The signal bell has ceased, mother,
    The breeze of evening chills:
  They call me to the pit, mother,
    The nightly toil to share;
  One kiss before we part, mother,
    For danger lingers there.
  One kiss before we part, mother,
    For danger lingers there.

  My Father's voice I hear, mother,
    As o'er his grave I tread,
  He bade me cherish thee, mother,
    And share with thee my bread;
  And when I see thee smile, mother,
    My labour light shall be;
  And should his fate be mine, mother,
    Then heaven may comfort me.

  Nay, dry thy tearful eye, mother
    I must not see thee weep;
  The Angels from on high, mother,
    O'er me their watch will keep.
  Then, oh! farewell awhile, mother,
    My fervent prayer shall be,
  Amidst those dangers dire, mother,
    That heaven may comfort thee.

[Footnote: Broadside collection, Barnsley Public Library. The poem is based upon an earlier poem by the ex-miner Thomas Wilson (1773-1858). See Chapter 5 for a discussion of Wilson's dialect poetry]

The poem was widely printed in mining districts. The first two verses were published in The Miner's Advocate soon after the explosion. The version quoted here was published as a broadside, with the author's name included for the first time, for a lecture on mining, 'in Aid of a Fund for the Relief of the Surviving Sufferers by the Explosion which occured at Warren Vale Colliery [near Barnsley], on the morning of December 20th, 1851'."


Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Pit Boy
From: Peace
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 09:44 PM

"Thomas Wilson 1773 - 1858
Wilson's story is a remarkable one. He was born into a very poor family at Low Fell, Gateshead. He was down the pit as a trapper boy at age 8. His determination to improve his life was such that he studied and went on to become a schoolmaster then on into business, eventually as a partner in the famous Tyneside engineering firm of Losh, Wilson and Bell employing many people (a forerunner of Palmers or Vickers Armstrong). He never lost his love of the area and it's working class people, particularly the miners. He wrote songs and prose in dialect - The Weshin Day in particular is well known and regularly performed to this day. His 'Pitman's Pay' is another well known work."

That is from

www.rolyveitch.20m.com/dialect_songwriters.html


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Pit Boy
From: Peace
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 09:47 PM

More about Thomas Wilson here.


Takes two seconds or so to load.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Pit Boy
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 12:29 PM

I haven't been able to find the original poem by Wilson (though The Pitman's Pay can be found here Durham & Tyneside Dialect Group - The Pitman's Pay (that's the first of 3 pages)).

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Pit Boy
From: Tootler
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 02:31 PM

Thanks very much for the information. It is interesting how "yonder blue hills" has been changed into "far Clee Hills". The Clee Hills are in Shropshire which takes you quite a way away from the origins of the poem.

The person I got it from originally, Kat Davidson, a recent graduate from the Newcastle folk degree is starting to make her way round the folk club circuit and she has written a tune for this poem and includes it in her repertoire. I will pass the info on to her as I am sure she will be interested - even more so as the poem's origins are in Tyneside and Kat comes from Northumberland.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Pit Boy
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 05:29 AM

In Ballads of the Industrial North by Martha Vicinus, the broadside is prefaced by the following:

"[The following Song, by G.P.Codden, (very popular in the North of England,) was printed and presented to the Auditory, at a Lecture given by Dr G.Dunn, in his native Town of Barnsley, in Aid of the Surviving Sufferers by the Explosion which occured at Warren Vale Colliery, on the morning of December, 20th, 1851]"


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Pit Boy
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 05:50 AM

There's an interesting, if rather harrowing, account of the Warren Vale disaster. Check out the ages and family relationships of some of the victims. Shocking.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Pit Boy
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 07:15 AM

Thanks for the interesting account of the disaster Sminky (the 2nd list of names agrees in number (52) with the summary of deaths for the disaster in the long list at the Durham Mining Museum site, though there were no other details there - it has extra information for some, though mainly those in the North East).

I did also check out the Farne site for works by Thomas Wilson, looking for the original source. Although there are quite a few items by him on the site, there was no sign of a source (unless it's in The Pitman's Pay and other poems, of which only the 2 cover pages are displayed).

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Pit Boy
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 10:09 AM

It sure was a grim day for the Purseglove family. I did some checking and they appear to have come from Derbyshire.

Then I found the following entry in the log book of Middleton by Wirksworth School (Derbyshire):

31 Mar 1876 List of Songs

Far Away
Oh come come away
The pit boy
Lightly row
Ye mariners of England

I wonder if they knew....


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Pit Boy
From: MoorleyMan
Date: 28 Feb 15 - 06:41 PM

The Pit Boy now appears on The Foxglove Trio's latest cd These Gathered Branches - the tune they use appears to be different from that given on the Yorkshire Garland website (which was written by the estimable Ray Padgett).


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Pit Boy
From: r.padgett
Date: 01 Mar 15 - 05:37 AM

I just sang the song David from a Broadside provided by Steve Gardham, twas therefore my tune ~ good luck to the Foxglove Trio

Ray


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Pit Boy
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Mar 15 - 12:53 PM

Just for the record apart from the 'no imprint' broadside in Vicinus which came from Barnsley Library (Ray) the only other copy I have seen is in the Robert White Collection in Newcastle Uni Library, ref NC 338. It was printed by William Walker of Newcastle who was active from 1856 to 1867 so not long after the event.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Pit Boy
From: r.padgett
Date: 01 Mar 15 - 02:54 PM

Thanks Steve

Ray


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