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Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's

GeoffLawes 02 Aug 08 - 06:02 PM
GUEST,Gerry 02 Aug 08 - 09:25 PM
Charley Noble 02 Aug 08 - 09:35 PM
Rowan 03 Aug 08 - 12:22 AM
mark gregory 03 Aug 08 - 01:06 AM
Richard Bridge 03 Aug 08 - 03:54 AM
JennieG 03 Aug 08 - 04:10 AM
mark gregory 03 Aug 08 - 04:27 AM
mark gregory 03 Aug 08 - 04:37 AM
mark gregory 03 Aug 08 - 04:52 AM
Richard Bridge 03 Aug 08 - 05:56 AM
JennieG 04 Aug 08 - 02:43 AM
Bob Bolton 04 Aug 08 - 09:10 PM
Bob Bolton 05 Aug 08 - 09:27 PM
GUEST,Gerry 06 Aug 08 - 01:33 AM
Bruce from Bathurst 06 Aug 08 - 02:15 AM
Bob Bolton 06 Aug 08 - 10:15 PM
Sandra in Sydney 07 Aug 08 - 12:03 AM
GUEST,Gerry 07 Aug 08 - 02:27 AM
GeoffLawes 12 Aug 08 - 10:35 AM
Sandra in Sydney 13 Aug 08 - 09:40 AM
Dennis the Elder 13 Aug 08 - 10:51 AM
Dennis the Elder 13 Aug 08 - 02:04 PM
GeoffLawes 13 Aug 08 - 03:44 PM
Dennis the Elder 15 Aug 08 - 11:32 AM
GeoffLawes 31 Dec 13 - 06:50 AM
GeoffLawes 03 Aug 17 - 01:59 PM
Charley Noble 03 Aug 17 - 02:21 PM
Helen 03 Aug 17 - 05:54 PM
GeoffLawes 04 Aug 17 - 03:21 AM
GeoffLawes 11 Aug 17 - 02:59 PM
GeoffLawes 11 Aug 17 - 03:04 PM
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Subject: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 02 Aug 08 - 06:02 PM

In the transcript of a radio program called Forever Striking Trouble broadcast in Australia in 1999, I came across the partial text of an Australian song which was about eviction resistance in the Brisbane and Sydney during the thirties.

"for we met them at the door,
And we knocked them on the floor,
Bankstown and Newtown, we made the cops feel sore,
They outnumbered us ten to one,
And were armed with stick and gun,
But we fought well, we gave them hell,
When we met them at the door."

Does anyone know any more of the song ? Or more about the song?


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 02 Aug 08 - 09:25 PM

There's a snippet of this song on page 144 of Warren Fahey's book, The Balls of Bob Menzies.

At Bankstown and at Newtown
We made the cops feel sore,
We fought well
And they got hell
As we met them at the door.

Fahey writes, Collected by Judy Mackinolty from L. Hall.

Fahey also gives a little background to the song. He says that on Friday 19 June 1931 a near-riot broke out in the Sydney suburb of Newtown when a family was evicted from 143 Union Street. He mentions a similar eviction fight in Bankstown (also a Sydney suburb) a few months earlier.

A more recent song, which may be about the same Newtown incident, is The Siege Of Union Street, by Alistair Hulett, recorded by Hulett and Dave Swarbrick on their 1998 CD, The Cold Grey Light Of Dawn. But Hulett's song is about Union Street in Erskineville (another Sydney suburb) and the date is given as 14 August (no year). So maybe there were two different battles on two different stretches of Union Street.


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Aug 08 - 09:35 PM

Interesting!

I'd love to hear more about this song.

I do have Fahay's book but hadn't noticed that simpet.

It's rare that anyone takes the trouble to write down such housing ditties.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Rowan
Date: 03 Aug 08 - 12:22 AM

There's even a Union St in Brunswick, Melbourne but, although it was a strong union area, I don't think the songs are of there.

You could try Mark Gregory's Union Songs site.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: mark gregory
Date: 03 Aug 08 - 01:06 AM

I've taken Rowan's advice and added the fragment to the Union Song website at
http://unionsong.com/u583.html

maybe more will turn up


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Aug 08 - 03:54 AM

Intresting. Is there an English equivalent to the Union Song site (which at a quick dip seems largely American)?

Also, has any one got a recording of "The Peterloo massacre" - I'd quite like to do it and I have not got a recording and it will take me decades to work it out from the dots...


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: JennieG
Date: 03 Aug 08 - 04:10 AM

Several months ago the Museum of Sydney (in the city, not far from Circular Quay) had a very interesting exhibition "Policing the Depression". The rent evictions were covered; there were contemporary newspapers on display, as well as eye-witness accounts and court records. These exhibitions usually have a book published as well, which is interesting reading.

I found it particularly relevant as there was a lot of information regarding the so-called 'Rothbury Riot'; the miner killed that day was Norman Brown, my mother's cousin.

Cheers
JennieG


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: mark gregory
Date: 03 Aug 08 - 04:27 AM

The Union Songs website has songs from many nations a list that includes England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Canada, USA, Chile, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand ... it is being added to regularly so the composition of material on a national basis keeps changing. Mostly they are fairly recent songs and poems but there are some quite old ones too like the Cutty Wren or Troops of Florian Geyer or Peg and Awl or the Coal Owner and Pitman's Wife. Of over 600 songs and poems I would reckon that close to half are Australian ... that's where I live so I know more about this king of song in this neck of the woods

there's a mudcat thread on Peterloo http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=23907#268432

regards

mark


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: mark gregory
Date: 03 Aug 08 - 04:37 AM

There are a few songs about the police shooting of Norman Brown (rothbury riot) one of which was written at the time and sung at his funeral! And there's a recent Australian film called Lockout about it too.

The most recent Peterloo song seems to be the All the Kings Men 'Peterloo' which you can hear online at

http://www.tsmradio.net/review-all-the-kings-men-peterloo.html


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: mark gregory
Date: 03 Aug 08 - 04:52 AM

The Oldham Tinkers singing "Peterloo" might be the song Richard is after

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHG2iKY33WY


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Aug 08 - 05:56 AM

Thank you all - I'll be back once I've found the print I've got!


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: JennieG
Date: 04 Aug 08 - 02:43 AM

Thanks Mark - I have seen 'Lockout', the story of the strike, it's fascinating. My choir sings "The country knows the rest" by Graham Seal, and I know the other two songs as well.

Cheers
JennieG


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 04 Aug 08 - 09:10 PM

G'day Gerry and Charley Noble,

Harking back to your exchanges on the rent-eviction in Union Street, my current street directory has no entry for "Union Street, Newtown".

Union Street is the boundary between Erskineville and Newtown ... so that houses on the western side are in Newtown ... but the street isn't!

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 05 Aug 08 - 09:27 PM

G'day again,

Just a further detail (for Charlie & Gerry) on the (slightly) shifting address of Union Street. I have my late Dad's 1936 (4th edition) copy of Gregory's Street Directory of Sydney & Suburbs.

This gives the suburb for Union Street as Newtown, rather than Erkineville ... and shows the suburb boundary as the middle of the roadway. The western (Newtown) side has the odd numbers ... so #143's address would be "Newtown" - as would Union St's Directory location - back in 1931 ... but Union Street's Directory entry would have been "Erskineville" at the time Alistair Hulett lived around here. His song may well describe events on the other side of Union St ... and, therefore, in Erskineville.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 06 Aug 08 - 01:33 AM

Thanks, Bob. I've heard about some interesting family heirlooms, but a 1936 street directory.... Anyway, if someone could just track down the 19 June vs 14 August thing....


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Bruce from Bathurst
Date: 06 Aug 08 - 02:15 AM

Alistair Hulett definitely lived in Union Street for a while, and I think it could have been around the time he composed 'The Siege of Union Street'.

He's talked about *his* Union Street as being in Newtown, because it was so close to the Newtown shops and services (including the Sandringham Hotel!) However, I wouldn't argue with Bob's Dad's 4th edition Gregory's, so I agree it's probably really in Erskineville. Hulett places his song in Erskineville ('Erko'), so there you go.

Eviction riots and sieges were not uncommon in the early 1930s in that part of Sydney, as well as further north around Newcastle. Hulett's liner notes refer to a similar situation in Victoria. The NSW Premier at the time, Jack Lang, pushed through a few pieces of legislation to try to protect low (or no) income tenants during the Depression, but after Lang was dismissed in 1932 things pretty much went back to where they were.

Some strong songs have come out of those hard times.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 06 Aug 08 - 10:15 PM

G'day Bruce,

Actually, if you read my posting, the 1936 Gregory's says the street is in Newtown ... whereas the current directories make the street as being in Erskineville. Either way, the houses on the western side are in Newtown ... and those on the eastern side are in Erskineville!

Gerry:

Dad always kept his first street directory (it's neatly tucked into a WW2 canvas document cover) and frequently compared the street layouts of the 1930s with the changes over succeeding years. It's quite useful in identifying / dating old photos ... and I did consult it to sort out dating / location of a photo for Sandra recently.

I have also used older (sequential series of ) Sydney maps to date some 19th century images in the photographic archives I administer here at EnergyAustralia! A view, taken from the Sydney Town Hall's tower looks across Darling harbour. I found an 1875 map which had an undeveloped area on the edge of Darling Harbour ... and the 1880 map showed a road which was on the print ... thus dating it at 1878 2 years.

I haven't heard Alistair Hulett's song ... so I can't tell which side of Union Street!

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 07 Aug 08 - 12:03 AM

Bob, I'll lend you the album next week.

Back in the 80's one of my colleagues became interested in inner Sydney streets because we had a number of old directories in our library. I think the oldest was from the 20's. He ended up researching these streets in the Picture collection of the State library, selling copies of old views of buildings to current owners/lessees & also wrote a book using these pics & pics he took of the same view. As used copies of this book are selling at $45 & $75 maybe I could cash in my signed copy!

sandra


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 07 Aug 08 - 02:27 AM

Alistair Hulett & Dave Swarbrick, Siege of Union Street, on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioD8AvSfp2c


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 10:35 AM

Thank you for al the responses, there are some interesting new pieces of information about the song. I am sorry I have not repied earlier but I have only just got back from holiday. The radio script form which I first learned of the song can be found HERE
It may be of interest to you JennieG as it refers to Norman Brown about half way through.
My own interest in the song was sparked by my attempts to track down a man called Jack Atkinson who probably took part in the rent strike movement in the thirties.I am trying to find out as much as I can about the eight men from Hull,UK, who volunteered to go and fight for the Spanish Republic against Franco in the thirties.

From the newspaper obituary of Jack Atkinson who was killed at the battle of Jarama, I read that he had spent time in OZ and had been involved in political activity in Brisbane and Sydney including eviction resistance. I followed up a reference in the obituary and ended up in touch with Daryl Croke in Australia who told me that Jack Atkinson does not seem to be known to history there. Like me, Daryl thinks that Jack Atkinson led an amazing life for one who died so young,(killed by a sniper at 25) and is now trying to uncover more of JA's story. It was Daryl who searched out and sent me the link.

When I saw the song fragment in the radio programme I was curious about it and being a Mudcatter thought it worth seeing if anyone knew anything more about it. The Union Songs site to which Mark Gregory gave the link suggests that the song was sung to the tune of I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles but I'm not sure that this is correct.
Does anyone know for sure?

Geoff


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 09:40 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Dennis the Elder
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 10:51 AM

Just had a listen to Alistair Hulett and Dave Swarbrick singing Seige of Union Street. There is certainly two different songs.


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Dennis the Elder
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 02:04 PM

I have spent a few hours of interesting time on google and numerous other web sites. A one time I visited the ETUs of Australias website at www.etu.asn.au/nletter/archive.html If you click on 11 "Vale Jocka Burns" you will find a QuickTime link. Thought I had something,but,it was most likely the same clip of Jocka Burns, singing the words originally quoted by Geoff Lawes
It may be that Jocka Burns wrote the words, however it sounds as if it was something he heard whilst fighting the evictions, hense his nickname "Jocka the Eviction Fighter".
Unfortunatly Jocka died on November 7th 2002 at the age of 93, did the song die with him?
You will see much of this information if you visit the above web page.
I will continue my search, but feel that we need a relative of John "Jocka" Burns to stand a good chance.


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 03:44 PM

Thank you for all your effort Dennis, that is a fantastic result - now I know the tune. As Jocka says it is a parody of Baltimore ( a rude sea song about touching ladies' parts which Johnny Doughty from Sussex sings on his album Round Rye Bay For More )

I have made a direct link to the video of Jocka singing

Jocka Singing We Met Them At The Door


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Dennis the Elder
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 11:32 AM

Thanks Geoff, I enjoyed looking. I'm working in Beirut well away from my home in Yorkshire. Mudcat is a way of keeping my self out of the hotel bar, long live Mudcat.
The song about ladies parts sounds interesting.


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 06:50 AM

It is a long time since this thread was active but having returned to it I find that my link to Jocka Burns singing ' We met them at the door' no longer works. In trying to trace another example of his singing of the song I found a site on which Jocka and other old militants speak about the eviction resistance of the 1920's and 1930's, and the song is quoted. Here is a link to that site in case you are interested. Other songs are quoted and examples of music making by the unemployed are described.
http://www.abc.net.au/ourplace/national/striking.htm


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 03 Aug 17 - 01:59 PM

It is even longer since this post was used but some of you might still be interested in reading newspaper reports of Anti eviction activity from the 1930's which came up on Trove when I entered anti, eviction and arrests. I am still trying to trace Hull International Brigader
Jack Atkinson who got himself arrested at at one of these anti eviction actions in the 30's . If anyone notices his name amonst the many reports please post the reference here, or PM me

http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/result?q=Anti+Eviction+arrests+


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Aug 17 - 02:21 PM

Geoff-

Thanks for the update. Would you (or someone else) post the lyrics of the actual song. The links above have all grown state.

Charlie Ipcar


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: Helen
Date: 03 Aug 17 - 05:54 PM

Hi all,

Just to complicate the story even more, in the Great Depression there was a rent eviction riot in Union St, Tighes Hill, which is a suburb of Newcastle NSW.

Unfinished business: The story of the Tenants' Union of NSW 1976-1996

Depression evictions

During the Great Depression of 1929-33 families of unemployed workers were evicted for not being able to pay their rent, and this led to a great deal of tension and militant action. The Anti-Eviction Campaign of 1930-31 was organised by the Unemployed Workers Movement in Sydney, and their tactics included occupations and, as a last resort, sieges. We know there were major confrontations with police in Bankstown and Newtown in Sydney, and at Tighes Hill in Newcastle. These became known as the 'eviction riots'. (9) In Newtown a large crowd watched as a group tried to stop an eviction. The following report appeared in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' on 20 June 1931:

"The most sensational eviction battle Sydney has ever known was fought between forty policemen and eighteen communists at 143 Union Street, Newtown, yesterday morning. All the defenders were injured, some seriously, and at least fifteen of the police were treated by ambulance officials. Only one man was hit by bullets fired at the walls of the house by police, and it is not known how the injury was inflicted. Probably the wounded man was struck by a bullet which had been deflected in its Unfinished business: The story of the Tenants' Union of NSW 1976-1996 7 Early tenant struggles path. Entrenched behind barbed wire and sandbags, the defenders rained stones weighing several pounds from the top floor of the building onto the heads of the attacking police, who were attempting to execute an eviction order."

In Cessnock, a Hunter Valley mining town with strong union influence, unions declared houses 'black' where evictions had occurred. No one would rent them and they were left to rot. Jack Lang was the NSW Labor Premier of the day and he passed laws to postpone evictions where there was hardship. These laws didn't really improve things for tenants but the Anti-Eviction Campaign lost its momentum.


Until about 10 years ago there was a street art mural on the side of a building in Union St, Tighes Hill commemorating the event.

Also Rothbury is in the Hunter Valley, and is now the name of a winery. (Nice wines, too.) I went to an event commemorating the Rothbury Riot, maybe back in the 70's or early 80's.

My thought is that it might not have been sheer coincidence that the events took place in streets called Union St. The workers' unions probably had a lot to do with the riots.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 04 Aug 17 - 03:21 AM

Sorry Charlie Noble but I never did harvest all the words to the song but I keep looking.


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 11 Aug 17 - 02:59 PM

https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Anatomy+of+an+%27eviction+riot%27+in+Sydney+during+the+Great+Depression.-a0190941417


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Subject: RE: Oz Rent Strike Song from 30's
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 11 Aug 17 - 03:04 PM

f you use the link in the above post then the song is discussed in paragraph 31


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