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Origins: Treadmill Song / Gaol Song

DigiTrad:
GAOL SONG


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: I wish there were no prisons (23)
Tune Add: Gaol Song (1)


Mad Maudlin 23 Apr 01 - 03:03 AM
Shuffer 23 Apr 01 - 07:09 AM
Mad Maudlin 23 Apr 01 - 08:11 AM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Apr 01 - 08:53 AM
Stewie 23 Apr 01 - 11:03 AM
thetwangman 30 Jun 08 - 02:46 PM
peregrina 30 Jun 08 - 02:56 PM
irishenglish 30 Jun 08 - 02:59 PM
GeoffLawes 16 Jun 22 - 12:10 PM
John MacKenzie 16 Jun 22 - 01:45 PM
Joe Offer 16 Jun 22 - 05:32 PM
Joe Offer 16 Jun 22 - 06:47 PM
Reinhard 16 Jun 22 - 08:52 PM
GUEST,henryp 17 Jun 22 - 05:33 AM
GUEST,henryp 17 Jun 22 - 05:48 AM
GeoffLawes 17 Jun 22 - 05:51 AM
GUEST,henryp 17 Jun 22 - 06:18 AM
GeoffLawes 19 Jun 22 - 05:26 PM
GeoffLawes 19 Jun 22 - 05:32 PM
GUEST,henryp 20 Jun 22 - 04:53 AM
GeoffLawes 20 Jun 22 - 07:29 AM
Steve Gardham 20 Jun 22 - 01:55 PM
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Subject: Treadmill Song
From: Mad Maudlin
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 03:03 AM

THE TREADMILL SONG

(trad.)

Step in, young man, I know your face,
It's nothing in your favour.
A little time I'll give to you:
Six months unto hard labour.

At six o'clock the screw comes in,
A bunch of keys all in his hand.
"Step up, my lads, step up in time,
And tread the wheel till breakfast time."

And at eight o'clock the skilly omes in,
It's sometimes thick and sometimes thin,
And never a word dare we all say,
Or it's bread and water all next day.

At half past eight the bell do ring,
And off to the chapel, boys, we must swing.
Down on our bended knees we fall:
The Lord have mercy on us all!

And at nine o'clock the jangle ring
And all on the trap, boys, we must spring.
Step up, my lads, step up in time,
The wheel's to tread and the corn's to grind.

Now Saturday comes, I'm sad to say,
For Sunday is starvation day.
Our hobnailed boots and our tin mugs, too,
They are not shined and they will not do.

When six long months are gone and past,
Then I'll return to my bonny, bonny lass.
I'll leave the turnkeys all behind,
The wheel to tread and the corn to grind.

From the Steeleye Span record "Storm Force Ten". Mine is ancient (and still on vinyl), so, try as I might, I simply couldn't understand the chorus. Feel free to fill in!

NG


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Treadmill Song
From: Shuffer
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 07:09 AM

Chorus

With me Ip Fol The Day, me Ip fol the day with me Ip fol the day for the dithy oh.

It would appear to me that it is one of those nonsense chorus so beloved of English folk songs


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Treadmill Song
From: Mad Maudlin
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 08:11 AM

Thank you...yes, definitely, it's one of these nonsense chorus.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Treadmill Song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 08:53 AM

This is also known as Gaol Song, and under that title was published in the  Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.  It is already in the DT, with a midi of the tune, here:  Gaol Song

This is the same version that Steeleye Span recorded.  The DT file mentions a couple more Revival performers who have recorded it, but not the fact that it was noted in 1906, by H.E.D. Hammond, from W. Davy of Beaminster Workhouse in Dorset.  Hammond found two versions, set to different tunes.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Treadmill Song
From: Stewie
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 11:03 AM

It was also recorded by Ewan MacColl on 'Chorus From the Gallows' on Topic 12T16 (1960).

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Treadmill Song
From: thetwangman
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 02:46 PM

it was also sung by luke kelly & the dubliners, check it out on youtube:

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


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Treadmill Song
From: peregrina
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 02:56 PM

'Hedon Road Gaol' is related:

here

HEDON ROAD GAOL

At six o’ clock the bells do ring for ev’ry man to rise,
To wash an’ scrub ’is little cell and the place ’e occupies.
                      2
At seven o’ clock skilly comes in, skilly boilin’ not!
It’s sometimes thick an’ it’s sometimes thin and a pint is all you’ve got.
     Chorus:- All around old ’Edon Road Gaol where you do no talkin’,
            All around old ’Edon Road Gaol when you’re teasin’ tarry oakum,
            ’Essian mailbags in your cell, teck warnin’ what I’ve said,
            It’s a bloody rotten prison for a soldier.
                      3
An’ ’Edon Road Prison smells, an’ the bells are made of brass,
An’ now I’ve done my six-months you can stick em right up your….
     Chorus.


Having collected folk songs in the East Riding area for many years in the sixties and seventies and had very little in the way of traditional songs actually about Hull, it was quite exciting to come across this little gem long after I’d given up hope. As caller in the Green Ginger Ceili Band I had recently acquired a new young accordionist, Andy Watson. He had cut his teeth in a local accordion band and one night had been sorting through some old tapes of the band playing to entertain a party of old folks in Hull. At a lull in the music an elderly lady had just stood up and launched into this song. Luckily the tape had been left running and had picked up this performance.

The song is related to the large family of prison songs spread all over the English-speaking world. It was printed on broadsides in England, usually under the title of ‘County Gaol’ or sometimes even just ‘------- Gaol’ left so that the singer could insert their own prison name. The first 2 stanzas in the Hull version are from this song, the rest being very much a local production, probably from World War I, when a soldier might have been imprisoned for some minor misdemeanor. The tune is a variant of the widely used Irish song The Rising of the Moon.

It is interesting to note that any songs we have that are associated with Hull or Beverley are concerned with prison or crime. Even going back to the 17th century it is the Merchant’s Son of York who gets robbed by the Beggar Wench of Hull (See TYG65), The Dalesman’s Litany (TYG70) which warns beggars to beware of the gibbets at Halifax, Elland and Hull; and The Beverley Maid and the Tinker (TYG21) and Beverley Gaol. In The Effects of Love, a widespread broadside ballad, (TYG74) the slighted pregnant girl from Hull commits suicide by drowning herself in the Humber.
 

Singer: Steve Gardham, Hull, 2007


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Treadmill Song
From: irishenglish
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 02:59 PM

Also done by the Oysterband on Step Outside as Gaol Song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Treadmill Song
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 16 Jun 22 - 12:10 PM

Your link isn't working for me peregrina , but here are Spare Hands doing Hedon Road Gaol
https://www.facebook.com/sparehandshull/videos/hedon-road-gaol-performed-by-spare-hands/348910715717909/


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Treadmill Song
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 16 Jun 22 - 01:45 PM

I wish there were no prisons, I do don't you,
AND the old treadmill makes me feel ill
I only steals me belly FOR to fill
Wiv me 'ands wiv me mitts wiv me maulers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H-td43zcQg

https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=52605


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Subject: RE: Origins: Treadmill Song / Gaol Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Jun 22 - 05:32 PM

Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index:

Gaol Song, The

DESCRIPTION: The singer describes the hard life in prison, abused by the guards, granted only the poorest food, and forced to work the treadmill and engage in other backbreaking labour. The singer, once free, vows to leave all such things behind
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1906
KEYWORDS: work prison punishment captivity worksong
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Fahey-Eureka-SongsThatMadeAustralia, pp. 22-23, "The Gaol Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
VaughanWilliams/Lloyd-PenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs, p. 39, "Gaol Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brocklebank/Kindersley-DorsetBookOfFolkSongs, p. 11, "Gaol Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT, GAOLSONG*

Roud #1077
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. ""The County Gaol"
cf. "Durham Gaol"
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Treadmill Song
NOTES [77 words]: The treadmill was a rotating cylinder that drove machinery such as a mill or a pump. It was a set of steps on a circular gear, which meant that, once started, the convict had no way to stop it; he had to keep walking the treads until relieved. Prisoners often collapsed in agony on such machines, first installed in Sydney in 1823. - RBW
While Lloyd does not mention [this] as a work song, it certainly has the cadence of one, so I have assigned that keyword. -PJS
Last updated in version 5.1
File: FaE022

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 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


GAOL SONG (Digital Tradition lyrics)

"Step in young man, I know your face
It's nothing in your favor
A little time I'll give to you
Six months at hard labor"

    To my hip fol the day, hip fol the day
    To my hip fol the day, for the digee oh

At six o'clock our turnkey comes in
With a bunch of keys all in his hand
"Come, come, my lads, step up and grind
Tread the wheel till breakfast time"

At eight o'clock our skilly comes in
Sometimes thick and sometimes thin
But devil a word we must not say
It's brad and water all next day
At half past eight the bell doth ring
Into the chapel we must swing
Down on our bended knees to fall
"The Lord hath mercy on us all"

At nine o'clock the jangle rings
All on the trap boys, we must spring
"Come, come, my lads, step up in time
The wheel to tread and the corn to grind"

Now Saturday's come, I'm sorry to say
Sunday is our starvation day
Our hobnailed boots and tin mugs too
They are not shined nor they will not do

Now six long months are over and past
I will return to my bonnie, bonnie lass
I'll leave the turnkeys all behind
The wheel to tread and the corn to grind
GAOL SONG (Penguin-differences in italics)

"Step in young man, I know your face
It's nothing in your favor
A little time I'll give to you
Six months at hard labour"

    To me hip fol the day, hip fol the day
    To my hip fol the day, fol the digee oh

At six o'clock our turnkey comes in
With a bunch of keys all in his hand
"Come, come, my lads, step up and grind
Tread the wheel till breakfast time"

At eight o'clock our skilly comes in
Sometimes thick and sometimes thin
But devil a word we must not say
It's bread and water all next day
Into the chapel we must swing
Down on our bended knees to fall
"The Lord hath mercy on us all"

At nine o'clock the jangle rings
All on the trap boys, we must spring
"Come, come, my lads, step up in time
The wheel to tread and the corn to grind"

Now Saturday's come, I'm sorry to say
Sunday is our starvation day
Our hobnail boots and tin mugs too
They are not shined nor they will not do

Now six long months are over and past
I will return to my bonnie, bonnie lass
I'll leave the turnkeys all behind
The wheel to tread and the corn to grind

@jail
printed in Penguin book of English folksongs
sung by Bernard Wrigley and Dick Swain
filename[ GAOLSONG
TUNE FILE: GAOLSONG
CLICK TO PLAY
SOF

Popup Midi Player




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Subject: RE: Origins: Treadmill Song / Gaol Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Jun 22 - 06:47 PM

With very slight differences, the lyrics in the Digital Tradition are the same as those on page 39 the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs (Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L. Lloyd)(Penguin Books, 1959)

Here are the notes from the Penguin book:

The Gaol Song (FSJ VII 47)
Sung by B. Davy, Beaminster, Dorset, 1906
English tradition includes many crime songs but relatively few dealing with life in prison. The broadside ballads of Bellevue, Wakefield, and Kirkdale gaols, published by Bebbington of Manchester and Harkness of Preston, all derive from the same ‘original’, issued several times in London by the Catnach Press and its successors as The County Gaol. A different ballad, called Durham Gaol, said to be the work of the pitman-balladeer Thomas Armstrong, was current on Tyneside till recently (see A. L. Lloyd: Come All ye Bold Miners). Each of these bears some relation to our Gaol Song, of which two versions, with separate melodies, were collected by H. E. D. Hammond in Beaminster, Dorset, in June 1906.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Treadmill Song / Gaol Song
From: Reinhard
Date: 16 Jun 22 - 08:52 PM

Joe, the Penguin Book version above misses the first line of verse four, "At half past eight the bell doth ring".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Treadmill Song / Gaol Song
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 17 Jun 22 - 05:33 AM

EARLY AMERICAN CRIME; AN EXPLORATION OF CRIME, CRIMINALS, AND PUNISHMENTS FROM AMERICA'S PAST

Prisons and Punishments: The Treadmill Song From the Amateur STATE PRISON MELODIES.

The stars are rolling in the sky,
The earth rolls on below,
And we can feel the rattling wheel
Revolving as we go,
Then tread away, my gallant boys,
And make the axle fly;
Why shouldn’t wheels go round about,
Like planets in the sky?

Wake up, wake up, my duck-legged man,
And stir your solid pegs;
Arouse, arouse, my gawky friend,
And shake your spider legs;
What though you’re awkward at the trade,
There’s time enough to learn–
So lean upon the rail, my lad,
And take another turn.

They’ve built us up a noble wall,
To keep the vulgar out;
We’ve nothing in the world to do,
But just to walk about;
So go it now, you middle men,
And try to beat the ends–
It’s pleasant work to rumble round
Among one’s honest friends.

Here, tread upon the long man’s toes,
He shan’t be lazy here–
And punch the little fellow’s ribs,
And tweak that lubber’s ear–
He’s lost them both–don’t pull his hair,
Because he wears a scratch,
But poke him in the further eye,
That isn’t in the patch.

Hark, fellows, there’s the supper bell,
And so our work is done;
It’s pretty sport–suppose we take
A round or two for fun.
If ever they should turn me out,
When I have better grown,
Now hang me, but I mean to have
A treadmill of my own.

Even though the tone of this poem is satiric, it still does not convey the true working conditions of the treadmill. Time spent on the treadmill was mind-numbing. This boredom combined with fatigue could often lead to injury. While the fact that those working the treadmill had no idea whether their labor was productive or not was lauded by its advocates–if the grain supplies being milled with the treadmill ever ran out, for example, the punishment could continue on–critics of the treadmill pointed out that the prisoners never saw or experienced the fruits of their labor, and consequently could not derive any satisfaction from it.

To reduce fatigue, convicts regularly traded working on and off the treadmill at regular intervals, but they were subjected to this exhausting punishment for hours at a time. There were no standards in the construction of the treadmills or in the time convicts spent on them, so what was considered reasonable punishment was left to the discretion of the individual jail wardens. Naturally, some wardens had different ideas of what constituted reasonable punishment and were more brutal than others.

Source Norwich Courier, September 22, 1830, vol. IX, issue 26 p. 4. Database: America’s Historical Newspapers: Readex/Newsbank.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Treadmill Song / Gaol Song
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 17 Jun 22 - 05:48 AM

Salford Now; On this day: 1824 treadmill punishment introduced in Salford Prison By Chelsea Bailey on 18th February 2020

On this day in 1824 the treadmill punishment was introduced at New Bailey Prison Salford. Treadmill punishment also known as ‘treadwheel’ or ‘everlasting staircase’, was a penal appliance introduced in 1818 by the British engineer Sir William Cubitt. (Cubitt was concerned with the employment of criminals; and for the purpose of using their labour he invented the treadmill, with the object, for example, of grinding corn, and not at first contemplating the use of the machine as a means of punishment. Wikipedia)

This device was designed in some cases to handle as many as 40 convicts. These convicts were forced to step along a series of planks as part of their sentence. It was a large hollow cylinder which rotated, it usually had wooden steps built around an iron frame. The New Bailey Prison’s foundation was laid down on the 22nd of May 1787 by Thomas Butterworth Bayley. The prison was named after its founder, who was an English magistrate, agriculturist and philanthropist. The use of these treadmills was abolished in Britain by the Prisons Act of 1898.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Treadmill Song / Gaol Song
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 17 Jun 22 - 05:51 AM

This Mudcat thread may be of interest her
/mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=52605


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Subject: RE: Origins: Treadmill Song / Gaol Song
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 17 Jun 22 - 06:18 AM

https://gloscrimehistory.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/on-the-treadmill-hard-labour-at-gloucester-prison/

On the treadmill: Hard labour at Gloucester Prison

Anthony Foard MAY 22, 2017 AT 3:32 PM
Hullo, I happened upon your site whilst trying to track down a song I heard performed by Ron Taylor and Jeff Gillett several years ago about the Gloucester Gaol treadmill. I wonder if anyone knows (of) it and could point me in the direction of words and tune? The chorus ends with “and we wear the county colours of the yellow and the blue”. I think it’s a contemporary take on the historic facts – it certainly ties in very closely with the details herein. Thanks in anticipation, and thanks also for a most informative piece of scholarship.

REPLY Jill Evans MAY 23, 2017 AT 8:56 AM
Hello! The song is called “The County Livery”, and it is about doing time in Horsley House of Correction, which was built at the same time as Gloucester County Prison and had the same regime. It was published by Thomas Willey in Cheltenham. It is in Roy Palmer’s book, “The Folklore of Gloucestershire”, in chapter 9, “Going For A Song”. In my edition, published by Westcountry Books in 1994, the lyrics are written out in full on page 240. I hope that helps.

County Livery


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Subject: RE: Origins: Treadmill Song / Gaol Song
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 19 Jun 22 - 05:26 PM

“The County Livery” on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBKdCshQOZs


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Subject: RE: Origins: Treadmill Song / Gaol Song
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 19 Jun 22 - 05:32 PM

Lyrics to “The County Livery” can be found on page 9 of the pdf document here https://gloshistory.org.uk/sites/reprints/gh199006.pdf


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Subject: RE: Origins: Treadmill Song / Gaol Song
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 20 Jun 22 - 04:53 AM

Thanks for that! When Roy Palmer reissued his folklore series of the 'midland' shires, Pat and Roy took us to all the local launch events. But I don't remember one for Gloucestershire.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Treadmill Song / Gaol Song
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 20 Jun 22 - 07:29 AM

peregrina,the following is a link to "Hedon Roag Gaol" on the Yorkshire Garland site with Steve Gardham singing it. http://www.yorkshirefolksong.net/song.cfm?songID=64


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Subject: RE: Origins: Treadmill Song / Gaol Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jun 22 - 01:55 PM

Hi, Geoff. Thanks for the link. Peregrina is currently in America and otherwise occupied, but hopefully she'll be back in York soon.


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