Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home

Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies

*#1 PEASANT* 16 Jun 04 - 11:46 AM
Les from Hull 16 Jun 04 - 11:55 AM
*#1 PEASANT* 16 Jun 04 - 12:34 PM
nutty 16 Jun 04 - 01:04 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 16 Jun 04 - 02:40 PM
GUEST, Cushie Butterfield 16 Jun 04 - 03:03 PM
Les from Hull 16 Jun 04 - 04:13 PM
GUEST 16 Jun 04 - 04:14 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 16 Jun 04 - 04:27 PM
Les from Hull 16 Jun 04 - 06:14 PM
Uncle_DaveO 17 Jun 04 - 01:40 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 17 Jun 04 - 02:08 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 17 Jun 04 - 02:19 PM
bridgee 17 Jun 04 - 06:10 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 17 Jun 04 - 06:25 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 17 Jun 04 - 07:19 PM
LadyJean 17 Jun 04 - 11:25 PM
Amos 18 Jun 04 - 12:24 AM
breezy 18 Jun 04 - 10:29 AM
LadyJean 19 Jun 04 - 12:39 AM
pavane 19 Jun 04 - 04:41 AM
GUEST,Ewan McVicar 19 Jun 04 - 04:51 AM
GUEST,Heather Thomas 10 Jan 09 - 04:09 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Jan 09 - 04:41 AM
Steve Gardham 10 Jan 09 - 04:09 PM
Share Thread
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:

Subject: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 16 Jun 04 - 11:46 AM

Anyone who has ever studied the folk music of Newcastle has run in to the terms: Skipper, Bullies, P.D. aka peedee aka Pee Dee and the Huddock.
These are all terms used to describe the keel boats which hauled coal.
The P.D. is not to be confused with the Pee Dee river in South Carolina which is named after the indian tribe of the same name (who knows maybe they were named after a p.d. resemblance or linkage...)
The following passages finally made all clear to me after years of searching.


From a contributor to the Northumbria List and posted by Shirley Gaunt

In the 18th Century, the Tyne was not navigable for large ships. Keels, small squat boats, were used to transport coal from the Newcastle quays out to the large
ships waiting at Tynemouth. The keels were equipped with a sail, but were usually propelled by oars. The keelmen wore a uniform of a short blue jacket and a black
panama-style hat. The song "Weel may your keel row" was written about them. A group of powerful merchants known as the "fitters" ran the coal business on the

A list exists of about 350 keelmen bound to fitters - it reads : Sir, Above is a LIST of the KEELMEN which are bound to us; and we desire that you will not employ
any one of them in any Work or Service whatsoever; for if you do, we shall call upon you for such a Satisfaction as the Law will give us. Newcastle, April 28, 1750
The list came from the Pontop (late Simpson's) Fitting Office, Quay Side, Newcastle and has about 25 signatories.

The earliest mention of the Newcastle keel is in an Act of Parliament from the year 1421, when by statute of Henry V, 1,cap. X, it was enacted that all these vessels
should be measured and marked by Commissioners, and that their portage should be twenty chaldrons of coal only. The wording of the original petition is found in
the old Rolls of Parliament. It states that "in the same port be certain Vessels called Keels, by which such Coals be carried from the Land to the Ships in the said
Port; and every of the said Keels ought to be of the Portage of Twenty Chaldrons".

During the eighteenth century the "keel" as a measure of coal became fixed at eight chaldrons of 53 cwt. each, and the burden of the "keel" was therefore 21 tons of
coal. This keel was a tubby, grim-looking craft, almost oval in shape, rounded fore and aft and about 42 feet long by 19 feet in beam. Fully loaded, the keel drew
approximately 4 feet 6 inches of water. In later days they were rigged with a single large square sail set on a light mast just fore of the hold. This mast could easily be
lowered for going through the old, low, Tyne Bridge. They were steered with a long oar, called a "swape", over the stern of the vessel. They were undecked, except
for a short deck forward and a little cabin or cuddy aft, called a "huddock" or "huddick".

From the mid 19th century, keels were increasingly replaced by wherries, similar in shape but larger and used to carry much more varied cargoes (e.g. coal, sheet
steel, drinking water or even occasionally people). For many years the crews of both wherries and keels alike were known as keelmen or watermen. The last
wherries were taken from service as late as the 1960s. "The keelmen who are employed on the river Tyne are a remarkably hardy, robust, and laborious class of
men, and are distinguished for their great muscular strength. In this particular they are, perhaps, superior to any other tribe of men in England. Their employment
requires uncommon exertions. They have to contend, in their strong, clumsy vessels, with the perils of violent gales, dark nights, freshes in the river, and a crowded
harbour ...... A naval officer of rank once declared that he would rather have a keelman from the Tyne than a man that had been a voyage to the East Indies.

These men would be unable to perform the duties of their occupation, were they not supported by nutritious food. Accordingly, the hardy keelman never goes on
board the keel till his basket is stored with a good joint of meat, and a substantial loaf, generally of the best flour, which, with a bottle of beer, form his usual diet....
Seated around the huddock (cabin), and covered with sweat and coal-dust, they enjoy their meal with peculiar cheerfulness.

One boy, called the Pee-dee, is attached to every keel : he is under the immediate orders of the skipper; but each of the crew contributes a small portion of his
victuals for the boys' support while on board the keel.

From the practice of hailing one another on the river, especially during the night tides, they acquire a loud and vociferous manner of expressing themselves; yet their
conduct is uniformly civil and exemplary, and they are gradually losing that blunt roughness by which they were characterised. ...... The fund which they have
established for the relief of each other, during sickness and old age, and also for the relief of their widows and children, is highly honourable to themselves, and
affords an example to others worthy of imitation. The wives and daughters of this laborious race are also strong and industrious....... Some of them sweep the keels :
these are called keeldeeters. Many of them are employed in delivering ballast, chalk, kelp etc and are, like their husbands, uncommonly hardy and active.

The seamen engaged in the coal-trade are distinguished as a most robust, active, and fearless race of men. The nutritious victuals on which they subsist, and the hard
labour they perform, brace their sinews, and give them an unequalled degree of strength; while from their hazardous and rapid voyages, they soon become expert in
seamanship, and accustomed to every kind of danger. Hence the coal-trade has always been esteemed as an invaluable nursery for seamen, and the hardy and bold
sailors it furnishes constitute the pride and strength of the British navy.

The celebrated Captain Cook began his naval career as a sailor in the coal-trade. "Our seamen possess, in a high degree, that calm intrepidity in danger, and that
thoughtless prodigality, which characterise sea-faring people; nor have they yet abandoned those superstitious fears and observances which form such an odd
compound in the character of the boldest men on earth."

The keelmen formed distinctive communities along the river bank (e.g.Sandgate in Newcastle). They were famous for organising themselves for their mutual benefit,
such as the self-financed construction of the Keelmen's Hospital in Newcastle in 1701. They were also notoriously militant and were involved in frequent, violent,
clashes with authority (from the local magistrates to the Royal Navy!) but were never able to form a guild or effective trade union; any attempts at this were blocked
by the "fitters", the all-powerful merchants who ran the coal trade on the Tyne. The Keelmens Hospital built in 1701 was originally intended for their sick and was
paid for out of monies set apart from their wages by the Hostmen's Company who were both trustees and employers. This arrangement collapsed in 1712 and there
followed several attempts to manage the hospital as a charity until 1872 when the practice of levying by charitable corporations was abolished by parliament.
Newcastle corporation then took over the building.

In 1898, Newcastle Town Hall property office reported the inhabitants of the Keelmens' Hospital as 43 men, 36 wives, 7 widows and 85 children. There were 54
single living rooms each at 3 shillings every six weeks. Widows were entitled to a room at 7d every 6 weeks. Early in the 19th Century, coal staithes were built to
allow colliers to unload direct to the shore, and the keelmen, seeing their livelihood under threat, went on strike and rioted - the militia being called in. There is a print
of the Hedley steam railway locomotive, "Wylam Dilly", fitted with paddle wheels and mounted on a keel, towing a string of keels on the Tyne during the keelmen's
strike of 1822. The ships could only unload east of the Tyne Bridge, but with the replacement of this by Armstrong's Swing Bridge in 1876 and the dredging of the
Tyne in the 1850s, the keels disappeared, to be replaced by the larger wherries.

"Linked to the transportation of coal on the Tyne were the Keelmen, who grew to be a powerful working group on the river Keels were double ended, shollow bottomed
    crafts, crewed by a skipper and two keel bullies and a boy known as a pee-dee. Keels were a neccessity on the river as the larger Colliers could not access the loading
    points higher up the river . Improvments to both the Staithes, loading jetties for the keels, and the dredging and improvement of the river, following the Tyne improvment
    Act, brought an end to the Keelmens trade. The most noticable reminder of the Keelmen is thier hopital on City road."

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: Les from Hull
Date: 16 Jun 04 - 11:55 AM

We had keels on the Humber as well. In fact we've still got one.

Humber Keel and Sloop Preservation Society

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bull
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 16 Jun 04 - 12:34 PM

Intersting site! Thanks for the reference....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: nutty
Date: 16 Jun 04 - 01:04 PM

Barry and Ingrid Temple do festival workshops about the keelmen of the
Newcastle area. Very good performers with Barry's excellent songs.

There is an interesting broadside in the Bodleian Library lamenting the fact that the keelmen could not work as the river Tyne was frozen over.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bull
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 16 Jun 04 - 02:40 PM

must find it!
The freezing of the tyne inspired a few good songs.....
quite an event.
I will search it but if you have the title let me know....
Where are the Temple s?

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: GUEST, Cushie Butterfield
Date: 16 Jun 04 - 03:03 PM

Either side of the head

sorry, couldn't resist ... ;o)

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: Les from Hull
Date: 16 Jun 04 - 04:13 PM

I forgot to mention (music connection here) that the Humber Keel 'Comrade' regularly attends the Hull Shanty Festival. And we've still got staithes as well. My favourite is Roten Herring Staithe - it's true!

What about them Geordies having 'a loud and vociferous manner of expressing themselves'? Who would've thought it?

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
Date: 16 Jun 04 - 04:14 PM

The Keel Boats have their counerparts in the New World, in the form of the Gundalows of New England.

The Gundalow, built low and oblong, like the Keel Boats,have a lanteen rigged sail, a triangular sail suspended on a long boom, rigged on a very short stubby mast, to allow the sail to be dropped and the boat to slide under bridges over the navagatable tidal creeks in the region.

They were used to haul produce down stream to costal markets and shipping, and other materials back up river to the various towns along the rivers and streams. Since the wind was never a sure thing, they also were fitted with long oars or sweeps, to row them along when there was little wind, or to help them upriver against the tide. Since a slight draft was desirable, they were fitted with larboards, a large pivoting board like the centerboard, rigged on one side of the boat to allow some progress against or across wind - reduce side slipping when reaching.

A few years ago a local conservaion group had a replica of a local gundalow built locally, wich plies the costal rivers showing locals and tourists alike what historical New England was like years ago.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bull
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 16 Jun 04 - 04:27 PM

Now if I could only get out of Maryland!


Of course all are welcome to my cell in Baltimore....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: Les from Hull
Date: 16 Jun 04 - 06:14 PM

I'm sure that many places had similar craft, Guest Dave, but keels had a square rig. Ours had the larboard though.

The lateen rig is an excellent idea for getting under bridges, which was never much of a problem on the Humber. Any songs about gundalows?

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bull
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 17 Jun 04 - 01:40 PM

Two questions:

What was the meaning or derivation of "peedee"?

And this one might give me the answer to that first question: "Where were the duties of the peedee?"

Dave Oesterreich

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bull
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 17 Jun 04 - 02:08 PM

As far as the songs tell.....

The pee-dee was often left behind on the keel.
Generally he tricks the others who go to town or frightens them...

Other than that I know nothing yet....must search!

As for derivation not a clue.

Often written
Pee Dee



Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bull
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 17 Jun 04 - 02:19 PM

Ok didnt take long....This is a long passage with most information in the beginning.

Important bits:
They had so many words current among them peculiar to themselves, that keelish is jocularly called a language in the Tyne district. This was the case in the use of nicknames by which keelmen spoke of each other. One was called Posser, another Dichard, a third Shockram. It is said that William Spoor bore one of these sobriquets. A "pee dee," having as its probable etymon the old French word pedissque, was a keelish description of a boy whose duties were steering the boat at times and attending upon the men when loading or discharging.

The Earnest Preacher



The late Rev. Joseph Spoor was born June 2nd, 1813, at Whickham, a picturesque village on the long, sloping banks of the Tyne, where the valley of the Derwent opens out into the Tyne valley, about four miles in a direction west of Newcastle. He was the oldest of the numerous family of William and Catherine Spoor. William Spoor was, by profession, a "Keelman." From immemorial times this class of workmen may be said to have held undisputed possession of the Tyne. In the old charters of Tynemouth Priory they are called "Kelers." By means of their "keels" (a short, shallow, and broad kind of barge) vessels were laden and unladen, and the principal traffic of the river was carried on. The keel has not much altered either in name or shape since Anglo-Saxon times. The boats by which the Northmen came to England were called Chiules, being in all likelihood the origin of the present craft. The vessel seems to be peculiar to the Tyne, and is a sort of institution closely identified with the past life of Tyneside, one of the most popular local ballads being named, "Weel may the keel row." Time was when the keel, pulled by sturdy oarsmen, performed the work now done by the steam-tug: five or six keels, the number of course determined by the size of the ship, drawing the vessel up or down the river. At the early part of this century, no fewer than sixty keel crews used to come up to Dunston, then the great entrepôt on the Durham side of the Tyne, to load coal. The keelmen lived mostly about Dunston, Swalwell, Whickham, and other contiguous villages. They had so many words current among them peculiar to themselves, that keelish is jocularly called a language in the Tyne district. This was the case in the use of nicknames by which keelmen spoke of each other. One was called Posser, another Dichard, a third Shockram. It is said that William Spoor bore one of these sobriquets. A "pee dee," having as its probable etymon the old French word pedissque, was a keelish description of a boy whose duties were steering the boat at times and attending upon the men when loading or discharging. At certain states of the tide the river was crowded with these unwieldy-looking boats, with their immense mainsail and lug-sail. An inexperienced observer might have concluded that collisions were inevitable, but their ungainly and lumbering appearance notwithstanding, they were steered by the keelman's hand with the greatest nicety. As a class, the keelmen were men of great physical resource, and performed feats of labour almost incredible. They were commonly exposed to the extremes of weather, melting heat in summer, and bitter cold and pelting storms in winter. But nothing appeared to affect, injure, or daunt them. In general they were daring and reckless, earning large sums of money, but spending most of it in drinking, gambling, and brutal sports. They were leaders in and promoters of the rough, rude, and boisterious games of the country side. There were frequent pugilistic encounters between them and other classes, especially pitmen and sailors. The rapid innovations of modern science have nearly made the race extinct, covering the face of the river with swift steam-boats, and the river banks with steam cranes and manifold and multiform machinery, so that keelmen are fast becoming an institution of the past.

To this class of operatives William Spoor belonged, and was a good specimen of his class for physical strength and development, for intelligence and morals. "But," writes Joseph Spoor afterwards, speaking of his parents, "they were ignorant of God and of His ways, and seldom if ever attended a place of worship." Thus the restraining and elevating influence of religion, as an element of education, was altogether wanting in his young life. Indeed his education was next to nil. His parents, however, can scarcely be considered blameworthy, as they were anxious that their son should be a "scholar." But school provision in those days for the working classes was very scant. "Dame schools" were the common seats of learning to the poor; and the curriculum was about as simple, easy, and rude as it could well be. In more favoured districts where there happened to be a zealous clergyman, or a few advanced and energetic laymen, a national school might be found. There was one in the neighbourhood of Whickham, to which young people were sent: and for several years Joseph continued to attend it, though his attendance was intermitting and his devotion to the slight studies of the school was faltering and heartless. He, however, penetrated into the mysteries of "the three R's," though not very far into the last two. He had a deep and settled dislike to the confinement and tasks of school. He wanted to be at work on the busy Tyne. So, seeing the hopelessness of all their attempts to keep him at school, his parents sent him to work in his eleventh year. His inclination leading him to the keels, he adopted his father's profession, and he was installed in his occupation as "pee dee." So here is the hardy keel "laddie" commencing his working life.

The surroundings of this boy were all injurious to his morals, what he saw in his associates, and what he heard from them being corrupting and deleterious. He soon conformed to their habits of dissipation. Generous, ardent, and passionate, his was the very nature likely to be influenced and moulded by such surroundings. The good attributes of his nature were thus perverted and prostituted. There must be an original substratum of noble parts and powers before there can be a great sinner; and these very powers, renewed and sanctified, make a great saint. But whatever vices Joseph Spoor became addicted to amongst his companions, his sister gives her distinct testimony that at home he was invariably decorous and kind. Away from home, however, his own testimony is, that his violent temper would brook no restraint. He became an habitual swearer, and an expert at cards, dancing, "heaving pelots," and he even speaks of taking a wicked part in many pugilistic encounters and scenes of drunkenness. Here is the common but sad spectacle, of a fine lad going woefully astray. The torrent of surrounding wickedness and immorality rushes violently on, and he on its bosom is borne far away from God and virtue. He was the slave and victim of stormy passions, of degraded companions, and of that "roaring lion" who goeth about seeking whom he may devour. He had been accustomed to attend the services of the church, but he soon learnt to desecrate the Lord's Day. He speaks of going sometimes with his boon companions "to church or meeting" to make sport, to create disturbance, or to ridicule professors. Were any reproof attempted, he resented it with passion and blows. Indeed, to use his own words, "he was never easy but when engaged in mischief."

In his exposed and dangerous avocation he had many mishaps and accidents. To see the keel with its unsheltered decks, the narrow margin of plank from stem to stern, one wonders how in a gale foothold can be kept at all. Several times was Joseph Spoor overboard; but living near the river he had learnt the art of swimming, and was noted for his expertness and facility as a diver and swimmer. On the occasions of his being thrown into the water this art stood him in good stead. But, his deftness in swimming notwithstanding, he was more than once nearly drowned by falling into the river under circumstances unusually dangerous. Once in particular, when dragged out of the water, he had all the appearance of being dead. The keel was employed at the time, in delivering the cargo of a ship at North Shields. He was standing on the plank extending between the keel and the hole in the ship's side through which the men were taking the goods, when it "gave way," and he was plunged into the river. The strong tide flowing at the time rendered all his attempts to save himself unavailing, he was swept along the ship's sides. And here a new danger appeared. What is called the "suction" of the vessel was so great that it drew him down under the ship with a force which he could not resist. When the plank broke a cry arose, "Joe's overboard!" Boats were instantly manned and got out, but on his not appearing on the surface, it was concluded that he must be drowned, and consternation sat upon every face. But the swift flowing tide which was against him when he first fell was his salvation now, as it proved stronger than the suction of the ship, and so carried him from under the vessel. He now rose unconscious to the surface, when the men in one of the keels seized him, dragged him into the boat, carried him ashore stretched on a board, and laid him down in the nearest public-house for dead. It was resolved to try, to restore him. The usual means were applied, and the well-nigh extinguished spark of life revived. In a few weeks he regained his ordinary bodily vigour. This narrow escape made a deep impression upon his young mind, alarmed him, and aroused a holy fear in his soul. But this was only temporary, for he soon relapsed into his usual hardness and ungodly course of life. He says: "All this was no warning to me, I ran on Gallio-like, caring for none of these things."

The fourteenth year of his age proved the crisis of his history. He was then arrested by the Holy Spirit, and brought to know himself, and the power of Christ to save sinners.

At that time a noted Wesleyan minister, the Rev. Hodgson Casson, was stationed in the Gateshead circuit. Of the holiness of this man's character and life, of his quenchless zeal in the work of the ministry, and his all-absorbing passion for the conversion of men, there can be no difference of opinion. In this one respect he rose to the sublime altitude of apostolic example — knowing nothing among men, but Christ and Him crucified. He laboured much in the Northern and North Western counties of England, and retained throughout his life the simple, homely habits and speech of his native Cumberland hills. He was an angular, odd, and eccentric man. When voting at a parliamentary election for Westmoreland county, in a memorable contest, fought by the then illustrious Henry Brougham, he, after giving his name and address to the polling clerk, was asked his occupation, when he replied, "A Fisher of Men." "What?" said the clerk, opening his eyes and surveying his strange interlocutor, "What?" he asked again. "A Fisher of Men, I tell you," replied the minister. It was treated at first as a joke he was playing at the expense of the clerk. Then he was entreated to give a proper description of his calling. But nothing could be got from him but, "I am a Fisher of Men." The attention of the popular candidate being called to this singular voter, he interrogated Casson; but to Henry Brougham the answer was the same as to the polling clerk. So Brougham ordered it to be inserted, and in the poll books it stands to this day, "Hodgson Casson, Fisher of Men."

No minister better deserved the description. His methods of "fishing" were frequently not after the approved manner; he resorted to novel and original expedients. For instance, he once adopted the following strange method of securing an entrance into a village as an evangelist, where all attempts to get in had been made in vain by his predecessors. Walking through the village, and seeing a woman washing her doorstep, he went past her into the house, to the great astonishment of the women, who immediately followed. He looked round the house and exclaimed, "This is the house!" The woman wondering, asked, "What is it the house for?" "This is the house, for me to preach in!" This made the woman storm and rage, crying out, "I'll have no preaching here; I'll let you know about preaching in my house!" Whereupon Casson took a piece of strong cord from his pocket, threw one end over a beam and made it fast, got a chair and stood on it, and was making the other end of the rope fast round his neck. The woman seeing this was horror-stricken, and ran out into the street shouting that a man was hanging himself in her house; in crowded the people till the house was full, when Casson came down, placed his chair against the door to prevent any one getting out, and there preached. God's Spirit came down upon the people, and several that day were converted to God. Soon the cause of Methodism grew, and gained an influential footing in the place.

The fearlessness and spiritual power of Casson were seen in his breaking up a saturnalia in a neighbouring village. He, in passing the public-house, saw a large number of young people half-intoxicated with strong drink, and fully intoxicated with licentiousness. At such a spectacle his holy indignation was roused, and he resolved by God's help to put a stop to the revelry. He lifted up his soul to God, and laid hold by faith of the Divine power, and then went in. Sitting down till there was a pause, he advanced to the fiddler, saying to him, "Can you play the Bleeding Lamb?" By the stern yet spiritual look of the questioner, and the strange tune asked for, the man was wonder-stricken, and admitted that he could not. "Then," said Casson, "I can, — I'll sing it." With his clear, rich voice, then in its best condition, he sang out —

"Christ hath died upon the tree,
Glory to the bleeding Lamb."

The whole company seemed electrified. Seeing his advantage he determined to follow it up, and in tones of mingled solicitation and command, he asked them to pray. He himself prayed, and as a prince he had power with God and prevailed. The dancing saloon became the place of weeping, penitence, and salvation. It has been well for Wesleyan Methodism that while it has had its Clarkes, Watsons, and Buntings, it has also had its Nelsons, its Smiths, its Cassons, and its Collinses.

Such was the man who came to the Tyneside villages where Joseph Spoor lived, and stirred them as they never had been stirred. Crowds were attracted by the report everywhere circulating as to the preacher's extraordinary pulpit-sayings and doings. But though curiosity seemed to be the prevailing motive acting on the popular mind, multitudes of souls "who came to mock, remained to pray." Among the crowds who flocked to see and hear this noted minister were three young people — Joseph Spoor, his sister Jane, and Thomas Jobling, who rose to the Missionary Secretariat of the Connexion, and whose useful and blameless life closed a few months before that of Mr. Spoor. The three went merely to see and hear the preacher, but met with Christ. The sermon, which was awfully alarming, was on the text, "The wicked shall be turned into hell." The preacher's manner was stern and solemn, his imagery bold and realistic even to literalness; he denounced the wrath of God upon the workers of iniquity in such unsparing terms that the congregation trembled, and stood aghast at this revelation of the terrors of the Lord; there was a shaking in the valley of dry bones. This expert "fisher of men" knew the utility of the "penitent form," that its use in dealing with men's souls is an application of the old adage, "Strike the iron while its hot," affording penitent persons the opportunity of avowing their resolves to be there and then the Lord's. Besides, it commits them practically and publicly to the convictions of their own minds, and thus helps them in their mental conflict; but its chief good is that it secures to them the aid and counsel of experienced persons.

Among those who went to the penitent form that night were these two lads and this girl; Joseph did not on that occasion secure the assurance of faith, and left the chapel before the service was concluded. He says, "I was in such misery that I took my hat and ran out of the chapel. I went home, but could not rest. I trembled from head to foot. I roared out in the disquietude of my spirit." He returned to the chapel door, but could not go in. He wandered aimlessly about the neighbourhood, trying all means he could devise to allay the storm in his soul. He was distracted; seeking rest, but finding none. The sense of sin was on him. This was the awakening hour of conscience. For a fortnight he struggled in the slough of despond, sinking deeper and deeper in the mire. He found, as Bunyan puts it, "that as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, their ariseth in his soul many fears and doubts and discouraging apprehensions, which all of these get together and settle in this place." But at length the day of deliverance came, when the Holy Spirit revealed to his anxious and eager soul the sublimely simple plan of salvation by faith alone in Jesus. He accepted God's mercy as a free gift; renouncing everything, and clinging only to Christ, he was there and then made a new creature. Never did apostolic words find completer verification, "Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new." He could say about his conversion what Luther said about his: "I passed at once from night to day, I was born anew, I saw the Scripture in a new light; it was as if the gates of Paradise were thrown open;" his own simple words are, "When God revealed His Son in my heart, I felt raptures most heavenly, I thought my sufferings were all at an end, I went about trying to persuade all I fell in with to come and find what I had found. I told them of my peace, my love, my joy. I feared not earth nor hell. As for temptation, I knew not what it meant; but I soon found it out, though I had months of bliss."

He became a Wesleyan Methodist; this was before he attained his fourteenth year. That their son and daughter should become "Methodists" was to such decent "Church people" as William and Catherine Spoor, offensive and disreputable; they saw no occasion for anything in religion beyond the decent routine of Church service. Here were these young people singing, praying, and shouting for very joy, and reading the Scriptures in all their spare time. They travelled for miles round about the country to love-feasts and special services, singing as they travelled, and realising the blessed truths they sang —

"Strong I am, for He is strong,
Just in righteousness divine:
He is my triumphal song;
All He has and is, is mine;
Mine, and yours, whoe'er believe;
On His name whoe'er shall call,
Freely shall His grace receive;
He is full of grace for all."

What were "argosies of wealth, rocks of diamond, mines of gold, — all the treasures that interlace the solid globe, and all the glories that burn in the solemn armies of the stars, to them who had "Christ in them, the hope of glory," whose love, as a sublime passion, was dominant in their souls; this heavenly passion complexioned and coloured everything, and they saw all things in its light. Well does the golden-mouthed Jeremy Taylor say, — "Love is the greatest thing that God can give us, for Himself is love; and it is the greatest thing we can give God, for it will also give ourselves, and carry with it all that is ours. The apostle calls it the bond of perfection: it is the old and it is the new, and it is the great commandment, for it is all the commandments — it is the fulfilling of the law. It does the work of all the other graces, without any instrument but its own immediate virtue." And these young people were, to use Wordsworth's words —

"Rich in love,
And sweet humanity, and were themselves,
By heaven above and earth below, most truly loved."

Thus these days of bliss passed on, their heavenborn souls rejoicing in the new revelations of Divine life and love vouchsafed unto them. The two young men accustomed themselves to regular and frequent meetings for reading the Word of God, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and praying in the Holy Ghost. They chose sequestered and out-of-the-way localities for their edifying exercises; their chief spiritual trysting spot being a large plantation adjoining the village, whose shady solitudes were often vocal with their shouts of prayer and praise.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: bridgee
Date: 17 Jun 04 - 06:10 PM

Barry & Ingrid Temple can be contacted

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bull
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 17 Jun 04 - 06:25 PM



Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bull
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 17 Jun 04 - 07:19 PM

Speaks the Farne Glossary

Pee Dee
Sometimes P.D. - Common term used to refer to a keelboat's apprentice. It is not known exactly what this abbreviation stands for but it is possible it is short for 'Poor Devil'.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: LadyJean
Date: 17 Jun 04 - 11:25 PM

Here sit I at the headwaters of the Ohio, the gateway to the west, and the world's second largest inland port.
Keelboat men played an important part in the history of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. They took settlers west to Ohio, and Illinois. They brought goods south to New Orleans.
They were notorious brawlers, and drinkers. The infamous Mike Fink being a well known example.
Pittsburgh's West End, which was a regular stop for the keelboatmen was known as Temperenceville, because they banned the sale of liquor. It was safer that way.
Zayduck Cramer's Navigator was the keelboatman's guide. You could, apparently, take a boat down the Ohio and the Mississippi with the tiller in one hand and Cramer's Navigator in the other.
Abraham Lincoln took a keelboat down to New Orleans as a young man.

On the boatmen's food, it's interesting to note that the boats that sailed from Pittsburgh always had a cook, generally a woman, who prepared very large, very good meals for the crew.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: Amos
Date: 18 Jun 04 - 12:24 AM

Mike Fink -- why he was one-half alligator and one-half snapping turtle and one-half mountain lion. He could out-drink, out-fight, out-shoot, out-spit, out-cuss and out-holler any man on the Mississippi. He was the biggest, the baddest, the rollickingest, roughneckest, two-fistedest baddest-assed keelboatman on the river.

Until the day he met Davy Crockett.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: breezy
Date: 18 Jun 04 - 10:29 AM

'The Keelman'

written by Graham Searle and as sung by Ben Campbell

at Folk on the Moor, Wooter, near Ivybridge, every Sunday, but Ben injured himself yesterday and will not be at the St Albans folk club tonight, but his song will nevertheless be sung.

at the Duke of Marlborough, Holywell Hill, St Albans.


'Aye we would sweat, shovelling the coal, pulling hard on the oars.
The hours were long ,that shortened our lives,
Down on the Tyneside shore, down on the Tyneside shore

The life of a keelman working the staithes,began as our childhood passed.
The money was poor and we paid in years,We knew that our dye it were cast.
The colliery boats out on the sea, took all the coals away,
Our bodies were torn, but our honour stayed strong, as we laboured the live long day.

The bosses they knew that with heavier loads,they would line all their pockets with tin,
For our families needs we turned our worn hands to a battle we could not win.
We fought all the odds as best we might ,to load all the cursed coal,
That blackened our faces and blackened our gear, but never the keelman's soul.

When the chapel bell rang to call us to prayer we would put on our Sunday best.
Blue jacket, white shirt, bell bottoms of grey, blue bonnets and a yella vest.
Reet grand were each man wi his kin by his side ,and proud were each loving wife,
But what of our hopes and what of our dreams wi a swift end to working life?

By his 40th year a mans work were done for his body could take no more strain.
The call of old age would play its grim tune and all for a rich mans gain.
Only charity now will pay for his bread for what work can men like us do?
Our hearts maybe right but our muscles are weak, yet each to himself must be true

and its got a cracking tune preceded by the Keelrow

come tonight and you'll hear it, or Sunday at the Legion when we have the 'Spotlight' club in St Albans

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: LadyJean
Date: 19 Jun 04 - 12:39 AM

Fink was a real person, mythologized like Crockett, hence the stories of their encounters. Mike Fink's idea of a good time was to try to shoot a cup of liquor off his friend's head. Then, one day, he missed.
Yes he did kill his friend, but he was somewhat more concerned about the booze.
Keelboats played an important part in the settling of the American west. Most of them sailed from Pittsburgh. The keelboatmen were notorious brawlers, given to gouging each others' eyes out, and other cheerful occupations.
They would have eaten a Methodist preacher alive.
But they could take a boat down the Ohio to the Missisippi and down the Mississippi to New Orleans. Look at a map, and you'll see how long a trip that is.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: pavane
Date: 19 Jun 04 - 04:41 AM

I read somewhere that the word CIEL, or was it CEIL? meaning Boat, is reckoned by the OED to be the oldest documented word in the English language

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar
Date: 19 Jun 04 - 04:51 AM

Co-incidentally there is another kind of PD boat, mentioned in a couple of small North-East of Scotland songs.
One has
"Wha saw the PD boats? Wha saw them comin hame?"
In this case it is the abbreviation on the Peterhead fishing boats, that in together with their number painted on the bows to identifie them.
Plus, in the Northern Islands 'peedie' is a loving diminutive, indicating small size -'Peddie Betty's the one for me'.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: GUEST,Heather Thomas
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 04:09 AM

I am interested in accessing the family names of the keelmen on the Tyne in particular that of Pollard. Any assistance would be appreciated.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bull
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 04:41 AM

Sorry can't help about Pollards, but i know a little about the Humber keels.

Chris Sherburn from Last Nights Fun (the late) lives on one, and I got this from a book by Harry Fletcher:

THE HUMBER HORSE MARINE (Tom Bliss - recorded by Slide on Slippery Slope SLIP 005 2001)

This song is about two unusual ways in which human legs were put to use on the Yorkshire waterways.

A keel is essentially a Viking longship - and almost unchanged since mediaeval times. There's only one left now, 'Comrade' (above, pic by Michael Askin). They could sail on the Humber, but often needed hauling when inland with no fair wind. Unlike narrow boats they had no horse of their own (it would have had to come aboard when sailing!), so this meant using a man-harness (but this was shaped for a woman, because steering's a man's work, surely?) or a hiring a Horse Marine from some pub along the way (for 1d a mile and all the food he could eat - usually bacon and eggs). The marine was self employed and enjoyed unusual freedom for workers of that time, but his life had one major drawback: To ensure the rope didn't snag and the momentum of the keel drag the horse into the water, he had to walk, all day long, backwards!

The Standedge Tunnel, from Yorkshire to Lancashire is the longest and highest canal tunnel in Britain. It took so long to build that by the time it was finished, the railway had also crossed the Pennines. To encourage canal traffic, men were employed to 'leg' boats through, there and back twice a day, or 16 hours in the wet and dark. (But was this better or worse than walking backwards all day long?!)

Suggested by "A Life on the Humber" by Harry Fletcher

From the collier pits of Sheffield to the Alexandra Docks

Is a 3 day sail or a 6 day trail and five and twenty bleeding locks

So summon my assistance at some pub along the track

from the wharf at Thorne your on your own, I'll see thee coming back

When the wind won't blow and your keel won't go, it's me you've got to thank

For a penny a mile I will walk, my style - backwards along the towing bank

And if you feed me well I've tales to tell, of the million things I've seen

In my weary days on the waterways, as a Humber Horse Marine

I call my old nag Molly, she's the Lily of the east

You can see she stands full nineteen hands, my beauty and my beast

I ride her home each evening, and she's sure to pull me through

And if she falls in at least she'll swim, which is more than I can do!

My brother Ned got flighty, and he left us by and by

Heading west, where the pay was best, and the Pennines touch the sky

Now he walks the Standedge Tunnel, and he's welcome to his pay

Cos it's four hours through and four hours back, and he does it twice a day

So lower your coggy-boats, haul them away

Your keel needs a paint job and you've no way to pay

So slice up your bacon, and fry all your eggs

Or I'll leave you to manage on one pair of legs

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folklore: About Keel Boats/ Keel Men-P.D.&Bullies
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 04:09 PM

There are plenty of keels and sloops left on the Humber and elsewhere. The main difference between them is the keel is square- rigged, sometimes with a topsail like Comrade and a sloop is fore-and- aft-rigged like Amy Howson (Both berthed at South Ferriby). Keels come in slightly different sizes most of those surviving being Sheffield size, just over 60 foot long and a 15 foot beam. A recently restored sloop is Spider T at Keadby Lock. As Tom says Chris's Southcliffe is a Sheffield-sized Keel which will shortly be back in sail. There are others and often at least 3 or 4 turn up at the Hull Shanty Festival and the Beverley Shanty Festival. They make a splendid sight gliding down the Humber in full sail and there's nothing to beat sailing in one with the engine switched off and standing at the tiller. Bloody marvellous!

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")

Mudcat time: 15 May 4:53 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.