Saturday, 9 June 2012

Blaydon Races

Aw went to Blaydon Races, 'twas on the ninth of Joon,
Eiteen hundred an' sixty-two, on a summer's efternoon;
Aw tyuk the 'bus frae Balmbra's, an' she wis heavy laden,
Away we went alang Collingwood Street, that's on the road to Blaydon.
[Thanks to Wikipedia for the lyrics taken from the manuscript copy] 

 So it's the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the first running in song of the Blaydon Races. I was reminded of this only by the coincidence of the announcement of the closure of Armstrong's factory (now part of BAE Systems) this year. Armstrong's is mentioned as one of the waypoints on the bus journey:

We flew past Airmstrang's factory, and up to the "Robin Adair",
Just gannin' doon te the railway bridge, the 'bus wheel flew off there.
The lasses lost their crinolines off, an' the veils that hide their faces,
An' aw got two black eyes an' a broken nose in gan te Blaydon Races.

The Races have been revived ( and no doubt the song has never died out on Tyneside, but I can't remember the last time I heard it on national radio. It used to be a regular request item on BBC record programmes, and Friday night on the Light Programme/Radio 2 would not have been the same without a performance of "Blaydon Races" or "Cushie Butterfield" by Owen Brannigan ably assisted by Ernest Lush (more than a mere accompanist). My post about the song on Facebook recently received only one "like", from a Friend of the same generation as myself. I suppose it is too much to hope that the BBC retained any tapes of a Brannigan/Lush recital. If they have, today would be an appropriate occasion to replay them.

No comments: