Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

Hi,
I’m looking for Lancashire folk tunes that were written around the time of the Industrial Revolution.
I am studying towards a MA in September and my major project is to record an album of songs and tunes from that era.
I have managed to find lots of songs and poems but struggling to find tunes. However, if you have any song recommendations, that would be useful too.
Thanks in advance,
Cliff

Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

The only English creator of tunes who I know was active during this period was Joshua Jackson, from Yorkshire. He has quite a lot of tunes, and an album I enjoy by the group Canny Fettle is based completely, or almost cnpletely, on Jackson’s manuscript. I would think there would have been someone in Lankashire who did the same.

Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

From my memory as a ‘Lanky lad, perhaps the most famous collector of old Lancashire songs was the poet Edwin Waugh. You can get a free e-book here:- https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/55921. I’ve not read it, but it may give some leads, and, of course, it’s a reference you should include.

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Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

And then… sorry Cliff, I just paid attention and read that you were looking specifically for ‘tunes’. Funny…. I don’t know of ANY!

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Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

Songs, of course have tunes. I’m pretty sure for example that Edwin Waugh’s "Tum Rindle" gets sung to the tune of "Robbie Tanson’s Smithy" which I believe is a Scottish ‘song’, But who can vouch for he origin of the tune?? See https://thesession.org/tunes/7960. And don’t forget that during the industrial revolution there was a massive influx of Irish immigration into the industrial centers of England (also Scottish, of course), so it’s likely that many tunes were adapted. I personally think it’s probably a very difficult task to identify any purely Lancashire ‘tune’s of the day:- Songs yes, tunes no!… but stand by;- we have some very knowledgeable people on this site who may prove me wrong.

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Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

It might be worth finding out if any famous Lancashire songs were based off tunes? Some people (Robert Burns is the first I can think of off the top of my head) made some songs from tunes.
Putting "Lancashire Tunes" into YouTube mostly brings up songs, other than some "Greenwood Step Clog Dancers" Lancashire videos. Although some of them are labeled as "Lancashire Irish" and one of them starts with the Reedsdale Hornpipe which I believe is Northumbrian!
(Also, sorry for misspelling Lancashire in my first post!)

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Ha, Gobby, just saw your last post after I’d posted. We’re thinking the same about songs coming from tunes!

Re: Lancashire Dance Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GK42rCnl8E

Why do the tunes need to be *written* in Lancashire? If they were played for dancing wouldn’t the locals have come up with various interpretations for the reality on the ground? i.e. ~ dances?! [+ Industrialism!?]

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Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

Sure Ben, but if that were acceptable then what *would* qualify as a Lancashire tune? It would either be everything or very little. I suppose the criteria needs to be defined by the OP. Also, although a bit nit-picky unless you are a historian of the subject (where the question is indeed asked) when did the industrial revolution begin and end? I grew up in Manchester in the 50’s in the then largest industrial suburb in the world, and it seems to me that it was still happening (Irish navies everywhere). In that sense, one could claim the Ewan MacColl’s "Dirty Old Town" was one of the last folk songs of the industrial revolution (written in, and about Salford, Lancs). These things need defining.

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Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

Very good point about time periods. I guess I automatically found myself thinking late 1700s early 1800s, because when I learned about the Industrial Revolution in my middle and high school history classes, that’s the time period that was primarily focused on, I think both for European and American history.

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The Great Western Clog goes under many names, I’d guess the Belfast Hornpipe would be the usual here. Tune #4 in the database here!

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"Northern Frisk" by Jamie Knowles, Pat Knowles and Ian McGrady is a good source, if you can find a copy.

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"I suppose the criteria needs to be defined by the OP." Precisely, Gobby. That’s why I ask questions, to find out more about what the OP is looking for & where he’s looking.

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Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

You said ‘written tunes’ so I’m wondering if anyone knows of people who have old diaries or music note books from the area. Maybe people who moved to the US?
I guess you’re trying to narrow it down looking specifically at people, social groups and sheet music from bands for the various guilds?

My uncle was from Durham and I remember him in the 1960’s, lamenting the loss of many of his favourite tunes. He often whistled (well) in the garden -no instrument, just whistling. I remember my aunt too, saying, ‘well, as long as he doesn’t sing, I don’t want the bairns getting bad habits…’

-there was another dialect word for ‘habits’ that I can’t remember, and of course I only ever understood maybe half of whatever he said.
But I did understand the music.

Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

Thanks for all your help.
I am expecting it’s going to be tricky to find tunes written around the IR era.
My plan is to record an album of folk songs and tunes from that time. I will be turning Lancashire poetry into song and possibly taking some songs from that period and re-recording with different instrumentation whilst still keeping its original intentions.
Either as separate tracks or within the songs, I would like to include some instrumentals. It would be ideal if these tunes had some connection to the time. If I really struggle to find tunes associated with this era, just Lancashire tunes would work but I’m hoping I can find some so it all fits in with the theme of the album.
Hope this makes sense.

Email - cliff_music@hotmail.com

Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

"Hope this makes sense."
Yes. But you have an ENORMOUS sandwich on your plate!

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Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

My uncle also missed all the different time signatures, ‘Bet you tuppence you can’t count 5/4 time. Ahh, kids nowadays!’

And, ‘Simon, once you’ve heard the sound of the mill, your whole life, you’ll never forget it’.
-it was the dreadful volume you could hear all down the valley. The never ending pounding, the chaotic patterns of overlapping rhythms from the heavy machinery.

A bit like a session!

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Ha Bex!
Good job I like a challenge!
I’ve got 14 months to do it. Wish me luck 👍

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I was going to offer what services I can - I live in the Rochdale area and we’re trying to keep our toddler occupied this summer with some trips to local attractions, museums etc, so I’d have offered to keep an eye out for any leads and so on - but I see from your profile that you’re local yourself, so probably equivalent to offering a taxi driver a lift!

Good luck with it anyway Cliff - sounds interesting, if tricky in terms of determining date, provenance etc. I did a Master’s in music a few years back, the dissertation for which was on Schubert’s dance music for piano - a different sort of minefield, but I feel I can relate nonetheless! It’ll be worth the head-scratching though.

P.S. You could start by trying to determine when the Rochdale Coconut Dance came about!

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I didn’t realize Rochdale was part of Lancashire. Have you checked out the Rochdale Coconut Dance tune?
You can find some more information:
https://tunearch.org/wiki/Annotation:Rochdale_Coconut_Dance
and the Tip-Top Polka is the backup coconut dance.
If Gbby classifies growing up in 1950s Manchester as part of the Industrial Revolution, I think this tune would definitely qualify!

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Perhaps you already know this, but it’s in here:- https://www.jstor.org/stable/i406212 (the coconut dance, that is).
@ Whimbrel re:- If Gobby classifies growing up in 1950s Manchester as part of the Industrial Revolution, I think this tune would definitely qualify!" I’m not actually classifying it but just pointing out that some historians see the industrial ‘revolution’ as not a revolution rather than an ongoing process that has roots at least as far back as Elisabethen times. As for when it finished… Well in many parts of the world they are still becoming industrialised. All I reckon from my own experience as a kid from Stretford in the 50’s, is that it certainly hadn’t finished then.

By the way Cliff and The light whenever somebody ever asked me, "Don’t you know that three’s a crowd?" I used to say, "Of course I do, I’m a Rochdale supporter. Sorry … but I can’t help myself, I’m actually a Stretford ender….

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Oops, hadn’t seen that Thelightisahead had already mentioned the coconut dance. I think my favorite recording of it is from Magpie Lane, who play it with a song and then, afterwards, the tune Three Around Three.

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I earlier referred to the massive Irish influx into Lancashire during the industrial ‘revolution’. For those who don’t know about it, and it’s greater (i.e., great) importance to world history and politics, you should read up on Engles and Marx, and the influence on their thinking that emanated from a place known then as "Little Ireland"(Manchester). I knew the place well when I was a kid; it was still horrible and creepy, although by then it was just railway sidings and a very polluted river full of junk, but I swear you could still feel the misery. I have never forgotten the palpable feeling of gloom I felt when I first went there.
Friedrich Engles himself had an interesting association with these Irish at the time. See:-https://ifthosewallscouldtalk.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/long-lost-histories-little-ireland-manchester/
and https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/an-irishman-s-diary-on-friedrich-engels-and-ireland-1.2261644
My own great grandmother was once in the workhouse at Ancoats (same location), and when you read about the reality of life in the times of Engels and Marx’s Manchester. it’s hard to imagine that anybody would be going out dancing. Well you were generally dead before 40. But to keep it all pertinent to this site I would again say that we must assume that the Irish at the time had an influence on what tunes were played in Lancashire.

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Re: Lancashire Tunes?

Scratch that…
Sorry, that was because I posted something & then unposted it.
Carry on!

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Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

Yeah, maybe Ben, but that does remind me that Lancashire has a nautical dimension.

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It’s not a hornpipe. And once again!!!
THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO SAY FOR NOW.
I’m not here. Let me go, please.

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I was looking through notes to ¨The Factory Girl¨ and was surprised to find it had been mentioned in a publication titled: Music and Tradition in Early Industrial Lancashire, Roger Elbourne, Folklore Society Mistletoe Series, 1980; ¨The Constant Lovers¨, Frank Purslow, EFDSS Publications, 1972. This might help. Sorry if I´m re-plowing old ground.

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Good find postie. Maybe the OP was aware of this book, but I wasn’t, and being genuinely interested I just bought myself a copy from ABE Books. This is how they introduce it…. "Change in traditional music; social consequences of the industrialisation and urbanizatlion of handloom weaving; Musical life in the handloom weaving communities’ Musical life in the new industrial towns; Handloom versus powerloom: broadside ballads about handloom weaving. " Maybe this is too close for comfort to the OP ??

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Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

In ‘The Singing Island’* the notes (p.36) to the provenance of ‘The Four-Loom Weaver’ make a direct link to sources in Droylsden and Oldham.

*Pub. Mills Music, 1960. Compiled by Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger.

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Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

@Whimbrel - Yes, I think it’s part of Greater Manchester now but I’m sure further back it was in Lancashire.

@Gobby - I’m afraid that’s over my head!

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The Old Lancashire was my first thought of a tune when I saw this thread, but I had thought the tune was older.

Re: Lancashire Dances from the Industrial Revolution Era

I found this which seems to point to Lancashire as being one point of origin for clog dancing. I’m guessing the dancing didn’t use instrumental music at first; but machines (or their rhythms) instead. Obviously over time instrumental music began to play more of a part in clog dancing.

Lancashire Clog Dance
"Another important influence that came from overseas was called the Lancashire clog dance.
This style of dance originated in England in the 1800’s. In Lancashire, England, the cotton mill
workers were under horrible conditions due to long hours as well as cold and damp weather.
To help keep their feet warm in this damp cold weather (wet floors?), the people of the mills wore shoes
with a sole made from a solid piece of wood. During that time, the shoes were called ‘clogs’. While at work during those long and tiring days, the female mill workers "tapped their feet in their wooden-soled clogs to
keep time with the rhythm of the shuttles that went back and forth on their looms,".
The wooded clogs made rhythms on the hard floors, and soon created a type of dance for the women
to express themselves with these rhythms. These types of rhythms combined with the jig, reel and hornpipe
steps to form what was called clog dancing. During breaks at the mill, the workers took these tapping rhythms and danced in the cobblestone streets outside the mills while wearing the wooden soled shoes.
While dancing in the streets, contests were started, and people would try to have more intricate
rhythms than the others. The contests made this type of dancing become very popular throughout
Lancashire as well as the rest of England."

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Which tunes did the Oldham Tinkers record, PEP?

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Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

Don’t forget the brass bands. They had a strong connection with English industry from the 1840’s onward, especially in the north, and more especially in Lancashire and Yorkshire. Personally, when I think of traditional music from Lancashire I think first of brass bands. There’s stacks of stuff ont’tinternet. Obviously most of their tunes would not have originated from Lancashire, but that’s what would have been played.

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Re: Lancashire Tunes from the Industrial Revolution Era

@AB Did that tale about the clogs didn’t come from a native Lancashire source ? Sounds somewhat fanciful to me.

Without knowing the composer how would one know the date and locality of a tune? Are any tunes named after historical events in Lancashire? New buildings, bridges, canals, parks? Would going through the tunes at the village music project looking for ones that appeared first in Lancashire give some possibles?

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"Lancashire" clog dancing is still a pretty strong tradition, including competitions.
The story about it starting with people dancing to the rhythm of factory machinery is a standard one that’s often told. I think for history one would need to look at it in the context of other step-dance, percussive-dance traditions.

We used to go to a step-clog dancing festival in Skipton (Yorkshire) until it ceased in 2016. (Lots of videos on the Clogfest Youtube channel.) When we were dancing in the streets on the Saturday morning old folk would say they remembered clogs as just everyday wear when they were young.

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I ‘ad clogs when I were little. Don’t recall me grandad in owt else, ‘cept when he were in his best.

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I enjoyed reading the clog dancing story, but assumed it did not come from a native Lancashire source, as it said the dancing originated in "Lancashire, England". If the source was based in Lancashire, there’d be little need for the word "England." Nothing wrong with that, of course.
The first brass band that comes to mind for me is Brass Monkey. They’re from England, and include some already famous artists like Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick. Not specific to Lancashire, and not specific to the Industrial Revolution, but they are worth checking out!

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Brass Monkey were a ‘folk’ band with brass (and none better).

These are the sort of brass bands Gobby meant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zAicO6xmXA There are still lots of them. Many of them were sponsored by the factory the players worked at. The only people I knew who played in them were the third or fourth generation of the family in the same band. Strong local community music making.


(and before people start, I know Saddleworth was in Yorkshire until not long ago)

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‘the female mill workers "tapped their feet in their wooden-soled clogs to keep time with the rhythm of the shuttles that went back and forth on their looms".’

I just don’t buy this theory. Yes, mill workers in Lancashire wore clogs, but why would they batter the floor in the mills when there was more than enough noise to contend with. I grew up in a mill town, and many of the older workers there learned to lip-read to communicate with their fellow workers because of the constant noise. People would beat time to music, but beating time to machinery just seems dead boring. It makes more sense that when people got away from work, they would dance for entertainment to whatever music was available. And if their normal footwear was clogs, the battering would come fairly naturally - very much like Irish hard shoe solo dancing.

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My thoughts exactly Borderer.

"and many of the older workers there learned to lip-read". And to exaggerate the mouth movements - you could spot them in the street once it was pointed out. I think the spinners were standing/walking at the machine.

Reading AB’s extract I was thinking that if it was from Ireland the little people would get a mention.

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"…when people got away from work, they would dance…"
Exactly, gents, that’s the point. 😉

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If you read about the horrendous work conditions in those mills (and at home, with about 20 souls to a house in Little Ireland), I’m not sure that many of those people would have had it left in them to want to dance. And after 6 x 12 hour days they finally got Sundays off to go to church. Much of the music they heard would have been religious, and dancing on Sundays was frowned upon (most Lancashire people were God fearing). Most kids back then didn’t survive beyond 5 years old, and most adults were dead before 40. Most died from lung diseases or simple poverty. I’m a bit skeptical about this merry old clog dancing stuff when it comes to the mills etc. I am, however, only talking of Manchester, some of the more rural areas may have been different.

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It seems like members here are reading into the quote that it’s "merry old clog dancing" inside the early
19th c. cotton mills. The quotation has 2 parts (Inner & outer quotations). One of them may be sugar coating what happened in the mills. That’s apparent. But my takeaway from both is that the actual (clog) dancing
by the workers was not during the long hours of work. Although I see exactly the bits from which you lot
are inferring this fantasy. I get that.

What’s more important to me is that the workers may have danced, competed, battered during their all too brief breaks; which is in the larger quotation. Is that bit about dancing "during breaks" also a lie? I know what I do when I have only a few minutes of freedom from my burdens. What do you do? Not that it’s any comparison.

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Re: Lancashire Tunes…

Thanks, Gobby. I appreciate your post, very much.

FWIW I believe many of the factory workers came to the cities for the work not thinking about the long hours because it would have been long hours doing farm work. What they eventually discovered were the inhumane conditions of the production line. Nothing merry there. So, how to make it through hard times?
Ben

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I listened to some Oldham Tinkers music today. They do not seem to play instrumental tunes, but, rather, have sets with medleys of songs. So I’m also not sure which tune sets were being referred to earlier, but they’re a great group!

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I have referred a few times to the Irish diaspora during the Industrial revolution. There were also large migrations from Scotland due to the clearances. I don’t think this can be underestimated when it comes to the influence of what music was played at these time. Below is an account from wikipedea. This section is only about Manchester. Liverpool, Leeds and others have similar accounts.

"Manchester has strong and long established Irish connections. The earliest large influx of migrants arrived sometime around 1798 according to Peter Ewart, a Manchester cotton manufacturer [64] It has been estimated that around 35% of Manchester’s current population has Irish ancestry, although no reliable data exists to evidence this. In November 2012 whilst addressing an audience at the University of Manchester, Michael D. Higgins suggested "the Irish connection in Manchester is no less evident than in Liverpool. And where Liverpool was a gateway for so many Irish people, Manchester tended to be for many the end of the journey, a home".[64]
When Manchester’s population grew in the early 1800’s due to it becoming the World’s first industrial city the Irish born in Manchester were said to represent over 15% of the population. The Irish were said to have lived in terrible conditions and were described by Friedrich Engels in his 1845 book The Conditions of the Working Class in England. Areas concentrated with high levels of Irish were known as Little Ireland around Oxford Road and later Ancoats and Hulme. Manchester was a breeding ground for Irish Republicanism, supporters known as Fenians, and when three Irish men were hanged accused of murder they became figureheads for Irish nationalism in Britain, Ireland and America and were known as the Manchester Martyrs. The reports of these terrible conditions sparked pioneering social changes in Manchester in the 1840s with the city often at the forefront of social reform in Britain."
My own most recent ancestors lived in Ancoats (mentioned above). Half of them were Welsh the rest were Scot’s/English. I was born in 1950 and remember people still wearing clogs. I later used to ‘play’ in some of the mill ruins (very spooky). As far as I know I have no Irish ancestry, yet I grew up in Manchester knowing many Irish traditional tunes. Irish music has never been new to me. Why would that be?

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I assume that the OP is already familiar with Celia Pendlebury’s M. Phil thesis ‘A History of "Traditional" Dance Tunes of Britain and Ireland’ (https://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/8262/) Doing a text search for "Lancashire" in that might give some leads as to which manuscript collections to look at.

She gives a well-set out discussion of how tunes moved around and where they may have come from.

@Gobby. There is a quote from another source (Irish I think) suggesting that the Lancashire stepping tradition came from Irish migrant workers in the cotton mills.

(@Whimbrel - you might find it a good read)

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Consider the Irish tune “The Spike Island Lasses” https://thesession.org/tunes/737
In the comments to this tune  thierrymasure  proposes that the Spike Island referred to is not the infamous prison in Cork, but the name given to an industrial location on a section of the River Mersey in Liverpool (Lancashire) He writes:-

““John Hutchinson opened his first Alkali factory on Spike Island and, to meet the heavy demand for labour, large influxes of Irish workers descended into Widnes. Newtown, Lugsdale and Moss Bank took the highest numbers of settlers and developed rapidly, so much so that the area around Newtown was known locally as ‘Little Ireland’.”

It does sound more probable to me that The Spike Island Lasses were factory workers in that factory. They were definitely not prison inmates in Cork Harbour.

Source: https://hbcnewsroom.co.uk/what-do-you-know-about-the-area-of-marrabone-widnes/ "

This makes much sense to me, but if it could be proven it would qualify the tune as one played in Lancashire at the time (albeit Irish!… this has all been a very murky question from the start. The terms need to be defined, and let’s face it, music crosses all boundaries).

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I know he was mainly a singer of Lancashire songs, but has anybody above mentioned Harry Boardman? There’s quite a lot of his stuff on youtube.

Sam Sherry

I find that this discussion has got a bit lost, through lack of much information, or concrete examples.

May I introduce two videos featuring Sam Sherry, probably the last link with clog dancing as it was in the music halls. He relates in this video his life as one of a family troupe on the music halls, how he gave it up and how he started a revival group thanks to random enquiry by someone at Lancaster Folk Stir. He has an interesting take on the origins of Lancashire clog dancing that supports some contributors here.

https://youtu.be/Y69Xxs57MBE


In this video he dances with a pupil a dance that to me progresses from traditional clog dance steps to music hall steps. Well worth watching
https://youtu.be/NRr1zd0vWMc

Note the tune is a local music hall song.

I hope that the originator of this thread will report back here. I see that the original query was about songs.
Look for the Oldham Edge, an LP with Harry Boardman and the Oldham Tinkers. The original Lancashire folk revival of 50 years ago.

If the videos tell us anything it’s; Don’t forget the music hall’s place in the tradition.

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Are you aware of the Ellis Knowles and Joseph Kershaw manuscripts? The first one was collected by a fiddle player from Saddleworth named Tony Doyle. The other was published by INWAC publishing. Tunes of a ‘Lancashire’ flavour, or origin or connect. There is also 101 Dance Tunes From The North West.
As for sings, try Gary And Vera Aspey (from Leigh) and their album A Taste Of Hotpot. Quite a few ‘industrial’ songs on there.

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I’m coming back to this thread, because I listened to this video today. See the description for the tune The Green Ship.
https://youtu.be/AUb-imMr0eE

OP, if you’re still on here, might be worth seeing if you can find other tunes in the John Winder collection.

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Thanks Whimbrel.
Great tune, like it.
I’ve recently purchased the Winder tune book and in the process of chipping through it.
Thanks again.
Cliff