Blaydon Races

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"Blaydon Races"
Lyrics by Geordie Ridley
Published 1891
Written 1862
Language English (Geordie)
Original artist Geordie Ridley
Recorded by Friends of Fiddler's Green

Blaydon Races (Roud #3511) is a famous Geordie folk song written in the 19th century by Geordie Ridley, in a style deriving from music hall. It is regarded by many as the unofficial anthem of Tyneside and is frequently sung by supporters of Newcastle United Football Club and Newcastle Falcons rugby club. Blaydon is a small town in Gateshead, situated about 4 miles (6.4 km) from Newcastle upon Tyne, in North East England. The actual race itself used to take place on the Stella Haugh 1 mile (1.6 km) west of Blaydon. Stella South Power Station was built on the site of the track in the early 1950s, after the races had stopped taking place in 1916.

Lyrics[edit]

The song is quoted from the author's manuscript in Allan's[1] as follows:

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.

(chorus)

Ah me lads, ye shud only seen us gannin',
We pass'd the foaks upon the road just as they wor stannin';
Thor wes lots o' lads an' lasses there, all wi' smiling faces,
Gawn alang the Scotswood Road, to see the Blaydon Races.

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.

(chorus)

When we gat the wheel put on away we went agyen,
But them that had their noses broke they cam back ower hyem;
Sum went to the Dispensary an' uthers to Doctor Gibbs,
An' sum sought out the Infirmary to mend their broken ribs.

(chorus)

Noo when we gat to Paradise thor wes bonny gam begun;
Thor was fower-an-twenty on the 'bus, man, hoo they danced an' sung;
They called on me to sing a sang, aw sung them "Paddy Fagan",
Aw danced a jig an' swung my twig that day aw went to Blaydon.

(chorus)

We flew across the Chain Bridge reet into Blaydon toon,
The bellman he was callin' there, they call him Jackie Broon;
Aw saw him talkin' to sum cheps, an' them he was pursuadin'
To gan an' see Geordy Ridley's concert in the Mechanics' Hall at Blaydon.

(chorus)

The rain it poor'd aw the day an' myed the groons quite muddy,
Coffy Johnny had a white hat on – they war shootin' "Whe stole the cuddy."
There wes spice stalls an' munkey shows an' aud wives selling ciders,
An' a chep wiv a hapenny roond aboot, shootin' "Noo, me lads, for riders."

(chorus)

The song is now usually sung with more modern language but retaining the Tyneside dialect. For example the chorus might be sung:

Oh! me lads, ye shud a' seen w'us gannin,
Passin' the folks alang the road just as they were stannin'.
Aal the' lads and lasses there, aal wi' smiling faces,
Gannin' alang the Scotswood Road to see the Blaydon Races.

History[edit]

Ridley sang the song at a concert in Balmbra's Music Hall on 5 June 1862. It is likely that on this occasion the song ended with the exhortation to see Ridley's show on 9 June, and that the final verse was added for that later performance. Although the account of the trip to Blaydon is a fiction, the heavy rain and missing cuddy (horses) were reported in the local press.

The song was adopted as its marching anthem by the British Army Infantry soldiers of the Fifth of Foot (The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers), of Fenham Barracks, Newcastle upon Tyne. Today it is the Regimental Song of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the modern descendants of The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.

Places mentioned[edit]

"Scotswood Road" was and still is a long road parallel to the left bank of the river Tyne, running westwards from Newcastle city to Benwell and Scotswood, and which at the time of the song ran through industrial and working-class areas. "Airmstrang's factory" was a large engineering works at Elswick, which made large guns and other firearms. The "Robin Adair" was a pub on Scotswood Road which has since been demolished. Paradise is a reference to the local dump on Scotswood Road.

150th anniversary campaign[edit]

In December 2010 an on-line petition [1] was launched calling for "...a clear and sustained commitment on the part of Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead Councils to work hand-in-hand with the Geordie people...to help deliver an appropriate celebration of the 150th anniversary of Mr George Ridley's world-famous anthem of Tyneside." The Campaign [2] currently has over 5,000 registered supporters in all media including 2,071 (Apr 2012) signatories to the petition. On 9 November 2011, Chi Onwurah MP presented a Parliamentary Petition to the Speaker of the House of Commons in support of the Campaign. Since August 2011, Campaign Group Members have been in ongoing dialogue with the two Councils. As a result of these discussions, the core campaign objective of delivering an on-street event on the actual anniversary of 9 June 2012 has been achieved. A series of additional "satellite" events have also been organised including a week-long beer festival at The Hotspur pub, Percy Street, Newcastle upon Tyne and a "Geordie Oompah" event at The Ware Rooms, Carliol Square, Newcastle upon Tyne [3] on the night of 9 June. A copy-cat group in London is bringing this bit of Northumbrian culture to the capital [4] and aims to make this an annual event. In fact the BR151 event is more ambitious than the last. But the Campaign Group continues to hold discussions with a broad range of other local organisations and institutions regarding additional events that they will hold to support a wider celebration of the anniversary.

Modern race[edit]

The Blaydon Race is a 5.9-mile athletics race from Newcastle to Blaydon that takes place on 9 June every year and starts off with the singing of 'The Blaydon Races', as the words are used as the basis for the whole race.

Use as a football chant[edit]

Although 'Blaydon Races' is recognised as the Newcastle United FC supporters song, it has been adapted for use by many clubs throughout England. The geographical references (e.g. Scotswood Road) and dialect words (e.g. gannin') in the lyrics are changed to suit the club but the tune remains the same. It is also sung by fans of Sunderland AFC.

Queens Park Rangers F.C. use a similar chant:

Oh me lads you should have seen us coming, Running down the Uxbridge Road, You should have seen us coming, All the lads and lasses smiles, upon there faces, Running down the Uxbridge Road, To see the Queens Park Rangers...

Some other clubs that use this style of chant are:

  • Burnley FC
  • Walsall FC
  • Oldham Athletic
  • Manchester United FC
  • Shrewsbury Town
  • Brighton & Hove Albion
  • Bolton Wanderers
  • Blackburn Rovers
  • AFC Wimbledon
  • Portadown F.C. (Northern Ireland)
  • Glenavon F.C. (Northern Ireland)

In recent years the original song has also been adopted by supporters of Newcastle Falcons rugby club. May & Baker Rugby Union Football Club have been singing this song since the 1950s. Liverpool FC fans used the song as a tribute to record signing Andy Carroll, a Newcastle lad.

Recordings[edit]

  • Eightball Voodoo's heavy rock version released 07/11/2011 – http://www.eightballvoodoo.com[2]
  • The Friends of Fiddler's Green on The Road to Mandalay 1994
  • YouTube recording [5]
  • Bob Davenport and The Marsden Rattlers, released in 1971 on "BBC's Folk on 2 presents Northumbrian Folk" (BBC Records REC 118S [LP, UK, 1971])

Painting[edit]

William Irving's 1903 painting

William Irving's 1903 painting. 'The Blaydon Races – A Study from Life' is on show at the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead, along with 'The Blaydon Races' merchandise such as books, CD'S and cards. The painting depicts the fairground festivities associated with the race.

Bobby Robson tribute[edit]

In November 2009 a charity version of 'Blaydon Races' was recorded by Jimmy Nail, Kevin Whately and Tim Healy of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet fame in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, featuring an additional verse:[3][4]

And now a word for Bobby Robson, hero of the Toon; A football man, a gentleman, who never let we doon; A friendly word, a cheery smile, and brave right to the end; We're proud to say your one of wors, Sir Bob... Auf Wiedersehen.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Allan's Tyneside Songs, 1891
  2. ^ http://www.sundaysun.co.uk/news/north-east-news/2011/11/20/blaydon-races-bid-to-become-christmas-number-one-79310-29806247/
  3. ^ "Auf Wiedersehen Pet stars sing Blaydon Races for Sir Bobby Robson". The Journal. 4 November 2009. Archived from the original on 4 November 2009. Retrieved 4 November 2009. 
  4. ^ "Auf Wiedersehen cast's charity song". Press Association. 4 November 2009. Archived from the original on 4 November 2009. Retrieved 4 November 2009. 

External links[edit]