Durham Town (The Leavin')

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"Durham Town (The Leavin')"
Single by Roger Whittaker
from the album This is...Roger Whittaker
ReleasedOctober 1969
GenreVocal pop
Contemporary folk
LabelColumbia Records
Songwriter(s)Roger Whittaker
Producer(s)Denis Preston
Roger Whittaker singles chronology
"Durham Town (The Leavin')"
"I Don't Believe in If Anymore"

"Durham Town (The Leavin')" is a song, written and sung by Roger Whittaker, released as a single in 1969. It spent 18 weeks on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at No. 12.[1][2] In 1976, the song reached No. 8 on Canada's RPM "Pop Music Playlist",[3] while reaching No. 23 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart.[4]


Whittaker's original intent, to set the song in Newcastle, was abandoned in favour of nearby Durham because Whittaker agreed with his producer that "Durham" sounded better. While focusing the song on Newcastle, Whittaker had set its second verse "on the banks of the river Tyne", and as Whittaker had little to no familiarity with his chosen locale for the song, he retained the verse with its Tyneside setting for the song's finalized version set in Durham. While the Tyne flows eastwards through Newcastle, it is the Wear, 20 miles (32 km) to the south, which flows through Durham.[5]


Under its original title "The Leaver", the song first appeared on Whittaker's 1969 album release This is...Roger Whittaker, recorded with producer Denis Preston at Preston's studio in Lansdowne House. The track—renamed "Durham Town (The Leavin')"—was issued as a single in October 1969. Whittaker later recalled: "I just didn't have any faith in that song at all. Far from promoting the single in Britain, I went off to Finland for a cabaret season and television appearances."[6]

Whittaker returned to Britain in November to find the song ascending the UK Singles Chart towards a No. 12 peak in January 1970. On the Irish Singles Chart it was afforded a chart peak of No. 17.[7] In Australia, the single—titled "The Leavin' (Durham Town)"—attracted enough regional success to chart nationally at No. 80.[citation needed]

The song was included on the North American release of Whittaker's 1970 album New World in the Morning (RCA LSP 4340),[8][9] whose title cut was coupled with "Durham Town" to form Whittaker's first US single. Whittaker recorded a French rendering of the song, entitled "Mon Pays Bleu (Durham Town)", which was issued in France and also in Canada.

The wake of the success Whittaker enjoyed with "The Last Farewell" in the summer of 1975 caused the re-release of "Durham Town" in the US and Canada, where the track became an Easy Listening hit. The song was also included on the 1975 Whittaker album The Last Farewell & Other Hits.

The song has also been recorded by Anne and Laura Brand on the 1970 album The Pride O' The North, by Val Doonican as "Leaving (Durham Town)" on the 1971 album Just A Sittin' And A Rockin' , and by Finnish singer Robin as "Jäähyväiset" (1970).

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1969-1970) Peak
UK Singles Chart 12
Irish Singles Chart 17
Chart (1976) Peak
Canada - RPM Pop Music Playlist 8
US - Billboard Easy Listening 23


  1. ^ Durham Town (The Leavin') - By: Roger Whittaker, MusicVF.com. Accessed October 10, 2015
  2. ^ Roger Whittaker - Full Official Chart History, Official Charts Company. Accessed October 11, 2015
  3. ^ "RPM Pop Music Playlist", RPM Weekly, Volume 24, Ed. 23 March 6, 1976. Accessed October 10, 2015
  4. ^ Roger Whittaker - Chart History - Adult Contemporary, Billboard.com. Accessed October 11, 2015
  5. ^ Freeman, Colin; Paterson, Tony (2 December 2007). "How Germany loves the bearded balladeer". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  6. ^ "The Early Years". RogerWhittaker.com. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  7. ^ Song Title Search Results for "Durham Town", The Irish Charts. Accessed July 30, 2016.
  8. ^ "Record Reviews". Times-News. Twin Falls, Idaho. June 5, 1970. p. 15. Retrieved May 31, 2023 – via newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "New sparkler in music world". The StarPhoenix. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. June 12, 1970. p. 16. Retrieved May 31, 2023 – via newspapers.com.