Sandy Still

Rod Hall

Allen Miller

Jim Jack

FOURUM Folk

The Making of Swaledale Synopsis

1 Henry Jenkins

Although he died in 1670 he could recall vividly events which took place over 150 years before! Lawyers made use of his keen memory when cases of precedence needed adjudication. Whatever his real age, he certainly had a good innings.


2 The Making of Swaledale

Swaledale, as a recognisable entity, has existed for about nine hundred years, but it can trace its history back over three thousand years. People came into the dale at different periods in time and from the south, east and west, forming a unique blend of Celtic, Roman, Angle, Norse and Norman influences. In this song the first two thousand years or so are regarded here as being the major factors in the Making of Swaledale.


3 The Loyal Dales Volunteers - 1804

This "troop" was fomed in response to the danger of Napoleon invading Britain. It was made up of men from Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. What makes it unusual is that they did not use forename and surnames in their roll call. This would have been rather a waste of time, since so many of them had the same names (- there were eight called Thomas Alderson! -). Instead they adopted the practice, common in Swaledale, of calling people by their nicknames, for example, Kit Puke Jock and Matty Joan Ned. This song comprises all the names on the roll for 1804.


4 Around Reeth Green

In the early nineteen century Reeth was a thriving village with a population of nearly fifteen hundred. The green in the centre was a very important aspect of the village life, as it remains today. This song takes us back to the "golden days" and describes some of the common features on and around the green.


5 The Richmond Theatre Royal

Now known as the Georgian Theatre, the theatre had an active history of less than sixty years, the larger part of which was in the hands of one family. This song records the debt to the actress, Tryphosa Brockell, who, with her third husband, Samuel Butler, founded the theatre in 1788, after years of touring round the dales, with no permanent site. Although Tryphosa died within ten years of its opening, her husband, and then their son, ran the theatre until 1830. The song also deals with the many changes of face the theatre underwent in the hundred years before it was restored to its original use.


6 Jaggers

These specially-bred ponies were a common sight on the road into Richmond in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Many mines were inaccessible by cart and the jaggers were the only means of getting the ore to the smelt mills, from where the pigs of lead were transported to the Nag’s Head in Richmond.


7 Striving Needles

Lead-mining may have been the major industry of the Swaledale, but there were at least as many folk engaged in knitting, though often on a part-time basis. Richmond had been the knitting centre of the north-east since the time of Elizabeth I. There were, of course, no age or sex barriers to this occupation, and the extra money it could bring in was always useful. The song title is a reference to a very common practice of relieving the boredom of the job by competing, either in pairs or in a group, to see who could finish a row first. Such evenings were often accompanied by songs and jokes. "Yan, Tan, Tethera" means "one, two, three" in the local dialect which the farmers used when counting sheep, and this was also used when counting rows.


8 Adam Barker's Fine

The story takes place in 1692. Adam Barker was the last person in Swaledale to be fined for sticking to the local tradition of burial in linen, thus breaking the law requiring bodies to be buried in wool. His daughter, Ann, is buried inside Grinton Church, and a stone slab records the £5 fine he was forced to pay.


9 Stubbs The Bellman

Richmond had long had the services of a bellman to wander through the town, giving proclamations of the latest by-laws of the town corporation and any other news or announcements that anyone might wish to pass round, on payment of a small fee. He lived under the town clock in Trinity Square, where people used to leave their messages. This song is based on the recollections of William Wise, who lived in Richmond in the 1830's, and a character he well-remembered.


10 Perse Brackenbury and Willy Vitty

These were two well-known adversaries from the 1830s. - Perse, a tall, respectable magistrate, and Willy, the town drunkard. Willy never forgave Perse for his term of incarceration in Northallerton Jail. However he did become a poet of sorts and would recite his lines of invective towards the latter whenever he could.


11 Leaving for America

In the 1830's a great depression in both lead-mining and farming led many families to seek employment elsewhere. This was the period when the United States was expanding and offering the promise of a better life for all. At first, just a few families from Swaledale made the hazardous journey, but their letters back home to relatives and friends encouraged many more to follow. As a result whole communities of Swaledale families were established in the upper parts of the Mississippi, where work was to be had for both lead miners and farmers. This song features some of those men, and describes the hopes of one man who has been influenced by their success in the New World.


12 Kisdon Foss

This is truly one of the most impressive settings in all The Dales and served as the inspiration for this song and instrumental interlude. Though only a short walk from the village, the spot is often neglected by visitors, in favour of the other, more easily accessible falls that are to be found on this stretch of the Swale. The picture of the river leaving the gorge will remain forever in one’s memory.

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