A book about the Kinder Scout trespass by a main organiser in his own words. Lots of stuff in here which I’d never learnt anywhere else, it’s hard to track down this out of print book but well worth the effort.
This is a really great deep dive into local Sheffield history whilst at the same time providing lots of context which I imagine would make it still of interest to those further afield.
I drank it down and revelled in the geekery, for example, did you know that Mount Pleasant is the name for the part of each town or city where all the night soil (aka human poo) was taken every morning so farmers could transport it to their land for fertiliser?
It’s fair to say that Professor Wallace House was probably a bit of a dude. An American who perfected the art of many regional English accents so he could sing his favourite folk songs authetically.
You can hear the full record of him singing Robin Hood ballads on youtube and other places – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kyO-qNn8xjStKmVXP2-LNkvd4P8GEsmdA
We adapted our version of ‘Robin Hood and the Three Squires’ from this record:
As Robin Hood ranged the green woods all round, all round the woods ranged he
He saw a young lady in very deep grief, weeping against an oak tree weeping against an oak tree
O why weepest thou, my dear lady? What trouble’s befallen thee?
Well I have three brothers in Nottingham jail, this day all hanged must be
this day all hanged must be
O what have they done , my dear lady, to pay such a costly fee?
Why they have killed three of the King’s fallow deer their children and wives to feed
Take courage, take courage, says bold Robin Hood, oh weep not against the oak tree,
And I will away to Nottingham fair, the High Sheriff for to see
Then Robin Hood hastened to Nottingham town, to Nottingham town went he
And there with the high master Sheriff he met and likewise the squires all three
One favour one favour I have to beg. One favour to beg of thee
That thou wilt reprieve these three young squires, this day and set them free
O no, o no, the high Sheriff says, their lives are forfeit to me,
For they have killed three of the King’s fallow deer and this day all hanged must be
One favour more I have to beg. One favour more of thee
That I may blow thrice on my old bugle horn that their spirits to heaven may flee
O granted, o granted, the High Sheriff said. O granted O granted said he
Thou mayest blow thrice on thine old bugle horn that their spirits to heaven may flee
Then Robin Hood climbed the gallows so high and blew both loud and shrill
Three hundred and ten of bold Robin Hood’s men came marching across the green hill
O whose men are these? The High Sheriff asks. And Robin Hood answered with glee,
They’re all of them mine and they’re none of them thine and they’ve come for the squires all three
O take them, O take them, the High Sheriff said. I’ll have no quarrel with thee,
For there’s not a man in fair Nottingham that can do the like of thee.
Blackstone Edge is the site of a famous Chartist gathering where Ernest Jones addressed 30,000 people on 2nd August 1846 – every year people still gather here to sing this song (and a few others!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86orh7GOLcs – you can find more about this annual gathering here – http://blackstoneedgegathering.org.uk/?page_id=12
To the tune of ‘Battle of Hohenlinden’ –
O’er plains and cities far away,
All lorn and lost the morning lay,
When sunk the sun at break of day,
In smoke of mill and factory.
But waved the wind on Blackstone height
A standard of the broad sunlight,
And sung, that morn, with trumpet might,
A sounding song of Liberty.
And grew the glorious music higher,
When pouring with his heart on fire,
Old Yorkshire came, with Lancashire,
And all its noblest chivalry.
The men, who give,—not those, who take;
The hands, that bless,—yet hearts that break;
Those toilers for their foemen’s sake;
Our England’s true nobility!
So brave a host hath never met,
For truth shall be their bayonet,
Whose bloodless thrusts shall scatter yet
The force of false finality!
Though hunger stamped each forehead spare,
And eyes were dim with factory glare,
Loud swelled the nation’s battle prayer,
Of—death to class monopoly!
Then every eye grew keen and bright,
And every pulse was dancing light,
For every heart had felt its might
The might of labour’s chivalry.
And up to Heaven the descant ran,
With no cold roof ‘twixt God and man,
To dash back from its frowning span,
A church prayer’s listless blasphemy.
How distant cities quaked to hear,
When rolled from that high hill the cheer,
Of—Hope to slaves! to tyrants fear!
And God and man for liberty!
I’ve just finished reading these three excellent booklets about enclosure and the open field system in East Yorkshire… Two were written in late 1950s and the third in the mid eighties. All were thoroughly researched, succinct and insightful.
Guy Shrubsole is doing some excellent work here digging into data to find out who owns our land – https://whoownsengland.org/2017/09/12/who-owns-england-one-year-on-what-we-now-know/
This book is a stunning and gentle insight into being a farm labourer just as the railroads arrive. I read it ages ago then recently picked it up again and found I couldn’t stop myself from rereading the whole book, it was just so enjoyable to turn the pages and spend time with Fred Kitchen.
Little Toller books recently did a reprint of Brother to the Ox, which is already out of print but you can find them 2nd hand online for around the £10-15 mark fairly regularly.