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  1. Byker Hill
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English Folk-Heritage
One of the first songs I ever learned from my English Folk-Heritage. I think I learned it by absorption way back in the 1960s since every folk club worth its salt had a big bearded bloke who sang this unaccompanied, with a thumb jammed in his Levis and a finger jammed in his ear. I’ve played around with this for a while, trying not to stray too far from the original intent, and I thought it was another song that is well suited to a Northern Industrial Blues arrangement and I think makes it more relevant to youngsters.
Byker and Walker were both coal pits (mines) and were situated about three miles apart on the River Tyne between Newcastle and Wallsend, on a peninsula created by the river looping to the south and then back up. The Walker pit actually is on the river and did have a sort of a ‘shore’ before they built all the shipyards – it was on the section of the river where Swan Hunters Walker Yard stood.
The Byker pit was one of the wettest pits in the North East and miners were paid about 50% more than miners in other pits. It was situated on Wellbeck Road and Byker Bank and just where the two roads merged there used to be a cinema/music hall called the Blacks Regal, the Dainties Toffee Factory and a Ringtons Tea depot from which the tea was sold on horse-drawn vans.
There was a circular gravity rail track with inter connected wagons. The weight of full wagons pushed empty ones around. The coal was shipped on these down the hill to the Walker Shore where it was loaded onto coasters which transported the coal by sea to London.
The original Elsie (or Alice) Marley kept an inn some distance to the south, in the Durham coalfield.


If I had another penny, I would have another gill
I would make the piper play, The bonny lads of Byker Hill

Byker Hill and Walker Shore, collier lads for ever more
Byker Hill and Walker Shore, collier lads for ever more

When I first came to the dirt, I had no coat nor no pit shirt
Now I've got me two or three, th’ Walker Pit's done well by me


The Pitman and the Keelman trim, They both drink bumble made from gin
Then to dance they do begin, to the tune of Elsie Marley


Geordie Charlton, he had a pig, He hit it with a shovel and it danced a jig
All the way to Walker Shore, to the tune of Elsie Marley


Th’ sheeve wheels stopped back in 1910, They stopped with a shudder, never moved again
The headframe stands so ghostly still, at the Walker pit near Byker Hill.


© PhilDrane Music 2016