Durham City and to a lesser extent Manchester, and were still dominated by working-class performers. For example in Newcastle-on-Tyne, which was the centre of the coal mining industry for the whole of that region, the very often disabled miners would become bards, would start writing verses and selling them on the streets. A very large number of such people existed in the Durham and Newcastle areas, from about 1840, 1850 maybe right through to the 1900s. And they produced a whole new body of songs, still very like the traditional songs but dealing with urban situations, dealing with … visits of a work’s holiday party, on a picnic, say, like ‘Blaydon Races’ is the most famous song in the Newcastle area. This is the typical song of the Newcastle area, and that was made by an ex-miner, who had been hurt and injured in the pits, couldn’t work in the pits anymore and to earn a living turned to song writing.4 Nearly all the most famous popular songs of Glasgow and of Newcastle-on-Tyne and of Durham City were made by such people. One was made by a window cleaner who fell off his ladder and couldn’t work anymore. He became a songwriter! And other people would perform them in the music halls and become famous through them. In London it was somewhat different. In London the music halls were a very big business, and the ones in the West End, of course, were catering to a very mixed crowd, rather like a pub crowd, that was made up of aristocrats and young men from the universities and costermongers and ordinary working-class people, both men and women. But they still needed songs which sounded as though they had been made by working people, songs in Cockney, for example. And what happened was that the people who wrote the songs were a new breed of songwriters, they were university products, like Harry Champion.5 And they wrote songs in Cockney, very sentimental songs, which became popular hits and which crowded out the traditional songs. If you look at the repertory of any of the music hall theatres at that time, for instance the Westminster which was the most famous of them in the cut which is now where the Old Vic stands, fortunately the repertory of that theatre was published about two years after it closed down, the old books of what was

performed there, the most famous songs, were all published. And side by side with ‘Lord Bateman’, a classic ballad dating back to the crusades, which was the most popular song of all in the music halls, were songs like ‘My Old Dutch’ which was by Harry Champion,6 one of the university writers, the Cambridge University honours graduate, who turned to writing in Cockney instead of Greek and Latin, and a whole lot of other songs; and those songs are still sung today. And they pushed the more serious songs, which demanded concentration and attention, out of the window, so that by the end of the 1900s music hall had become the most triumphant form of mass music. It never reached the dimensions, of course, that pop was to make later on, or that rock music was, for a very good reason. And that is the music halls were domiciled, were actually situated in the cities, and in the big towns. There was no point in having a music hall in the rural community of 500 people. That wouldn’t pay! So the country people held on to the older songs. There was no other kind of songs coming in there, except seamen would bring songs back from across the sea and they’d be assimilated. Or harvest workers coming from Ireland would bring their songs to East Anglia or to Scotland. Or Scottish workers would take their songs to Ireland and people working by their side would learn them from them. So that you find that a great mass of Scottish songs is still sung in Ireland. You find a great mass of Irish songs sung in Scotland and England. You find Irish English songs sung all over the south of Ireland carried there from the time of the great genocidal invasions of the seventeenth century. When Sir Philip Sidney took his armies into Ireland, and Cromwell took his armies into Ireland, to push the Irish to the seaweed coast, as it’s called, to the west coast, Sir Philip Sydney says that every soldier carried in his knapsack five pistol balls, gunpowder and three ballads. So, this is how the ballads got to Ireland, the ballads are not an Irish form any more than they are a Highland Scots form.