This song relates the dilemma of a family evicted from their house. The father can no longer find work at the colliery and so is forced to leave his colliery house. Despite the formation of a pitmen's union in the 1830s, tyrannical mine owners continued to resort to evictions to deal with pitmens' strikes and those unable to pay rent for the remainder of the nineteenth century. `Candymen' (bailiffs employed by the mine owners to evict the miners) and constables were used to evict striking pitmen and their families, and foreign labour was often brought in to replace workers.
This song is taken from perhaps the only surviving copy of the small songbook written by late nineteenth century music hall artist, James Weams. The book was published in 1887 by John Barnes of the Groat Market, Newcastle, and is numbered 'no.1'. Presumably there were to be more of these small publications, but how many followed and what form they took is not possible to say. The book contains what would become some of the most famous and popular 'Geordie' songs to be written. In particular 'Neibors belaw' struck a chord with the thousands of inhabitants of 'Tyneside flats' across the region and has become one of the Newcastle's most well known songs.
At the time this book was printed, music halls had become the chief form of indoor entertainment for the working class. Theatres like the Gaiety Theatre of Varieties, the New Tyne Concert Hall and the Percy Hall and Cirque provided the venue for entertainers such as Joe Wilson, Rowland Harrison and others. Although this is only a small publication, like William Thompson's songbook of twenty years earlier, the book is invaluable as a rare example of a working musician's repertoire at the height of Music Hall's popularity.