Account of a visit to a Newcastle Theatre and the uproar that follows, possibly due to overcrowding.
Indoor entertainment in Newcastle during the nineteenth century would have been focused on theatres and music-halls. Theatres had become increasingly popular in Newcastle and the surrounding area throughout the eighteenth century, spurred on by those such as the Kemble family, who managed theatres at North and South Shields, along with the Theatre Royal in Newcastle. By the time this song was written, around 1880, music hall had become the chief form of indoor entertainment for the middle and working classes, and an abundance of new music halls had sprung up around the city. Venues such as The New Tyne Concert Hall and Gaiety Theatre of Varieties provided a mixed programme of variety, melodrama and pantomime throughout the late nineteenth century and on into the twentieth.
The author of this song, Matthew C. James, began life as an apprentice draughtsman at Mitchell's shipyard in Low Walker. In 1892, after serving with firms such as R. Stephenson and Co., James was appointed naval architect and surveyor of the Prince Line, and was responsible for the design of a large number of steamers for the line. James remained with Prince Line until 1897 when he rose to the position of manager of the Mercantile Dry Dock at Jarrow.
This song forms part of a collection of songs reprinted from local publications by Andrew Reid and Co. in 1898. Many of the songs deal with the topics of the day such as 'The Carliol Tower', 'The Quay on Sunday morning' and 'The Stivvison centennery', whilst others such as 'Oot iv a job', touch on working and domestic life. All of the songs in this collection are written in local dialect.