A number of new forms of transport had been introduced into Newcastle at various stages of the nineteenth century. However, by the late nineteenth century services such as the omnibus, which had been introduced earlier in the century, simply could not keep up with the demands of the spreading population. The development of suburban railway lines and cheaper fairs did ease the problem somewhat, but the introduction of the horse tram proved just as effective. The horse tram was introduced into Newcastle in 1879 and leased by the corporation to a private company. By 1887 trams were running throughout the urban area of Newcastle whilst in many industrial areas steam trams were widely used.
This song gives an account of a trip to Newcastle to see the new trams. The song is very Irish in style, especially in the rhyming couplets, and the metre is very similar to the song 'The Waterford boys'.
The song forms part of a selection of songs by local pitman Marshall Creswell. The book was published in Newcastle in 1883 by J.W. Chater. Many of the songs deal with the topics of the day such as 'The Grainger Monnymint', 'The North Durham election', whilst others such as 'A modest appeal', touch on working and domestic life. Interestingly the collection also contains a number of songs relating to sea voyages, undoubtedly inspired by the pitman's journey to Borneo. All of the songs in this collection are written in local dialect.
The author, Marshall Cresswell, was born on the 18th January, 1833, in the village of Fawdon Square. After a brief education Marshall was sent to work in the pits at the age of nine years old. Following appointments at numerous pits in Northumberland and County Durham the author learned of a local coal owner, William Coulson, who required three men to go to Borneo as sinkers. Jumping at the opportunity Cresswell set sail and proceeded to encounter ship wrecks, storms and dangerous natives, an account of which is given in this collection. Marshall Cresswell returned from his voyages and commenced work in the pits, writing various songs and recitations for print, chiefly in Chater's publications.