One of the earliest mining songs to be printed, this song contains a number of local mining terms no longer in use today; 'marrow' - workmate, mate; 'tram' - small box used to transport coals, later known as a tub; 'shin splints' - ankle protectors worn by the colliers; 'drift' - tunnel dug into the stone from one seam to another, or from the surface to the coal; 'pay week' - fortnightly wage; 'hoggers' - short trousers; 'putting' - moving trams; 'lowe' - light. The tune to which this song was written can be found in Sharpe's Bishoprick Garland, 1832.
Newcastle was the second largest producer of chapbooks in the country at the time of this book's publication. 'The Newcastle Songster' was printed by J. Marshall, one of the most prominent chapbook printers in Newcastle during the early nineteenth century. It is rather difficult to date the book, but as we know that Marshall didn't move to his Flesh Market premises until 1811, it is possible to say that it certainly wasn't published before this date. The appearance of much of the books contents in John Bell's 'Rhymes of the Northern Bards', published in 1812, could also indicate that the book was printed around the same time. However which was printed first, can not be established for certain.
The book contains some of the region's best known traditional songs. From 'The Skipper's Wedding' to 'Newcastle Fair', the book has offerings from well known Tyneside composers such as John Selkirk and would have been extremely popular among the local population.