Song descriptive of Benwell pit life at the turn of the 19th century.
This song was written by Henry Robson and appears in Bell's Rhymes of the Northern Bards, 1812. Robson worked as a printer for many years with Mackenzie and Dent, publishers of local works. Typical of his work, this song is not written in dialect, and is considered to be one of his best pieces. Robson died 21st December, 1850 at the age of 75.
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.