Song involving the popular fictional character Bob Cranky. Fordyce's 1842 collection attributes authorship to William Mitford.
This song describes the excitement of watching the flight of an early hot-air balloon. Balloon ascents were popular in Newcastle from the late eighteenth century onwards. As portrayed in the song these events drew large crowds from the surrounding area and caused much excitement. William Sadler's balloon ascent was made from the Bowling Green (later Prudhoe Street) in Newcastle on September 1st, 1815. These ascents were often extremely dangerous and a number of fatal flights have been recorded. A number of years after Mr. Sadler's ascent a man named William Henry Hall attempted a balloon ascent in the old Cricket Ground on Bath Road in Newcastle. After performing a number of acrobatic tricks mid air, Hall was thrown from the balloon by its sharp ascent, falling a distance of 120ft. He later died from his injuries. Sadler himself was killed in a later balloon ascent on September 29th, 1824.
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. This book forms part III of the 'Songster' series and is perhaps easier to date than parts I and II. Although it is not clear whether preceding parts of the 'Songster' were published before or after John Bell's 'Rhymes of the Northern Bards, 1812, the appearance of songs such as 'XYZ' in part III indicate the publication date to be no earlier than 1814.
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.