Comic song about a monkey in Sandhill.
One of a number of songs poking fun at keelmen, this song was possibly printed by William Stephenson of Gateshead. Keelmen were a favourite subject for comic songs at this time, being regarded as rather an easy target for practical jokes. In this song a monkey replaces a shopkeeper behind a shop counter in Sandhill. On entering the keelman fails to notice the switch and asks for a pack of tobacco. Receiving no response from the monkey, the keelmen becomes enraged and the shop keeper, who has been watching the performance from outside, is forced to intervene much to his amusement.
Sandhill was an area largely populated by the keelmen and their families and was situated near Newcastle's Quayside. 'Allan's Tyneside songs' reveals the song was written to the tune 'Drops of brandy'.
Similar to the cheap press of today these poorly printed books and broadsides catered for popular tastes, being sold by chapmen in the country and booksellers in the town. Usually sold for no more than a penny, the production of these little books and broadsides were extremely profitable for most printers. Sold in bulk the material required little proof-reading, was widely plagiarised, and badly printed.
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 V of the 'Songster' series and is perhaps easier to date than the preceding parts. Although it is not clear whether parts I and II of the 'Songster' were published before or after John Bell's 'Rhymes of the Northern Bards, 1812, references to 'Hackney cabs' in part V, which were not introduced into Newcastle until 1824, give some indication of the publication date.
The book contains some of the region's best known traditional songs. From the 'Keelmen's Stick' to 'Hell's Kitchen', the book has offerings from well known Tyneside composers such as William Oliver and would have been extremely popular among the local population.