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.
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. 'Songs of the Tyne' were a short series of chapbooks printed by, J. Ross of the Royal Arcade. This book forms no.8 of the 'Songs of the Tyne' series and was printed some time between 1847 and 1852. A number of the songs however, can be dated to the early nineteenth century, some such as 'The pitman's courtship' appearing as early as 1816. The 'Songs of the Tyne' series were reprinted by W.R. Walker of the Royal Arcade, sometime between 1857-66.
The book contains some of the region's best known traditional songs. From 'Tim Tunbelly' to 'The collier's pay', the book has offerings from well known Tyneside composers such as Henry Robson and would have been extremely popular among the local population.