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Title : Newcastle races

Format : chapbook ; song

Composer : Watson, William (b.1796 d.1840)

Production details : publisher : J. Ross
Royal Arcade, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear

Date : 1846 (circa)

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Collection name : Songs of the Tyne; being a collection of popular local songs. No.9


Rather wordy account of the races on Newcastle's Town Moor.

Racing was one of the few leisure pursuits enjoyed by all classes. Men gambled on anything, but a constant favourite was horse racing. Gambling became such a passion with the lower classes that an Act in 1740 attempted to make the sport more exclusive. Its popularity, however, only increased. Racing was one of the first sports to be recorded in Newcastle. Although races were held on other Newcastle moors in the seventeenth century, racing became a regular feature on the Town Moor in the eighteenth century. From 1751 a 'race week' was held, and in 1800 local gentry organised a permanent grandstand on the Town Moor. Racing remained on the Town Moor until 1880, when it was suggested that a private site may be more suitable.

The author of this song, William Watson, was a shoemaker by trade and an active politician. Author of a number of election songs, Watson's songs seem to have been written between 1820 and 1840. William Watson died on 4th February, 1840 aged forty four years.

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.9 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 'The Quayside shaver' to 'Burdon's address', the book has offerings from well known Tyneside composers such as Henry Robson and would have been extremely popular among the local population.


Collection description : Popular Tyneside songs published in chapbook form.

First line:It's hae ye heard the ill that's deun

Subject heading : leisure, entertainment and sport

Keywords : sport & horse racing

Period : 1841-1860

Height : 14 cm

Width : 8 cm

Held by : Newcastle University

Copyright : Item reproduced by kind permission of Newcastle University


t :: 0191 433 8430

f :: 0191 433 8424

e :: libraries@gateshead.gov.uk

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FARNE Folk Archive Resource North East