THE Geordie anthem Blaydon Races has been sung in the North-East for 150 years, and now the song’s title will be thundering up and down the country on a train renamed in its honour.
Former England and Newcastle United footballer Alan Shearer yesterday joined Sheila Shorrick-Dodds, who was named Blaydon Races Beauty Queen in 1962, and East Coast managing director Karen Boswell at Newcastle Central Station for the naming of an East Coast train Blaydon Races.
The naming of a Class 91 East Coast electric locomotive Blaydon Races celebrates 150 years of the song of the same name, which recalls a horse race held from 1861 in Blaydon, near Gateshead.
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Speaking at the unveiling, Shearer said: “It is a honour to be here today for this and it is great to see people here to see the train officially named after such an iconic song in this part of the world.
“We did something like this for Sir Bobby Robson not so long ago.
“I think I spend half my life travelling now on a train or plane, and it’s surprising how many people recognise the name on the front of the train.
“The Blaydon Races is an iconic song if you are from Newcastle. I’ve heard it sung a number of times at St James’ Park by 52,000 people.
“Certainly, the local lads understand what it is, but trying to get the foreign lads to understand the words is difficult.
I know a verse or two, but don’t ask me to sing the whole thing.”
The song focuses on the journey from Newcastle to the race, as well as events during the race itself.
The train naming is one of the highlights of a series of events to mark the anniversary of the song, which was first performed to a large audience by its writer, the noted concert hall song writer and performer George “Geordie” Ridley.
Tyneside band The Longsands have recorded a version of the song to raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, a charity that supports the early detection and treatment of cancer.
Trevor Cox, from The Longsands, was on the platform yesterday to perform the song. For more information on the 150th anniversary events programme, visit blaydonraces150.co.uk
Song premiered at 1862 city concert
GEORGE “GEORDIE” RIDLEY first sang the Blaydon Races at a concert in Balmbra’s Music Hall, in Newcastle, on June 5, 1862.
William Irving’s painting of the Blaydon Races, on show in the Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead
The date of the anniversary is based around the date in the words of the song: “Aw went to Blaydon Races, ‘twas on the ninth of Joon, Eiteen hundred an’ sixtytwo, on a summer’s efternoon”. The Blaydon Races and Fair was a major event in the 19th and early 20th Century, last being held in 1916. The race itself took place at Stella Haugh, a mile west of Blaydon. The song was later adopted as a marching anthem by the Northumberland Fusiliers.
Lyrics to a Geordie anthem
AW went to Blaydon Races, ‘twas on the ninth of Joon,
Eiteen hundred an’ sixty-two, on a summer’s efternoon;
Aw tyuk the ‘bus frae Balmbra’s,
an’ she wis heavy laden,
Away we went alang Collingwood Street, that’s on the road to Blaydon. (Chorus)
Oh! me lads, ye shud a’ seen us gannin,
Passin’ the folks upon the road just as they were stannin’.
Thor wis lots o’ lads and lasses
there, all wi’ smiling faces
Gannin’ alang the Scotswood
Road to see the Blaydon Races. We flew past Airmstrang’s factory,
and up to the “Robin Adair”,
Just gannin’ doon te the railway bridge, the ‘bus wheel flew off there. The lasses lost their crinolines off,
an’ the veils that hide their faces,
An’ aw got two black eyes an’ a broken nose in gan te Blaydon Races. (chorus)
When we gat the wheel put on away we went agyen,
But them that had their noses broke they cam back ower hyem;
Sum went to the Dispensary an’ uthers to Doctor Gibbs,
An’ sum sought out the Infirmary to mend their broken ribs. (chorus)
Noo when we gat to Paradise thor wes bonny gam begun;
Thor was fower-an-twenty on the ‘bus, man, hoo they danced an’ sung; They called on me to sing a sang,
aw sung them “Paddy Fagan”,
Aw danced a jig an’ swung my twig that day aw went to Blaydon. (chorus)
We flew across the Chain Bridge reet into Blaydon toon,
The bellman he was callin’ there, they call him Jackie Broon;
Aw saw him talkin’ to sum cheps, an’ them he was pursuadin’
To gan an’ see Geordie Ridley’s concert in the Mechanics’ Hall at Blaydon. (chorus)
The rain it poor’d aw the day an’ myed the groons quite muddy,
Coffy Johnny had a white hat on – they war shootin’ “Whe stole the cuddy”. There wes spice stalls an’ munkey shows an’ aud wives selling ciders,
An’ a chep wiv a hapenny roond aboot, shootin’ “Noo, me lads, for riders”. (chorus)