A SONG which would eventually become a global hit for US duo Simon and Garfunkel was not considered “particularly outstanding” when it was first discovered being performed by a North-East quarry worker.

However, the unlikely chain of events which propelled Scarborough Fair from a remote North Pennines farmhouse onto some of the world’s greatest stages has now been uncovered by folk music fan Mike Bettison.

Back in the Forties, Joan Littlewood – who was to become one of the icons of British theatre – was commissioned by the BBC to create some afternoon children’s programmes.

While researching one about Teesdale, her folk singer husband, Ewan Mac- Coll, met up with local quarry worker Mark Anderson, who was well-known for his love of singing.

During that 1949 meeting – believed to have been at Mr Anderson’s home at Howgill, near Newbiggin – Mr Anderson performed several songs, including Scarborough Fair.

Following the folk music revival of the early Sixties, the song was published, among others, in a book by Mr Mac- Coll – father of singer Kirsty MacColl – called The Singing Island.

Soon after its publication, it was bought by folk singer Martin Carthy, who was putting up a then-unknown US singer who had travelled to the UK to try to make a name for himself.

The singer was Paul Simon, and he liked the song so much that he would later play it to his friend, Art Garfunkel.

After forming their charttopping duo, Simon and Garfunkel, they had a top-ten hit with the song in the late Sixties.

Mr Bettison, from Bowes, near Barnard Castle, unearthed the song’s history as part of his research into folk songs from the area.

“It was all from a man who was a quarry worker and lived just north of Middleton-in- Teesdale,” he said.

“He was just a normal chap who liked singing in pubs and was known for the number of songs he sang.

“Ewan MacColl visited him because he heard he had some good songs.

“Mark sang Scarborough Fair, amongst other songs, but Ewan didn’t think that was a particularly outstanding one.

“When I first came to Teesdale in 1992, people said there are not really many folk songs round here. I started digging around and made progress quite quickly.”

Mr Bettison is to carry out further research into the subject as part of a project called Music at the Heart of Teesdale, for the newly-launched Heart of Teesdale Partnership.