Changes on the Tyne, The

Bar054 [Synopsis]


I will sing you a bit of a ditty, I hope you will not think it lang,
At least if it tires your patience, I'll verra suin shorten ma sang,
It's all about comical changes and new fangled things on the Tyne
I've witnessed since aw was a skipper, and that isn't verra lang syne.

Chorus: These are the days of improvement, we're aw getting wiser you see
            The skuilmaister's getting abroad, and he'll finish us off to a tee

Baith sides of the Tyne I remember were covered wi' bonny green fields
But now there is nought but big furnaces down frae Newcastle to Shields(1);
And what wi' their sulphur and brimstone, their vapour, their smoke and their steam,
The grass is all gaen, and the farmers can nowther get butter or cream

For making their salts and their soda, they formerly used a kail-pot
With an awd fashioned bit of a chimley, they were quite satisfied wi' their lot;
But now Anty Clapham the Quaker, has filled a' the folk wi' surprise
For he's lately built up a long chimley within a few feet o' the skies [Note 054.1]

There's Losh's big chimley at Walker, its very awn height maks it shake [Note 054.2]
And if Cookson's again tumble over, it will make a new quay for the slake
To talk of your fine foreign pillars, is enough to mak a man sick [Note 054.3]
The great tower of Babble compared wi' wor chimleys is nowt but a stick.

For threepence to Shields aw remember in a wherry the folks used to gan
And that was considered by many a very respectable plan;
But now we've got sixpenny steamers, a stylish conveyance I'm sure [Note 054.4]
For there you've a tune on the fiddle and a lie on the sands for an hour

Then ower the land we'd a whiskey(1), which went twice or thrice in a day
Which used to tak a' the fine gentry, and quite in an elegant way;
But now the awd whiskey's neglected, and nothing but coaches suit us
Lord bless us! There's nothing gans now but a hyke in the new omnibus [Note 054.5]

At one time wor ships were loaded sae canny and snug wi' the keel(1)s,
And then a' wor maisters made money, and keelmen were a' happy chiels(1);
But now yer fine drops(1) de the business! Lord bless us, I never saw such [Note 054.6]
Tho' some of wor owners aw's freetn'd, hev getting a drop ower much

And then an awd horse brought a waggon, a' the way frae the pits to the staith(1)
But now it appears pretty sartain, they verra suin de without baith;
For now their fine steam locomotives a' other inventions excels
They've only to huik on the wagons and they'll bring a ship-load doon their sels

New rail-roads now spring up like mushrooms, I never ma soul saw the like
We'll turn everything topsy turvey and leave oursels not a turn-pike¹
Then horse will live without working and never more trot in a team
And instead of carrying their maisters, they'll get carried themselves by steam [Note 054.8]

Wor ballast hills now are grown handsome, and what they call quite picktoresk
Ne poet can de them half justice if he write all his life at his desk;
They're hilly and howley(1) and lofty, presenting fresh views every turn
And they would look like Vesuvious or Etna if only we could get them to burn

And as for awd canny Newcastle its now quite a wonderful place
Its new market nothing can match it in elegance beauty and grace
Could wor forefathers only just see it my eye they would start wi' surprise
I fancy I just hear them saying - "What's come o' the buggy pigsties?"

And this is a' duin by one Grainger(1) - a perfect Goliah  [sic] in bricks [Note 054.7]
He beats Billy Purvis quite hollow in what ye ca' slight of hand tricks
He's only to say cock-a-lorum fly Jack presto be quick and be gane
And new houses spring up in an instant and of the awdens you can't see a stane

In sculler-boats not very lang syne, the Shields(1) folks cross'd ower the Tyne
But now we have got a big steamer, and cuts quite a wonderful shine; [Note 054.9
And one that we've got doon at Scotland delights a' the folks with a ride [Note 054.10]
For it gans back and forward sae rapid, that it just maks a trip in a tide

I think I've now told you my hinnies(1), the whole of the changes I've seen
At least a' the whirligig¹ fashions that I have been able to glean;
So the next time we meet a' together some other improvements I'll get
And then we shal mak' worsels happy and try a' wor cares to forget.