Saturday, 24 September 2022

"Whereivvor Ye Gan Ye’re Sure Te Find a Geordie"


A few days ago I paid one of my regular visits to the Lake District for a wander across the fells. My wife and I are trying to bag the 214 Wainwrights, so we're always out there traipsing through the bogs and the varying weather. It is very beautiful, though, as I am sure you well know - if a little 'hairy' at times!

And, not for the first time, we bumped into a pair of Geordies out there, quite in the middle of nowhere. We were ascending Sale Fell, and another couple of fellwalkers were coming down. We exchanged pleasantries, before discovering that we all hailed from 'Geordieland'.

We acted as if we were surprised, but, you know, this seems to happen a heck of a lot. And every time I am reminded of that popular local ditty Whereivvor Ye Gan Ye're Sure Te Find a Geordie. Except this time I decided to follow up my little 'mental prompt' and find out a little more about the song. First of all, though, here it is in full:


By Jack Robson (1885-1957) - pictured above

Whereivvor ye gan ye're sure te find a Geordie 
Whereivvor ye gan ye'll hear the Geordie twang
From Land's End up te John O'Groats
From Galway Bay te Cullercoats 
Ye're sure te meet a Geordie in the thrang.
An' if someday you take a trip to London 
Ne need to wear that lost and lonely air 
Sing Blaydon Races doon the Strand 
An' somebody's sure te grab yer hand 
Whereivvor ye gan the Geordie will be there. 

Whereivvor ye gan ye're sure te find a Geordie 
Whereivvor ye gan yer native tongue ye'll hear 
In ivvory place across the sea 
It makes ne odds where it might be 
Ye'll sure to hear a Geordie say 'Wot Cheor'. 

From canny Newcassell, Sunderland or Gatesheed
From Tyne and Wear ye'll meet them ivvorywhere 
There's isn't a spot that ye can name 
But somebody wants the news from yem 
Whereivvor ye gan the Geordie will be there. 

Whereivvor ye gan ye're sure te find a Geordie 
They're scattered aboot in regions hot an' caad 
An' ye can bet a silver croon 
When rockets land upon the Moon 
There'll be a Geordie yellin' 'Keep Ahad'. 

So here's a song me canny lads to cheor ye 
For after aall there's comfort ye can share
That when yer orthly days are past 
And ye hev to leave this warld at last 
Whereivvor ye gan a Geordie will be there. 
Whereivvor ye gan a Geordie will be there.
Whereivvor ye gan a Geordie will be there. 

Glossary: whereivvor - wherever; gan - go; thrang - throng; ne - no; doon - down; ivvory - every; wot cheor - what cheer; canny - fine, nice, pleasant; yem - home; aboot - about; caad - cold; croon - crown; keep ahad - keep a hold, keep a grip; aall - all; orthly - earthly; warld - world.

It is worth pointing out that at the time this song was composed the term 'Geordie' was an all-exclusive term for pretty much the whole of the region - as can be discerned from mention of Sunderland in the lyrics. And when exactly was it written? Well, I'm not sure; but it was used as the theme tune to the popular radio show, Wot Cheor, Geordie. from 1947 to the late 1950s.

As for Jack Robson himself, well, I can do no more than refer you to Roly Veitch's excellent tribute page.

And Roly Veitch himself is also a performer, and can be found singing the grand old song on YouTube. There are two versions, here and here. Enjoy!

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Boxers & Seaton Burn

Many of you will be familiar with William Irving’s famous painting of The Blaydon Races. A quick search of the Internet soon brings the well-known canvas into view. In the middle distance on the right-hand side you will see a curious little character known as ‘The Black Diamond of Seaton Burn’. Here he is:

The man in question was, supposedly, a black prize-fighter resident of the Northumberland village – some sources placing him in the eighteenth, others in the nineteenth, century. No amount of research seems to be able to pin this chap down, which has led many to suppose that he may be a fabrication of the artist’s imagination – like so many other of the characters depicted in the famous painting.

But “of Seaton Burn” is really quite specific, others say. Surely such a man must have existed? Maybe they’re right. But maybe he wasn’t black after all. As some of you may know, one of the most famous boxers of all time, Tom Cribb, was also known as ‘The Black Diamond’ on account of his routinely filthy appearance as a coal heaver at Wapping Docks at the turn of the nineteenth century. Now Cribb never lived in the North-East, but there would certainly have been plenty of other pitmen pugilists around at the same time, one or two of whom no doubt borrowed Cribb’s famous nickname.

The debate is an interesting one, as are a couple of other curious little facts regarding (genuinely) black boxers and the town of Seaton Burn.

There’s a local story – a myth, quite possibly – that American Jack Johnson, the reigning world heavyweight champion, was stopped for speeding on the A1/Great North Road at Seaton Burn. No one seems to know when (and even if) this actually happened, but it has been suggested that it would most likely have been in 1911 when he was touring England fighting exhibition bouts, and was known to have visited Newcastle. But speeding ... in 1911?

And then, in July 1977, Muhammad Ali – also world heavyweight champion at the time – stayed at the Holiday Inn, Seaton Burn, during his famous visit to the North-East. I reckon that the establishment was newly-built at the time, though I stand to be corrected. 

In fact, I'm leaving myself open to be put right on any of the above nonsense, to be honest...

[the above is taken from The Great North-East: An English History Tour, Vol.1 - see left-hand column for further details]

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Seal of Newcastle-on-Tyne

In 1911, Mitchell's Cigarettes brought out a series of collectors' cards with a decidedly underwhelming theme, entitled simply 'SEALS'. There were 25 cards in the series with Newcastle's effort coming in at No.7. The Latin inscription reads: Commune Sigillum Ville Novicastri Super Tinam ('Common Seal of the Town of Newcastle upon Tyne'). Note how the third word of the motto has been clumsily spread over two folds of the banner. The reverse is shown below.

There's not a lot more I can add, really. But if you're interested to see which towns and cities were included in the series see here. I bought this little item on eBay a couple of years ago, and I'm still not entirely sure what to do with it...

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Favourite Newcastle Books No.1: 'Newcastle in 50 Buildings'

If you could hand-pick an individual to put together a book of this nature, it would be difficult to come up with a better suggestion than Mr Steve Ellwood. Sure, there may be better qualified architectural experts out there (or maybe not?), and equally excellent photographers - though I very much doubt there is a more knowledgeable local around to tackle the text itself. 

You see, Ellwood is something of an obsessive when it comes to Newcastle. I'm guessing that architecture is his first love - whether it be the grand buildings and their features or the lesser-known structures and their minor details, Steve's your man. Readers of this blog will be aware that he is always popping up on Twitter and history forums with some obscure fact or observation - and, as I have already told you, he is a keen photographer, too. His general knowledge of Newcastle's history is considerable - so much so, in fact, that he is also a City Guide! 

There will, of course, be those of you who will disagree with his choice of '50 Buildings'. But remember that Newcastle has an astonishing 4,000+ listed buildings, so the task was nigh on impossible. And what the author has tried to do, clearly, is present us with a nice cross-section of old and new, well-known and lesser known - and, indeed, nice and not-so-nice! Though published as recently as 2016, one of the buildings, the Dex Garage, New Bridge Street, has, in fact, already disappeared!

The individual entries are nicely balanced, with a decent dose of technical detail (but not too much) to accompany the layman-friendly text. The 50 total could easily have been 'upped' to two, three or even five hundred, such is the depth of the city's architectural riches. So, er, let's have another volume or three, Steve!

Newcastle in 50 Buildings, by Steve Ellwood, published by Amberley Books, 2016. Can usually be found on Amazon.

Thursday, 25 August 2022

The Cathedra: Newcastle's Bishop's Throne

This is the Bishop’s seat, or throne, of Newcastle Cathedral. It is called a ‘cathedra’, from the Greek word meaning ‘seat’. When our town was raised to city status in 1882 (and St.Nicholas’ Church was thus upgraded to a cathedral), local artist Ralph Hedley carved this fine piece of work … which extends upwards, in great ornamental fashion, to some six metres! It is pretty wide, too, in order to accommodate the bishop’s ceremonial robes.

The first bishop to park their backside hereabouts was one Ernest Wilberforce (1882-1896); and only the one woman, Christine Hardman (2015-21), has had the pleasure.

Note: In case you're wondering, yes, Ernest Wilberforce was related to the famous William Wilberforce (of slavery abolition fame), being the great man's grandson.

[article taken from Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Fragments of the Past, vol.2 (see left)]

Thursday, 18 August 2022

Newcastle Stuff

Just a quick one this week. Or rather two.

Firstly, I came across a Newcastle history website/blog the other day which I'd not seen before. It's called 'NewcastleStuff' and can be found here. There's not a lot of blurb on the site to indicate who's running it or for how long they've been doing so, but most of the articles are from the past year or so and there's every hope that more will follow in due course. 

Like my blog, there's not a lot up there so far, but it may be worth keeping an eye on. As we all know, the internet is not exactly overflowing with Newcastle-related websites, so whoever you are ... do try to keep it going!

BTW, if anyone out there is aware of any other similar corners of the web, do let me know. I'd really like to gather together as many links to the city's history as possible.


The second thing I'd like to mention is, well, it's an invitation, really. Thing is, I'd be happy to publish any articles, long or short, relating to the history of Newcastle on this blog; so if you have anything you'd like to air, then let me know. I cannot offer you any payment for the same, but am happy to help you publicise any book or project you are working on. It may even be an excerpt from something you already have on the market and want to drum up a few more sales. Or it may be that you are just looking for an outlet for your hobby!

Anyway, let me know if you're up for it.

Email me at micksouthwick @ (without the gaps, obviously).

Monday, 8 August 2022

Bridges of Tyne

A couple of days ago I unearthed an old photo album containing some of my earliest efforts at B&W photography. Among them were a series of snaps from Boxing Day 1984. I'd just turned 20, and my dad ran me down to the Quayside on a crisp, clear morning to indulge my latest fad. I've included five of the many images I gathered that day - a little short of 38 years ago. Bloody Nora.

The first is the classic shot from a little in front of the old Milk Market. There were six bridges grouped together betwixt Newcastle and Gateshead at this point in time, with four clearly visible here (Tyne, Swing, High Level and Metro). And that's the Tuxedo Princess floating nightclub, of course, moored on the Gateshead side. I had my stag night there in 1987. 

Here's the awesome sight of the High Level Bridge from the Newcastle end - soak up that winter sunshine!

The High Level Bridge again, with the Swing and Tyne Bridges in the background.

And further evidence of the day's sparkling weather, as the sun glints through the girders of the recently-built Metro Bridge (opened 1981). The King Edward VII Railway Bridge can be seen in the background, as can (just) the underside of the new Redheugh Bridge (opened a year or so previously, in 1983).

Hard to believe that these photos were taken almost two decades before the Millennium Bridge saw light of day!

Oh, and on the way home we had to dip down to Scotswood to capture good old 'Scotchy Bridge':

When this bridge opened in the Spring of 1967 I was a very young nipper. At the time, my dad rode to work on a bike from Denton Burn to Blaydon Haughs - crossing this bridge as he went. In my innocence I assumed that he had to pedal over the fullness of the arch!

Boy, those photographs took some peeling outta that album. Suppose they had been sitting there for a long time, mind.