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Further reading relating to traditional music in the region ...

Some of the following items may no longer be widely available. Some may no longer be in print, or may be held by specialist institutions. If you do have trouble finding any of the following texts contact your local library who should be able to arrange for you to borrow the item through an inter-library loan.

Traditional Song

Allan, Thomas

Allan’s illustrated edition of Tyneside songs

Newcastle upon Tyne; Frank Graham; 1972

7th edition of the famous local song collection with another useful introduction by David Harker

Bell, John
Rhymes of the northern bards;

Newcastle upon Tyne; Frank Graham; 1971

Reprint of the famous local song collection with a helpful introduction by David Harker

Monthly Chronicle of north-country lore and legend;

London; Walter Scott;1887-1891

To be taken with a pinch of salt, but nevertheless useful for their short section of local song selected by John Stokoe. Includes additional information on the history/origins of the songs not selected for the Northumbrian Minstrelsy.

Northumbrian Minstrelsy; a collection of the ballads, melodies, and small-pipe tunes of Northumbria: edited by J. Collingwood Bruce and John Stokoe

Pennsylvania; Folklore Associates; 1965

The famous northern song collection compiled by the Ancient Melodies Committee of the Society of Antiquaries. Still a must for the study of traditional local song, despite the rather over enthusiastic editing of the tunes and songs within. This edition has a helpful forward about the history of the volume.

Songs from the manuscript collection of John Bell

Leamington Spa; James Hall; 1985

Publications of the Surtees Society. Vol. 196

Reprint of John Bell’s manuscript song-collection held at Newcastle University. Includes a fascinating intro detailing the life of the bookseller, collector and surveyor.

Articles etc.:

Gregson, Keith

When the boats came in; the songs of a nineteenth century sport

Taken from ‘English dance and song’, winter 1978

Article about the rowing culture in the region and the subsequent songs it spawned

Rutherford, Frank

The collecting and publishing of Northumbrian folk-song

From ‘Archaeologia aeliana 4, XLII’

A good overview of the primary traditional song collections from the region.

Composers, Performers
and Musicians

Dixon, Graham

Lads like beer; fiddle music of
James Hill

Pathhead; Random Publications; 1987

History of the famous Tyneside fiddler and the impact of his music on the local tradition.

Gregson, Keith

Corvan : a Victorian
entertainer and his songs

Banbury, England : Kemble, 1983.

Portrait of the famous Music Hall entertainer

History of James Allan, the celebrated Northumberland piper

London; Hedgehog Press; 1984

Reprint of the legendary tales of the Gypsy piper.

Ormston, C.

Clough family of Newsham; 200 years of Northumbrian piping

Newcastle; Northumbrian Pipers Society; 2000

History of the famous Northumbrian piping family. Essential reading for those interested in Northumbrian piping traditions.

Wallace, W.

Joseph Crawhall (1821-1896); a short biography

Biography of the collector of local song

Historical Background

Bean, William Wardell

Parliamentary representation of the six northern counties of England … from 1603 to … 1886. [1830-1886]

[Modern typescript of parts of the original relating to Durham and Northumberland]

held: Robinson Library, University of Newcastle

Looking at election songs? Having trouble dating them? This reference book lists local candidates for each county or division and is a good source for dating political songs.

Fraser, C.M.


Newton Abbot; David and Charles; 1973

Good reference for social conditions on Tyneside, in particular with reference to local pit and keel strikes.

Graham, Frank

Northumberland and Durham; a social and political miscellany

Newcastle upon Tyne; Frank Graham; 1979

A good reference for local events

Middlebrook, S.

Newcastle upon Tyne; its growth and achievement

Newcastle upon Tyne; Newcastle Chronicle and Journal Ltd.; 1950

One of the best reference books for events referred to in local song – essential reading!

Thompson, Frances M.

Newcastle chapbooks in Newcastle upon Tyne University Library

Newcastle upon Tyne; Oriel Press; 1969

Includes an interesting introduction about the history of chapbooks and print in the region. Detailing over 600 chapbooks the catalogue lists many songbooks not available elsewhere and is very useful for dating first printings of local songs.


Gateshead Central Library
Prince Consort Road, Gateshead, NE8 4LN
Tel: 0191 433 8430