Blaydon Races Day: Tyneside tradition still celebrated 150 years on

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Happy Blaydon Races Day!

Tyneside is paying tribute to one of its unoffical anthem today, upon the famous Ninth of Joon.

The folk song was written in the 19th century by Geordie Ridley, and is frequently sung at Newcastle football and rugby matches, other sporting events, including the Great North Run, and many other occasions around the year.

Ridley is said to have sang the song at a concert in Balmbra's Music Hall on June 5 1862. The fictional account of the trip to Blaydon does have some elements of truth behind it, with the heavy rain and missing horses were reported in the press at the time.

The song celebrated in the annual Blaydon Race, a 5.6-mile run from Newcastle to Blaydon, following the route as set out in the lyrics - and it always takes place on June 9, the date mentioned in the song.

The Balambras Music Hall building, Collingwood Street, Scotswood Road, the sites of Armstrong's Factory and the Robin Adair pub and, of course, Blaydon Toon all feature on the route.

The Blaydon Race.

The Blaydon Race.

The event was founded by Dr James Dewar of Blaydon Harriers in 1981, and has since become a major fixture in the North East sporting season.

More than four thousands runners will set off just after at 7pm tonight, with the Lord Mayor of Newcastle starting the race using Jackie Brown's 1863 handbell. They will then be welcomed at the other end by the Mayor and Mayoress of Gateshead.

Spectators are welcome on the route.

The actual Blaydon Races used to take place on the Stella Haugh one mile west of Blaydon. They stopped taking place in 1916, and the Stella South Power Station was built on the site of the track in the early 1950s.

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The song was adopted as its marching anthem by the British Army Infantry soldiers of the Fifth of Foot (The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers), of Fenham Barracks, Newcastle, and is the regimental song of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the modern descendants of The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.

It has been recorded a number of times, most recently in 2009 when Jimmy Nail, Kevin Whately and Tim Healy of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet fame released it as a charity track in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, featuring an additional verse:

"And now a word for Bobby Robson, hero of the Toon; A football man, a gentleman, who never let we doon; A friendly word, a cheery smile, and brave right to the end; We're proud to say your one of wors, Sir Bob... Auf Wiedersehen."

The traditional song lyrics:

Aa went to Blaydon Races, 'twas on the ninth of Joon,
Eiteen hundred an' sixty-two, on a summer's efternoon;
Aa tyuk the 'bus frae Balmbra's, an' she wis heavy laden,
Away we went 'lang Collin'wood Street, that's on the road to Blaydon.

(chorus)

Ah me lads, ye shudda seen us gannin',
We pass'd the foaks alang the road just as they wor stannin';
Thor wis lots o' lads an' lassies there, aal 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 lassies lost their crinolines off, an' the veils that hide their faces,
An' aw got two black eyes an' a broken nose gannin' 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, aa sung them "Paddy Fagan",
Aa danced a jig an' swung my twig that day aa 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;
Aa saw him talkin' to sum cheps, an' them he was pursuadin'
To gan an' see Geordy Ridley's concert in the Mechanics' Hall at Blaydon.

(chorus)

The rain it poor'd aall the day an' mayed the groons quite muddy,
Coffy Johnny had a white hat on – they war shootin' "Whe stole the cuddy."
There wis 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)

The song is now usually sung with more modern language but retaining the Tyneside dialect. For example the chorus might be sung:

Oh! me lads, ye shud a' seen w'us gannin,
Passin' the folks alang the road just as they were stannin'.
Aal the' lads and lasses there, aal wi' smiling faces,
Gannin' alang the Scotswood Road to see the Blaydon Races.