March Monthly Meeting

A Lancashire Garland – Sid Calderbank 

17 03

Sid admitted he loves grubbing around dusty old archives researching Lancashire and its dialect and then performing the poems, songs and stories that form part of our ‘intangible heritage’.  He reminded us that his last talk took us up to 1856 and was about Edwin ‘Ned’ Waugh, the inspiration of hundreds of other dialect authors and poets. One of which was Samuel Laycock, a Yorkshire man born in Marsden but who moved to Stalybridge when he was eight.  Sam worked in the cotton mills and was inspired by Ned Waugh to write.  Sid performed one of his poems, “Bowton’s Yard”. Sam like half a million other cotton workers in Lancashire lost his job as a result of the Cotton Famine in the early 1860’s and he took to writing to support himself.  Sid performed one of his songs from that time, “Th’ Shurat Weaver’s Song”.  Sam later moved to Blackpool and became a supporter of the RNLI.  We were told of the loss of the Southport and St Anne’s lifeboats and 27 lifeboat men, the largest loss of life in the history of the RNLI, during the rescue of the crew of ‘The Mexico’ in 1886 and we learned that as a result Sir Charles Macara and his wife Marion were instrumental in establishing the first public collection days for the RNLI. Sam wrote “Tribute to the Drowned” following that disaster and Sid performed an excerpt from it. Sid then went on to discuss the “Bowton Luminary”, edited by John Taylor Staton, a penny dreadful which was published from 1852 to 1862. Staton later produced an anthology of poems and stories submitted to the “Bowtun Luminary”, one of which was Frank Ormerod’s “Owd Shunt” and we were treated to an excerpt from that.  Sid concluded with Edwardian musical hall poem by Ben Woods, “Bobby Grundy A Village Shopkeeper”, a veritable tour de force.  As always Sid demonstrated his knowledge and enthusiasm for the Lancashire dialect and the wit of its writers. His enthusiasm was felt by all and we were treated to an enjoyable and entertaining presentation.

David O’Malia


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