Tyne Folk

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The Geordie Revival

'Wot Cheor Geordie' occurred before the Folk Revival. Pete Wood makes the case.

Wot Cheor Geordie

I have written on this site and elsewhere about the difference between the songs of the northeast and those of the rest of England. See 'A Homage to Geordie - Singing Peoples' on this site.

What I have tried to say is that they have such strong songs of their own that they don't need the songs of others, namely the songs the Edwardian collectors got down south.

Perhaps part of the reason for the importance of the region in pioneering the post-war revival and the continued success of these songs may be the Geordie Revival which occurred just before the folk revival.

In the 1940s the BBC encouraged the regions to produce some programmes of their own. Richard Kelly arrived in Newcastle in 1948 and 'Wot Cheor Geordie' which had started earlier took off under his direction.

The programme consisted of plays songs and sketches broadcast in dialect. Leonard Barras a clerk at Swan Hunters did humorous sketches which were central to the show. Musical items were provided by the Northumbrian Serenaders Jack Robson, Norman Turnbull, the Smith Brothers and the Willie Walker Band.


It was broadcast once a week to the northern region for more than a decade, was definitely a big hit in the Northeast, but the dialect made difficult for even the other northern regions to appreciate it. Scotland rejected the programme.

It was very occasionally broadcast nationally and the reaction from the other regions showed an appreciation of the songs and tunes but the comedians were difficult to follow.

By the fifties these included 'The Little Waster, Bobby Thompson' a sensation with the working people of the northeast.

It was however popular with the BBC programmers in London when Kelly sent them a tape saying the dialect could be toned down. Kelly described Newcastle as a colonial appendage from Manchester which in turn was a colonial appendage of London.

'Wot Cheor Geordie' lasted until 1956. Blaydon Races became recognised as the Newcastle United FC supporters anthem during the club's successful FA cup run in 1951. During the 1950s Newcastle won the FA Cup trophy on three occasions within a five-year period. The song has been adapted for use by many clubs throughout the United Kingdom.

The geographical references e.g. Scotswood Road and dialect words e.g. gannin' in the lyrics are changed to suit the club but the tune remains the same. For example the Queen's Park Rangers version is as follows: "Oh me lads you should have seen us coming / Running down the Uxbridge Road / You should have seen us coming /All the lads and lasses smiles upon their faces / Running down the Uxbridge Road / To see the Queens Park Rangers."

This little piece was written by an outsider. You oldie locals - anything to add or disagree with?

Pete Wood

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