Sandy Still

Rod Hall

Allen Miller

Jim Jack


The Dales Collection: Disc Three Synopsis

DISC THREE - Swaledale and Beyond

1 The Gamekeeper

Based on Barry Hines’ novel of the same name, this song tells about a year in the life of a gamekeeper in the Dales. It was the first song Allen Miller ever wrote that was set in The Dales.

2 Askrigg Fair

This story dates back to the early 19th century and tells of one unfortunate Scots Lord who dared to travel alone to Askrigg Fair to sell his cattle. After such a fair muggings were frequent and many a "foreigner" disappeared in mysterious circumstances on the surrounding moors. The only clue to the identity of this one, whose body was found by a man digging peat, was his tartan plaid. At least he finally received a proper burial at Grinton.

3 The Chapel at Keld

The legend in this song is said to date back to the end of the 15th century, when it is believed  that there was a chapel at Keld. This is the story of its last service, unlikely though it may sound. The arrival of a stranger, in the middle of a service, asking for a calf, produced rather an unexpected response from the assembled worshippers! It was to be three hundred years before the site was again used for religious purposes.

4 Kisdon Foss

This is truly one of the most impressive settings in all The Dales and served as the inspiration for this song and instrumental interlude. Though only a short walk from the village, the spot is often neglected by visitors, in favour of the other, more easily accessible falls that are to be found on this stretch of the Swale. The picture of the river leaving the gorge will remain forever in one’s memory.

5 The Still at Brignall Mill

Brewing illicit alcohol has been a national pastime for ages and the Customs and Excise Authorities have been kept busy tracking them down. This particular story centres round Teesdale during the 1820s. Previous attempts to find the illicit still had met with no success so they put their best man and his team on the trail.

6 Song To Hannah Hauxwell

Inspired by a television documentary about her in 1973, and the book which followed, this song is dedicated to a woman with an unusual lifestyle. (Since the song was written, Hannah has succumbed to the lure of the outside world and has moved to Cotherstone. Her fame has increased enormously over the last twenty years and she is now a well-travelled lady!)

7 Polkas

A regular instrumental at Fourum concerts for many years now - no Dales connection, but a Fourum favourite featuring Sandy on the mandolin.

8 The Duke of Cumberland

Situated on the edge of the dales, Darlington's main claim to fame has been its place in railway history in 1825. This story goes back even further, to the 1745 Rebellion, when the Duke of Cumberland found a warm reception for his troops on their way northwards to the famous battle of Culloden. The song tells how the people of Darlington went out of their way to make them welcome.

9 The Hawes Railway Disaster

The Settle-Carlisle railway line has been responsible for the loss of many lives, a great number of which occurred during its actual construction. This particular disaster happened on December 24th, 1910, not far from Hawes Junction, involving the overnight "Scotch Express" and two light engines. Human error was the cause. Most of those killed were burnt to death when a gas cylinder burst and ignited. The actual death toll was later found to be three more than the nine bodies originally discovered.

10 Census 1851

The Wharfedale family which this song centres around is typical in a community where all had to work to survive, and the choice, in the last century, was the lead mines or the mills. The details for this song, which has a most unusual style chorus, were gleaned from the unsuspecting records of the Census of 1851.

11 James Broderick's Funeral

This funeral took place in 1886 under most unusual circumstances, as the song tells. The terms of Broderick's will stated that he wished to be buried on Birk Hill, the playground of his youth, close by Spring End Farm, the home of the Broderick family for generations.  Unfortunately the ground was solid limestone, and a hole to receive the coffin had to be blasted first. That was only the beginning of their troubles for the mourners, who had to transport his body from Hawes across the Butterbubs Pass in a raging snowstorm. The site can still be seen today.

12 Dead Man’s Hill

Lonely packhorse trails criss-cross the Dales and many a crime took place along them during the 18th and 19th centuries, many of which went unsolved. The incident referred to in this song took place at the now deserted village of Lodge in Nidderdale in 1726. The crime was only solved and the perpetrators brought to justice in 1728.

13 The Corpse Way Instrumental

Following on from Rod Hall’s  arrangement for the jig on Disc Two, he has slowed down the tempo for this version and added various guitar sounds as well. The mood fits well with the tempo of the funeral parties who walked this route.

14 Semerwater

There are many versions of this legend of a sunken village in the lake, and how it came to be there. Indeed, the story is paralleled in classical mythology. This song is based on one of them. and is  set ion the lake in Wensleydale. It is said that in certain atmospheric conditions you can still hear the bells of the lost church tower!

15  Hand of Glory

The particular incident on which this song is based took place in 1797 at the Spittal House Inn, to the west of Bowes on the road which is now the A66. The "Hand of Glory" mentioned was taken from the body of a condemned criminal and it was preserved in a very particular fashion. It was said to have special powers, when a candle was lit between its fingers, to keep sleeping folk asleep and waking folk awake, and was therefore specially prized by thieves! The only way to douse the flame was with milk. One example of a Hand of Glory was in the possession of a Yorkshire family until the early part of this century, and is now in Whitby Museum.

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