Sandy Still

Rod Hall

Allen Miller

Jim Jack


The Dales Revisited Synopsis


1  The Drummer Boy of Richmond

This is perhaps the most famous legend connected with Richmond. It was thought that Richmond Castle and Easby Abbey were connected by a secret underground passage. According to the legend, some soldiers stationed there decided to put this theory to the test, but, being too cowardly themselves, they persuaded their little drummer boy to undertake the expedition.

2  Richmond Market in 1830

Richmond is the market town for Swaledale and the Saturday market was a very important feature of life in the dale, with people travelling up to twenty miles to buy their goods and make a day of it. This song is based on the eye-witness accounts of William Wise, who lived there in the 1830's and vividly recalls the bustling scene, with a wide variety of wares for sale.

3  Neddy Dick

"Neddy Dick" was the nickname of one Richard Alderson of Keld who died in 1927. He was one of the characters of upper Swaledale, although his fame spread far and wide in the dales after his creation of a musical "rock" instrument, made of limestone rocks fashioned to sound a full scale of notes when hit with a special hammer. He took this "band" around the local shows and fairs, to the great delight of all who heard it. Photographs of the time show him to be an old man with a long white beard.

4  The Rokeby Sow

Rokeby Wood lies between the River Greta and the River Tees. This is a very famous story connected with a Sir Ralph of Rokeby of early medieval times, who had in the wood a massive sow that no-one could tame. Fond of practical jokes, and knowing how much the Grey Friars of Richmond liked their ham, he offered the sow as a present to them, on condition that they came and took it away themselves. The song describes the problems encountered and how the Friars had the last laugh.

5  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.

6  Willance's Leap

The starting point for this song is a silver chalice which forms part of the mayoral silver of Richmond. It was presented to the city fathers in 1606 after a miraculous escape from death by Robert Willance when the horse he was riding accidentally leaped over Whitcliffe Scar. The site is preserved in memory by two commemorative stones on the scar and the name "Willance's Leap" appears on Ordinance Survey maps. The song tells the story.


1  Potter Thompson

Yet another legend of Richmond, this time featuring the supposed discovery by Potter Thompson of a cave underneath the castle where he came across the sleeping King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, who were said to be awaiting the call to save Old England should the need arise. He is said to have found in the cave a hunting horn and a sword. Had he been able to produce these, some credence might have been given to his story!

2  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.

3  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.

4  Richmond Races

Richmond has had a racecourse for centuries, to the north-west of the town. In 1765 the course was moved from the High Moor to the more accessible Low Moor, and in 1775 the imposing stone Grandstand was built, sadly a dilapidated ruin today. The major race of the season was the Gold Cup, worth 120 guineas. It was a day of festivity and celebration, particularly for the two Sergeants-at-Mace, who had the honour of carrying the cup to the racecourse in a great parade. This song is again based on the recollections of William Wise and centres round two Sergeants-at-Mace that he remembered particularly well - Neddy Marley and Bill Brown.

5  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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