Durham & Tyneside Dialect Group / exit

Stanzas on the Intended New Line of Road
from Potticar Lane to Leyburn Hole

BY THOMAS WILSON

from the Tyne Mercury of 20 Jan 1824

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One evening in June when the lasses were raking,
  A squad of queer chaps met to talk o'e the news,
To canvass the prices of 'tatoes and bacon,
  The rearing of pigs, and how many each hews.

Amongst other matters they talked of the hall
  About to be raised on the Sour Milk Hill,
And the new line of road, which is wormwood and gall
  To the Wreckington bodies, who wince at the pill.

There had long been a talk that the old hilly line
  Would, one day or other, be quite laid aside;
But where they would take it no one could divine,
  For the rich folks themselves could not this point decide.

At first the best line was thought up the Back Lane,
  Being just quite as hilly as good roads should be,
As a sudden transition from hills to a plain
  Might ill with poor horses' habits agree.

For the wise heads at Wreckington mushroom town
  Had labour'd to settle these few simple points,
That the horses' delight is an up and a down,
  That a hill clears the wind and relaxes their joints.

One party preferr'd this because it was cheaper,
  A second the line by the fields would pursue,
A third would take Bensham, being longer and steeper,   Still keeping the up and down system in view.

There were Old Liners--Back Laners--Birtley Fellers--
  And Chain Bridgers canny Newcastle to shun,
Whilst the cheap Johns would pass over Pipewellgate's Cellars,
  Or climb o'er the Hills, from old Gateshead to run.

But the Line through the Fields all the others surpasses,
  As has been resolved by the wiser trustees,
So that nothing remains but the horses and asses
  To get reconciled to this valley of ease.

This brings me at length to the thread of my story,
  Which is to describe the Line through the Low Fell,
And, as Dicky told it, I'll lay it before ye,
  For none at a story could Dicky excel.

"Aw say, lads, have ye heard what they're gannan te dee
  Wi' the road frae Newcassel te Lunnen?
They'll shift it, they say, if the grit folks can 'gree,
  Where the coaches will flee 'stead o' runnin.

'Bout Potticar Lonen they leave the awd road,
  Where hill upon hill rises ever se high,
Up whilk the poor animals now drag their load,
  For aw the warld like claveren up the sky.

Then they Nicholson's pass, and the pond at Brick Dean,
  Where the mother her love-begot babby did drown,
And where its white ghost has been frequently seen
  By the half-fuddled folks comin' late frae the town.

Soon they reach Whinny-house, and the sign o' the Buck,
  Where aw've oft been sae blin' as te nut naw me mother,
An then by the Meeting, and Boggin's Dike Neuk,
  Where the gamlers, lang syne, us'd te bilk ane another.

Then reet owre the Fell, and by Carter's Well,
  Where the waiter like wine's a'ways runnen,
And is better by far than the poor blashy yell
  The folks get i' Newcassel or Lunnen.

Then away on te Chowden, and by the Black Raw,
  Where a batch o' awd bodies is leevin,
Where the houses hae stood sin wor awd mother's fa',
  And folks awd as the hills gan te heeven.

They neist slide alang close by awd Chowden Ha',
  Where wor Bet gets her drop o' tea waiter,
Whilk she says does se weel her black tea pot draw,
  Whether tea's in or nut's little maiter.

Harley Green then they pass, and Harrison's shop,
  Where they bang aw for capital shoein',
And where for a shoe ye hardly need stop,
  On a jiffy they'll clap on a new ane.

Then on te Law Eighten, and down te the Yett,
  Where wi' thieves monie ane's had te wressel,
And where the coach horses ye see smokin' het,
  Scrafflin up the Lang Bank te Newcassel.

But then they'll ne mair hae te wabble and wheeze,
  Up heart-breakin hills aw foamin' and faggin',
For on the new line an awd cuddy, wi' ease,
  Will draw the mail-coach or a lang Lunnen waggon.

Ye'll see how they'll nicker and turn up their tails
  (At the their favourite hills gien mony a keek,)
As the run owre the Fell wi' the coaches and mails,
  Wi' ne'er a turned hair, and as fresh as a leek.

How the seet will inrich tee the travellers' een,
  For monnie miles roun,' frae their whirligigs bummin,'
And aw the hill-toppers, owre field, wood, and dean,
  Will easily see aw that's gannin and comin.'

There's wor maister's new neighbour cock'd up o' the hill,
  The clouds clean belaw, and the stars just abuin,
Where he may smoke his pipe, or wag hands if he will,
  Wi' his sonsy awd neighbour, the man-i'-th'-muin.

Wor awd coaly Tyne down frae Stella te Shiels
  He can see aw the way as its runnin',
And the bonny black di'monds gaun down i' the keels
  To warm as the starv'd boddies i' Lunnen.

Wi' his glass he can spy aw the leet ships i' shoals,
  As suin as they leave Lunnen river,
As weel as them leaving the Bar wi' their coals
  For the ports where they're gaun te deliver.

But this is a trifle te what he'll see suin,
  When the mail through wor Low Fell is runnin,'
He'll see the guard's horn, as sure as a gun,
  Frae Johnny Groat's house up te Lunnen.

O' the other hand, luik up te Ravensworth towers,
  Whilk my grandmother says are as awd as the muin,
And ye'll see that the gloom that now owre them lours,
  Mun vanish the moment McAdam gets duin.

For the first time the mail coach will glent o' them then,
  As weel a the gimcracks they'll see a'ways runnin,'
Wi' dukes, and wi' lords, and wi' parli'ment men,
  Cumin' down frae and gannin te Lunnen.

They'll see mountebanks, rope-dancers, jugglers, and quacks,
  Outlandishmen, tee, with their bear and their fiddle,
And showmen wi' nice penny shows o' their backs,
  Gaun the fuils and the flats i' Newcassel te diddle.

Then wor capital air frightens death frae wor borders,
  And physic's quite useless the doctor suin learns,
For it cures aw complaints, even narvish disorders,
  And makes us quite famous for rearin' young bairns.

What's the use o' their wells, wi' their rotten egg smells,
  Where the grit folks oft gan te mend lungs and liver;
Let them come to wor Fells, where they'll suin, sound as bells,
  And good as bran new anes, live on maist for ever."

The story thus ended, they gave him three cheers,
  Wi' success to the road this direction,
And a promise the first time the guard's horn he hears,
  They would oil his awd wig to perfection.

Then, me Lord, gie's your han,' and just say ye 'gree,
  Ne langer wor canny commissioners te bother,
On'y think for yersell, and I knaw ye'll suin see
  That the road through the fields bangs by far ony other.

Lubin Level
Flatts, January 18, 1824

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