To Rescue A Sandgate Lass

I found the lyrics for this song in Bonny Songs of the Northern Lands, collected by Martin Shaw and Percy Dearmer, and published by J Curwen & Sons in 1912.  It is the only song in the book to mention "The Snooks", and from certain local words (such as "Loggy", meaning "Butterfly") it is certain to be referring to Seaton Snook.

As was common at the time, the lyrics would be sung to an existing tune.  In this case, the song appears to be a response to The Sandgate Girl's Lamentation, and presumably utilises the same melody.  As no recordings have been previously made of the song, I have recorded it myself. 

To Rescue A Sandgate LassPeter Falconer
00:00 / 02:11

I spy’d a young maiden truly

Who come fro Sandgate town

And tho she were a bonny one

She wore a werritin frown

Her face were like an angel’s

But an angel full o’ woe

For she had marry’d a keelman

Nee wonder she were sore

 

    Ye’ve a lovely body, as fair as a loggy

    And far too good fer him

    So oway down to the Snooks, lass

    An I will tek you in

 

She thought to go to Newcastle

And hide among the crowd

But a keelman has his bully boys

Who quickly had her found

They brought her back to Sandgate Street

And layc’d her til she were blue

Then gave her back to the Keelman

Who layc’d her proper, too

 

    Ye’ve a lovely body...

 

She went to church on a Sunday

And pray’d He’d set her free

She tried to tell the father but

The father wouldn’t see

He telt her she were wicked and

She shouldn’t cheek her man

So hyem she went to Sandgate Street

Wi nowhere else to gan

    Ye’ve a lovely body...

One Friday come a Tan-Toby

Who said he’d help her out

He give her a bunch o’ monkshood

And didn’t charge her nowt

She cook’d it into the broth and when

He come in through the door

He said he wanted fish the night

And chuck’d it on the floor

    Ye’ve a lovely body...

If I was yuer husband

I’d never raise me hand

I’d buy you bonny frocks and watch you

Dance upon the sands

There’s blueys fer us breakfast and

There’s winkles fer us tea

I’d keep you safe from the keelman

As happy as can be.

    Ye’ve a lovely body...

saw

from

pretty

worried

 

 

 

no

 

butterfly

come

take

 

colleagues

beat

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

told

talk back to 

home

go

 

 

gypsy/rag-and-bone man

 

Aconitum or Wolfsbane, a poisonous plant

didn't charge her anything

 

 

threw

your, pronounced "You-er"

more common in the N.E. than "beach"

lobster

ToRescueASandgateLass1.jpg
ToRescueASandgateLass2.jpg

Click for scans of the original lyric sheets

One interesting point is the use of the word "lace" meaning to "beat" someone.  Bill Griffith's superb Dictionary of North East Dialect (2nd Ed.,  Northumbria University Press, 2005) suggests that the word originated in Easington in the mid C20, but its inclusion here suggests an earlier origin further down the County Durham coast.

The words also refer to "Sandgate Town" being the home of the keelman, but there was in fact no such place - Sandgate was a suburb on the East side of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and there was a Sandgate Street, but Sandgate was never a real town.   

The Sandgate Girl's Lamentation
 

The song to which this is a response, The Sandgate Girl's Lamentation, was first collected by John Bell for his anthology Rhymes of Northern Bards in 1812.  A beautiful performance of this song by Maureen Craik from 1965 follows. 

In the lament, the girl from Sandgate (a shipping village on the Tyne) bemoans her having ended up married to a keelman.  Keelmen were men who transported coals from the banks of the Tyne and the Wear to the waiting collier ships, using large, shallow-bottomed boats called keels (due to the shallowness of the rivers).  The Keelmen were a tight-knit community who lived in Sandgate, a particularly poor and overcrowded part of Newcastle.  They had a reputation amongst some as being rough, uncouth, and aggressive, a reputation which this song seems to uphold. 

From New Voices - An Album of First Recordings (Topic, 12T125, 1966)

Sandgate Lassies Lament lyrics

Click to open lyric sheet