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 Harry Boardman - A Lancashire Mon

Page 1

Photograph courtesy of Roger Liptrot



(b 1930, Failsworth, Lancashire; d 1987)

 Folk singer, one of the first in the UK folk revival to examine the folk tradition around him rather than regurgitating the Anglo- American tradition that was the norm. An early interest in skiffle led to running a folk club by '54, an unusual pursuit then; he came under the infl. of A L Lloyd and Ewan MacColl but became noted for his championing of his local, Lancastrian folk music and folk traditions. His first recording was for Topic on New Voices '65, an anthology with Maureen Craik and the Watersons; then albums Deep Lancashire '68, Owdham Edge '70 and (with David Hillery) Trans Pennine '71. Boardman contributed to the most important collection of British mining songs ever released commercially when he appeared as a guest, as did Dick Gaughan, on the High Level Ranters' The Bonny Pit Laddie '75. More albums incl. A Lancashire Mon '73 (all these on Topic), Golden Stream '78 on AK Records and the privately issued Personal Selection '86. His written works incl. Folk Songs and Ballads of Lancashire '73, with his wife Lesley Boardman, and Manchester Ballads '83, co- authored with Roy Palmer.  

(From Musicweb encyclopaedia of popular music)




Harry Boardman – Discography

 (On compilation records, Harry’s songs are in bold text)  

New Voices - Topic Records - 12T125 (1965)  

 An album of first recordings. The Watersons, Harry Boardman, Maureen Craik:


Boston Harbour - The Watersons / To the Begging - Harry Boardman / The White Cockade - Maureen Craik / Owdham - Harry Boardman / The Greenland Whale Fishery - The Watersons / Hard Times - Harry Boardman / The Sandgate Girl’s Lament - Maureen Craik / Three Score and Ten - The Watersons / The Broom of Cowdenknowes - The Watersons / Bonny at Morn - Maureen Craik / The Hand Loom versus the Power Loom - Harry Boardman / A U Hinny Burd - Maureen Craik / The Shurat Weaver - Harry Boardman / Kin Arthur’s Servants - The Watersons / The Weaver of Wellbrook - Harry Boardman


Deep Lancashire - Topic Records -  12T188 (1968)

 Songs and Ballads of the Industrial North-West. Various Artists:

  The Hand-Loom Weaver’s Lament: Harry Boardman / Hop Hop Hop: The Oldham Tinkers / Beg Your Leave: Pete Smith / Ale is Physic For Me: Mike Harding / Gettin’ Wed: Harry Boardman / Clogs: recited by Harvey Kershaw / The Merry Little Doffer: Harry Boardman / Rawtenstall Annual Fair: Lee Nicholson / Coalhole Medley: The Oldham Tinkers / Cob-a-Coalin’: Harry Boardman / Seaur Pies: John Howarth & the Oldham Tinkers / The Bury New Loom: Harry Boardman / Ten Per Cent: Pete Smith & Mike Harding / A Mon Like Thee: John Howarth & The Oldham Tinkers / The Lancashire Liar: Harry Boardman.  


Harry Boardman with The Oldham Tinkers

Picture courtesy of John Howarth


Maureen (or Emma B as she is known on the mudcat forum) has sent in this memory of Harry. The song in question is "The Bury New Loom.

"One long conversation I had with Harry at Holmfirth, not long before his death related to his teaching. Following the publication of the book Folk Songs and Ballads of Lancashire (which I still have a copy of) Harry received a letter from a secondary school teacher on behalf of some of his teenage pupils who were doing a project. The students appeared to have picked out the best/worse examples of 'double entendre' weaving songs possible and were requesting a full explanation of the 'technical terms' involved. At the time Harry was undecided whether to let him into the 'secret'
or reply in the same terms and give all his class a good laugh; being Harry he decided the only honourable course of action (if he was so naive) was the second!"


Owdham Edge - Topic Records - 12T204 (1970)


Popular song and verse from Lancashire. Harry Boardman vocal, banjo, concertina, Lesley Boardman mandolin, tenor banjo, Bob Diehl fiddle, The Oldham Tinkers (John Howarth vocal, banjo. Gerrv Kearns vocal, guitar, Larry Kearns vocal, mandolin, whistle), Mike Harding vocal, Jew's harp, concertina, Harvey Kershaw speech, piano, Tim Boardman vocal, Robin Boardman vocal, guitar, bass concertina, John Tenent tenor horn, Harry Ogden vocal, guitar, Ian Hope fiddle, Mary Kershaw vocal.


Sam Shuttle and Betty Reedhook (BOARDMAN); Owdham Edge (OLDHAM TINKERS); Our Sarah's Getten' a Chap (OLDHAM TINKERS); The Miners' Lockout (BOARDMAN); Street Scene (HARVEY KERSHAW); Pounds, Shillings and Pence (TIM & ROBIN BOARDMAN); Down at Our School (OLDHAM TINKERS); The Little Piecer (BROOKS); Sammy Shuttleworth (HARDING); Bowton's Yard (BOARDMAN); Toddlin' Whoam (LARRY KEARNS); The Bard's Reformation (BOARDMAN); Schoolyard Song (OGDEN); Nobbut a Cockstride Away (MARY KERSHAW); Billy Suet's Song (BOARDMAN); Canute (OLDHAM TINKERS); Our Bill (WRIGLEY)


Trans Pennine - Topic Records - 12TS215 (1971)

Harry Boardman and Dave Hillery.


Scarborough Sands / I’ll Have a Collier For My Sweetheart / Forty Miles / Tommy Stroo’s Ghost / Cowd Stringy Pie / Tha’s Welcome Little Bonny Brid / Nellie o’Bobs O’t’ Crowtrees / Weaver’s Song / Happy Sam / Manchester Canal / T’auld Wife of Coverdill / Lass O’Dallogil / My Love, My Love / Cockfight / Haley Paley / With Henry Hunt We’ll Go / Ensilver Song.


 A Lancashire Mon – Topic Records - 12TS236 (1973)

Harry Boardman.

A Lancashire Mon / T Spinner’s Tale / Radcliffe Otter Hunt / Victoria Bridge on a Saturday Night / Kitty & Robin / Saddleworth Buck Rabbit / Whoam Brewed / Warrikin Fair / Spinning Shoddy / To the Begging / Beltane Song / Garland / Owdham on a Saturday Night / Nine Times a Night.


The Bonnie Pit Laddie - Topic Records - 12TS271/2 (1975)

Re-released on CD - Topic Records - TSCD486

 The High Level Ranters with Harry Boardman and Dick Gaughan:

Doon the Waggon Way / Miner’s Life / I Wish Pay Friday Would Come / Augengeich Disaster / Collier’s Rant / Farewell to the Monty / Putter / Little Chance / My Gaffer’s Bait / Coal Owner and the Pitman’s Wife / Blackleg Miner / Miners’ Lockout / South Medomsley Strike / Durham Lockout / Aa’m Glad the Strike’s Done / Collier’s Pay Week / I’ll Have a Collier / Instrumental Selection / I’ll Make Her Fain to Follow Me / Joyful Days are Coming / Get Her Bo / Stoneman’s Song / Hartley Calamity / Bonnie Woodha’ / Banks of the Dee / The Bonnie Pit Laddie (vocal).


Steam Ballads - Broadside - BRO 121 (1977)

Harry Boardman, Kempion, Jon Raven, Tony Rose

Recorded in 1977. The songs, mostly 19th century ballads, are:

Navvy on the Line / The Bold Navvies / Paddy Works on the Railway / A New Song on the Opening of the Newcastle & Shields Railway / Johnny Green's Trip fro' Owdhum to see the Manchester Railway / A New Song on the Opening of the Birmingham to Liverpool Railway / Iron Horse / The Oxford and Hampton Railway / The Cockney's Trip to Brummagem / The Wonderful Effects of the Leicester Railway / Cosher Bailey / Moses of the Mail / Fireman's Growl.


From Liszt to Music Hall

Open University - OU45 Arts Foundation Course - 1978

Recorded in 1978. This was an LP and cassette of 9 songs featuring Harry and John Foreman:

Side 1 featured classical music and side 2 featured the songs of Harry and John.

The Miller of the Dee , Manchester's Improving Daily, The Cotton Lords of Preston - Harry

Song of the Lower Classes, Villikins and his Dinah, Twickenham Ferry, If it Wasn't for the Houses in between - John

The Four Loom Weaver, Oldham Workshops - Harry



Golden Stream (LP) - AK Records - AK7813 (1978)

Golden Stream (Cassette) - DENE Records - DKA9138c (1991)


Harry Boardman

with Lesley & Tim Boardman, Chris Cole, Bob Diehl, Bob Morton, Steve Turner & Tony Hill

Handloom v Powerloom / Th’ Coaler / Go George I can’t endure you (tune) / I mean to get jolly well drunk / Flat Cap – Black Mary’s Hornpipe (tunes) / Folk Song 73 / Frolicsome Kate / Three Jolly Boys / The Cotton Lords of Preston / Hard Times / Jack the Horsecourser’s hornpipe (tune) / Drawin’ t’ rents / Jumping Jack / Ashton Mashers / Golden Stream / Alterations

Widely regarded as one of the best recordings that Harry made, it was re-released on cassette sometime after Harry's death.


Personal Selection (1986)

Harry Boardman

with Nick Dennerley, Roger Fisken and Bob Morton

What ails thee my son Robin / Tom Paget / The Bitch Fox / The Plodder Seam / The Garland / Where’s ta bin / The Girls of Lancashire / The Flying Cloud / Bonny Light Horseman / The Grand Conversation on Napoleon / The Streets of London (Jack of all trades) / The Whaler’s lament / Ninian South / Owdham White Hare / I’ll tell thi Dick / The Manchester Canal / Fortune turns the wheel

This was a cassette recorded by Alistair Miller at Leader Sound. The other LPs had been deleted by this time and Harry wanted something to sell at his gigs. This set of songs represented Harry’s repertoire of the time.

This was the last commercial recording he made before his death in 1987 although he had recorded some songs from The Manchester Ballads for a programme on BBC Radio Manchester (now BBC GMR). I happen to have a copy of that broadcast – I don’t know if the BBC still has it! See page 2 for further details.


The Iron Muse – Topic Records – TSCD 465 (1997)

A panorama of industrial folk music
One of the most famous and influential records of the British folk revival, The Iron Muse gathered songs from mine, mill and factory in a powerfully evocative musical document of the Industrial Revolution and its aftermath. Songs by Louis Killen, Anne Briggs, Ray Fisher and others are interspersed with tunes by the Celebrated Working Man's Band, led by Colin Ross (fiddle). The original album from 1956 has been extended with songs by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, Dick Gaughan and other Topic artists.

Harry Boardman is one of the "other Topic artists" singing The Handloom Weavers Lament


Deep Lancashire – Topic Records – TSCD 485 (1997)

This is a re-release of the two early LPs Deep Lancashire and Owdham Edge. Unfortunately, because of the lack of time available on the CD, several songs have been omitted – sadly three of them that were Harry’s.

These are - from Deep Lancashire:

Getting’ Wed – Harry Boardman / Seaur Pies: John Howarth & the Oldham Tinkers / The Lancashire Liar - Harry Boardman

And from Owdham Edge:

The Bard's Reformation – Harry BOARDMAN

The Oldham Tinkers are in the process of having their long deleted LPs re-released on CD and the producers have taken the opportunity of including the Tinker’s contributions to Deep Lancashire and Owdham Edge as additional tracks. Unless Harry’s LPs are re-released in a similar fashion, I doubt whether the missing tracks will be available to be heard again in their original format.






Two photographs of Harry from the Ormskirk Advertiser in the 1980's


As a tribute to Harry's work over the years, Cock Robin Music and Mark Dowding have teamed up together to produce a CD of songs called "A Mon Like Harry"


This CD, which has been featured on BBC local radio stations in the North-West and Midlands

regions,  is available from either Mark Dowding or Chris Harvey

More details on Mark's website HERE


Harry Boardman - The Man and His Music

A documentary about Harry made by Chris Harvey and Mark Dowding is now available to listen to on:

This new documentary features memories of Harry and contributions from the following people:

Baz Barker, Alan Bell, Chris Cole, Mark Dowding
Mike Harding, Chris Harvey Pollington, John Howarth
Mary Humphreys, Gerry Kearns, Bill Leader
Roy Palmer, Brian Peters and Bernard Wrigley

The narrator is Ali O’Brien



Personal Choice - Cock Robin Music CRM 180 (2008)




Chris Harvey of Cock Robin Music has taken the cassette of Personal Selection as this was the only version of the recording available and remastered the tracks correcting the pitch as the tracks were running slow to brighten them up considerably. Problems of balance and separation  due to the recording room being rather cramped due to a grand piano taking up a lot of the space according to Bob Morton who played guitar on the original have been corrected.

Two changes have been made to the original format. "The Girls of Lancashire" now starts the CD and a bonus track of Harry telling a story about his dad going down to the pub has been added thanks to Mike Kiernan of Stockport sending Mark Dowding a copy of the gig that he recorded in 1981.

The CD is available from Mark via his website HERE and is priced at £8 which includes P+P


For information about Harry's broadcasts please go to page 2

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