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 Harry Boardman - A Lancashire Mon

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Photograph courtesy of Roger Liptrot


 Harry Boardman - Broadcasts

Whilst I'm sure that it is an impossible task to catalogue all the times that Harry's music has been played on the radio or television, I'll list as many examples of broadcast concerts and performances as I can find. If you know of anything that is not listed here or if you have any tapes of broadcasts, then please get in touch with me at the website email address.





On 16th August 1969, the Manchester Sports Guild organised a concert at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the event that came to be known as the Peterloo Massacre. 


The singers were Harry Boardman, Leon Rosselson, Pete Smith, John Howarth, Lesley Boardman and Bob Diehl


The speaker was Michael Foot M.P. 


The narrator was David Mahlow


The programme was kindly lent to me by John Howarth


Click HERE for a more readable version



"On Peter's Fields in Manchester in t' year one eight one nine

When t' cotton folk of Lancashire in protest did combine

Corn Laws had browt the crippling tax and t' price of food near broke folk's backs

And set aleet to t' smouldering flax and it bristled mony a spine


Salute once more these men of yore

Who were to conscience true

And gave their blood for the common good

On the fields of Peterloo"


(First verse and chorus of "Peterloo" by Harvey Kershaw)



Alan Bell has been in contact with me and has very kindly given me details of the following programme: 

Folk in Concert – BBC Radio 2 - 1972

This was the first programme of a spin off from Folk on Friday where the team recorded concerts for broadcast.

This particular programme featured The Taverners, Harry Boardman and The Pendle Folk and was recorded at Nelson & Colne College of Further Education in Lancashire. There was also the first performance of "Ballad of the North West" compiled by Alan Bell.

The Taverners sang The Lark in the Morning & Five Foot Flirt

Harry sang three songs in his 'bit' - Golden Stream, Best O' T' Bunch and Cob-a-Coaling song

The Pendle Folk contributed with Water Cress-O & The Rawtenstall Annual Fair.

"Ballad of the North West" followed - narrated by Jim Lloyd

At the end of the concert, Harry led the final song - Liverpool Judies.

The Compere was Jim Lloyd

Engineer was David Flemming-Williams

Tape Editor was Pete Gregg

Producer was Frances Line


Alan Bell continues the Ballad of the North West story:

Following this, I wrote several radio scripts for Peter Pilbeam who produced programmes from Manchester. Using the title "Ballads of the North West", the 30 minute programmes featured different stories from different areas within the region.

These were titled:

Cape Famine - The Story of Sunderland Point

The Yarl Shilling - Hiring Fairs

The Pile of Fouldry - Ancient Castle near Barrow-in-Furness

Mardale - The drowned Lakeland village

All these programmes featured The Taverners Folk Group

In early 1972 I met Douglas Boyd - an independant TV producer working to contracts from the BBC. Douglas had also just met Ken Campbell from the Pendle Folk group who was also writing scripts at the time. Having heard the Cape Famine programme, I took Douglas to Sunderland Point and he was captivated by the place. He then made the decision to produce the TV series.

Harry Boardman became the link man for the series, acting as narrator and/or singer. I wrote three scripts for the first series in 1972 as did Ken Campbell. For the second series, Douglas employed other writers though I did write the programme about Sam Laycock in which Harry sang 'Bowton's Yard' 


Ballad of the North West

BBC TV North West region only – 1973/74

A documentary TV series that showed how the events of the past two hundred years in the area have been reflected in song.

Narrated by Harry Boardman featuring (amongst others)

Bernard Wrigley

Gary and Vera Aspey

Wilf Darlington

Harry Ogden

Brian Preston

Chris Parkinson

Pat Ryan

Alan Bell

Directed by Douglas Boyd.


There were three series of programmes made and broadcast and the titles and transmission dates are set out below - Again thanks to Alan Bell for providing this information from his records.


Title Transmission Date
The Wreckers 3rd July 1973
Trouble and Strife 10th July 1973
Narras an' Flats 17th July 1973
Cape Famine 31st July 1973
The Great Lead Rush 7th August 1973
One Man and His Mule 14th August 1973
The Lancashire Fusileers 21st August 1973
Title Transmission Date
Way of the Witch 14th May 1974
The Owler Lads 20th May 1974
Th' Owd Songster 28th May 1974
Ol' King Coal 4th June 1974
The Alabama Incident 11th June 1974
Panic In Lancashire 18th June 1974
A Noose for Ned 25th June 1974
Title Transmission Date
Private McCaffery’s Revenge 10th June 1975
The Privateer 17th June 1975
The Hero Of Flodden 24th June 1975
The Big Ditch 1st   July  1975
Click HERE for Radio Times listings of these programmes

(Press BACK on your browser to return to this page)


Click on the titles to see the following scripts:
The Lancashire Fusiliers
The Last Road North
Private MacCafferty's Revenge


Following an appeal for photos and memories of Harry on the BBC GMR folk show "Sounds of Folk" , Gordon Rankin got in contact and very kindly sent in the following photograph of the group "Yonko and the Texas Drifters"  that featured Gordon on guitar (left), Frank (Yonko) Marriott on guitar  and vocals (centre) and Harry on the banjo (right)



Yonko and the Texas Drifters


(Gordon Rankin, Frank Marriott, Harry Boardman)



Gordon goes on to explain:


" The photograph was taken whilst we were playing with Yonko and the Texas Drifters in either 1960 or 1961 - possibly at the Waterloo hotel in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester. Other venues I remember were the Balmoral hotel, the Russell, Starlight and York clubs, and many other venues in the North West. 

Although Harry was more interested in Folk music, he was a brilliant Blue Grass and American style banjo player and vocalist and I remember many occasions when we travelled home from gigs with the neck of Harry's banjo sticking out of the car window and we sang all the way home."


 The Edge - Piccadilly Radio, Manchester - 1982

This was a radio production about the legend of Alderley Edge in Cheshire. It was written by Joe Beard and produced by Harry Ogden – one time presenter of Piccadilly Folkspan (Manchester) and featured Harry Boardman playing ‘The Wizard’.

A cassette version of this production was available. Joe Beard still has a few of these for sale if anyone is interested in obtaining a copy - email Joe on

A copy of the original broadcast tape of this has apparently been given to the National Trust to archive. I have been in touch with both Joe and The NT to confirm this.

Joe Beard has kindly sent me a synopsis of the project and it is reproduced below:

It was first broadcast on "HALLOWEEN" (deliberately) 31st October 1982 as a Halloween Special on Piccadilly Radio "FOLKSPAN" programme, presented by Harry Ogden. There was a gathering of over 3,000 people or more on Alderley Edge after the broadcast that had to be sorted out by the police. Later, we had reports that over half the people there had heard the broadcast! Harry Boardman took the part of The Wizard and the Soothsayer, who predicts the later arising of The Sleeping Knights of Alderley who will arise to save England when "A George the son of a George shall reign. Thrice lost shall England be, thrice won, twixt dawn of day and setting sun, etc" I equate this to The Few at the Battle of Britain! It was later played twice on air, but in a lesser form, arranged by Mike Billington as presenter of Radio Manchester`s "FOLK LIKE US " and from this a short extract was used on Radio 2`s "Woman`s Hour" by producer Diana Stenson (but I have no dates for this). The dates for Radio Manchester were Easter Monday 1987 8pm and Dec 31 1987 (New Years Eve). So it`s been on air four times. Commercially, legendary folk rock producer Joe Boyd was going to make it a massive production (and Martin Carthy agreed to sing) on his new "Hannibal" label but the money required to do it justice was not forthcoming at that time. (Got overlooked. Why are people so blind?)

The personnel on the Harry Boardman broadcast were:

HARRY OGDEN – Presenter/ Narrator

HARRY BOARDMAN – The Wizard & The Soothsayer

PAT KNOWLES – Vocal & Keyboards


JOE BEARD - Guitars & Vocal, Writer

LES RENSHAW - Mandolin &Vocal





The running order at that time (since improved and added to) accompanied by narration and sound effects was:


2. THE WIZARD - song



5. ELLEN BECK - song







 Most of the recording was done in CAVALIER STUDIOS, Stockport, with bits and pieces added in PICCADILLY RADIO itself prior to broadcast. A live multi media show performed it at several concerts clubs, festivals to great acclaim but it needed big money to justify it. North West Arts provided a small grant at the time but more was needed.

Today I would describe this project differently but then it was looked on as Folk/Rock. Today it may be put into several categories - FOLK/ROCK/GOTHIC/PSYCHEDELIA multi media. I have toyed with the idea of taking it into schools modified for children as the Harry Potter world rules now; But I have also written a whole new story around it and added songs. It could be so good but nobody ever wants to know anything different unless you are already famous. HARRY BOARDMAN said it could have been MASSIVE.


The Edge and the legends of the iron gates



A multi-media musical project by Chris Joe Beard (ex Purple Gang) first performed by the “Joe Beard Band” in the early 1980`s at Arts and Folk festivals and presently archived with the National Trust (at Shrewsbury HQ-Atcham house)- at the Trust`s request.

This began life as a folk- rock/ gothic/ music/slide-show with narration performed at folk and arts festivals and also by Joe with the Alderley Edge Girl`s School Choir and drama dept.-(St.Hilary`s in 1982). Supported by NW Arts, it became a radio show and was featured by Piccadilly Radio (halloween night) and Radio Manchester (new years eve). The project gained the interest of Joe Boyd of Hannibal records the legendary folk rock producer (Nic Drake, Fairport Convention, etc.) but finances were not available then to give the project the high quality production it deserved. Some demo tapes and radio show recordings exist however. The slides ,music and songs also remain with the author and have been developed/ improved over time.

The project has remained dormant for many years, but it is planned to revive and modernise it for today`s market; Also to re-adapt it for suitable school use for several age groups engaging dance, drama and narration.   The music and songs are recognised for their high quality and atmosphere, reflecting the mystery and drama of the various events and characters contained within the storylines.


Brief storyline/description

The story begins in the dark ages with the wizard (who, it is said, is Merlin himself) vainly searching for Sir Oscatell - the lost sleeping knight and his milk white steed – Rondar, who are both needed to complete the 100 enchanted sleeping knights /steeds, who await the Wizard`s call to defend the country in time of dire peril.

An ancient curse upon Sir Oscatell (who was found beneath an eagle`s nest when an infant, upon a rocky outcrop called “the Edge” by local landowner Lady Oscatell and subsequently raised highborn ) meant that at the age of 21 years to the day, he would be compelled to drink at the Wizard`s well  beneath the edge and see reflected in the water the face of his real mother. She being a sorceress, ”Corniva”, an old rival of the Wizard; it was he who enchanted the eagles to steal the sleeping infant from Corniva.

From then on he would forget his past and wander the land to look for his real mother and father, eking out a meagre living off the land until the fateful day when “the Wizard” finds him on his way to market to sell his white horse.


The Wizard and the Legend of the Iron Gates

 One misty morning early, as “Will” (as he is now called) makes his way over “The Edge” to the local market/fair, some few miles away. He encounters a strange, robed and hooded, figure emerging from the wooded roadside, carrying a long strangely carved staff. His two horses are terrified and rear-up, dismounting “Will”. Trembling and terrified, “Will” tries to control the horses as the figure calls “How much for the horse, farmer?” Pointing to the white, unable to answer, ”Will” jumps on the nearest horse and rides off with the “Wizard” (for he it is) calling after “Be here at sundown-it will not be sold at the fair!”

At the fair, as predicted, no-one would pay the price, although all agreed that the horse was magnificent - though all were afraid of the strange fearful look in the horse`s eyes.

Dispirited, yet hopeful that the strange man may later buy the white horse, ”Will” sets off for home over “The Edge” and sure enough, good as his word, the hooded stranger re-appears at the very same spot. beckoning to "Will" to follow. With his staff, the Wizard strides off along the woodland paths until they reach the edge of the woods, where the rocky outcrop falls away into the darkness. At this point the wizard leads the horse by the reins with "Will" sat on top, mesmerised by the events. They go down a series of steep rocky paths yet come to no harm. At the face of one huge sandstone rock, at the place known as “Stormy Point”, the Wizard orders “Will” to stand back and strikes the rock 3 times with the staff calling out “Golden stone, golden stone. I smite thee as decreed. I bring at last the milk white steed. I bring at last from a holy well-the chosen knight -Sir Oscatell!”

At this to a tremendous noise, the rock known as the ”golden stone” cleaved open, to reveal a pair of ornate iron gates, which the Wizard opened with a creaking noise saying “Be not afraid yet follow me. No harm shall come to thee ”Will” and the horse followed the wizard down into the cavernous passage lit by the wizard`s enchanted staff, now gleaming light into the darkness. Further and further they travelled along, until an eerie blue light shone ahead and .into a brightly lit cavern-they entered.

In the vast long cavern, alongside the gleaming walls, stood 100 stalls and in each stall rested a sleeping knight with a sleeping horse nearby. On the walls hung the armour and weaponry—yet one stall remained empty .

Turning, the Wizard said to "Will”, "Until now this stall has remained empty awaiting its rightful occupant-Sir Oscatell and the horse Radnor. At last you are both here and the wondrous cavern`d band is now complete."


The Manchester Ballads

BBC Radio Manchester - c1983

Following the publication of The Manchester Ballads by Harry and Roy Palmer, Diana Stenson conducted an interview with Harry for a special programme on BBC Radio Manchester (now BBC GMR).

Harry sang several of the Ballads in the folder. These were:

A Soldier's Farewell to Manchester

John o' Grinfilt

The Meeting At Peterloo

New Bayley Tread-Mill

Johnny Green's Trip Fro' Owdhum to see the Manchester Railway

The Spinner's Lamentation

The Telegraph Girl in  Cannon Street

Victoria Bridge on a Saturday Night

Baz Barker played the fiddle and produced the programme


Following on from this one-off programme, a series of programmes were produced, again by Baz Barker, in the style of the Radio Ballads called The Ballads of Occupation  

Baz Barker has sent me the following details of each programme:

The Ballads of Occupation

Written by Harry and Lesley Boardman

Narrated and Produced by Baz Barker

©BBC Radio Manchester - 1986


Programme 1                                   The Jolly Ploughboy                                      Duration 24.17


Singers Mary Humphreys

Steve Mayne

Harry Boardman

Instruments Nick Dennerley - Recorder

Bob Morton      - Guitar

Voices Herbert Smith

Peter Wheeler


Songs - The Ploughshare, As I strolled out to Aylesbury, A Rosebud in June, The Rigs of the Time, All Jolly Fellows that follow the Plough 



Programme 2                                   Hunting The Whale                                     Duration 26.20


Singers Steve Mayne

Harry Boardman

Instruments Nick Dennerley - Recorder

Bob Morton      - Guitar


Alec Greenhalgh

Herbert Smith

Peter Wheeler


Songs - Rolling down to Old Maui, Reuben Ranzo, The Bonny hip The Diamond, The Whaleman's Lament, Paddy and the Whale, Off to sea once more, The Greenland Whale Fishery, Farewell to Tarwathie 



Programme 3                                 A Collier Laddie                                     Duration 28.09


Singers Bob Morton

Margaret Peters

Harry Boardman

Instruments Wilf Darlington - Fiddle

Brian Peters        - Guitar


Maggie O'Brian

Herbert Smith

Peter Wheeler


Songs - A Miner's Life, Polly Parker, The South Medomsley Strike, I'll have a Collier, Little Chance, The Bonnie Pit Laddie, Rap her to Bank/Jowl and Listen, Th' Coaler 



Programme 4                                   Spinners and Weavers                                     Duration 29.22


Singers Brian Peters

Margaret Peters

Harry Boardman

Instruments Wilf Darlington    - Fiddle

Lesley Boardman - Guitar/Mandolin


Alec Greenhalgh

Herbert Smith

Olive Shapley


Songs - The Weaver of Wellbrook, The Bard's Reformation, Handloom Weavers' Lament, The Little Piecer, Billy Suet's Song, Peterloo, Short time come again no more, Sewing Class Song, Along the Rossendale  



Programme 5                                   Horse and Power                                     Duration 24.48


Singers Brian Peters

Margaret Peters

Harry Boardman

Instruments Brian Peters - Melodeon/Guitar

Wilf Darlington    - Fiddle

Lesley Boardman - Mandolin


Alec Greenhalgh

Herbert Smith

Peter Wheeler


Songs - The Jolly Waggoner, Handloom versus Powerloom, Great Western Railroad, SS Great Britain, The Manchester Canal, The Fireman's not for Me 

Brian Peters recalls the preparation of these programmes:

"I do remember complaining to Harry that he'd given me all the wordy broadsides to sing, like the Great Western Railway (awful stuff: "The Great Western Railway will beat them all hollow, and whoever first thought of it was a wonderful fellow"), while Steve Mayne and Mary Humphries got all the grand ballads.  Harry's reply was something like, "That's because you'll make them sound like decent songs", which was a bit of a compliment from him.  I still have most of the lyric sheets in my file.  "The Manchester Ship Canal" stayed in my repertoire (and Harry took it up, too, after I'd made a "decent song" out of it!), and I was also flattered to be asked to sing "The Miners' Lockout", which I'd always thought of as "Harry's song" since hearing it on "Owdham Edge".


Programme 6                                   Follow the Drum                                     Duration 29.22


Singers Mary Humphreys

Steve Mayne

Harry Boardman

Bob Morton

Instruments Nick Dennerley    - Recorder

Bob Morton           - Guitar


Alec Greenhalgh

Peter Wheeler


Songs - Light Horse, Bonny Light Horseman, Arthur McBride, Recruited Collier, The Drum Major, Willie McBride 


The Ballads of Britain were a further six programmes whose topics were:



Crime & Punishment

Lockouts and Strikes

Fairs, Wakes & Sporting Blades

Navvy on the Line

The programmes featured Harry, Bob Morton, Brian Peters, Steve Mayne, Nick Dennerley, Lesley Boardman, Wilf Darlington and Mary Humphreys plus Enzo Puzzovio - a hurdy-gurdy player hired for the recordings.

More information about these programmes to follow.


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