Harry Boardman - A Lancashire Mon
Photograph courtesy of Roger Liptrot
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)
Gary and Vera Aspey
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
JAMIE KNOWLES – Violin
JOE BEARD - Guitars & Vocal, Writer
LES RENSHAW - Mandolin &Vocal
DI ROBINSON – Vocal
GERRY ROBINSON – Mandolin
TONY MOSS – Bass
STEVE BRADLEY – Drums
The running order at that time (since improved and added to) accompanied by
narration and sound effects was:
1. SKYLINE/ THE EDGE (OF TIME) - Instr.
2. THE WIZARD - song
3. SLEEPING KNIGHTS - Instr.
4. THE EAGLE CHILD - song
5. ELLEN BECK - song
6. THE WIZARD`S WELL - song
7. THE SPELL IS BROKEN - song
8. KNIGHT OF THE ROAD - song
9. JOHN EVAN`S VIOLIN - song
10. WALPURGISNACHT - song
11. AD LUNAM-DANCE FROM THE EDGE
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.
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
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
Programme 2 Hunting The Whale Duration 26.20
Programme 3 A Collier Laddie Duration 28.09
Programme 4 Spinners and Weavers Duration 29.22
Programme 5 Horse and Power Duration 24.48
Programme 6 Follow the Drum Duration 29.22
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.