HOWDON FOR JARROW

Oliver Heslop wrote this song in 1879 when industrial Tyneside was reaching its peak with shipyards, foundries, rope, and chemical works proliferating along both banks of the Tyne. There had been a ferry running between the towns of Howdon and Jarrow since the mid-1800s, the crossing possibly being first established in the Middle Ages when a ford is thought to have been located here.  Heslop paints a vivid picture of the area surrounding the ferry crossing, albeit a rather romantic view given the river pollution together with the smoke and chemicals that would have been streaming into the air in those times.  Nevertheless, his song gives us a colourful glimpse of working Tyneside, as told in an impeccable Geordie dialect.  You can access the online glossary of dialect words by clicking on any highlighted word.

Palmers shipyard, Jarrow in 1858 (image courtesy Newcastle City Library)

HOWDON FOR JARROW
(Tune: Chapter of Donkeys)

O, ye taak aboot travels an’ voyages far,
But thor’s few beats the trip fre’ the toon te the bar,
As ye gan doon te Tinmuth ye’ll hear the chep shoot,
“Here’s Howdon for Jarrow, maa hinnies loup oot!

Howdon for Jarrow, Howdon for Jarrow,
Howdon for Jarrow, maa hinnies loup oot!”

When yen hes been doon bi’ the side o’ the Tyne,
An’ seen all the smoke an’ the chimlies se fine,
There’s mony a voice that is welcome nee doot,
But the bonniest soond that Aa knaa is ” Loup oot!

Howdon for Jarrow, Howdon for Jarrow,
Howdon for Jarrow, maa hinnies loup oot! “

Wallsend docks in 1910 (image courtesy Newcastle City Library)

Sin’ Aa knew the banks o’ wor aan bonny river,
There’s been changes gawn on, an’ there’s noo mair nor iver;
But the finest ov aa’, barrin’ change o’ the wind,
Is when the soft voice caalls, an’ then ye aal find,

Ye mun change here for Jarrow, Howdon for Jarrow,
Howdon for Jarrow, maa hinnies loup oot!

There’s chemicals, copper, coals, clarts, coke, an’ stone,
Iron ships, wooden tugs, salt, an’ sawdust, an’ bone,
Manure, an’ steam ingins, bar iron, an’ vitr’ol,
Grunstans an’ puddlers (Aa like to be litt’ral),

Howdon for Jarrow, Howdon for Jarrow,
Howdon for Jarrow, maa hinnies loup oot ! “

Palmers shipyard around the turn of the 19th century (image courtesy Newcastle City Library

Besides, on wor river we hev the big dredgers
That howks oot the muck, man, Aa’s sure we’re nee fledgers,
An’ then the greet hopper works like a wheelbarrow —
Ye’ll see’d if ye come doon te Howdon for Jarrow.

Howdon for Jarrow, Howdon for Jarrow,
Howdon for Jarrow, maa hinnies loup oot! “

Aa yence wis at London, and h’ard a chep shoot,
” Yor tickets I ” Aa ” Howdon for Jarrow! ” caaled oot;
He leuked se teun back that, ses Aa te me marrow,
“Here’s a chep, mun, that dissent knaa Howdon for Jarrow! “

Howdon for Jarrow, Howdon for Jarrow,
Howdon for Jarrow, maa hinnies loup oot! “

Palmers shipyard, Hebburn (image from

Thor’s Jack Scott, the puddler (just hear what a caaker),
Uphads that there surely is nee place like Waaker;
But Aa’ve elways thowt, for’ts the place Aa he grow’d in,
Yen may range thro’ the world, but thor’s nee place like Howdon!

Howdon for Jarrow, Howdon for Jarrow,
Howdon for Jarrow, maa hinnies loup oot!”

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