In Newcastle on Tyne ev’ry year,
On the Town Moor there is a fair,
The Hoppings in the last full week of June.
The largest travelling fair around,
Gets the show off the ground,
Race Saturday commencing at twelve noon.
CHORUS : Yes The Hoppings ev’ryone agrees,
Is a treat for all the family,
Rides for ev’ryone, old or young.
There are side shows to try your luck
Like roll a penny and hook a duck,
Ev’ryone is guaranteed some fun.
There are helter skelters, dodgem cars,
Hamburger stalls and coffee bars,
Waltzers, caterpillars and ghost trains.
And if you’re still feeling well,
There are ferris wheels and carousels,
Shuggy boats and kiddies’ aeroplanes.
There are shooting ranges, bingo stalls,
Objects to knock down with balls,
That’s if you want to win a prize.
In the boxing ring men have a go,
While other watch a striptease show,
Where the girls show a little more than thighs.
Words & Music by Wilf Mitford
From The Mitford Family album ‘That’s Northumbria’ (MM01)
Credits: Julia Mitford, Vocals; Wilf Mitford, Guitar; Pamela Mitford, Recorder; Helen Robson, Flute; Granny (Rosemary) Robson, Piano Accordion. Recorded & produced by Martin Hoile at Cluny Studios, Newcastle upon Tyne, October 1987.
Well it’s certainly funfair season in the North of England at this time of year. After recently sharing Dad’s song about The Cramlington Village Fair, next up is The Hoppings on The Town Moor in Newcastle, and of course Dad has a song for that!! This is beautifully timed as the Discovery Museum is celebrating 135 years The Hoppings.
The Hoppings Song was one of my favourites to sing as a child. I’m sure Dad would agree that his strong point was never tunes, but this is one that I really enjoyed singing because of the tune as much as the lyrics. I should add that the last verse was a bit of a surprise when I came to type it up. I haven’t seen that one before and you won’t hear it on the recording. As you can probably tell from my chipmonk like voice, I’m was only 9 when we recorded this album. Dad has often written verses for songs which couldn’t then be included in our live shows or recordings as they weren’t suitable for me & sis to sing or even to play along to. I could do a whole other blog on Dad’s more risque songs – but let’s get the folkie ones done first!
The song is a great snapshot of some of the offerings of the fair and brings back wonderful memories of our annual visits with the family. Unfortunately my sister didn’t have the same adventurous nature as me so often the fair was fraught with sibling spats as I’d try to negotiate my sister to come on rides with me – often, as the youngest, only able to go on if she came with me. I do remember at least once, though I’m sure it was more than once, going with my cousins and finding they were dare devils just like me and loved to go on the bigger scarier rides. If I thought the Cramlington fair was big then this was in a class all of its’ own. It was absolutely enormous and there was always a small fear of getting lost or seperated from the parents. In the early days you could park nearby on the sides of the road, but eventually I think we did park & ride, and then they set up a large carpark onsite. I also remember as I hit teens the frustration of the cost of the rides – we only had enough to go on about 3 or 4 rides when I wanted to go on them all!
The history of the fair is fascinating and goes back to the early 1800s. Not only was The Hoppings ‘the largest travelling fair around’ as Dad describes in the song, but according to Wikipedia the Town Moor is considered to be larger than Hyde Park & Hampstead Heath combined and even New York’s Central Park. There’s a fantastic history of the Town Moor Fair in the University of Sheffield’s National Fairground and Circus Archive. The land is an historic area for grazing cattle, so when the fair is not in town you can mostly see cows going about their business. The Freemen of the City have held grazing rights for hundreds of years, and the list of some of the more recent Freemen is occassionally a point of amusement for Geordies as this could mean notable people such as Nelson Mandela, Bob Geldof, Alan Shearer, Bobby Robson, and Brendan Foster could have brought their cows down for a graze at any time over the years.
That’s Northumbria by Wilf Mitford is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://mitfordmusic.wordpress.com/.