Get yourself to Beamish, the open air museum
‘The North of England’s heritage’ is its’ task and theme
Now Beamish has come of age since nineteen seventy
When it opened for the first time for all the world to see
Yes Beamish has come of age, it’s twenty one this year
So join the celebrations we hope to see you there
Down in the drift mine see the seam below
Where the miners dug the coal out, many years ago
View the pitmen’s cottages with tin baths in the yard
See the outside netties, life those days was hard
Walk up to the village or ride there on the trams
Call into the co-op that sold the pots and pans
Listen to the brass bands, in the park nearby
Playing on the bandstand for the passers by
Climb aboard a steam train to take you to the fair
Ride upon the carousels or try the flying chairs
Call into the farmyard, see the chickens, geese and hens
Cows and horses in the fields and piggies in their pens
Words & music by Wilf Mitford
Credits : Recorded at the Red Nose Studios in May 1991. Vocals: Julia Mitford; Guitar: Wilf Mitford; Violin: Pamela Mitford.
As is clear from the chorus, this song was written to commemorate 21 years of Beamish Museum, a wonderful historical village in the North of England complete with a mine, steam train, farm, shops, and houses and the even popular tram to get around. More than 21 years on from writing the song the museum is still going strong. In fact we took a visit their ourselves on a recent trip back to the UK.
Wilf is clearly passionate about the North of England and when he’s not capturing major historical events he seems to be promoting the wonderful sights of the area. This song gives a fabulous overview of what’s on offer at Beamish, and knowing his approach to writing it was either from one of their own promotional brochures (this was pre-internet days of course) or an article in the local newspaper. Other songs of this nature are Gateshead Garden Festival, Kielder Folk Festival, Great North Run, Hoppings Song, Cramlington Village Fair, and the original song that got this whole thing started – That’s Northumbria!
You may also see a theme in these songs of his writing style – very simply rhyming couplets. Wilf seems to think in rhyming couplets and many of these songs come to him very quickly. He’s been known to write them in one short sitting of as little as 15 minutes. I do remember him mulling over rhymes over a couple of days though when he was struggling to make something fit, and may have on occasion helped him out! Sometimes he’ll change lyrics years later as something about a particular rhyme just hasn’t flowed as he’d have liked. When he was first developing his love of music – playing & writing – the Beatles were his greatest idols and I think the simplicity of their earlier pop songs is reflected in this particular style of writing.
I remember absorbing this approach from him and excelling in the early poetry lessons at school, though admit that when tasked with writing something that wasn’t a rhyming couplet I’d fail miserably. My companion to any poetry task was always the Oxford Rhyming Dictionary and sadly I didn’t develop much beyond there. Alas most of my creative skills didn’t seem to develop much from the basics learned in childhood.
It seems rhyming is stuck with us. Wilf will often respond to something you say with a rhyme that’s also a punchline and I do love a good rhyming punchline in a song! And so the family tradition of claiming ‘you’re a poet and you didn’t know it’ continues! On the other side of my family my mum unwhittingly plays word association games with songs – another utterly useless but enjoyable habit I’ve picked up. You can say almost any sentence and either of us can burst into a related song by theme or lyrics. There’s no hope for me really….
Get Yourself to Beamsih 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/.