Welcome to the Dragon Folk Club

Welcome to the official blog of the Dragon Folk Club, which meets for a singers night every Friday at The Bridge Inn, Shortwood, Bristol. Everyone is welcome whether you sing, play or just listen.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Aberfan 50

Rescuers working at the site of the Aberfan disaster
Last week's session had no official theme but one major theme emerged. It was the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster when a colliery spoil tip collapsed, killing 116 children and 28 adults. This inspired many of the songs though some other minor themes also emerged.

Colin was MC and Derek started the Aberfan theme with a song which wasn't written about that disaster but had an appropriate feel: Number Two Top Seam (Roger Watson).

Mike sang a version of Max Boyce's Duw It's Hard with a verse about Aberfan. Geoff sang New York Mining Disaster 1941 (Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb), ostensibly about a fictional American disaster which, although Geoff didn't realise it when he sung the song, was actually inspired by the Aberfan disaster.

Richard followed a Welsh mining theme with David Llewellyn's award winning song, Take Us Down while Lesley took us back to Max Boyce for his poem, Aberfan.

Colin had apparently been waiting years for the Aberfan anniversary to fall on a Dragon Folk Club night, eager to sing The Aberfan Coal Tip Tragedy (Thom Parrott) and this was his chance.

Chris gave us two of her Welsh songs with Watching the Wheat (Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn by Wil Hopcyn) and David of The White Rock (Dafydd Y Garreg Wen - David Owen, John Ceiriog Hughes).

Roger gave us food for thought. In 1966 he had just moved to Newport as a policeman and on the 21 October he received a telephone call asking for reinforcements at Aberfan. They sent as many men as they could afford who ended up cleaning bodies in the village hall. At the time of the tragedy there was no organised disaster strategy in the UK; each emergency service and some other organisations believed they should be in charge of the rescue effort. After the experiences of that time the government ruled that in future disasters the police force should be in charge. It seems that it was also the catalyst for amalgamating the small local police forces into the larger regional forces we have today. Roger later became Emergency Planning Officer for the Avon and Somerset force and so the effects of Aberfan influenced his career for years to come. After telling us his tale we didn't need a song from Roger nor was he able to sing us one.

Derek told us that his song Waiting For The Pit Bus was written by Vera Rutherford but I'm afraid that didn't help me to find a reference for either the song or the author. Mike's singing of Morley Main by Keith Marsden was easier to trace.

There were other Welsh songs and other mining songs but by now the Aberfan theme was mainly played out.

Simon won't be around for this week's Halloween session (28 October 2016), so he used the evening to bring out his spooky songs: She Moved Through The Fair (Roud 861), The Monster Mash (Bobby "Boris" Pickett, Leonard Capizzi) and Boys of Bedlam (music by Nic Jones and Dave Moran). Remember to bring your songs and tales of mystery and horror to the Halloween session this week.

The evening was completed by Derek, who sang Bound For Baltimore (Roud 4690).

Here's a selection of songs sung during this session.

(Number of people present - 11, of whom 10 performed)

1 comment:

  1. Re Vera Rutherford. In 1951 Bert Lloyd organized a competition through Coal, which was the house magazine of the National Coal Board, for songs related to mining, whether traditional, 'collected' or self penned. They got about 100 entries which Bert used as the basis for Come All Ye Bold Miners. I don't know what won, but Vera, who was the wife of a miner, came either 2nd or 3rd. The person who might be able to tell you more is Bert Draycott, who is still alive. He would only have been in his early 20s but I am pretty sure he once told me that he had entered the competition.