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Farewell Johnny Miner

[ Roud - ; DT FWJONMIN ; Mudcat 73142 , 172647 ; Ed Pickford]

The Northern Front (Nick Fenwick, Mike Elliott and Ed Pickford) sang Ed Pickford’s song Farewell Johnny Miner on the 1970 BBC anthology of songs from their radio series Folk on Friday. The album’s sleeve notes commented:

Ed Pickford—himself the son of a miner—wrote this song about three years ago. There is a reference to the notorious pre-nationalisation ‘sliding scale’—an inflexible scale of payment that took no heed of individual pits and the day to day changes in working conditions.

Tom Gilfellon sang Johnny Miner in 1976 on his Topic album In the Middle of the Tune. He noted:

When Arthur Scargill is president of The Amalgamated Union of European Power Workers and my mate Danny the Red is an arch moderate, then the sons of the Durham men who left home at the bidding of Alfred the Benign will still tell the tales of the seams where alligators were used for pit ponies and the rats were bow legged. This song of Eddie Pickford’s should be their anthem. The miners of the Notts, Derby and Yorkshire coalfields have recently proved to Johnny Miner that he is not the relic that those who demoralised the coal industry of the sixties would have had him believe he was. But for the people of Durham it’s too late, he’s gone to enrich other seams with his sweat and blood. One day I hope I’ll sing this with a brass band.

Dick Gaughan sang Johnny Miner in 1977 on his Highway/Trailer album Kist o’ Gold. He noted on his now defunct website:

Ed has written several songs which have become folk-club standards. The full relevance of this song became clear in the mass pit closures of the 1980s.

Battlefield Band sang Farewell Johnny Miner on their 1989 live album Home Ground.

Bob Fox and Benny Graham sang Farewell Johnny Miner in 1995 on their Fellside album of songs of the mining communities of North East England, How Are You Off for Coals? and the Pitmen Poets (Billy Mitchell, Bob Fox, Benny Graham, and Jez Lowe) sang it on their eponymous 2015 album The Pitmen Poets. Bob Fox noted on the first album:

Written at the time of the Lord Robens closures, it is an anthem that you can’t help singing—the mark of a timeless song.

Bob Davenport and The Rakes sang Johnny Miner in 1997 on their Fellside album The Red Haired Lad.

Alistair Russell sang Farewell Johnny Miner on his 2002 album A19. He noted:

This song comes from the first big wave of colliery closures some thirty years ago, and the process continues to this day. I grew up in mining areas, and my father started his career in the mining industry. The best political songs make their point forcibly, with few words, just like this one.

Luc McNally sang Farewell Johnny Miner on his 2016 EP.

George Welch and Christine Jeans sang Farewell Johnny Miner in 2018 on the anthology of “North East singers singing a North East songwriter: Ed Pickford”, The Hooky Mat Project.


Please find the lyrics for this song at Ed Pickford’s website.