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The Tour of the Dales / The Song of Upper Wharfedale

The Song of Upper Wharfedale, City of Bradford Metropolitan Council, 1972 [ Roud 3183 ; William Foster]

William Foster of Beckermonds wrote The Song of Upper Wharfedale in 1900 for the coronation of Edward VII. The text below is derived in part from a recording made by his nephew Jack Foster in 1971 (printed in English Dance & Song 35:1 (1973) pp.26-27). This recording became the catalyst for an ancestral research project organised by Trevor Sharpe and members of the Buttershaw Youth Centre in Bradford. This resulted in the publication of their book The Song of Upper Wharfedale (City of Bradford Metropolitan Council, 1972), exploring the history, traditions and folklore of the area. The song itself is a virtual Who's Who of Langstrothdale at the dawn of the 20th century.

The Watersons sang a variant of this, The Tour of the Dales, in 1966 on their album on A Yorkshire Garland. Like most of the tracks from this LP, it was re-released in 1994 on the CD Early Days. A.L. Lloyd commented in the original album's sleeve notes, obviously not knowing about William Foster:

A rare masterpiece of song exclusive to the glorious country of Teesdale, Swaledale, Wharfedale, a concise guide and Who's Who of the district, how long ago? And who made the song? Perhaps the village school-teacher, Mr Sims, who makes a sly appearance in the final verse. The Watersons collected this fine memorial of time past from Mick Taylor, a 64-year-old sheepdog trainer from the Wensleydale village of Hawes, in the Pennines.

Mr Taylor's version is very long, and the singers have trimmed it a bit for the record.

Someone with the nickname Imor posted a version of The Song of Wharfedale in the Ilkley More Community Forum for Ilkley & Wharfedale in 2009. It is very similar to what the Watersons sing but has some more verses, possibly those that the Watersons left out of Mr Taylor's version. Imor commented:

I first came across this in Skipton when researching a guide book for that area of the Dales. As pointed out the music etc., is all but forgotten. […] No-one sings the song nowadays at The George Inn, Hubberholme, but they have heard of it. So has Violet Robinson of Hazlewood, though she cannot remember the words or the tune. The Skipton Folk Club are looking into the enigma of its origins and music.

Lyrics

William Foster: The Song of Upper Wharfedale

Though Langstrothdale Chase cannot boast of being long
It's often been put into rhyme and to song.
But I'll not sing of the dale itself,
But about the good folks who in it do dwell.

Foremost and first of High Greenfield I'll tell,
Where you'll find Jeffrey and Ninian as well;
Jeff is renowned for the pigeons he's shot,
Ninian is known for the photos he's got.

Low Greenfield I'll sing with its grand shooting box,
Its weather cock swinging, I think it's a fox.
Albert is coachman and butler as well,
While Ned rears the stock for John Gill to sell.

Beckermonds comes next, in the valley so low,
There you'll find Foster and Beresford also.
Foster's a man with a heart for the grouse;
While Beresford sings a good song in Lodge House.

Let's call at George Beresford's, up at Cowside,
Hen keeping and making great pigs is his pride;
He owns the New House, but he doesn't there stay,
Nothing lives there but a ghost as folks say…

Deepdale comes next at the foot of Sty Gill,
With Peacock and Rowland and Ottie and Will,
Peacock has fame for the lambs he could raise,
While Ottie's a horse judge that all men can praise.

At Yockenthwaite dwelling with pick and with spade,
Old George for a long time our good roads has made,
Beresford John with his gun he goes out,
While Lodge Tom and Anty are somewhere about.

Raisgill's the next stop just over the green,
Captain good bottle can often be seen.
Ottiewell's gone over there to reside,
And brought his wife to live by his side.

Grace Pawson is next, she keeps the George Inn,
There's Bob Lodge and Tom Lodge that loves to drop in.
And Parson is next and he's very good,
And you'll find Dixon just under the wood.

Ben Lofthouse is next, keeps the White Lion Inn,
The odd pair of trotting horses the prize for to win.
And Robinson's next, with his land near and far,
And with him live Dick Hill and Lambert and Sahr.

Then back we return you to Oughtershaw Hall,
You'll find his families there if you give him a call.
Next house you come to you'll find Mr. King
And he's a good parson when he learns folk to sing.

Old Turnbull comes next, and he keeps a small shop,
You can buy anything there from needles to pop.
And granny is next, just in the next street,
A grander old lady you can't wish to meet…

Then Netherghyll's next, and no-one lives there,
But Frank minds the stock with very great care.
And Swarthgill is next, and it's rather dull,
It's where they caught Big Fish and tried to kill t'bull.

But Cam Houses is next, high up on the hillside,
Where Sander and Alick and Bob doth reside,
Oh Bob likes his nap and he likes a good call
And Alick does baking and washing and all.

And Willie Thwaite's next and he lives at his ease,
He's getting so many prizes for butter and cheese,
And Margaret is next in her snug little cot,
And Chapman and Wylie and we've put in the lot!

Oh me fadam, ri fadam
Ri fol di ri adam ri oh!

Ilkley More's The Song of Wharfedale The Watersons sing The Tour of the Dales

Now the world has strange places that never was known,
And you're now in the strangest and you now will be shown,
Oh, the names all been given to women and men,
And where they've all come from and how and just when.

Chorus (after each verse):
Tally-ho! Tally-ho!
Foddy-idden, ry-fidden, trol-fol-da-rol-idden ry-do.

Foremost and first of High Greenfield I'll tell,
Where you'll find Jeffery and Ninian as well;
Jeff is renowned for the pigeons he's shot,
Ninian is known for the photo's he's got.

Now the foremost and first is High Greenfield I'll tell;
There you'll find Jeffrey and Ninian as well.
And Jeffrey is known for the pigeons he's shot
And Ninian is known for the photos he's got.

Low Greenfield I'll sing with its grand shooting box,
Its weathercock swinging - I think it's a fox.
Albert is coachman and butler as well,
While Ned rears the stock for John Gill to sell.

Beckermonds comes next in the valley so low,
There you'll find Foster and Beresford also.
Foster's a man with a heart for the grouse,
Beresford sings a good song in Lodge House.

Now Beckermonds comes next in the valley so low;
There you'll find Foster and Beresford also.
And Foster's a man that is out for the grouse
And Beresford sings a good song in Lodge's House.

Let's call at George Beresford's up at Cowside,
He holds the New House, but he doesn't there stay,
Nothing lives there but a ghost as folks say.

Deepdale comes next at the foot of Sty Gill,
With Peacock and Rowland and Ottie and Will.
Peacock has fame for the lambs he could raise,
Ottie's a horse judge that all men can praise.

Now old Teesdale comes next at the foot o' Sty Gill;
There you'll find Peacock, Rowland, Ottie and Will.
And Peacock is known for the good lambs he's raised
And Ottie's an 'oss judge which all men can praise.

Turnbull is next and he keeps a good shop,
Nothing he's short of from needles to pop.
Granny is cosy just in the next street,
A nicer old lady no one can meet.

Look how Willie Thwaite can live at his ease
With winning such prizes for butter and cheese.
Margaret knits on in her neat little cot,
Chapman and Wylie make up a good lot.

Netherghyll comes next, but no one lives there,
So Frank minds the stock with very great care.
Swarthghyll is bonny, and cannot be dull,
They caught the big fish, and tried to dill t'bull.

Now Netherghyll comes next but there's no-one lives there;
Only Frank minds the stock with the greatest of care.
While Swarthgill is funny and cannot be dull,
But that's where the bold kingfisher tried to kill t'bull.

Cam Houses are yonder; up the hillside,
Sander and Alick and Bob there reside.
Beautiful Wharfedale, so sweet and so fair,
Nowhere in England can with thee compare!

Cam Houses comes next, it's upon yon hillside;
There's Sander and Alick and they both there reside.
Oh, beautiful Wharfedale, so sweet and so fair!
Well, there's nowhere in England with thee can compare!

At Yockenthwaite dwelling, with pick and with spade,
Old George for a long time our good roads has made.
Beresford John with his gun he goes out,
While Lodge, Tom and Anty are somewhere about.

Raisgill's the next spot just over the green,
Captain's good bottle can often be seen.
Ottiwell's gone over there to reside
And brought his fair wife to live by his side.

Now Raisgill comes next, it's just over yon green;
It's there Captain Goodbottle can often be seen.
And Ottie, he's gone over there to reside
And he's taken his good wife to live by his side.

Grace Pawson's the next, she keeps the George Inn,
Many a good Dalesman ken's th' taste of her gin.
Hard by lives the parson, he's very good,
While old Edmund Dixon's snug under the wood.

Grace Pawsons comes next and she keeps the George Inn;
There's many a good Dalesman has tasted her gin.
And the parson lives out t'back but he's very good
And there's Larriott and Dixon live snug under t'wood.

Ben Lofthouse loves Cray and his White Lion Inn,
While his grand trotting horse the prizes does win.
Robinson's out on his land near and far,
It's there you'll find Dick Hill, Lambert and Sahr.

Ben Lofthouse loves Cray and the White Lion Inn;
With his grand trottin' osses, the prizes he'd win.
While Robinson is out on the land near and far,
It's there you'll find Dick Hill and Lambert and Sahr.

Now back we return to Oughtershaw Hall,
Its fir trees, flowers, and grand waterfall.
Look in at the school and you'll see Mr Simms
Teaching bairns songs, recitations and hymns.

So now I'll return you to Oughtershaw Hall,
Wi' the flowers and the fir trees and the grand waterfalls.
Look in at the school and you'll find Mr Simms;
He's teaching bad poetry, recitations and hymns.

Acknowledgements and Links

I got William Foster's verses from Jim Jarrett's page on The Song of Upper Wharfedale.

Steve Willis transcribed The Tour of the Dale from the singing of the Watersons long before I found the Wharfedale originals. I corrected a few misheard places and names to the ones in the original song and stuck to the original names even when Mike Waterson pronounced them differently (e.g. Jeffrey instead of Mike's Jethro, Alick instead of his Ellen).