Blackleg Miner

Lyric as sung by Dick Gaughan

It's in the evenin after dark
When the blackleg miner creeps to work
With his moleskin pants an dirty shirt
There goes the blackleg miner

He takes his pick an doon he goes
To hew the coal that lies below
But there's not a woman in this town row
Would look at a blackleg miner

Oh, Delaval is a terrible place
They rub wet clay in the blackleg's face
Around the pit-heaps they run a foot race
To catch the blackleg miner

Divvn't gan near the Seghill mine
Across the way they stretch a line
To catch the throat an break the spine
Of the dirty blackleg miner

Tak your tools an gear as well
An hoy them doon the pit of hell
Doon ye go an fare ye well
Ye dirty blackleg miner

So join the union while ye may
Don't wait until your dying day
For that may not be far away
Ye dirty blackleg miner


Song Notes

It's become quite common to hear people use the last verse as a chorus.

I find it fascinating that this song had become almost an antiquity until the 1984/85 Miners' Strike when it came roaring back to contemporary relevence.

The evidence of the placenames and the style of the language (although I've largely rendered it in "Standard English" here rather than give a Scot's attempts at writing "pitmatic"!) suggests its origins were in the Durham coalfield in the 19th century and I think it probably pre-dates the great Tommy Armstrong. I'm sure all the relevant info is in Lloyd's "Come All Ye Bold Miners" but my copy isn't to hand at the moment. When I find it, I'll update this with more precise info.

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