Saturday, 31 December 2016

Tommy Armstrong

Why Tommy Armstrong's Tea Room in East Tanfield station building?
Jack & Sarah in Tommy Armstrong's, which is on the site of East Tanfield Colliery
Tommy Armstrong (1848-1920)
Tommy lived around Tanfield and was a miner at East Tanfield Colliery.   He & his brothers hewed coal which was led to the Tyne by horse and stationary engine power on the Tanfield Branch, and witnessed the modernization & introduction of locos on the line.

Tommy & pals outside the Oak Tree at Tantobie

Tommy was a trapper boy by the age of about 9, but before that had a basic schooling from which he learned English language and grammar, which showed in his lyrics & poetry.   As the pitman poet of Tanfield, he is renowned locally & nationally for his humorous work, and social commentary on the lot of the miner - he would have known the bond, strikes, lockouts, candymen and disasters.

Tommy is buried in St Margaret's, Tanfield Village

We would like to develop the Tommy Armstrong theme in the tea room with the assistance of the Tommy Armstrong Society & Sunniside LHS (click these links for more information).   ET waiting room and the ET shed development will carry other displays & exhibitions.

One of Tommy's popular songs is Wor Nanny's a Mazer - this rendition on Youtube is by the Durham Light Infantry choir.

Wor Nanny and me myed up wor minds
te gan and catch the train,
For te gan te the Toon te buy some claes
for wor little Billy and Jane;
But when we got to Rowlands Gill
the mornin' train wes gyen,
And there was ne mair te gannin' that way
till siventeen minutes te one.
So aa says te wor Nan, "Its a lang way te gan,"
aa saa biv hor fyece she wes vext;
But aa says, "Nivvor mind, we hev plenty o'time,
so we'll stop and gan in wi' the next"
She gov a bit smile, when aa spoke up and said,
"There's a pubbilick hoose alang heor,
We'll gan alang there and hev worsels warmed,
and a glass of the best bittor beor"
Nan wes se' stoot aa knew she'd not waak,
and she didn't seem willin' te try;
When aa think o'the trubble aa'd wiv hor that day,
If aa liked aa cud borst oot and cry.

Aye, wor Nannie's a mazer,
and a mazer she'll remain,
As lang as aa leeve,
aa winnet forget,
the day we lost the train.

So away we went te the pubbilick hoose,
and when we got te the door,
She says, "We'll gan inti the parlor end
For aa've nivvor been heor afore".
So in we went and teuk wor seats,
and afore aa rung the bell,
Aa axed hor what she was gannin' te hev,
"Why," she says, "The syem as yorsel"
So aa caalled for two gills o'the best bittor beor,
She paid for them when they com in;
But after she swalleyed three parts of hor gill,
She said, "Bob, man, aa'd rather hev gin."
So aa caalled for a glass o'the best Hollands gin,
And she gobbled it up the forst try;
Says aa te wor Nan, "Thoo's as gud as a man"
She says, "Bob man, aa felt varra dry."
So aa caalled for another, and that went the same way;
Aa says, "That'll settle thee thorst."
She says, "Aa've had two, and aa's nee better now
than aa was when aa swally'd the forst."


She sat and drank till she got tight;
She says "Bob man, aa feel varra queer."
"Why", aa says, "Thoo's had nine glasses o'gin
Te maa three gills o'beor."
She lowsed hor hat and then hor shaal,
And hoyed them on te the floor;
Aa thowt she was gan te gan wrang in hor mind,
So aa sat mesel close by the door.
She says, "Give iss order, aa'll sing a bit sang"
Aa sat and aa glowered at hor;
Aa thowt she wes jokin', for aa'd nivvor hard,
Wor Nanny sing ony before.
She gave iss a touch of 'The Row in the Gutter',
She pleased every one that was there.
There was neebody in but wor Nanny and me,
and aa laughed till me belly was sair.
She tried te stand up for te sing the 'Cat Pie',
But she fell doon and myed sic a clatter,
She smashed fower chairs, and the landlord com in,
And he said, "What the deuce is the matter?"


The landlord says, "Is this yor wife,
And where de ye belang?"
Aa says, "It is, and she's teun a fit
Wi' tryin' te sing a bit sang"
He flung his arms aroond hor waist;
And trailed hor acroos the floor,
And Nan, poor sowl, like a dorty hoose cat,
Was tummelled oot-side o'the door.
There she wes lyin', byeth groanin' and cryin',
Te claim hor aa reely thowt shyem;
Aa tried for te lift hor, but aa cudden't shift hor,
Aa wished aa had Nanny at hyem.
The papor man said he wad give hor a ride,
So we lifted hor inti the trap:
But Nan was that tight, she cudden't sit up,
So we fasten'd hor doon wiv a strap;
She cudden't sit up, she wadden't lie doon,
She kicked till she broke the convaince:
She lost hor new basket, hor hat and hor shaal,
That mornin' wi lossin' the train.

More Songs of Tommy Armstrong on Vimeo 

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