Swalwell Hoppings


The Hoppings came to Swalwell almost every year from at least when they were first recorded in the 1750s until the early 1960s. They were held on the ‘Hoppings Field’ which was located between what is now Ridley Gardens and Whickham Bank. They have recently started to return and are usually held at Blaydon Rugby Club, but from reports about previous hoppings, are quite tame in comparison.

The name ‘hoppings’ is believed to come from the Saxon word ‘hops’ meaning dances, but the hoppings were much more than that and included many kinds of competitions and sports. It became such an event that when they arrived in the village, school children were often given the day off.

The hoppings were traditionally held on Whit Monday and in 1758 an advertisement for the hoppings appeared proclaiming sports such as; `Dancing for Ribands, Grinning for tobacco, women running for smocks, foot races for men, ass races and a man who would eat a live cockerel, feathers entrails and all. In the song shown on the next page, 'Buckle-mouthed Jock' won Grinning for Tobacco (Gurning today?) and 'Slavering Nell' won the race for the smock. It was obviously a time for much enjoyment and a far cry from later Hoppings which were more of an automated fairground.

Swalwell Hoppings were so well known in the North East that a song was written about them. The music sheet for the tune and lyrics are shown below. The tune (playing) is also called by the other name of 'Paddy's Wedding'


Lads! myek a ring
An' hear huz sing
The sport we had at  Swalwell, O;
Wor merry play
O' th' Hoppen Day,
Ho'way, marrows, an' aw'll tell ye, O.
The sun shines warm on Whickham Bank,
Let's aw lye doon at Dolly's O,
And hear 'boot mony a funny prank
Played by the lads at Crowley's O.


O' Fal lal the dal la, Fal lal the da la, Fal lal the lal, lal the lal, lal lal
O; Fal lal the dal la, Fal lal the dal la Fal la the lal, lal, the di dee O.

There was Sam, O zoons,
Wiv's pantaloons,
An' gravat up ower his gobby, O;
An' Willie, thou
Wi' the jacket blue,
Thou was the varra Bobby, O.
There was knock-kneed Mat, wiv's purple suit,
An' hopper-hipp'd Dick aw yellow, O;
Greet Tom was there, wi' Hepple's aud coat,
An' buck-sheen'd Bob frae Stella, O.

When were were drest,
It was confest,
We shem'd the cheps frae Newcassel O;
So away we set
To wor toon gyet,
To jeer them aw as they pass'd us O.
We shouted some and some dung doon
Lobstrop 'us fellows we kicked them O;
Some culls went hyem, some crush'd to toon,
Some gat aboot by Whickham, O.

The spree came on--
The hat was won
By carrot-pow'd Jenny's Jacky, O.
What a fyece, begock!
Had buckle-mouthed Jock,
When he twined his jaws for the baccy, O.
The kilted lases fell sid pel-mell,
Wi'--Tally-i-o the Grinder, O;--
The smock was gi'en to slaverin Nell--
Ye'd dropp'd had ye been behind her, O.

Wor dance began
Aw'd buck-tyuthed Nan,
An' Geordy shou'd Jen Collin, O;
While the merry black,
Wi mony a crack,
Set the tambourine a-rolling, O.
Like wor forge-hammer, we bet sae true,
An' shuck Raw's hoose se soundly, O;
Tuff canna cum up wi' Crowley's crew,
Nor thump the tune se roundly, O.

Then Gyetside Jack,
Wiv's bloody back,
Wad dance wi' goggle-eyed Molly, O;
But up cam Nick,
An' gav' him a kick.
An' a canny bit kind o' fally, O.
That day a' Hawks's blacks may rue--
They got monny a varra sair clanker, O;
Can they de owse wi' Crowley's crew,
Frev a needle tiv an anchor, O.

What's that to say
To the bonny fray,
We had wi' skipper Robbin, O;
The keel bullies aw',
Byeth greet an' sma',
Myed a beggarly tide o' the hoppen, O.

G'eed Will cried "Ma-a, up lap aud Frank,
An' Robin that marry'd his dowter, O;
We hammered their ribs like an anchor shank,
They fand it six weeks after, O.

Bald-pyet Joan Carr
Wad hav a bit spar,
To help his marrows away wid, O,
But poor aud fellow,
He'd getten ower mellow,
So we doon'd byeth him an' Davy, O.
Then Petticoat Robin jumped up agyen,
Wiv's gully to marcykree huz, O;
But Winalaton Dan laid him flat wiv a styen,
Hurrah! for Crowley's crew, boys, O.

Their hash was sattled,
So off they rattled,
An' we jigged it up se hearty, O;
Wi' monny a shiver,
An' lowp se clivvor,
Can Newcassel turn oot sec a party, O
When wheis dyun ower the fiddlers went,
We staggered ahint se merry, O,
An' throo wor toon,till fairly spent,
Roar'd Crowley's crew an' glory, O'

(words from Conrad Blady's Byeuk O' Newcassel Sangs)








Copyright 2001-2013 David Newton