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Celebrating 150 Years Of The Blaydon Races

8 years ago
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It might not be sung quite as often at St.James’ Park these days but ‘The Blaydon Races’ is synonymous with Newcastle United, another layer that makes Newcastle Upon Tyne/Newcastle United that bit more special, a tad more unique.

The famous tune has even been adapted (stolen!) by the fans of Walsall, Manchester United, Shrewsbury Town, Brighton, Bolton, Blackburn, AFC Wimbledon, Portadown & Glenavon (both Northern Ireland) and…the mackems. Though ‘gawn alang’ to see ‘The Roker Aces’ or the Busby equivalent hasn’t quite got the same ring to it.

Geordie Ridley sang the song at a concert in Balmbra’s Music Hall on 5 June 1862 but the 150th anniversary is based around the date in the words of the song;

‘Aw went to Blaydon Races, ’twas on the ninth of Joon,

Eiteen hundred an’ sixty-two, on a summer’s efternoon’

The Blaydon Races and Fair was a major event in the 19th and early 20th century, last being held in 1916.

A marvellous painting by William C.Irving captures the whole character (and characters!) of the song and stunning prints are available to buy here or by clicking the image at the top of the article (a guide to the various famous characters in the print is featured here on the left). While a classic mug commemorating the song/event is available to buy here or by clicking the image.

Thankfully the song has kept this wonderful story alive and some great people have made sure that the 150th anniversary is not going unnoticed.

Visit the excellent official website and facebook page to find out more about the programme of activities which we’ve outlined below.

The centrepiece will of course be the annual 5.9 mile road race that will take place at 6pm on the 9th June, as usual starting from Balmbra’s and a hearty rendition of the song (with added cancan dancers!) before the runners set off. This is preceded by the Kiddars’ Fun Run which is open to 9-16 year olds.

Also featuring in the programme of events is Balmbra’s re-opening for a one-off night of comedy featuring The Mag’s very own Gavin Webster, while Alan Shearer will be renaming one an East Coast train, so it will carry the famous song title.

In addition there will be events held in places as diverse as Clerkenwell in London, Maryland in USA and Newcastle Greyhounds in…Newcastle.

Naturally public houses feature heavily in the celebrations and the Hotspur, Crown Posada, Warerooms, Free Trade and The Bridge will all be hosting events, while outside Newcastle the likes of The Black Bull (Blaydon) and 3 Tuns (Gateshead) will be adding to the spectacle.
 Click the image or here to order this classic piece of history.

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