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singer, songwriter, comedian, author, poet, broadcaster and multi-instrumentalist

A Lancashire Lad


A SIDE
The German clockwinder
The Walls of Jericho
The Lancashire lads
Three ha’pence a foot
The hand weaver and the factory maid
The keyhole in the door

B SIDE
The number 81 bus
The cock and the ass
Sodom and Gomorah
July Wakes
The Hattersley lament

First released 1972

LER2039


Recorded live at
The Ring o’ Bells, Middleton
Manchester Sorts Guild
Wood St. Social Club, Middleton
Crumpsall Cocoa Temperence Rooms
Old Bluebell, Warrington

Instrument: Bernard Wrigley plays piano and bass and tenor concertina
Mike Harding plays banjo, mandolin, guitar and tenor concertina

Recorded and produced by Bill Leader
Sleeve by Humphrey Weightman
Photography by Dick Gaughan
Sleeve printed and made by MacNeill Press Limited
London SE1
First released 1972


To try and give a picture of Mike Harding in words is a difficult task. What immediately strikes one on hearing him, is his natural ability and humour. His sympathy for traditional song is self evident and he has collected and re-vitalised many songs from his native Lancashire that otherwise might have been lost. To write about Mike without at some time mentioning his humour would be impossible, it springs from and blends with the songs he sings without being shallow and inappropriate. It is quite obvious that his enjoyment of his songs, coupled with his ability to make an audience enjoy themselves have already put him on a sound footing in the folk song clubs.

Dave Burland

“Hence come our rambling ballads and our new found songs and sonnets which every rednose fiddler hath at his finger ends and every ignorant ale knight will breathe forth over the pot as soon as his brain waxeth hot.”

Thomas Nashe Anatomy of Absurdities 1589

My thanks to Mick Heywood for The cock and the ass, Paul Graney for The clockwinder and Keyhole in the door, Stan Ellison for July Wakes and Bert Lloyd for The handweaver. My thanks also to Jack and Norman Froggart, Shaun, Jenks and Tony and the many licencees and publicans who helped to make this record by getting me so pissed. Thanks to Bill for listening with such good grace, to Helen for her reassurance and to my able accompanist and friend of many years Bernard Wrigley.

Mike Harding



The German clockwinder
The horological giglio who is the hero of this somewhat Decamaronesque tale has his European counterpart in an epic Ukrainian ballad The one eyed commode maker which in turn may be traced back to an Indian epic tale from the Bhagavad Ghita. One may wonder how this pre-christian Indian tale found its way to industrial Lancashire in the 1970’s. The last clockwinder in England was run over by a Spanish onion seller’s bike during the Rose of Cleckheaton Festival of 1921.

The walls of Jericho
A cautionary tale culled from the annals of St. Isaac Cohen’s School, Cheetham Hill. St. Cohen, according to Bede’s History of the English Church and Peoples, is the patron saint of delicatessens and second hand car salesmen.

The Lancashire lads
In the hey days of Young England and The Boys Own Paper, gun boat diplomacy carried our brave lads to far flung corners of the world to subdue blackamoors and heathens in steaming Moss Side and the Veldt of Oswaldwistle. In those farewell days large numbers of fainting and delirious females could be seen in the streets of our ports and many an enterprising lad who was handy with his Sal Volatile could earn a pretty penny reviving young ladies with the vapours in shop doorways.

Three ha’pence a foot
An apocryphal bible tale culled from the recently discovered Rochdale Canal Sea Scrolls. Study of these texts would indicate that the lot fell upon Ahab.

The hand weaver and the factory maid
Learnt from the singing of A. L. Lloyd.

The keyhole in the door
A very coarse and unpallatable diatribe in honour of voyeurism that I have included because of the rare modal tune. the words are of little consequence and are said to have been written by Pope Clement III in one of his lighter moments.

The number 81 bus
Into the world of Daemons and Boggarts that is so much a part of Lancashire lore comes a ghost bus. Manchester Corporation’s answer to the Maria Celery and the Flying Dutchcap.

The cock and the ass
An uplifting and edifying tale that was commisioned jointly by the Batley Truss Warehouse Revival Society and the Yorkshire Washerwoman’s Guild. Learnt from rubicond and impish Mick Heywood, Grand Signor of Batley and West Riding Bed Tent Makers and Kneetremble champion of Dewsbury. It is possible that the ballad springs from an early Icelandic saga described by Thor Cleggson in which the old fertility myths were personified in the Hero and Heroine of the Ice. The hero, wearing a giant wooden phallus with budgies painted on the end, clubs the heroine’s donkey to death with it. From the donkey’s teeth which are then scattered into the ground rise the seven cities of the plains, Oldham, Reyjavik etc.

Sodom and Gomorah
Not only can it make you go blind but it can set fire to your tripe shops as well. A cautionary tale learned when I was a girl guide in Crumpsall.

July Wakes
Wakes are the annual cotton holidays enjoyed by the Lancashire cotton towns. I once rode my bike through Burnley in the middle of wakes week and thought I’d gone deaf. Even the birds had gone to Blackpool or Costa del Rhyll. The only moving things were the hands on the town hall clock.

The Hattersley Lament
Manchester’s latest and greatest new housing estate. It is the custom on council estates to keep the bath in the coalhouse and to burn the floorboards when the new central heating breaks down. It is said that the architect who designed Hattersley visited the estate last year. His guide dog didn’t like it either. This song can be heard every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night on any of the many last buses that file out of Piccadily headed for the dreary millionaire infested steppes of Cheshire.