Yorkshire Songs of the Broad Acres

Yorkshire Songs of the Broadacres – 1971

Mike Donald, Skipton Folk Singer

Please click the tracks below to play on YouTube.

1. The Humber Fishing Boat
2. Fish Finger Armada
3. Visions of Cumbria
4. Bingo in the Morning
5. Whitby Smugglers Song
6. Leeds Town
7. Settle to Carlisle Railway
8. Terrible Knitters of Dent
9. The Swaledale Leadminers
10. More Like Blackpool Each Day
11. Land of the Old and Grey
12. Steam Train

Alternatively, please click below to see the full album play list on YouTube.

Mike Donald Folk Singer on YouTube

Mike Donald, Skipton Folk Singer


Mike Donald – Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Brain Murray – Electric Guitar, Electric Bass, Vocals
Bob Siddall – Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo
Les Martin – Backing Vocals
Ian Stewart – Backing Vocals

Sleeve Notes

THE HUMBER FISHING BOAT – Mike Donald spent his childhood within half a mile of the Humber and many of his family were directly involved in seafaring. Tales of trawling disasters and trips on the ferry to Grimsby and New Holland provided the background to this song, which was written with John Goacher.

FISH FINGER ARMADA – in periods of bad weather it was common to see the Russian trawling fleet sheltering in Scarborough and Bridlington bays. Was it Scarborough’s famous castle, marine land, zoo or top-class entertainment that attracted them – or Fylingdale’s Ballistic Early Warning Station?

VISIONS OF CUMBRIA – Yorkshires traditional image of smoking mill chimneys is grossly inaccurate. Equally untrue is the popular belief that the Lake counties consist of unspoilt scenery – this song contrasts their natural beauty with their industrial despoliation.

BINGO IN THE MORNING – Yorkshire is the largest county in Britain (3,923,359 acres). It has the steepest road (Rosedale chimney, 1 in 3), the oldest milestone (Lilla Cross, North York Moors), the largest open-air theatre (Scarborough) and the oldest mace (Hedon). It also has a large number of bingo halls!

WHITBY SMUGGLERS’ SONG – Between 1700 and 1850 the Yorkshire coastline received immense quantities of contraband from Holland and France and great profits were made. Armed Smugglers waged battle with the Crown within spy-glass range of Saltburn, Whitby, Staithes and Robin Hood’s Bay. John Andrew was not only gentleman but also “King of the Smugglers.” “The Mermaid” and the “Eagle” were exercise vessels, and the “Morgan Rattler” was a ship used for smuggling.

LEEDS TOWN – City Square in Leeds is the centre of perhaps the most hectic square mile in Yorkshire. Mike Donald worked for a publisher whose offices were within this area, and recommended that the best time to visit “the square” was 8:45 a.m. on a Wednesday Morning!

SETTLE-CARLISLE RAILWAY – The construction of the Midland main line over the Pennines from Settle to Carlisle in 1869-76 was the last heroic piece of railway construction without mechanical aids. It was built almost entirely by navvies, many of whom died from illness, accident – and drunken bouts of bare fist fighting. The line reaches a height of 1,169 feet above sea level at Ais Gill.

TERRIBLE KNITTERS OF DENT – Hand-knitting was a major industry in the dales along the Yorkshire/Westmorland border, supplying generations of British troops. The industry began to decline during the last century and the last surviving “knitters” died in the 1950s. Robert Southey in his book, “The Doctor” referred to “the terrible knitters ‘e Dent” – “terrible” meaning fearful and respected.

THE SWALEDALE LEADMINERS – The liveliness of past centuries can still be felt in the old mining areas of the Swaledale and Arkengarthdale fells. Through good and bad times, the miners worked hard sending the lead out of the dales on pack horse chains. They enjoyed their sports, drinking and poaching, and were renowned for their excellent bands. Swaledale became a farming community when competition forced the lead mines to close; some families went to Durham and Lancashire to mine coal and even to the lead mines in Spain.

MORE LIKE BLACKPOOL EACH DAY – This was Mike Donald’s tribute to his hometown of Skipton! Underlying the humour is the serious problem of how the Dales are suffering from the pressure of visitor numbers.

LAND OF THE OLD AND GREY – This song was written on a journey on the Settle-Carlisle railway from Appleby to Settle on a cold snowy day in the Christmas holiday in 1969. It describes the depopulation of the remote Dales as the railways close and bus services become fewer. In spite of the reduction in population, the village life is still very active, and the Dales people have much local pride. It is still said that one must be born on a Dales farm to succeed on one.

STEAM TRAIN – Although banished from British Rail, the steam engine remains very much alive in the memories of thousands of devotees. This song tells of the rise and decline of the steam railway, and its conquests as exemplified by the Woodhead tunnel through the backbone of Yorkshire.

Mike Donald began song-writing in the rhythm and blues idiom when at school in Hull. The first serious song “Settle-Carlisle Railway” was inspired by reading “The Dalesman” book of the same title. It was so successful, he decided to develop the idea of writing songs that had an educational value as well as appealing to folk enthusiasts and lovers of Yorkshire. Hence this record. Mike Donald made many appearances at folk clubs throughout the North. He lived in Skipton, North Yorkshire – ‘Gateway to the Yorkshire Dales’, and passed away in 1984 aged 41.

Record Label
Folk Heritage Recordings – UK label based in Wales. Specialised in folk and country music. Founded by Brian Horsfall and Alan Green

The Humber Fishing Boat– Written by Mike Donald and John Goacher
Fish Finger Armada– Written by Mike Donald
Visions of Cumbria– Written by Mike Donald
Bingo in The Morning– Written by Mike Donald
Whitby Smugglers’ Song – Written by Mike Donald
Leeds Town– Written by Mike Donald
Settle-Carlisle Railway– Written by Mike Donald
Terrible Knitters of Dent– Written by Mike Donald
The Swaledale Lead miners– Written by Mike Donald
More Like Blackpool Each Day– Written by Mike Donald
Land of The Old and Grey– Written by Mike Donald
Steam Train– Written by Mike Donald


Label – Folk Heritage Recordings ‎– FHR 021
Format – Vinyl, LP, 2 Different Covers
Country – UK
Released – 1971
Genre – Folk, World, & Country
Style – Folk

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