Report on Rimington Oral heritage project – launch concert held on 29 November 2019

The Rimington Oral Heritage project was launched at a lively concert held in the Memorial Institute on Friday 29 November 2019.

The project was inspired by a Lancashire night held in 2018 when Christine Thistlethwaite, a dialect poet, who until recently lived in Rimington, and ‘Trouble at’ Mill’ a Houghton folk group, both performed. At the end Lesley Marklew, from Rimington, and Graham Dixon the guitarist from Trouble at’ Mill, were surprised and dismayed to discover that no recordings of Christine performing her work existed.

Anxious not to lose a part of Rimington’s important oral heritage described in the lines of Christine’s dialect and narrative poetry, over the winter they were inspired to make a CD of Christine performing a collection of her poems entitled ‘In a Manner of Speykin’. That is, however, only a small proportion of her work and so the thought of recording more poems, along with villagers’ memories of Rimington and Middop’s heritage, inspired Lesley to apply for a Pendle Hill Fund grant, supported by Rimington Memorial Institute, to develop the Rimington Oral Heritage project, of which this concert was the start.

On Friday evening’s ‘Dialect Night’ Christine held everyone’s attention with a recital of more poems delivered in her inimitable fashion, much to the delight and amusement of the audience. ‘Trouble at’ Mill’ with Graham Dixon on guitar, accompanied by Bernadette Dixon’s lovely lilting voice, charmed the sixty strong audience with songs ranging from the humour of ‘The Day They Changed the Aisles at Aldi’ to the very moving song ‘1914 on Christmas Day’ based on the World War 1 Christmas truce football match.

Yorkshire was specifically represented by a reading from Kate Hooper, which the audience found highly entertaining, about a Swaledale farmer’s letter from 1860 proposing marriage. Lancashire’s industrial heritage was represented by the colourful Jennifer Reid singing several broadside ballads; songs from Lancashire’s Victorian towns and cities. She also performed a very lively and energetic traditional clog dance.

The evening’s performance finished with an emotional performance of ‘Bleggin’ Tahme’, one of Christine’s poems that Graham and Bernadette had set to their own beautiful tune.

It was clear from the audience’s response that there is a good deal of interest in ensuring that more of the local heritage is recorded. For the next phase of the project, it is hoped that younger village members will interview older members of the community who are willing to share their rich reserve of memories, and that finally a dedicated website will offer an exciting and informative treasurebox of Rimington’s heritage.

This project received funding from the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership’s Pendle Hill Fund, a community grants scheme which aims to support small scale landscape and heritage activity developed in the PHLP area. The Pendle Hill Fund and wider Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Click Here to hear Christine reading some of her poems >>

A Yorkshire proposal

Whilst sheltering from the Swaledale rain in Reeth in August 2019 Kate Hooper ventured into the village’s tiny Museum. What a gem! On the wall was a framed copy of the, letter written by a farmer to his 'tru luvve ' in 1866, which Kate recited at the oral Heritage concert.

Subsequently she received the following information from the museum’s curator:
‘’Delighted to know the Marriage Proposal is popular. The letter was copied out and given to us by an old lady in Reeth who in turn had received it from a farmer’s wife in Low Row. It is actually rather interesting as someone else said that the farmers Wife a Mrs Calvert, used to recite it at village ‘dos’. The story as told to me was that the lady who received the letter did not accept, but she kept it and passed it down in the family. I have tried to find out more but have failed. We have an amateur theatrical group in Reeth called the Artyfacts - they began in the Museum (hence Artefact) - and performed a 1948 Reeth Pantomime, the script of which we found in an old outhouse in Reeth. They then performed their own shows, and one lady - Judith Malton did a sketch in the form of a reply to the farmer, sadly I did not keep a copy. So thanks to the imagination and thespian skills of you and others the story continues to be enjoyed down the centuries.’’

Jennifer Reid

Jennifer Reid is a performer of 19thC Industrial Revolution broadside ballads and Lancashire dialect work song. After volunteering at Chetham's Library and the Working Class Movement Library, Jennifer completed an Advanced Diploma in Local History at Oxford University. Jennifer's work now takes her to Bangladesh, where she is testing the idea that the Industrial Revolution never stopped, it just moved to Dhaka. In April 2018, Jennifer spoke at the first ethnomusicography conference on the Indian sub-continent about her research into Bangladeshi and Mancunian weaving songs. She performed the following songs and also did some tradtional clog dancing.

Click here for more Jennifer Reid videos >>

Trouble at’ Mill

Bernadette & Graham Dixon have been entertaining audiences since 1988.They play all your favourite sing-along Folk Songs with the emphasis on fun.
They have been the recordists for Christine’s poems and when they heard Bleggin’ Time they set it to music.