> Folk Music > Songs > The Rout of the Blues / Salisbury Plain / Scarborough Sands

The Rout of the Blues / Salisbury Plain / Scarborough Sands

[ Roud 21098 ; Master title: Rout of the Blues ; Ballad Index ReSh082 ; VWML CJS2/9/2179 ; Bodleian 3026 ; Mudcat 6482 ; trad.]

Robin and Barry Dransfield sang Rout of the Blues in 1970 as the title track of their Trailer album The Rout of the Blues. This track was also included in 1997 on their Free Reed anthology Up to Now. They commented in their original album’s liner notes:

The Royal Horse Guards are known as the Blues. This song about their mustering was put together by Barry from The Idiom of the People, Ingledew’s Yorkshire Ballads, and a vaguely remembered tune learned originally from Dave Howes of York.

Dave Hillery sang Scarborough Sands in 1971 on his and Harry Boardman’s Topic album of popular songs and verse from Lancashire and Yorkshire, Trans Pennine. They noted:

Some years ago Dave Hillery came across Scarborough Sands in Holroyd’s Collection of Yorkshire Ballads (1892). He adapted this tune to the words and sang it regularly around the York area. Astonishingly (or perhaps predictably) the song has since cropped up all over the place with the tune described as traditional and Scarborough replaced by Bamburgh, Salisbury Plain and even Liverpool.

Graham Metcalfe sang Scarborough Sands on his 1996 WildGoose CD Songs From Yorkshire and Other Civilisations. The tune is from Dave Hillery. He commented in his liner notes, obviously quoting Hillery too:

This song has acquired other titles, Salisbury, Bamburgh, even Liverpool. It appears in Holroyd’s Ballads of Yorkshire (1892).

Simon Haworth learnt Rout of the Blues from the singing of his father and Ray Downes. He recorded it in 1998 for his Fellside CD Coast to Coast.

The New Scorpion Band sang The Route Has Just Come for the Blues in 2000 on their CD The Plains of Waterloo. They noted:

The Blues are the Royal Horse Guards, or Blues and Royals. They particularly distinguished themselves at the Battle of Waterloo, and the title refers to the marching orders, or route (pronounced rout). This version of the song is a compilation of two collected by Gardiner (Job Read, Southampton 1906), and Hammond (Robert Barratt, Piddletown, Dorset 1905).

Martin Carter sang The Rout of the Blues (Scarborough Sands) on the 2002 Fellside anthology Enlist for a Soldier. The album’s liner notes commented:

The Blues in question are the Royal Horse Guards and the rout is not a defeat, but a muster. The soldiers are being recalled to move off. Why the location is Scarborough is unclear. Other versions give the location as Salisbury Plain.

Brian Jones, Goff Jones and Ian Chesterman sang The Rout of the Blues at Wrexham in January 2009 or earlier:

Jon Boden sang The Rout of the Blues as the 25 May 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

Liz Davenport sang Scarborough Sands in 2011 on her and Paul Davenport’s CD Spring Tide Rising. Their liner notes commented:

Ingledew’s collection of Yorkshire Ballads provides this text and Liz uses a melody which owes more than a little to The Streets of Laredo and The Unfortunate Rake. We see the aftermath of war on our televisions as soldiers’ bodies are returned from foreign parts weekly. Here is the event which precedes the posting. Despite the gin drinking and laughter, there is tension and there are tears in this song. The Blues (Royal Horse Guards) were amalgamated into the Household Cavalry. This song tells of their deployment from their base in Scarborough to the Low Countries where they gained many of their battle honours in the service of Queen Anne.

Pilgrims’ Way sang The Rout of the Blues, with words very similar to those of the Dransfields, on their 2016 Fellside CD Red Diesel.

Magpie Lane sang Rout of the Blues in 2017 on their CD Three Quarter Time. They noted:

Rout of the Blues was collected by Cecil Sharp in 1909 at Armscote in Warwickshire, from Tom Gardiner—a 71 year old blacksmith. [VWML CJS2/9/2179] . The song probably dates back to the early nineteenth century. ‘The Blues’ are the Royal Horse Guards, and ‘rout’ in this case means that they are mustering ready for action. The song is preceded by The Cheltenham Waltz, which comes from one of the music manuscripts assembled by John Clare (1793-1864), poet and fiddle-player of Helpston in Northamptonshire—via George Deacon’s book, John Clare and the Folk Tradition.

Bob and Gill Berry sang Salisbury Plain on their 2018 WildGoose CD Echoes of Alfred. They noted:

This is a very popular song and depicts the exercises of the Royal Horse Guards (known as the Blues) on the plain many, many years ago. Robin and Barry Dransfield sang it in 1970 as the title track of their album The Rout of the Blues. This song was put together by Barry from the book The Idiom of the People, Ingledew’s Yorkshire Ballads, and a vaguely remembered tune learned originally from Dave Howes of York.

See also the related song The Lancashire Lads (Roud 588).


Robin and Barry Dransfield sing The Rout of the Blues

As I crossed over Salisbury Plain,
’Twas a dainty fine sight I behold,
All the lasses were crying and tearing their hair,
𝄆 Oh the rout has just come for the Blues. 𝄇

Then each one home to their mothers do run,
Saying, “My heart is undone, it is true,
I’ll pack up my clothes without more delay
𝄆 And boldly I’ll march with the Blues.” 𝄇

The landlord and landlady walks hand in hand,
And so do they pretty girls too,
And each one pours out a bottle of gin
𝄆 To drink a good health to the Blues 𝄇

Our ship she is rigged and we all set sail,
And sweetly the French horns play too
And each one sets up a loud huzzah,
𝄆 “Success to King George and his Blues.” 𝄇

They’re as gallant young fellows as ever you’ll see,
Though you search bonny Britain all through.
When dressed in His Majesty’s suit you’ll agree
𝄆 There’s none can compare with the Blues. 𝄇

(repeat first verse)

Graham Metcalfe sings Scarborough Sands

As I walked over Scarborough Sands,
Some jolly fine sport for to view,
The lasses were crying and wringing their hands,
For 𝄆 the rout it is come for the Blues. 𝄇

Then Dolly unto her old mother did say,
“My heart is is done, it is true,”
And she packed up her clothes without more delay
𝄆 To take her last leave of the Blues.” 𝄇

Then landlords and landladies walked arm in arm,
And so did the pretty girls too,
You’d have laughed if you’d seen how those lasses flocked in
𝄆 To take their last leave of the Blues.” 𝄇

We tarried that night and part of next day,
And sweethearts we had got enough.
And times being hard those lasses did spare
𝄆 A drop of good gin for the Blues. 𝄇

Such sporting young fellows sure never were seen
As the Blues and Her Majesty too.
You can search the world over and Yorkshire all through,
𝄆 There’s none to compare with the Blues. 𝄇

Then the boats being ready our lads did jump in,
The music did sweetly halloo.
And we raise up our voices with three loud hurrahs,
𝄆 Success to the Queen and her Blues! 𝄇