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The Old Miner

[ Roud 1136 ; trad.]

The Singing Tradition (Julie West, Martyn Briggs, Bob Lapworth, Mick Nash) sang The Old Miner in 1971 on the Topic album The Wide Midlands: Songs, Stories and Tunes from the Central Countries, produced by Roy Palmer. He noted in the sleeve notes:

An old miner at Haunchwood Pit, Nuneaton [Warwickshire], made up this song to a tune he had learned in his native Durham. John Moreton heard it in the early 1960's.

A year later, Roy Palmer included the song in his book Songs of the Midlands (EP Publishing 1972).

Bob Davenport sang The Old Miner in 1971 too on the Trailer album Bob Davenport and the Marsden Rattlers.

The Silly Sisters (Maddy Prior and Jone Tabor, accompanied by Dan Ar Braz, guitar; Huw Warren, keyboards; Jim Sutherland, percussion) recorded The Old Miner in 1988 for their second album, No More to the Dance. This recording was included in 2000 on the English folk anthology And We'll All Have Tea.

And John Kirkpatrick, accompanied by himself on accordion and Sue Harris on hammered dulcimer, sang The Old Miner in 1989 on their Topic album Stolen Ground. This track was also included in 1994 on his anthology CD A Short History of John Kirkpatrick. They also sang it in 1993 for the 2 cassette compilation, Undefeated: A Benefit for the Miners.

Bob Fox and Benny Graham sang The Old Miner in 1995 on their Fellside CD How Are You Off for Coals? Songs of the Mining Communities of North East England.

Lyrics

The Silly Sisters sing The Old Miner John Kirkpatrick sings The Old Miner

Oh who'll replace this old miner
And who will take my place below?
And who will follow the trepanner,
Oh dear God, when I go?

Oh who'll replace this old miner?
who will take my place below?
Who will follow the trepanner,
Oh dear God, when I go?

Oh who will wield this heavy pick
That I did wield for forty years
And who will hew the black, black coal,
Oh dear God, when I go?

Oh who will ride the miners' train
That takes him to the dark coal face
Who'll take my place upon that train,
Oh dear God, when I go?

Oh who will ride the miners' train?
To the dark coal face it runs so slow.
Who'll take my place when it runs again,
Oh dear God, when I go?

Who'll wield my pick that now I hoe
And first did wield long time ago?
Oh who will hew the black, black coal,
Oh dear God, when I go?

Oh who will load this great iron top
And who will strain his bending back
And who will work, sweat and ache like hell,
Oh dear God, when I go?

Oh who will bow beneath the wait?
Who's back will strain and bend and bow?
And who will work and sweat and ache,
Oh dear God, when I go?

Oh who will cry when the roof caves in
When friends are lying all around?
And who will sing the miner's hymn,
Oh dear God, when I go?

Oh who will cry when the roof caves in
With mates and friends by gas-light low?
Oh who will sing the miner's hymn,
Oh dear God, when I go?

For forty years I've loved the mine
For forty years I've worked down there
Now who'll replace this old miner
When I've paid God my fare?

For forty years I've loved the mine,
For forty years I've worked below.
Now who will take this place of mine,
𝄆 Oh dear God, when I go? 𝄇