about us | news | gig list | instruments | reviews | downloads | shop | promoters | links | contact us

Hollow Hills

Verse 1:
We've made a bargain with Mr Cain,
He's the agent for this piece of ground,
My brothers and I went to the 'placing day,'
Now for the next six months we're bound.
With 20 shillings for a 'Bing',
We fill each tub 'til it overflows,
Until July we eat 'lent money,' work and dust,
And we watch as the 'Bouse-stead' grows.

Verse 2:
Every piece of this land, is leased by the church,
To the Beaumont Company,
And J C Cain watches over us,
So we do the work that we agreed,
We crawl the water soaked-levels to dig the ore,
We Cross-cut to trace the vein,
At night I lay in bed and catch each breath,
And try not to think about the pain.

These are the Hollow Hills,
Where we bargain out our days,
Digging lead out of the earth for our pay,
These are the Hollow Hills,
Where the darkness waits for us,
And I know one day, down in the earth I'll stay.

Verse 3:
They say there's not a better piece of land,
From Burtree Pasture to Stanhopeburn,
And in West Black Dene the water's running high,
Every ton the win they've worked damn hard to earn.
But we've got problems of our own,
Breathing dust and smoking lead,
And last week the roof of the tunnel fell,
And left my brother all but dead.


Verse 4:
In Chapel they tell of Mr Cain,
And how he put his brother in the ground,
But Abel never crawled the dust-filled levels,
And Abel was never six months bargain bound.
This life is all we know,
Though it gutters like a candle flame,
When our work is done and our debts are paid,
I know we'll sign that book again.

Glossary of Terms

Bargain: an agreement between the land agent and a group of workers for a certain price per hundredweight of lead for a set period of time - 3 to 6 months.

Hollow Hills: name given to the Pennines by the poet Richard Watson.

Lent Money: money allocated by the land agent for living expenses. Usually between 30 and 40 shillings. Barely enough to cover food.

Bouse: Lead ore and rock.

Bouse stead: allocated area for the storage of the Bouse, separated from the ore dug from other mines.

Placing Day: days set aside for the making of bargains and the signing of the bargain book, when the land to be worked was allocated.

Bing: 8 cwt (Hundredweight)

Mr Cain: J C Cain, Agent for the Beaumont Company (Thomas Sopwith - main agent from 1845 - 1871)

Return to Downloads

© Brother Crow 2008
Telephone: 01388 526093
Email: info@brothercrow.co.uk
MySpace: www.myspace.com/brothercrowfolk