The Colliers (A
Lot Of Little
Harry Castling & Fred Godfrey; EMI database also credits Billy Williams — London: Francis, Day & Hunter, 1909.
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The chorus goes:
Miners were much on people’s minds when this song appeared — a major strike by Durham coalminers took place in 1908, the year it was written, and likely inspired its creation. A problematic song, though, as measured by the sensitivities of a more enlightened era; the casual racism of Harry Castling’s lyrics — not deliberately meant to hurt but simply to entertain a Music Hall crowd in its own idiom — now sounds a sour note. Even its good-humoured sympathy with the plight of the coalminer cannot save it. Too bad, because Fred Godfrey’s melody is as good as any of the time.
Billy Williams recorded five versions of this song: 28 August 1908 for Homophon; 21 December 1908 for Zonophone; ca. January 1909 for Jumbo; ca. September 1909 for Pathé; and ca. October 1909 for Edison Amberol. Reissues appeared on several other labels.1
Fred Murray (Bell Disc 179, ca. 1910)
1 For comprehensive discographies of recordings by Billy Williams, see Brian Rust,