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Broadside ballad entitled 'Glasgow Fair on the Banks of Clyde'


Verse 1: 'When I was young and youth did bloom, / Where fancy led me, I did roam; / From town to town the country round, / Through every sylvan shady grove. / Until I came from Scotland by name, / Where beauty shines on every side, / There's no town there we can compare / With Glasgow fair, on the banks of Clyde.' It was to be sung to the original tune, suggesting that both the song and melody were well-known, and was published in 1869 by the Poet's Box, 80 London Street, Glasgow.

This ballad recounts the arrival of a young Irishman in Scotland, 'Where beauty shines on every side'. He encounters a young woman on the banks of the Clyde and after reassuring her that he is betrothed to another, and poses no threat, they walk arm in arm. As is so often the case in such ballads, however, the young man disappears after persuading the young woman to compromise her morals. With mass emigration to Scotland from Ireland during the years of industrialisation, references to Ireland were common in Scottish broadsides.
The Poet?s Box in Glasgow operated from 1849 to 1911. Matthew Leitch was the proprietor at 6 St. Andrew Lane?s, a narrow street on the south side of Gallowgate, from 1850 to 1858. His son William Munsie Leitch worked at the same address from 1859 to 1865 and at varous addresses in London Street until 1911. Many of the broadsides published by the Glasgow Poet?s Box were dated and some carried advertisements, not just for printed items but also for shoe blacking and ?soap for lovers?! Like the other ?boxes? in Dundee and Edinburgh, the Glasgow one sold love songs, sea shanties, parodies and dialogues. It is not clear what the connection between the different Poet?s Boxes were. They almost certainly sold each other?s sheets. It is known that John Sanderson in Edinburgh often wrote to the Leitches in Glasgow for songs and that later his brother Charles obtained copies of songs from the Dundee Poet?s Box. There was also a Poet?s Box in Belfast from 1846 to 1856 at the address of the printer James Moore, and one in Paisley in the early 1850s owned by William Anderson.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

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Date of publication: 1869   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(126a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Glasgow Fair on the Banks of Clyde'
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