Verse 1: 'CHRISTMAS Time while mirth abounded, / Thro the country far and wide, / Happy homes are turned to sadness, / Dear friends in death lay side by side / Young and old upon the railway, / In the fatal train that day, / Litle thought to death were going, / From this life they've passed away.'
This ballad refers to the Tay Bridge disaster. The middle section of the Tay Railway Bridge collapsed in hurrcane-force winds on the night of 28 December 1879 while a train was crossing it. The seventy-five people on board the train were all killed. An enquiry found that the architect, Sir Thomas Bouch, had not taken the estuary winds into account in his original design. The tragedy also inspired a poem by the infamous Dundee poet William McGonagall, which remains much-quoted today.
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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Probable date published:
1880 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(78b)
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