This light-hearted broadside begins: ''Twas at the Brighton Station, / In pursuit of my vocation, / I saw a tall and handsome girl / Behind the railway bar; / I heard some call her Jessie, / Perhaps 'twas Mister Pond, the lessee, / And her diamond eyes were twinkling / Just like the evening star.' This sheet is dated Saturday the 26th April, 1884, and was priced at one penny.
The accompanying air is said to be the 'Original', suggesting people were already familiar with this particular song and melody. The location of the railway station in 'Jessie at the Railway Bar' occasionally varies, with one version placing the events in Moorgate station rather than Brighton station. With no copyright laws in place at this time, publishers were able to reproduce and alter at will existing material without any legal repercussions.
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:
1884 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(121b)
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