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Yellow Clay

20 Aug 07 - 06:21 PM (#2129961)
Subject: Yellow Clay
From: s&r

In Cushie Butterfield, she makes balls of Yaller Clay. In Castlecomer (just North of Kilkenny) there was a practice calle "Dancing the Culm" which was a way of making fuel for the fire by mixing anthracite 'slack' and yellow clay into balls which were allowed to dry, and then burned.

Could these be connected?

Stu


20 Aug 07 - 09:27 PM (#2130066)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: Charley Noble

Yes, if you drink enough beer!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


21 Aug 07 - 11:00 AM (#2130414)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: HouseCat

I think you're probably right about using it for fuel. In the song, she says that her man will need to "seek yaller clay when he comes home at night". So that makes sense. Some guys chop wood, some dig clay or cut peat. Yellow clay also has therapeutic properties though, and some cultures have used it for medicinal purposes for centuries.


21 Aug 07 - 12:06 PM (#2130442)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: Dave the Gnome

In the thread about Cushie Butterfield it is mooted that yellow clay was used for cleaning doorsteps. I am currently in Newcastle but no-one around seems to be able to confirm or deny that. There is a bloke in tomorrow who might so I will ask.

In Lancashire though there were things called 'Donkey Stones' which were yellow, soap shaped things. When mixed with water they were used for colouring/cleaning the front door step. I don't think the line in the song as HouseCat mentions it is really anything to do with chopping wood etc. I see it more as just the things that her poor broken hearted keel man has to do to keep her happy!

I will be back...

D.


21 Aug 07 - 12:18 PM (#2130448)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: Dave the Gnome

Hmmmm - Don't think the yellow clay was used in 'donkey stones' after all. This article has them made from crushed stone but that doesn't seem a million miles away from clay. See if my mate from Durham knows when he gets in.

D.


21 Aug 07 - 06:39 PM (#2130687)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: s&r

This is the Irish Culm - note the use of Yellow Clay

Stu


21 Aug 07 - 08:30 PM (#2130761)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: Charley Noble

I think I'll go back to singing "Cushie Butterfield" without further explanation.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


22 Aug 07 - 04:21 AM (#2130927)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: Dave the Gnome

Well, one from Newcastle, one from South Shields and one from Durham have no idea at all what Yellow clay would have been used for. General consensus is that making fuel bricks would be a bit like, 'scuse the apt expression, taking coals to Newcastle. The other explanation seemed more likely at first but, seeing as we now know donkey stones were made from stone, it is now in doubt. I would still favour it though.

I think we need to take a leaf from Charlies book - Maybe put it down to a piece of Music Hall nonsense. Can I feel a Fylde workshop coming on Stu? :-) May see you there!

Cheers

Dave


22 Aug 07 - 04:31 AM (#2130934)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: GUEST,PMB

All about donkey stones - they weren't yellow clay in Lancashire. They were often sold by rag-and-bone men, or given by them in exchange for discarded goods. Along with dolly blue and yellow soap that took the skin off your hands.

However, yellow clay may have been used in the Tyneside equivalent.

Flashback... the sound of the rag-and-bone man leading his horse and cart through the echoing streets of terraced houses... "Booooooooooone! Raboooooooooooooooone!"


22 Aug 07 - 04:41 AM (#2130937)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: Dave the Gnome

Eureka!

"According to Cecil Geeson's Northumberland and Durham Word Book, yellow clay is hearthstone, a soft stone used for whitening hearths. Hearthstone was usually made from a compound of powdered stone and white coloured pipeclay, which could also be used for whitening leather.

Andy Guy, of Beamish Museum, thinks that, in the North-East, sandstone was mixed with pipeclay to give it a yellow tinge. He believes it was compressed into small brickettes which were faintly abrasive. Variations on the yellow clay were Donkey Stones which produced a whitened appearance on hearths and Rudd which could redden steps and hearths, although this was more associated with Cumbria"

From The Northern Echo

There we go. One impossible thing before breakfast - Anyone for lunch at Milliways?

PMB - I remember the call well. We used to be dead disappointed when my Mum turned up with a donkey stone - The Rag Bone man used to have other things on offer far better for kids! Balloons for instance:-) Imagine kids getting excited if their Mum's turned up with baloons nowadays?

Cheers

Dave


22 Aug 07 - 09:55 AM (#2131064)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: Charley Noble

All together!

She's a big lass, and a bonny lass, and she likes her beer,
And we calls her Cushie Butterfield and we wish she was here!

I still remember the echoes of that chorus issuing from the hull of a 40-foot ketch we were refurbushing back in 1964. The ketch was high and dry on the shore in her winter cradle but appeared to be swaying back in forth as I departed the party.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


22 Aug 07 - 10:23 AM (#2131093)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: Dave Sutherland

I'm from South Shields and I always understood that Yellow Clay was for cleaning doorsteps, although even I am too young to have seen in done in situ


22 Aug 07 - 10:48 AM (#2131110)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: GUEST,leeneia

I suspect that Yellow Clay was fuller's earth, which would have been helpful for cleaning things before the development of detergents. Read all about it here:

http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definition/fuller%2527s+earth

If that doesn't work, google fuller's earth definition.


22 Aug 07 - 12:19 PM (#2131175)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: s&r

The connection I noted in opening this thread seems more likely the more I research it. I'm a broken hearted keelman
...

her cousin is a muckman - muck is non-coal debris

candyman is a bailiff who evicted miners during various strikes

Sandgate - the street where the keelmen worked from.

So Cushie Butterfield seems to me to be a mining song, not as I had previously assumed, a fishing song, and the makin' balls seems likely to be a similar occupation to making culm balls in Castlecomer.

Stu


22 Aug 07 - 12:20 PM (#2131177)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: s&r

PS Dave - there could well be a Fylde Workshop if I can find a room

Stu


22 Aug 07 - 02:14 PM (#2131301)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: Dave Sutherland

s&r your own link tells you that the term Candyman was contemptuously applied to the strikebreakers to which you refer. The more common use of the term, and the reference in Cushie Butterfield, is another name for a rag and bone man (certainly the image that Tommy Armstrong gives in his songs about strikebreakers -"South Medomsley" and "Oakey Strike Evictions")who would sound his trumpet to make the neighbourhood aware of his presence. Thus the wonderful expression "you ought to be shafted with a ragman's trumpet". The muckman mentioned in the song would be a refuse collector - a latterday bin-man. "Cushie Butterfield" is a very popular North East song and it does not need to be affilliated to either the mining industry or the seafaring trade to achieve that honour.


22 Aug 07 - 02:15 PM (#2131302)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: Dave the Gnome

Sounds reasonable, Stu. I work in Newcastle though and the people I work with (afore mentioned) reckon a 'Muckman' would have been either a rubbish collector or a farmer! But who knows after all these years - You need to discuss it with the professor of Geordieology mentioned in the Cushie Butterfield thread:-)

I don't think anyone thought it was a fishing song though - Isn't it common knowledge that a keelman hauled coal? Or Have I been in the frozen north too long?

Howay the lads...

:D


22 Aug 07 - 02:49 PM (#2131346)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: s&r

No Dave - my assumption was that it was a fishing song. It was the coincidence of being in a museum at Castlecomer and learning about Yellow Clay and making balls that intrigued me.

DaveS
"CANDYMAN. A bum bailiff. The man who serves notice of ejectment. The word is almost always used as a term of abuse or contempt. The reason for this is the way these men were regularly used during mining strikes. Pitmen lived in "tied" houses and if they went on strike the coal owners usually evicted them. To do so many bailiffs were needed. They were recruited from the scum of the towns and many street vendors were among those so employed. Some of the street traders sold sticks of candy, their street cry being Dandy-candy, three sticks a penny. So all bum bailiffs were contemptuously described as candymen."

That's the quote I linked, but I'm grateful for the extra info. I have no wish to attribute anything for its own sake
and I love Cushie Butterfield wherever it's from.

The beauty of mudcat to me is that you can share half-formed ideas.

This
gives some of the story that we acquired in Castlecomer. It might be worth a look.

Stu


22 Aug 07 - 03:04 PM (#2131358)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: Geordie-Peorgie

It could JUST be feasible that a 'muckman' was a 'night-soil' operative but whee wad want to brag aboot it in a song?

The 'candy man's trumpet' is more likely te be the Rag & Bone man's bugle - Aah divvent think that a bailiff's warning wad steal a young lass's heart away - Forbye a rag-man could be quite a good earner & provider.

It has nee real bearin' anyway - They're aall deid!


22 Aug 07 - 05:47 PM (#2131448)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: Dave the Gnome

Ahhhhhh - The Ragbone man used to give away donkey stones round our way - The link does seem to be moving back towards 'Yella Clay' being the stuff to clean steps with!

Geordie's right though - They are aall deid.

'Here's to us, wha's like us. There's nae many, they're aall deid!"

Main point being we probably will never know what the author had in mind. Let's leave it like that. After all a bit of mystery does us good:-)

Cheers

Dave


23 Aug 07 - 03:54 AM (#2131748)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: GUEST,PMB

Muck men, muck men,
Marching through the night,
Sorting the yellow from the brown!

The yellow wasn't clay either.


23 Aug 07 - 03:57 AM (#2131749)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: s&r

Dung was used in Culm balla as an alternative to clay

Stu


23 Aug 07 - 04:12 AM (#2131757)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: Dave the Gnome

Bet that smelled lovely.

I was reading the last few posts and putting 2 and 1.7 together - Her cousin is a muckman, who could be a night soil remover, and she sells yellow clay...

Eyuuuch. Lets not go there!

:D


23 Aug 07 - 01:21 PM (#2132095)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: Geordie-Peorgie

PMB!!!!!!!

Aah want them words!!!!

Me brutha tuk uz tiv a folk club in Soothampton in 1968 (at the Elm Tree, aah think) and the band sang THAT song - aah laughed for hoors!!

Aah've nivvor hord it since but aah can remember that stanza and it's bugged uz for nigh on 40 years.

Help uz oot and lerruz hev it - Ye'll mek a happy man very old!!!


08 Nov 19 - 01:04 PM (#4017967)
Subject: RE: Yellow Clay
From: GUEST,Beano

My grandmother-in-law (Bradford) when in a tiz would exclaim "Eee, I don't know if I'm on this Earth or Fuller's!"
I remember my grandmother (Hamsterley Colliery, Co Durham) whitening the front edge of the step with a Donkey Stone, but I don't know what it was made of. She certainly didn't make it at home - I assume that like most things, it came from 'The Stores' i.e. the Co-oP.