LINES Read before the Members of the Stalybridge Mechanics Institution, on Saturday Evening, Sep. 12,1863, BY SAMUEL LAYCOCK.

Aw wur [deawn] at th’ Mechanics last [Sutterday] neet,
An’ oh! let [me] tell yo’, aw [had] sich a [treat] ;
Had [aw] known ’at they’d had as [mich] talent as that,
Aw’d ha’ gone afore neaw, iv aw’d popp’d mi owd hat.
There wur [o’macks] o’ tradesmen, sit smokin’ i’ th’ room,
There wur blacksmiths fro’ th’ anvil, an’ weavers fro’ th’ loom,
Mechanics an’ joiners, an’ snobs not a few,
Professors o’ music, an’ schoomesturs too;
There wur piecers, an’ spinners, an’ managers there,
Come to spend a few heawrs, an’ to drive away care.
There’s pappers for those ’at’s a fancy to read,
Wi’ o’ shades ov opinion, to suit every creed;
An’ moor, even yet, iv yo’re wantin’ to sup,
There’s coffee provided, a penny a cup;
An’ rare stuff it is, for it’s boath strong an’ sweet,
It’s a capital beverage for Setterday neet.
Aw’ve more to say yet, but afore aw go fur,
Aw should just loike to mention th’ good feelin’ there wur;
Everyone seemed determined to do what he could
For those at wur near him – an’ reet ’at he should,
For its easy to give a kind word or a smile,
’At might have good effect, an’ be felt a great while.
Aw wur gradely surproised [when] aw entered, to see
Aw con tell yo’ it welly browt tears i’ mi een,
For aw’d thowt to misel’ aw should hardly be seen;
But [bless] yo, aw’d scarcely got inside o’ th’ dur,
When two or three met me, an’ ax’d heaw aw wur.
In a minute or two one o’ th’ principal men
Geet howd o’ mi’ hont an’ reet shook it again;
Aw hope he’ll [noan] shake it i’ that way again;
By jingo! he very nee poo’d me on th’ floor,
An’ that would do noan – aw should look sich a seet
Ceawered theer at full length, ov a Setterday neet!
Neaw yo’ chaps ’et loike music should just pop in theer,
Yo may listen for nowt, so it [conna] be [dear] ;
Yo’ ne’er yeard sich singin’ for aw never did,
To mi thinkin’ it byets Tommy Darbyshire’s brid.
They sung and they played, an’ it seawnded so sweet,
’At aw thowt aw could sit theer, un’ hearken [o'] neet.
Eh! aw wur some weel pleased, but then do yo’ see,
There’s [nob'dy] mich fonder o’ music nor me.
There’s some at loikes ’bacca, an’ others loike snuff,
But awm noan so partial to that sort o’ stuff;
Iv yo’ [offer] me summat ’at tastes middlin’ noice,
Yo’ll ha’ no no need to ax me to have a bit twice.
Tak notice, neaw lads, what aw write wi mi pen,
For iv God spares mi loife aw shall go theer again;
An’ aw’ll tell everybody aw happen to meet
Heaw aw [looked] at th’ Mechanics o’ Setterday neet.
It’s far afore ceawerin’ at th’ alehouse awm sure;
It keeps a young fellow moor manly an’ pure.
It’s far afore ceawerin’ awhoam ov a lump,
As ignorant o’ th’ world as ony owd stump;
It’s far afore goin’ to th’ theatre, too,
For awm certain we’n theatre-goers enoo.
What we’re wantin’ at present is real sterlin’ men,
Wi’ a talent for speakin’ or usin’ a pen,
Wi’ courage to do what they know to be reet,
Noan [5 characters illegible] o’ their actions bein’ browt eawt to th’ leet;
It’s these soart o’ fellows we wanten to find,
Summat worth coin’ men ¬– great giants i’ mind.
Well, where are sich chaps to be fun’ do yo’ think?
Noan at th’ “Q,” where they spend o’ they get upo’ drink;
Yo’ll ha’ no need o’ [lookin’] at th’ corner o’ th’ street,
But go to th’ Mechanics some Setterday neet.

Title:Lines Read Before the Members of the Stalybridge Mechanics Institution on Saturday Evening, Sep. 12, 1863

Author:Samuel Laycock

Publication:Ashton and Stalybridge Reporter

Published in:Ashton-under-Lyne

Date:Oct 3rd 1863

Keywords:class, comic, dialect, gender, morality


This poem in dialect by the famous Samuel Laycock, who was local to the Ashton area, extols the virtues of education and self-improvement for working men. In particular it contrasts these activities to the alternative of frequenting public houses, linking the idea of temperance to education. Mechanics Institutions existed in northern English towns before the Cotton Famine but they were boosted by the numbers of workers who found themselves with little to do, and less money to spend on alcohol. Pointedly, Laycock associates intellectual improvement with ‘manliness’, encouraging a redefinition of labouring-class masculinity which moves towards greater opportunities for self-determination and social agency. – SR