The J.W. Fenwick manuscript, compiled in the second half of the 19th century, is a compilation of Northumbrian pipe music, together with other material associated with the instrument. Fenwick was a tailor, who lived in North Shields from about 1841. The same town was the home of the Reid family of pipers and pipemakers, and several other prominent pipers lived nearby. By 1894 Fenwick was described as "one of the oldest and best-known small pipes players in the county";by this time he seems to have been playing for about 50 years. The manuscript was apparently being compiled throughout this period.
This source is particularly important, in that for many of the tunes Fenwick is careful to indicate his source for the version he gives. For instance, in some cases Fenwick gives a provenance from Cornelius Stanton, and occasionally via Stanton to John Peacock. Two of the tunes from Stanton, in Stanton's own hand, Little wot ye wha's coming and Blackett of Wylam were attributed by him to Peacock, although it is not in the collection of Peacock's tunes published about 1800. These tunes are also known from the manuscripts of Peacock's pupil Robert Bewick, but any direct association of them with Peacock had previously been conjectural. Another important group of tunes have an attribution to Robert Reid, or his children James Reid and Elizabeth Oliver. One of the Reid tunes is a 5-strain set of The Dorrington Lads, from Mrs Oliver, whose comment is noted that "This is most likely the same copy that poor Will Allen was trying to play when his Spirit was called Home to a more blissful Rest". This version was known, from the Rook manuscript, but its association with the Reid family was not. Given Robert Reid's father Robert Reed's known association with James Allan, this link is entirely possible. Further, some tunes or versions are otherwise unknown - a version of Shew's the Way to Wallington, from James Reid, is distinct from previously known sets.
One long variation set, of six strains, on the tune "Highland Black Laddie", called "Highland Laddie" in the manuscript, is attributed to Robert Mackintosh, a Scottish violinist and composer, whose son Abraham had settled in Newcastle; it seems to be unknown elsewhere, but an unusual variant of the same tune in the Rook manuscript, also called "Highland Laddie", is thematically related to the final pair of these variations - together they suggest that the original composition had eight strains.
Some printed dance music in the collection is particularly associated with the North Shields area; further, the well known tune "Lamshaw's Fancy", is here called "Lamshaw of North Shield's Fancy", which must refer specifically to Young William Lamshaw, who lived in the town, and was an early player of the keyed smallpipes - the tune's compass, from D to a, fits the earliest form of the keyed instrument.
The manuscript includes, a body of tunes in Cornelius Stanton's hand, consisting of simple traditional tunes as well as popular songs from the 1840s and 1850s, including several by Stephen Foster, and the music hall song "Villikins and his Dinah". These simple tunes, well known at the time, would all be suitable for a beginner. So it is reasonable to suppose that these form the earliest part of the manuscript, perhaps from when Fenwick was learning to play, but certainly after 1840, and before Stanton's death in 1866. An alternative less likely reading is that Fenwick asked Stanton for a collection of tunes that he could use for teaching. The collection seems to have continued to grow throughout Fenwick's life, for example including tunes he received from Elizabeth Oliver in 1883, and material for Fenwick's own tutor, published more than a decade later in 1897. After Fenwick died in 1907, the manuscript, probably still a collection of loose papers, passed to the Newcastle antiquarian Richard Welford, who had been active in the Northumbrian Small Pipes Society; he would probably have known Fenwick, a Committee member of the Society, from this time. From him it passed to C.O.P. Gibson of Bywell. It was probably Gibson who showed the manuscript to G.G. Armstrong, who lived nearby; his notebooks contain tunes stated as being from Fenwick's manuscript, including Elizabeth Oliver's variation set on Maggie Lauder, since published in the Northumbrian Pipers' Third Tune Book.At some point the manuscript was bound, and its compiler misidentified as J.W. Fenwick, a solicitor of Hexham. As Welford would almost certainly have known Fenwick, it was perhaps Gibson who misidentified him. The manuscript came onto the market in May 2016, and is currently in private hands. The current owner has placed some information on the webpage. This page includes a detailed section on tunes associated with the Reid family, including images from relevant pages of the manuscript. It is expected that as more is learned about the manuscript and its contents, this website will be expanded.
Despite an identification, made in the manuscript, of Fenwick with a solicitor of that name who lived in Hexham, which is apparently a mistake by a later owner, the records of the Northumbrian Small Pipes Society show that after 1890 James Fenwick was a tailor, living in North Shields. This seems to tie in with an 1851 census entry, listing a James Fenwick, tailor and publican, at the Phoenix Inn in Bedford Street, North Shields. Intermediate identifications are tentative, as the name James Fenwick is common locally. As well as his involvement with the NSPS, in particularly compiling a tutor for the instrument, published by them,he had previously been involved with John Collingwood Bruce and the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, when they were organising a series of piping competitions in the 1870s. A surviving letter from Bruce to Fenwick, pasted into the MS, shows that a version of Fenwick's Instructions for playing the small-pipes existed as early as 1877.
The Scottish smallpipe is a bellows-blown bagpipe re-developed by Colin Ross and many others, adapted from an earlier design of the instrument. There are surviving bellows-blown examples of similar historical instruments as well as the mouth-blown Montgomery smallpipes, dated 1757, which are held in the National Museum of Scotland. Some instruments are being built as direct copies of historical examples, but few modern instruments are directly modelled on older examples; the modern instrument is typically larger and lower-pitched. The innovations leading to the modern instrument, in particular the design of the reeds, were largely taken from the Northumbrian smallpipes.
The border pipes are a type of bagpipe related to the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe. It is perhaps confusable with the Scottish smallpipe, although it is a quite different and much older instrument. Although most modern Border pipes are closely modelled on similar historic instruments, the modern Scottish smallpipes are a modern reinvention, inspired by historic instruments but largely based on Northumbrian smallpipes in their construction.
The Northumbrian smallpipes are bellows-blown bagpipes from North East England, where they have been an important factor in the local musical culture for more than 250 years. The family of the Duke of Northumberland have had an official piper for over 250 years. The Northumbrian Pipers' Society was founded in 1928, to encourage the playing of the instrument and its music; Although there were so few players at times during the last century that some feared the tradition would die out, there are many players and makers of the instrument nowadays, and the Society has played a large role in this revival. In more recent times the Mayor of Gateshead and the Lord Mayor of Newcastle have both established a tradition of appointing official Northumbrian pipers.
Here Northumbria is defined as Northumberland, the northernmost county of England, and County Durham. According to 'World Music: The Rough Guide', "nowhere is the English living tradition more in evidence than the border lands of Northumbria, the one part of England to rival the counties of the west of Ireland for a rich unbroken tradition. The region is particularly noted for its tradition of border ballads, the Northumbrian smallpipes and also a strong fiddle tradition in the region that was already well established in the 1690s. Northumbrian music is characterised by considerable influence from other regions, particularly southern Scotland and other parts of the north of England, as well as Irish immigrants.
The Northumbrian Pipers' Society was founded to promote both types of Northumbrian bagpipes – the Northumbrian smallpipes and the half-long pipes, now generally known as the Border pipes. There had been several attempts to encourage the pipes and their music during the 19th century, but no society was formed with this specific aim until the Northumbrian Small Pipes Society in 1893. That society organised a series of competitions, in which Richard Mowat and Henry Clough were both prizewinners. However it was short-lived, dissolving around 1899. Today the society is divided into two branches, the main branch based in Morpeth, and the Cleveland branch based in Sedgefield.
Tom Clough (1881–1964), known as "The Prince of Pipers", was an English player of the Northumbrian pipes, or Northumbrian smallpipes. He was also a pipemaker, and the pipes he made with Fred Picknell include several important innovations, and have a distinctive tone. He had studied the instrument with the noted piper Thomas Todd, and from his own father Henry Clough. His three surviving recordings, among the earliest recordings made of the instrument, and his considerable body of music manuscripts, including his own compositions, give considerable insight into the traditional playing technique and style of the instrument. This is particularly so because at least four previous generations of the family had been pipers, as was his son 'Young Tom' (1912–1987) – they thus form a continuous link between earliest players of the modern instrument, and contemporary players. In contrast to the widely accepted notion of traditional folk music as an essentially rural activity, he and his family lived in the mining community of Newsham in south-east Northumberland, and were miners themselves. At the end of his life, "Young Tom" recalled piping sessions at the 'Willow Tree' in Newsham, with his father Tom, grandfather Henry Clough, and Richard Mowat all playing – Henry's and Richard Mowat's playing would get more furious and inaccurate as the evening progressed; Tom was teetotal. Young Tom had the job of carrying his grandfather's pipes afterwards. There is a composite photograph of the Clough family at. Here Tom himself is on the left, his pipemaking collaborator Fred Picknell standing behind him, his father Henry Clough and son 'Young Tom' standing towards the right, while an older image of Tom's grandfather "Old Tom", seated piping in the foreground, has been added subsequently. Old Tom died in 1885, and the main photograph was taken in 1924. The other figure, seated on the far right, is believed to be Captain Nicholson of Haydon Bridge, a traditional fiddler.
The William Dixon manuscript, written down between 1733 and 1738 in Northumberland, is the oldest known manuscript of pipe music from the British Isles, and the most important source of music for the Border pipes. It is currently located in the A.K. Bell Library, Perth, Scotland. Little is known of William Dixon's biography, except what has been learned from this manuscript, and from parish records in Northumberland.
John Peacock was one of the finest Northumbrian smallpipers of his age, and probably a fiddler also, and the last of the Newcastle Waits. He studied the smallpipes with Old William Lamshaw, of Morpeth, and later with Joseph Turnbull, of Alnwick.
The village and parish of Doddington are on the east side of the Milfield Plain, nearly 3 miles north of the town of Wooler, in the county of Northumberland, England. Notable buildings in Doddington include Doddington Hall and the Anglican church of St Mary and St Michael, which was built in the 18th century on the site of an original 12th-century place of worship. Wooler Golf Course is also near Doddington.
Robert Reid is widely acknowledged as the creator of the modern form of the Northumbrian Smallpipes. He lived and worked at first in Newcastle upon Tyne, but moved later to the nearby town of North Shields at the mouth of the Tyne, probably in 1802. North Shields was a busy port at this time. The Reids were a family with a long-standing connection to piping; Robert's father Robert Reed (sic), a cabinet maker, had been a player of the Northumbrian big-pipes, and an associate of James Allan, his son Robert was described later by James Fenwick as a beautiful player as well as maker of smallpipes, while Robert's son James (1814–1874) joined his father in the business. Robert died in North Shields on the 13th or 14 January 1837, and his death notice in the Newcastle Journal referred to him as a "piper, and as a maker of such instruments is known from the peer to the peasant, for the quality of their tone, and elegance of finish". He is buried in the graveyard of Christ Church, North Shields. His wife Isabella died in 1849, of cholera. There were repeated outbreaks of the disease at this time especially in the poor 'low town', near the river, where the Reids lived.
Colin Ross was an English folk musician who played fiddle and Northumbrian smallpipes. He was a noted maker of Northumbrian smallpipes, border pipes and Scottish smallpipes, and one of the inventors of the modern Scottish smallpipes.
Robert Elliot Bewick (1788–1849) was the son of the engraver Thomas Bewick. He was trained in engraving by his father, but is primarily remembered now as a player of the Northumbrian smallpipes.
George Grey Armstrong (1877–1961) was a noted player, teacher and maker of the Northumbrian smallpipes. He also composed several tunes for the instrument. He lived in Hexham, Northumberland. He learned to play the instrument from the Clough family, and studied pipemaking with John E. Baty. There is a photograph of him with his pipes, from the Cocks collection, at.
Old Tom Clough, was an English player of the Northumbrian pipes, or Northumbrian smallpipes. He was born into a family of miners who had also been pipers for several generations; his son Henry, grandson Tom, and great-grandson 'Young' Tom were pipers too. He is thus a central figure in a family tradition linking the earliest days of the modern instrument to almost the present day.
The Northumbrian Small Pipes Society was founded in 1893, by members of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne to promote interest in, and playing of Northumbrian smallpipes, and their music. As it only continued in existence for seven years, it is now regarded primarily as a short-lived precursor to the Northumbrian Pipers' Society. However, despite its short life, it played a significant role, publishing the first tutor for the instrument, J. W. Fenwick's Instruction Book for the Northumbrian Small-Pipes (1896), holding regular meetings, and organising annual competitions. In 1894 and 1896-7, the society published Transactions, as well as publishing an account of their Annual Meeting of 1897. As well as Members, who paid an annual 5s. subscription, there was a category of Honorary Playing Members. Since the society's records include the names and addresses of all members, of either kind, they have listed the names and addresses for 37 known pipers. Two articles in the Newcastle Courant, in April 1900, gave an account of their Annual General Meeting, at the Literary and Philosophical Society, and referred to the society as flourishing, with 200 members, of whom almost half were pipers. Officers were elected for the following year; however there is no subsequent record of any formal activity of the society, such as meetings or competitions. In 1906, when the Cloughs played for King Edward VII at Alnwick Castle, an account of this in the Berwickshire News stated that the Northumbrian Small Pipes Society had done some good work in reviving interest, but that 'seven winters had passed without it giving any signs of life'. This suggests that the society had been largely inactive for some time before its final AGM.
'Young' William Lamshaw was a player of the Northumbrian Smallpipes. Despite his early death, he was a significant figure in the history of the instrument, being appointed Piper to the Duchess of Northumberland at an early age, after the death of his grandfather Old William Lamshaw. He was active at a time when keys were being added to the instrument, and one of the most prominent early players of the improved instrument. Living in North Shields, it is very likely that he would have known Robert Reid, who had settled in the town in about 1802.
William Cant (1753–1821) was a Northumbrian piper and violinist in the early part of the 19th century.
The Rook manuscript, a music manuscript compiled by John Rook, of Waverton, Cumbria in 1840, is "A Collection of English, Scotch, Irish and Welsh tunes, containing upwards of 1260 airs". These include many tunes, or versions of tunes, not found elsewhere. It is a particularly valuable resource for the study of the traditional music of Northern England, and specifically of music for the Northumbrian Smallpipes.
Cornelius Stanton was a mid-19th-century Northumbrian piper.