‘The Market Place was a tragic sight. Bodies of the dead and wounded lay scattered. The ground was stained with blood and the cries of the wounded were pitiful. The following day it rained, washing away the traces.’
Wash away the day,
wash the pain away,
sweep the remains of yesterday
into the racing river.
Beat the Dead March,
bang the old drum,
heal Hexham’s bust bones
and cry me a river,
cry the Water of Tyne.
Wash away the day
and wash this pain away.
A PITMAN DEAD
With blood gushing out of his boot tops,
a well-dressed man
Thirteen men lie inside the Abbey,
Numbers are found dead upon the roads.
Big with child, Sarah Carter shot,
the musket ball found in the child’s belly.
Thrice into a man’s body
lying at James Charlton’s shop door
it’s said they ran theIr bayonets;
and a pitman dead,
all those broken days of history,
all the slain hours in our diaries.
Sound the Abbey’s bells!
Let them toll the severed minutes.
Let them celebrate
the end of torture.
Let them gush
for more peaceful times.
THERE’S A RIOT
in this Heart of All England,
are swept clean of blood.
But the stains still soak our books.
Death upon death,
we turn the pages;
in between the lines,
we read about the screams,
tearing flesh away.
There is terror lurking in this Market Place,
just scrape away the skin
and, deep down,
there’s a Riot:
a commotion boiling
a terrible turbulence,
a throbbing pain.
It is a Riot of gore,
a torrential downpour
a seeping sore
that is Hexham’s History.
Poems featured in Hexham Local History Society Newsletter
THE HEXHAM RIOT
Known as Bloody Monday, the
Hexham Riot, which broke out on March 9th 1761, was the outcome of an
attempt to introduce a system of balloting for the militia. Balloting
met with opposition throughout the north of England but it was in
Hexhamshire that feelings ran highest. The local magistrates, well aware
of this, had taken the precaution of bringing a detachment of the North
Yorkshire Militia into the town of Hexham. Drawn up in the square in
front of the Moot Hall, these soldiers only served to increase the fury
of the mob that gathered on the day of the ballot. After almost four
hours of argument between ringleaders and magistrates, the Riot Act was