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Spooky Songs at Abbeydale

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Spooky Songs at Abbeydale

Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet's resident 'Singing Grinder' guided fearless families through a musical journey into the grisly past last month, as they attended the annual Spooky Songs Halloween workshop!  Children from the ages of four to eleven joined their parents on a ghost hunt around the site, where they learned about the kinds of accidents and dangers that befell workers at the historic Scythe and tool works.

Bill Packham, Scythe and Sickle grinder of no. 22 Totley, loves a good singalong (especially if he's in the Cross Scythes, the Inn at Totley) and was joined in singing the new traditional tune The Ghost of the Hamlet (click link for a song sheet), a song which tells the tale of the tragic boiler explosion of 1870.

Visitors were shown around Abbeydale works, where spooky soundscapes were installed, filling the spaces with otherworldly sounds, ghostly hauntings from the past.  In the Grinding Hull the screeches and wails of the normally silent grindstones could be heard, as Bill explained the terrible treacherous risks of working in as a grinder in Victorian times.

"If a broken stone doesn't get you, the grinder's lung will!"

Bill isn't allowed in the Manager's House (He and Mester Tyzack don't see eye to eye - union disputes) but he sent the intrepid children to investigate reports of a haunted piano in the parlour.  Talk is, it's been playing all day, but no pianist can be seen...

When the group returned to the warmth and safety of the Learning Centre, they set about working together to turn their spooky inspiration into their own songs and stories.  Here's how well they did... songs about horseless carriages riding through the night, exploding kettles and dripping rain at freaky houses.  Terrifying stuff!

Click here to listen to the spooky songs that were written and recorded by workshop participants!

If you're still feeling in the Halloween mood, why not print off a copy of the Spooky Songbook, and bring it down to Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, and see if you're inspired to re-write the 'Ghost of the Hamlet' or 'The Grinder's Hardships' with your own ghoulish rhymes?


The Community and Learning team at SIMT are dedicated to offering activities that investigate and interpret the unique history of the sites and collections in innovative ways, inviting visitors to use their senses, creativity and imagination to bring new life to old stories.

Scott Russell is an Interactor at SIMT and a freelance musician and composer. Find out more about Scott on his website http://www.heritagesong.org and blog http://sheffieldwheels.wordpress.com/

Posted in Event | Family | Community | Learning | Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet | Make Your Own Wednesdays | School Holiday Activities

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