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SALFORD ICON EWAN MACCOLL CENTENARY
 

Star date: 25th January 2015  

EWAN MACCOLL AND HIS LEGACY – A SALFORD TRIBUTE

PART 1

Ewan MacColl, born in Lower Broughton 25th January 1915, is world famous for creating working class songs, plays, poems and protest. In this special Salford Star centenary celebration, split into three parts, we have a bit of everything – from the missing verse of Dirty Old Town to Peggy Seegar's recollections of her husband's attitude to Salford.

However, an equally fitting tribute showcases his attitude towards life – which, in these times of austerity and cuts, has much to offer a new generation. Ladies and gentlemen of Salford we give you the one and only Ewan MacColl...

Full details here...


PART 1

EWAN MACCOLL – THE BACKGROUND

Ewan MacColl, born James Miller on January 25th 1915, lived on Coburg Street in Lower Broughton, and was a true working class hero.

Leaving school at 15, he became a factory worker, labourer, mechanic and street singer, in the process writing and editing nine factory newspapers and, when unemployed taking part in anti-hunger and unemployment demonstrations and protests, including the Battle of Bexley Square...

The Battle happened on 1st October 1931 when 10,000 Salford people marched on the old Town Hall in Bexley Square demanding no cuts to unemployment benefit, no cuts to teachers' salaries, free coal for the unemployed in the winter, free milk for children under five and the abolition of `educational classes and training centres' (for further details see here).

The protesters were attacked with batons by plain clothes and uniformed police and the day has become one of the city's landmark moments, commemorated a few years ago with a plaque on the building which is now being gentrified into flats for young professionals. At the close of the `Battle, MacColl was one of those in a delegation that marched on Salford councillors' houses demanding justice.

Throughout this time MacColl was also spreading the protest word through songs and street plays via Red Megaphones, which he founded at age 15, and the Theatre Union, the forerunners of fringe and agitprop theatre in Britain. What is now called `alternative theatre' was seen as so dangerous that in 1939 a performance of a play called Last Edition was raided by police, and MacColl, with his first wife Joan Littlewood, were fined and banned from performing for two years.

Meanwhile, MacColl said that he wrote songs "for anything that happened" – and there was loads happening, from strikes in the cotton industry, to the Spanish Civil war to the rise of the Nazis in Germany. Indeed, the singer became legendary for writing people's songs that spread from struggles in Salford to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. And a lot of those songs have been covered by other artists, from the classic The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, written over the phone for his third wife Peggy Seeger, as a fill in for one of her broadcasts in America, to Salford anthem, Dirty Old Town.

To list all of Ewan's achievements and work would take a book – and there's a very fine one called Class Act by Ben Harker (see here), plus MacColl's own autobiography, Journeyman (see here), and loads and loads of information and videos on www.ewanmaccoll.co.uk , newly launched and created by his family.

See Part 2 - The Dirty Old Town - Peggy Seeger on Ewan MacColl's attitude to Salford and Dirty Old Town and those who covered it plus the hidden, missing verse of that song... click here

See Part 3 - Ewan MacColl Legacy - click here

Graphic by Steven Speed


Sandrakelly wrote
at 19:54:59 on 25 January 2015
So proud he was from Salford but the council p--d me off when they didn't want Salford mentioned in Dirty Old Town
 
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Star date: 11th December 2018

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Star date: 10th December 2018

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Full details here...

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