I’m determined to make as many short films while I’m based at Tingas in Tinsley, to make use of the amazing space in the main hall. It’s got some bonkers acoustics going on, with a c. 4 second reverb, and bare floors and walls which seem to act like a giant speaker. In this recording, I took my shoes off in an attempt to avoid extraneous noise. But still, my creaky little guitar rest (a handy fold out support to sit my guitar on, so I don’t have to use a sciatica-enducing footrest) can be heard in the few moments where I move an inch.
This is a tribute to a young family who lost their lives as they sought shelter in bed on the 25th September 1916. That night, Sheffield was subjected to it’s first ever air raid. It must have been a terrifying experience as the deep drone of the German L22 Zeppelin’s Daimler engines approached from the south. It’s target was, no doubt, Sheffield’s vast steelworks, the ‘armoury of the world’ where they were churning out armour plate and munitions for the war effort. Instead, the raid largely damaged civilians as it blindly circled across Burngreave, Pitsmoor and Darnall. After leaving a small wake of devastation, injured and dead (28 in total) it snuck away eastwards over Darnall.
Spot the mistake in the article above, borrowed from the Chris Hobbs website, which has a very in-depth account of the tragedy, and it was there I found the outlines of the story of Beatrice(22), Levi(23) and their baby son Horace Hames (1). It says simply “the second bomb hit 10 Cossey Road…as they lay together in bed.” Cossey Road is now largely a desolate edge-land, apart from a derelict chapel which sits along at the bottom of the street. It’s now a nice spot to do a bit of fly-tipping, and there’s very little to indicate what tragedy once took place here.
I wrote a song for the Hames family as part of a Zeppelin Raid commemorative event at Kelham Island Museum last year. As part of a number of activities taking place at the museum, such as sensory and labyrinthine tours, I led a delicate little music session in the the Millowner’s Arms. We had a number of fine Sheffield musicians along, who chose music and songs to pay their tribute.
Over a year on, and after only playing the song a few times at the very occasional gigs I do, I decided to make a simple acoustic version. Each time I play the song with a different ‘Prelude’ from my classical guitar repertoire (always in my favourite key – D minor!) This performance, I snipped the slow first section of Silvius Leopold Weiss’s Fantasie (1686-1750) and spliced it to the introduction of my song (Cossey Road – or street?). I’m happy with how it works, and will be going with this version when I get around to doing a studio recording some time next year.
I hope you feel it’s a good tribute to that young family.