“There’s a love story told at the riverside
By the skill of a sculptor in stone
It tells of a poor Red House woman
Who longs for her man to come home.
There’s a three legged stool by the dresser
An over-turned chair on the floor
A cooking pot over the fireplace
His overcoat hangs by the door.
She goes to the water each morning
And touches it, hoping that he,
Wherever he is, will remember
The girl he once loved by the sea”
We have a small postbox at the Exhibition site in the Museum and we would love you to post any writings or poems inspired by the postcards, like this wonderful example dropped there in October. You don’t have to sign your name, you can stay anon if you ask, but all contributions will be added here.
Red House is a district of Sunderland, north of the river a little west of Millfield, location postcode SR5. It’s just about possible that in Martin Crosby’s time you could see the Red House estate from across the river in Millfield. All the streets in Red House begin with a R.
There are many Wearside and Tyneside folk tales of the tragedy of lovers divided by a river. Most memorably, this:
“I canna get to my love, if I would dee,
The water o’ Tyne runs between her and me;
And here I must stand, wi’ a tear in my e’e,
Both sighing and sickly my sweetheart to see.
O where is the boatman? my bonny hinny!
O where is the boatman? I’ll give any money
To ferry me ower the Tyne to my hinny,
And I will remember the boatman and thee.
O bring me a boatman – I’ll give any money,
And you for your trouble rewarded’ll be,
To ferry me over the Tyne to my hinny,
Or scull her across that rough river to me.
Like any other coastal location there are also very many memories of lovers lost at sea, of the yearning of those left behind who visit the shore or the clifftop every day yearning for the sight of a ship on the horizon, a fishing vessel home late from the catch, a cargo ship overwhelmed by a storm.
A public art trail along the north bank of the River Wear from the Monkwearmouth Bridge to the coast has a Red House sculpture which is probably the reference point for the poem. It has a cold stone coat hung by a door, an overturned chair, a stuffed ottoman and an unhindered view of the horizon.
A very beautiful first contribution. Thank you.