Search

Tales of terrifying whooping Native American sprinter and Hackney’s Mole Man told in Folk Olympics

PUBLISHED: 16:44 28 February 2012 | UPDATED: 17:11 28 February 2012

Ruairidh Anderson who is making up a different song each fortnight based on the Olympic boroughs

Ruairidh Anderson who is making up a different song each fortnight based on the Olympic boroughs

Archant

A singer songwriter has unearthed a tale about an Indian sprinter who would terrify 19th century spectators as he run around Hackney Wick dressed in Native American costume as part of a project inspired by folk tales from the five Olympic boroughs.

A singer songwriter has unearthed a tale about an Indian sprinter who would terrify 19th century spectators as he run around Hackney Wick dressed in Native American costume, for a project inspired by folk tales from the five Olympic boroughs.

Ruairidh Anderson plans to release five songs about Hackney every fortnight during his 10-month Folk Olympics project.

The first instalment came last week about Mrs Basil Holmes woman who saved hundreds of graveyards from destruction by greedy developers in the 1880s – including St John of Jerusalem’s in Lauriston Road.

Still to come is the fascinating tale of an American Indian sprinter who was shipped across to the UK and broke the existing 10 mile record on a Hackney Wick racecourse.

“This is a story of the time with a great Olympic link,” said Ruairidh.

“This was when the sport was rough and ready, and mostly about the betting.

“He would run in Native American costume and scream and whoop and terrified spectators.

“He was worshiped but also experienced a lot of racial discrimination, it was a love hate relationship and he descended into lifestyle of alcoholism and brawling.”

Ruairidh also plans to broach the more modern day tale of William Lyttle, dubbed the Mole Man, who burrowed a network of tunnels under his De Beauvoir mansion, before he was evicted and died in 2008.

“I was tentative about attempting to depict a tale from recent history, but it’s such an eccentric London tale,” said Ruairidh.

“The mystery for me is no one knew where he was digging or why he was digging, and he died in a flat where he couldn’t dig. Well he scrabbled away.”

Although the stories are folk tales, Ruairidh, who lives in Surrey, is not a folk musician and most of the time is backed by a full band.

“As a songwriter I need to do something to carve a niche out for myself, it’s a pretty unique and original project,” he said.

The idea came off the back of a similar project last year entitled Songs from the Howling Sea, where he told 52 East End folk tales in song.

For the next Folk Olympics instalment see www.londonist.com and www.songsfromthehowlingsea.com

0 comments

Latest Hackney Stories

Spurs have won eight of their last 10 games in all competitions and suffered just one defeat during that period - at the Etihad last month

17 minutes ago

Shedding further light on illegal schools remains a chief priority for Hackney Council in the face of criticism from the Jewish community.

In an article from our ‘Year in Sport’ pull-out, we look back on Leyton Orient’s 2017 and explain why this year provides renewed hope

Karen Hills’ team have not won since November 1, but the squad remains united and positive about their chances at Sheffield FC on January 28

When I gave up meat as a first-year student, I did so not just because of nascent first-world guilt about the environment and factory farming, but because it was cheaper.

14:30

The team at Newington Green’s popular Alma has opened a new pub, Be-Bop-A-Lula, in Green Lanes. It’s great. James Morris isn’t surprised.

09:00

Clapton progressed into the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy semi-final after seeing off high-flying Essex Senior League outfit Basildon United with a 1-0 victory.

Iftekar Hossain tells Emma Bartholomew about his journey from Dubai and Bangladesh to running the Hoxton pizzeria that’s just been named north London’s ‘best takeaway’ in the British Takeaway Awards

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists