Search

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

16:44 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 News Stories

Yesterday, 12:00
A new born baby grasps the thumb of her mother

A befriending service for pregnant women and new mums battling depression is facing closure unless it can secure funding.

Fri, 15:43
Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan said he will be a mayor 'for all Londoners'

Labour’s Sadiq Khan told Hackney’s Jewish community tackling anti-Semitism would be a top priority for him should he be elected as London Mayor on Thursday.

Fri, 09:16
Samuel Evans is raising money to be able to go to New York University by taking on 2,000 odd jobs

A playwright is doing all he can to realise his dream of studying theatre in New York – including cooking, cleaning, dog walking, waitering and giving massages.

Thu, 17:00
Beth Powell

When Beth Powell nervously entered a summer camp for seriously ill children to volunteer for the first time in 2012, she couldn’t have imagined the impact it would have on her life.

Thu, 15:59
The scene of the crash in Heathland Road. Picture: @999London

A pedestrian has been hit by a car in Stoke Newington.

Thu, 12:10
Suki Jehangir

Grieving Dalston Kingsland station staff this week paid tribute to a popular colleague following her sudden death.

Thu, 12:09
Ruby Wax with the cast of Midsummer nights dream at the Rio cinema

Heads turned in Dalston yesterday, as none other than comedian and actress Ruby Wax turned out to the Rio Cinema with the High Commissioner of Barbados in tow for a film premiere with a difference.

Thu, 07:00
London Fields Brewery

London Fields Brewery is facing “12 rounds” with neighbours over plans to host boxing and wrestling events until 3am.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Yummy traditional afternoon teas for two

MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Traditional Afternoon Teas for two at a location of your choice! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hackney Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe