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

36 minutes ago
Teacher Helen Ham is retiring after 32 years at William Patten School, Stoke Newington

Helen Ham only planned to stay at William Patten Primary School for one year when she came on board as a supply teacher in 1984.

12:47
Alexander McQueen left Sarabande the bulk of his £16m fortune

Alexander McQueen’s charity has been granted a licence to serve booze at its fashion shows despite objections from neighbours.

11:08
Hackney Gazette 22.7.86

Every week the Gazette will delve into its archives to see what was happening in Hackney 30 and 60 years ago.

Yesterday, 13:16
The air ambulance landed on London Fields where a police cordon was set up. (Picture: @janann24).

A London Fields sunbather has been rushed to hospital after being run over by a parks van this morning.

Saturday, July 23, 2016
Rose Chorlton and Olly Fay at the Trew Era Cafe in Hoxton (Picture: Polly Hancock)

It feels a bit like trendy coffee spots are taking over east London, but Hackney’s cafes aren’t all about cereal, cats and board games. The Gazette visits three establishments who say their coffee has a conscience.

Friday, July 22, 2016
Shoreditch Park and the Brittania Leisure Centre were under threat

The Britannia Leisure Centre will not be knocked down to make way for Crossrail 2 – leaving the path clear for a new school development on the site.

Friday, July 22, 2016
Police march on the Stamford Hill block party (Picture: J Allinson)

Three teenage girls were this afternoon being held by police over an unlicensed street party in Stamford Hill on Tuesday night that saw police pelted with missiles.

Friday, July 22, 2016
Mayor Jules Pipe at the launch

Jules Pipe is stepping down as Mayor of Hackney this week after 14 years in the post, to work for London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

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

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hackney Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now