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 News Stories

Macron Place

A housing developer is working to tackle Hackney’s housing crisis by targeting Londoners who are priced out of the affordable property market and salaried out of social housing.

Firefighters went on strike at 6pm today.

Firefighters in Hackney have gone on strike this evening as part of a long-running dispute with the government over pension reforms.

James Petevinou was convicted of one count of harassment

A detective based in Stoke Newington has been convicted of harassing a woman earlier this year.

15:35
.Creative Unity steel band banging the drum for Vicky Park

The People of London’s East End have been banging the drum to celebrate their favourite Victoria Park topping the Green Flag poll as Britain’s best public space.

Most read news

“Space is hard and today was a tough day.”

One pilot is dead and another seriously injured after the craft exploded over the Mojave desert.

One pilot has died and another is seriously injured after a rocket belonging to billionaire Sir Richard Branson’s space tourism venture crashed during a test flight. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket came down in the Mojave Desert in California. An eyewitness reported that the craft exploded in flight after ignition. A Virgin Galactic spokesman said the […]

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hackney Gazette e-edition today E-edition