If you ask it of me, “Where have you been?”; To report on the strangest beast I’ve ever seen. Up on the Town Moor, a travelling machine, Defied gravity without aid of legs or steam.
Is it animal, vegetable, mineral or metal? This is the question they want me to settle. Well it kicked and it snorted, it sweated, it farted; With a noise to strike fear into the fainthearted.
The horse bore a rider, who clung to his back, In the most bizarre garb, a real dandy jack. His efforts were turning his face a bright red; When I spoke to him afterwards, these words he said:
“This is the Northumberland Eagle Mail, And I am the greatest man who ever set sail, On the Sea of Invention, and it is my intention, To improve any idea or device you can mention; A boat with paddles, life preserver, tin pen, I bring divine wisdom for the good of all men”. As I laughed at his back, I believed him of course; That madman on his dandy mechanical horse.
The horse groaned and grunted, as it fought the rough ground; The man pushed and pulled, and sweated off pounds; While the people threw mud, and jeered and swore; Until their shoulders and throats were aching and raw.
The man persevered, unheeding their jibes; As if they were the ones along for the ride: He turned to the crowd, defying their joke; And I bring to you now the words that he spoke:
“This is the Northumberland Eagle Mail, And I am the greatest man, who ever set sail, On Invention’s Great Ocean, and I have a notion, To set the whole world in Perpetual Motion: All others are wrong, so I must be right; My philosophies sent by God in the night.” As I laughed at his back, I believed him of course; That madman on his dandy mechanical horse; That madman on his dandy mechanical horse.
Well I’d pelted and mocked, along with the rest, This fool who’d claimed his safety lamp was the best; But through the mud a wise glint I did spy; There’s more to this man than at first meets the eye. He may be no great inventor or poet, But he’s still someone special and you people should know it: Don’t tease him, don’t taunt him, and don’t scorn his sooth; This man is only in search of the truth.
“This is the Northumberland Eagle Mail, And I am the greatest man, who ever set sail, On Invention’s deep sea, and I’m sure you’ll agree, That God has entrusted his genius in me; So all learned humbugs, know your station: I’m the philosophical conqueror of all nations.” As I laughed at his back, I believed him of course; That madman on his dandy mechanical horse; That madman on his dandy mechanical horse; That madman on his dandy mechanical horse.
One of William Martin's more notorious inventions was a travelling machine, the ‘Northumberland Eagle Mail', in 1828. Locally nicknamed the ‘Dandy Horse', it was exhibited at the White Hart Inn in Newcastle's Cloth Market and when William gave a demonstration of it on the Town Moor, in the words of a reporter at the time, "he got excessively hot propelling it over the rough ground and was pelted with mud by the spectators".
"This machine", William claimed, "is calculated to carry any Man in Health to any Part of the Kingdom, being a superior Mode of Travelling to either Riding or Walking. It has a noble and majestic Appearance; and the management of it requires but such gentle Exercise that it will materially benefit Health. It is the only Travelling Machine that ever was invented in the World to work from the Centre of Gravity, without the Aid of Horse or Steam."
Mick Tyas - Lead Vocals Gary Miller - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar Glenn Miller - Accordion Iain Petrie - Bass Guitar, Drums, Percussion, Hand-Claps, Backing Vocals
New Principles: or the March of Invention, Thomas McLean, c1824-1830. Science Museum Group.
'The Dandy Horse' live at the Premiere of 'Mad Martins: The Story of the Martin Brothers' The City Theatre, Durham, England, 5th October 2019