Teesside anthem boosts hardship fund

July 2nd, 2014


The proceeds from CD sales of a Teesside anthem by popular local band Cattle and Cane are set to boost some of the area’s most needy children.

Written by the Thornaby band’s lead singer Joe Hammill, Infant Hercules tells the story of Teesside’s industrial rise and decline before finishing with a chorus of hope for the future.

All sales from an initial print run 1,000 CD Infant Hercules will be donated to Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation’s new Schools Hardship Fund.

The single was launched at two sell-out concerts at Stockton’s Georgian Theatre when the CD was on sale for the first time to the group’s growing band of supporters.

The Schools Hardship Fund has been set up by the charity’s chairman Andy Preston to fund necessities such as clothes and bedding for some of the region’s most underprivileged children.

The song’s title comes from William Gladstone’s 19th Century declaration that Middlesbrough was an “infant Hercules” at a time when the Tees was home to some of the world’s leading shipbuilding and iron-producing companies.

Cattle and Cane singer and guitarist Joe said: “I wanted to write a song that documented what was really the start of Teesside when the iron ore was discovered in the nearby hills.

“I wanted to talk about the era when the industry declined before I was born so I did a bit of research into it.

“The lyrics describe the people of Teesside – how they have a gritty, steely determination about them.

“But we can’t dwell on the fact that we were once this huge powerhouse of the world – we should never forget but we have to become strong again. As the closing lyrics say, we must go marching once again.”

And Joe admitted the song is particularly poignant for fellow band members and siblings, Helen, Fran and Vinny, whose line-up is completed by drummer Tom Chapman.

“I’m a very proud Teessider,” said Joe. “I’m rooted in Teesside and I have massive respect for the people who put me here – people like my dad, Jimmy, who was an engineer and fitter for local companies.

“Dad was an extremely proud Teessider. He was very Thornaby-centric and never went abroad in his life. I think I’ve become more rooted in Teesside since he passed away a few years ago. I’m fiercely proud of my heritage.

“I started the band when Dad died. I’ve never publicly acknowledged this before but the band was a kind of coping mechanism for all of us.”

Joe offered to turn the single into a Teesside fundraiser after hearing about the plans for the Schools Hardship Fund from Andy, chairman of the Philanthropic Foundation, a charitable movement that has raised more than £600,000 for Teesside causes in just three years.

“It seems so appropriate for proceeds of this song to go to Teesside,” added Joe.  “When Andy told us about the Hardship Fund, I just knew that was for us.

“The siblings in my family who aren’t in the band are generally teachers, so I’ve heard about local kids who don’t have things like bedding and clothes that most of us take for granted, so it really struck a chord with us.

“It shocks us that it happens and that there’s been no fund for it but hopefully sales of the CD will help to change that.

“I’d love Infant Hercules to become a Teesside anthem that helps us give back to our community. That would be a great legacy for the song.”

Andy Preston added: “This is a wonderful gesture by Cattle and Cane, especially as I’m sure they could have made some money for themselves from sales of the CD.

“Having spoken to a number of Teesside teachers, we believe the Hardship Fund is an absolute must, so we’re looking to work with schools to give help when and where it’s needed. Several schools have already signed up to receive funds.”

The Infant Hercules CD is priced £5. It is available at Cattle and Cane gigs, via www.cattleandcane.co.uk or via Middlesbrough FC stores or online at www.mfcofficialdirect.co.uk.

Lyrics to Infant Hercules

Built on the banks of the Tees,
this Infant Hercules,
born from grime, born from graft,
the world won’t forget Infant Hercules

Men built from steel, women just as strong
ICI at Wilton, Headwrightson, and Dormon Long
the legacy that we have left, is there to see from east to west
Built on the banks of the tees

Infant Hercules, he made the town we know today
smoke and fire, and shipyards and the steelworks paved the way
The Sky was grey, the air was thick, with chemicals that stick,
in the throat and the lungs.

The warm orange glow from our industry at night
is home to me, the most comforting of sights
from Eston hills i’m looking down, I look with fondness on my town
where I was born, I was raised

A small town with bigger hearts and voices to be heard.
Betrayed by the powers who swore to protect and serve.
We were made from industry, they’ll not forget our history
where I was born, I was raised

We can meet the future, we can write a new page
Leave us our identity, stop changing our name
smoggie til the day I die, I love that haze across the sky
Where I was born, I was raised

Infant Hercules he must go marching once again
Infant Hercules he must go marching once again,
in a different way than was before, let’s pick this town from off the floor,
Where I was born, I was raised.

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