Reyrolle Days

When working-class kids in Northern England left school in the 1960's they were herded like cattle into the apprenticeship system and put to work for a pittance in the many factories, shipyards and coalmines. This was intended to address the skills shortage in the heavy industrial areas which were the backbone of the British economy at the time. No consideration was given to any particular talents you might have or if you were suited to this type of work. If you weren't able to adapt, it was purgatory. A prison sentence. Imagine spending the best days of your life like this. 

Ironically, after a few years the British government had systematically closed down these industries and there was no longer a need for the skills that people had sacrificed so much to acquire. They were now surplus to requirements and forced onto the dole. Many of us have bittersweet memories when we look back on those wasted years that changed our lives forever.

The best of times. The worst of times.

"Recorded live in February 1971 at Newcastle Mayfair Ballroom. Reyrolle Days was a swipe at the apprenticeship system in place in Britain in those days. We had all just served our time as engineering apprentices and it had left its mark, spending the best years of our young lives cooped up in a factory with thousands of other disenchanted workers.


"The story of the Mayfair Ballroom has become a real legend in the rock history of Newcastle. It's a venue we played many times over the years. The Mayfair opened in 1961 and spanned four decades as the countries longest running rock venue. Just about every major band played there. What a great feeling when you came around on the revolving stage to see and hear an audience of thousands cheering in anticipation as you started playing your music. Sadly, after much protest from fans, the Mayfair was demolished in the 1990's to make way for a new, modern leisure complex. How times change."  Musical Juice

Reyrolle Days

We were all so young

Not turned seventeen 

When we started on

Those Reyrolle days 

Bound till twenty one

And we’d not be free 

Spent those precious years

In a shallow place 

But I was just a kid

How could I ever know 

What might lie in store along the way? 

Much too immature to ever realise 

I’d come to hunger for those Reyrolle days

They stole the dreams from you

Took the best of times 

As we stumbled through

Those Reyrolle days

Taught us what to do

Tried to change our minds 

From a dazzling view to an empty space 

But we were shining lights

We were young at heart 

Not yet ready for those factory ways 

So we spread our wings

And we flew apart 

Never more to live those Reyrolle days

I’m much older now

And so wide awake 

As I look back on

Those Reyrolle days 

I’ve won through somehow

From some bad mistakes 

And the tears have dried upon my face 

And though at last it seems

That what I have is real 

All my hopes were lost without a trace 

But I still have dreams

And I long to feel 

The way I felt back in those Reyrolle days

Reyrolle Days (c) Steve Nielson All Rights Reserved