History Today: what are rappers?

Antique Horse Scraper

Horse Scraper from the Boer War

Those who know us well will also know that we have a habit of bursting into pubs and whipping our swords out(*).

In general, this provokes at least one punter to ask what the hell they are. This is a vexed question and one which has never been answered to our satisfaction.

It is clear that the first rappers would have been made from surplus mining gear in the 19th century. But what would that have been?

Very pretty, but what are they?

Modern rappers

Pictured above is a brass horse scraper used in the Boer War, which puts the date of manufacture towards the end of the 19th century. This shows they were in use at the time of the introduction of rapper dancing, and there is an obvious visual correlation between the design of the scraper and the rapper swords themselves.

The miners of course used pit ponies to bring the coal to the surface, and these were cleaned using scrapers similar to the Boer War scraper, and therefore to the rappers used in the dance.

Where to find out more

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so if you’d like to see a demonstration of how the pit ponies were cleaned, join us at Wessex Folk Festival next weekend and Martin will be more than glad to show you how they were used. Be prepared to take part.

(*) we also love cheap innuendo.

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Preparations for Wessex Folk Festival continue apace!

Our chairs await

We’re all getting a little excited.

In a mere fortnight’s time, the lads of Northgate are off to on a trip to the lovely seaside town of Weymouth for their annual appearance at the Wessex Folk Festival, and we can hardly wait.

It’s a good excuse to play on the lovely beach, eat fish and chips, and pig out on as much ice cream as we can stomach. Oh, and there’ll be some dancing too.

This year, we’ve even had our special envoy living among the locals for the last couple of months, with the mission of finding some extra special places for us to dance (by which we means pubs). He has undertaken this task with gusto and serious dedication. Let us hope that his diligent research has paid off.

And so, with only two weeks to go before the festival, it’s back to polishing swords, ironing sashes and knotting hankies. The excitement mounts!

And if you’d like to see that excitement, or join us for general sword-related shenanigans, come along to our practices, every Tuesday night at 19:30 in The Curfew in Bath. Bring some sun cream.

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Normally dancing, but tonight is EUROVISION!

eurovision-22Normally on a Saturday night, the plucky lads of Northgate would be out in the pubs of Bath dancing their little socks off for the glory of it all.

But tonight is different.

Tonight is special.

Yes, the truth is that everyone, and I mean everyone, will be at home watching the Eurovision Song Contest.

Oh yes, this is what it’s all about.

In other news, we’ll be practising as normal at the Curfew on Tuesday, unless there’s a particularly exciting winner tonight in which case we’ll be talking about Eurovision all night.

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Dancing Before Dawn. WARNING: misleading subject line and weak puns ahead

Sorry about the late update on our exploits at the delightful Larkhall Festival on May Day, but we’ve been busy. Not very busy, it must be said, but a little more than normal.

So here it is: Northgate did indeed dance before Dawn but, as we say, this is a little misleading and deliberately so.

In our defence, all this dancing before dawn stuff is all a little morris dancey for us, and to be honest, daybreak is rather too early for our delicate constitutions. However, we were expected to do it and in typical Northgate style we have met the spectacularly ill-defined brief.

We danced before Dawn.Northgate Larkhall Festival 2 (c) Pete Corcoran

The Dawn in question was one of the punters at the Larkhall Festival.

See what we did there?


Anyway, practices have resumed every Tuesday at 19:30 in the splendid Curfew pub in Bath. Come along an enjoy both dancing and some world-class puns.

Photos © Pete Corcoran

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May Day dancing at Larkhall Festival

may dayOK, this will be short and sweet, like our favourite dance.

After many years of invitations, we’ve finally got our act together and will be appearing at the reportedly splendid Larkhall Festival on May Day.

If you want to see us (and you should), our first appearance will be at around 1:30 on the village green, and we’ll be popping up again throughout the afternoon.

In the evening, we plan (inasmuch as we ever plan anything) to visit a few pubs on a little May Day crawl.

See you there!

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Game of Thrones lends a new member for Tuesday’s practice!

You know nothing, Jon Snow

New recruit? (no)

As they say in Westeros, “You know nothing, Jon Snow!”

Well of course he knows nothing. He hasn’t been to a Northgate practice yet, partly because he’s been busy bleeding to death in the courtyard of Castle Black but mostly because he’s fictional.

Nevertheless, his time has come. We’re practising as usual this Tuesday night in the upstairs bar of the glorious Curfew in Bath.

Come along and join us in playing with vicious swords. And bring your autograph book.

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Threesome super injunction: we name those involved!



There’s been a lot of talk recently about the super injunction gagging the press in the hopes of keeping secret the names of those involved in a certain threesome.

We do not agree with such censorship, and are therefore taking it upon ourselves to shine the disinfectant of daylight onto this murky subject.


The truth is, the threesome in question is Northgate, beer and blades.

There. We’ve said it. This hasn’t made us happy, but I guess that’s why they call it the blues.

Come along to The Curfew in Bath on Tuesday night to congratulate us on our contempt for the system that allows super injunctions, and while you’re there we’ll teach you how to handle a sword properly.

It’ll come in useful in your own threesome.

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Tax details revealed, immoral profits used wisely

Tax? We love it!

Tax? We love it!

Following the recent revelations from Mossack Fonseca, we in Northgate have been pushed by various media to comment on the details of our own off-shore tax arrangements.

In the interests of transparency, we’d like to take this opportunity to clear things up, set the record straight and give a clear, moral lead to other teams in the UK.

This is a private matter. [Edited]

We will not in future benefit from any off-shore tax arrangements. [Edited]

We had a little bit squirrelled away but cashed it in before DERT. [Edited]

We have decided to publish our tax records, which we were always going to do, obvs. We’d like to make it entirely clear that, though we did have money off-shore for tax purposes, we didn’t enjoy it.

To close this matter once and for all, any and all profits we made under tax previous arrangements will be put towards the ruinously expensive price of a pint at practice on Tuesday night in The Curfew in Bath.

If you are a UK taxpayer come along and claim your sip. It’s your right. Oh, and you can play with swords, too, which is a much better proposition.

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Our logo has returned from foreign parts, so we practise tonight!


We decided to me nice and lend our lovely logo, aka Stickman, to the be-tweeded gentlemen of North British for the weekend, because he wanted a bit of a holiday and we considered them to be responsible adults. We may have been a little hasty in this judgement as they took him to Prague, swapped his hoggers and sash for waistcoat and tie, and gave him far too much beer.

But now he’s back with us where he belongs in the beautiful city of Bath.

Now back to normal

Now back to normal

To celebrate this we’re meeting up for our regular Tuesday practice tonight at 19:30 in The Curfew in Bath.

Why not come along and say hello? You’d be jolly welcome.


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Surprise name for new research vessel: Boaty McNorthgate

In a ridiculously contrived attempt to garner further attention, the brave sword-wielders of Northgate have led an internet coup and are close to have a new polar research vessel named after them.

Boaty McNorthgate

Boaty McNorthgate? Maybe.

It appears that the naive fools people who are naming the new vessel expected to get a reasoned and sensible response from the British public, clearly never having met any of them before. Northgate have grasped this opportunity firmly and twisted it to their self-promoting advantage by voting the name Boaty McNorthgate to the very top of the list.

The Head of Naming Boats and Things at NERC said in a statement, “I’m saddened at this childish behaviour, although secretly think it’s quite cool. However, we’d rather hoped to name the new boat after some explorer or other, like David Attenborough or that fox from the Glacier Mints adverts.”

The vote runs until April, but if you want to see the naughty boys and their blades, join them at The Curfew in Bath every Tuesday night from 19:30.

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