When Dave Goulder climbed down from the footplate of a class 8f for the last time in 1961, British Railways lost a mediocre fireman but the music world gained a highly individual writer and performer. From his new base in the hills of N.W.Scotland he was able to view the age of steam with compassion and humour, while at the same time renewing his acquaintance with the natural world of changing seasons he knew as a boy growing up in a village of the Notts/Derby border.
His father, a travelling farmworker for the War Agricultural Dept, took Dave with him on his rounds of the neighbouring farms, ploughing, sowing and harvesting; working with horses and tractors, men and women on the manpower-starved land of the 1940’s. A real man of the soil, Bill Goulder instilled a love of nature, the land and it’s music into his son.
Leaving school at fifteen, Dave tried a few jobs before drifting on to the railways, working as a porter, engine cleaner, fireman, steamraiser, tubecleaner and knocker-up. The last position wasn’t particularly demanding so he taught himself to play the Spanish guitar on the night shift, and at the same time stringing a few verses together on railway subjects. These skills were developed later on in his new environment.
He spent the next ten years running hostels for mountaineers, supplementing his income by occasionally touring the folk song clubs in the south. He recorded two L.P.’s for Argo in 1969 and 1970; the second of these, The Raven & The Crow receiving particularly good notices.
His first collection of railway songs, Requiem for Steam, was recorded by the Tangent Big Ben in 1971, and critics were divided in their opinions, but both detractors and devotees agreed on it’s originality of content.
Disillusioned with the hostels and their administrators, Dave looked to his old hobby of dry stone walling as a further means of earning a living, and was soon building to a high enough standard to be awarded his Master Craftsman certificate. He was also appointed as instructor to the Agricultural Training Board for the Highlands and Islands and tours this area on a motor cycle providing basic training in this ancient craft. He’s still a motor cycle enthusiast and takes his 30 year old German army bike out at every opportunity. His journeying through remote and beautiful country in all seasons has been a pleasure and inspiration. “ It may sometimes be uncomfortable, but it’s never dull”. Music, however, was missing, and after his first tour of the USA with Gordon Bok he was back to writing, producing a retrospective song book, January Man and a new L.P of railway songs: The Man Who Put The Engine In The Chip Shop.
Dave is actively involved in music, mostly with the Rosehall Ceilidh Band in Britain, Europe and North America. He has provided music for radio, T.V. and film, plus commissioned songs for a variety of singers. Recently completed projects include a book of “steam” songs, stories and pictures. He now plans to become a master craftsman on the Jew's Harp.
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