Go to 4schools home pageGo to a glossaryGo to a Timeline Links to other useful websitesGo to an archive of additional sourcesGo to a Gallery of student's work
Print this sourceGo to a worksheet for this activityGo to a transcript of this source
Home > Crime and Punishment in Durham > Punishments> Tommy Armstrong > Task 1

 Tommy Armstrong: the Pitman Poet and Prison

Go to section on Crimes and Criminals

Go to section on Punishments

Go to section on Prison Reforms and Reformers

Go to section on the Bloody Code

Find out more about prison life

Go to section on the history of Durham Prison



Extract from 'Dorham Jail' by Tommy Armstrong

Extract from 'Dorham  Jail' by  Tommy Armstrong.

Extract from 'Dorham Jail' by Tommy Armstrong.

'Dorham Jail' by Tommy Armstrong. Taken from Song Book Containing 25 Popular Songs of the late Thomas Armstrong, compiled by W.H.Armstrong, (DUL ref Pam L 828.4).

Read the source carefully and try to answer the following questions. It will probably help if you try to work out what it says in standard English before you start to answer the questions. A transcript has been provided and there is a worksheet for you to record your thoughts.


1. How does the prisoner describe the walls of the Jail?

2. What do you think it means when the prisoner says ' We ivor gans thae heh to bide/ Thor time, be it short or lang.'?





3. Why do you think there is 'nee gud luck in Dorham Jail'?

4. From reading the chorus, what does the author think the purpose of the Jail is?


5. Does the prisoner have any choice but to work when in Durham Prison?

6. What complaints does the prisoner have about the prison uniform?




7. What are the beds like in the prison?



8. What jobs do the prisoners have? Do you think they would like the work they had been given?

9. Why do the prisoners have to work hard?



10. What is the prisoner complaining about in this verse?




11. According to the prisoner, what are the good points of Durham Jail?

12. Do you think he really believes it when he lists these good points?

13. Does the prisoner think he deserves this treatment in jail? What do you think?


Now that you have looked at the song in detail, go to the next task to analyse what the source tells us about crime and punishment in the 19th century.

Go to the next taskGo back


Home | Glossary | Timeline | Links | Archive | Gallery
 Print | Worksheet | Transcript |