Feb 21 Song

Burston Strike School with children

SHE LIT THE FIRE

To Burston school one winter’s day,
Children trudged from far away,
In threadbare clothes no hats upon their heads
They shivered with cold and fear
In their draughty classroom drear
They longed to be back home tucked in their beds.

Kitty Higdon felt their cold, Kitty Higdon shared their fear
So she bravely lit their schoolroom fire
The fire, the fire, she lit the schoolroom fire
Kitty Higdon bravely lit the schoolroom fire

Kitty cared for children well,
She didn’t threaten them with Hell,
She taught them how to think, but not to pray
She helped them value school,
More than just a moral rule
She taught them how to think and how to play

Kitty Higdon thought it right not to teach by means of fright
And she bravely lit the children’s fire
The fire, the fire, she lit the children’s fire
Kitty Higdon bravely lit the children’s fire

Now Tom Higdon helped his wife
At the school throughout his life
And helped the village workers find their voice
He fought the Burston rector
Likewise the school inspector
As a councillor he was the village choice.

Tom Higdon lent a hand
And the village took a stand
He bravely lit the workers’ fire
The fire, the fire, he lit the workers’ fire
Tom Higdon bravely lit the workers’ fire

Attempts were made to ban
Kitty Higdon and her man
Using charges based on threatened children’s lies
The pair were forced to leave
Which made all the village grieve
And caused the children all to go on strike

They refused to go to school, disobeyed the rector’s rule
The children lit the Burston fire
The fire, the fire, they lit the Burston fire
The children lit the Burston fire

Working folk throughout the land
Heard the news and lent a hand
They sent money a new school for to build
The strike school soon appeared
And just as the rector feared
With village children it was quickly filled

The strike school lasted long
Till the Higdons both were gone.
Burston village lit a nation’s fire
A fire, a fire, Burston lit the nation’s fire,
Burston village lit the nation’s fire.

© Simon Haines

The Burston Strike School was founded as a consequence of a school strike and became the centre of the longest running strike in British history, that lasted from 1914 to 1939 in the village of Burston in Norfolk, England. The strike is celebrated every year in the village.

You can hear a recording of this song, sung by Suffolk singer Megan Wisdom accompanied by Cara Bruns on keyboards. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN