The High Level Ranters are a Northumbian traditional folk music and song group founded in 1964, best known for being one of the first bands in the revival of the Northumbrian smallpipes. With members Johnny Handle, Colin Ross, Tom Gilfellon, Alistair Anderson, Pete Wood and Jim Hall.

The name was chosen as a combination of the location of the Bridge Folk Club at the north end of the High Level Bridge in Newcastle upon Tyne, where they all played, and from the Cheviot Ranters, a famous Northumberland dance band operating in the Alnwick area from about 1953 to 1996.

(Read more at Wikipedia)

Links to Peel

The High Level Ranters appreciated being booked to do a Peel session, as Tom Gilfellon told the North-East's "alternative" newspaper Muther Grumble in 1972:

We're still excited when we get a gig on Sounds of the Seventies. We've been lucky in this last year to have been approached by what we consider are pop disc-jockeys. To do programmes, like John Peel, we've just done another one, I think it's out next Thursday for Pete Drummond...I grew up in an era when I worshipped Buddy Holly so the fact that I'm now on pop progarmmes is quite a boost to my ego.[1]

Reportedly, in 1976 Billy Bragg tuned into a Peel show to hear a High Level Ranters session[1] - and also heard the Sex Pistols for the first time.[2]

Festive Fifty Entries

  • None known.


  • 2 sessions. No known commercial release of sessions.

1. Recorded: 1972/04/10 at Playhouse Theatre, Northumberland Avenue, London. First broadcast: 18 April 1972 Repeated: 20 June 1972. Johnny Handle, Tom Gilfellow, Alistair Anderson, Colin Ross.

  • A Mile To Ride/Johnny Lay Up In The Hayloft  /  Plains Of Waterloo  /  High Level Bridge Hornpipe  /  Felton Lonnen  /  The Hens March/Broken-Legged Chicken/Black Cow Of Wickham  /  Gillan The Prover/Neil Gow’s Wife

2. Recorded: 1974-07-03 at BBC Newcastle Studio by Johnny Handle (Accordion, Pipes, Vocals), Colin Ross (Pipes, Jew's Harp), Alistair Anderson (Concertina), Tom Gilfellow (Guitar, Vocals). First broadcast: 18 July 1974. Repeated: Unknown

  • Fenwick Of Bywell / Marley Hill Ducks / Dance To Your Daddy / Hesleyside Reel

Other Shows Played

  • 03 July 1973: Niel Gow’s Wife (LP – A Mile To Ride) Trailer
  • 14 June 1973: The Dark Island/The Laird Drumblair/Angus Campbell (LP: A Mile To Ride) Trailer
  • 12 June 1973: A Mile To Ride (LP: A Mile To Ride) Trailer
  • 26 June 1973: Gillan The Drover (LP: A Mile To Ride) Trailer

External Links


  1. The date of this programme seems to be unknown. According to Ken Garner's The Peel Sessions, the first two plays of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy In The UK" were on 19 November 1976 and 26 November 1976, but neither show features a session by the High Level Ranters - and Wiki playlists for these dates are unavailable at present.
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