Sunday, March 12, 2023

Splinter: Costafine Town

On Thursday the Lib Dems gained a seat in Edinburgh's Corstorphine/Murrayfield ward, which naturally put me in mind of this obscure record from 1974. 

So I did a bit of research.

The first thing I found was that Costafine Town wasn't obscure in its day: it made No. 17 in the UK singles chart.

And Splinter were the first band signed by George Harrison to his Dark Horse Records label. Not only that: he produced this single and is playing bass on it.

As to Costafine Town itself, the song doesn't sell the place to me. The detail in the verses goes against the chorus's claim that "it's a fine town". Still, local patriotism is in a fine thing.

But where is it?

Splinter were a South Shields band, and Literary Corstophine tells us:

No 'Corstorphine Town' currently appears on the map in South Shields, but that is not surprising. Not only was the north east of England a significant target for German bombs during WWII, it was also heavily redeveloped in the decades just after the war. 
All that appears to remain of Corstorphine Town is a single pub called the Commercial Hotel. It is to be found in the Riverside area of South Shields.

That website is not sure whether the locale was named after after a businessman named Robbie Corstorphine, after someone who came from what was then a village west of Edinburgh or after anything at all, but the local pronunciation became 'Costafine'.

This second video also tells retails that history, including an interview with Bob Purvis from Splinter who wrote the song.

And right at the end, the Scottish presenters teach me the correct pronunciation of the Edinburgh Corstophine.

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