Birmingham Lads
(The New Navigation)

by John Freeth

boat

Home

Song Menu

Reference

Play

Music

notes

Recordings



This day for our new navigation
We banish all cares and vexation;
The sight of the barges each honest hearts glads
And the merriest of mortals are Birmingham lads.
Birmingham lads, jovial blades,
And the merriest of mortals are Birminhgam lads.

With pride every heart must be glowing
Stamps, presses and lathes shall be going;
The lads to the wharf with their lasses repair
And smile at the streamers that play in the air
Play in the air, free and fair,
And smile at the streamers that play in the air.

Let Stratford sons boast out of measure
The fruits of their mulberry treasure;
Such treasure for once may cause Jubilee joys
But riches spring daily from Birmingham toys
Birmingham toys, all men praise,
But riches spring daily from Birmingham toys

The Thames, Severn, Trent and the Avon,
Our countrymen frequently rave on;
But none of their neighbours are happier than they
Who peaceably dwell on the banks of the Rea,
Banks of the Rea, ever gay,
Who peaceably dwell on the banks of the Rea.

Not Europe can match us for traffic,
America, Asia and Afric;
Of what we invent each partakes of a share,
For the best of wrought metals is Birmingham ware
Birmingham ware, none so rare
For the best of wrought metals is Birmingham ware.

Since by the canal navigation,
Of coals we've the best in the nation;
Around the gay circle your bumpers then put,
For the cut of all cuts is a Birmingham cut,
Birmingham cut, fairly wrought,
For the cut of all cuts is a Birmingham cut.

Sleeve notes to 'Brummagem Ballads' state : John Freeth, poet and publican, was a prolific writer on public affairs. He composed this song for the opening of the Birmingham Canal in 1769 using Charles Dibdin's tune for 'The Warwickshire Lads' which had been composed earlier that year by David Garrick for the Shakespeare Jubilee celebrations. The canal halved the price of coal in Birmingham, reducing it to seven shillings (35p) per ton.

Mulberry treasure - a mulberry tree grows in the grounds of New Place, Stratford which is said to be the scion of one planted by Shakespeare.
Jubilee joys - the Shakespeare Jubilee of 1769.

Source - John Freeth's 'A Warwickshire Medley', or 'The Convivial Songster', 1780. Researched, Roy Palmer.

Recorded on :