Broken Boats

by Barry Skinner
boat

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When I was a lad, I fished in the water
Where the boats lay at the end of their days
Their backs were all broken, hulls were rotting
All that remains of the halcyon days

Fellows and Joshers they’ve lain side by side
Up to their top ends in mud and green slime
Once so respected, now they’re neglected
Forgotten, unwanted, it’s a sign of the times

Once when the paintwork shone in winter sunshine
Once when the brass-work shone like burnished gold
Once when those captains spoke with affection
And tales of achievements about them were told

When Nurser and Atkins they painted the roses
The castles they built were a sight to behold
When one boat a week, it was built on the dockside
All we have now are the memories of old

All we have now are the old folk a-talking
Talking of memories of days long gone past
All we see now are those black hulls a-rotting
Their paintworks all peeling and green covered brass

No more the sound of a Bolinder engine
Running down Braunston, on a cold winter’s day
And no more the sound of the hoof-beat on towpath
Or the cracking of ice as the boat makes its way

For the black hulls are rotting down in the water
The kingfisher dives from his perch on the bow
The black hulls are rotting down in the water
And this is the state of our waterways now

Gone is the paintwork and gone is the brasswork
Gone are the roses, the castles at the door
And gone are those boatmen the once proud tradition
The black hulls they rot, to go boating no more

Fellows and Joshers have lain side by side
Up to their top ends in mud and green slime
Once so respected now they’re neglected
Forgotten, unwanted, it’s a sign of the times

They’re forgotten, unwanted, it’s a sign of the times
When the old wooden boats ceased to be of use for carrying cargoes many were sunk and left to rot in such places as the Cheshire flashes.

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