Canal Child

© Eddie Lawler 2016

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I’m a Canal Child, born on a boat
Brought up to help keep a family afloat
My home’s a cabin just 14 foot wide
But as long as wherever we travel outside
That’s one hundred and twenty-six mile

I may not be learning to read and to write
But I’m learning to paint for to keep the boat bright
I can open the locks and can harness the horse
Can look at a load and say just what it’s worth

Soon as I’m able I’m one of the crew
Morning till bedtime there’s so much to do
Some people tell me I should be at school
Well my school is as long as the Leeds-Liverpool
That’s one hundred and twenty-six mile

And I don’t go down mines to get buried in muck
Not climbing chimneys to sweep out the soot
Nor scrabbling round under thundering looms
I get my fair share of fresh air in my lungs

In winter we might be marooned in the ice
But the dawn chorus tells us when spring has arrived
We’ve a parrot called Polly and the horse is called Joe
Polly shouts “Gee-up” and then she shouts “Whoah!”
For one hundred and twenty-six mile

For a canal child, life can be tough
The folk on the bank may look down upon us
But we’re earning our crust and we’re learning the ropes
Living on water and living in hope
For one hundred and twenty-six mile

Part B written for Saltaire Primary schoolchildren :

We are Saltaire children singing this song
We know that living in Airedale is fun
There’s something special where we go to school
Just down the road, it’s the Leeds-Liverpool
For a hundred and twenty-six miles
There’s bright-coloured boats, there are birds, there are trees
There are swans, there are rabbits, wild flowers and bees
There’s dragonflies, butterflies, ducklings galore
For Yorkshire and Lancashire kids to explore
For a hundred and twenty-six miles

Though the canal children now are long gone
They live in our memory and live in our song
Not just in history-books they will survive
They’ve made the Leeds-Liverpool part of our life
For a hundred and twenty-six miles
We’re hiking and biking or going for walks
We’re gazing at boats as they sail through the locks
It’s all on our doorstep, it’s free and it’s ours
So here’s what we think of our waterway – WOW!


Eddie Lawler and Saltaire Primary School sing a song especially written for the bicentenary of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal:

This song was written for the commemorative journey of museum boat “Kennet” which passed through Saltaire on Sunday 16th October 2016 on the way from Leeds to Liverpool to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the completion of the canal.

My thanks to Eddie Lawler for permission to include his song. He can be contacted via his website which contains many other examples of his song-writing talent.