Carrying the Load

© Barry Goodman 2008

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We carry loads from North to South,
From Ripon to Llangollen,
From Lancashire to Bridgwater,
From Leicester to the Arun.
Our boats are made to carry coal and
Sand, cement and flour,
Strong beer in crates, and china plates
At just four miles an hour.

Chorus:
Stone for paving and road-making,
Bricks and tiles and timber,
Beasts and cattle, corn and straw
And limestone for the builder,
Tea and coffee, cocoa beans,
Rubber, iron and steel,
Fruit and cheese and turpentine
All carried by canal.

We carry wares from foreign parts
To Birmingham from London,
And leather up from Oxfordshire
For the cobblers of Northampton,
Theres timber for construction work
And barley for the brewer,
While for cabbages and Brussels sprouts,
Weve a boat-load of manure!

For fifty years we carried goods
And business it was booming
From Liverpool to Nottingham
And on down the Grand Union,
But then the railways came along
And took our trade away
For a railway train can travel more
Than thirty miles a day.

For railways have no locks to work,
Their route is straight and true,
No legging through the tunnels
And no pumping out to do,
No horse to feed; and railwaymen are
Home each night at five,
While we poor boatmen work all hours
Just to keep alive.

So will the railways end our work,
Will boats be seen no more
A-carrying the goods and coal
As many years before?
I guess Ill have to carry on,
But if twere up to me
Id leave the water far behind
And a railway man Id be!

The canals’ domination of transport for industry lasted until the coming of the railways, when cargoes could be transported much faster. Many canals were bought up by the railway companies and used alongside their new goods lines but, in many cases, canals were just bought up and closed down.

Barry Goodman, who wrote the song and kindly provided the words, music and additional information, is a member of song duo 'Life and Times' and dance band 'Time of Your Life'. See www.lifeandtimes.info, www.timeofyourlife.info, www.lifeandtimes.org.uk, www.myspace.com/broadsidesrevisited & www.myspace.com/musocallersinger

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