Hard Working Boater

by David Blagrove

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I'm a hard working boater and sharp as a knife
I've worked on the Junction for most of me life,
Wi' a pair of steel boats, seven kids and a wife,
And I fancy I'll carry on boating.

I've fought with me windlass and taken some knocks
From the Birnigum wharves to the Weston Point Docks,
And I've fought for me turn on the Camden Town Locks
When I'm wanted in Limehouse for loading.

Meself and the missis have nearly been drowned
When working by night on the fifteen mile pound,
Wi' a big load of spelter for Birnigumm bound,
And the weather has been pretty bloody.

I've been down to Oxford with a load of D.S.,
Fifty ton ten from the Griff Arm, no less,
And I've boated to Wellin'boro, two boats abreast,
When the water's been coming down floody.

You can talk of your rail and your old Highway Code,
But there's nowt like a pair wi' a fifty ton load,
When the butty swims well and you get a good road
Right over the Cowroast to Leighton.

So wind up your motor and let your blades churn,
Keep a sharp eye on the oil that you burn,
And feel for the snatch from the butty astern,
And don't keep the company waiting.

Junction: The Grand Junction or Grand Union Canal, from London to Birmingham.

Brummagem: a dialect term for Birmingham.

Weston Point Docks: at Runcorn in Cheshire, on the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Camden Town and Limehouse (basin): at the London end of the GUC.

Fifteen mile pound: a pound is a stretch of water between locks. The 15-mile pound is that between Tardebigge Top Lock on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal and the stop-lock at Gas Street Basin, Birmingham.

D.S.: double-screened nuts - a type of coal.

Griff Arm: the Griff Colliery Co. canal, off the Coventry Canal 2½ miles south of Nuneaton.

Cowroast: Cowroast lock is lock 46 on the Grand Union Canal, part of the long flight leading to Tring summit some 3 miles north of Berkhamstead.

Leighton: Leighton Buzzard

David Blagrove in the sleeve notes to Straight from the Tunnel's Mouth says : This is one of my own compositions made as a tribute to the boatmen I met and worked with in the 1960s, when the canals still had a lot of their authentic character.

David has supplied the following additional information : This was written in 1963 on the demise of the British Waterways carrying fleet. Many captains did in fact 'carry on' for a few years with Willow Wren Canal Transport Services, but that enterprise finally was forced to cease trading in September 1970.


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