James Brindley

(and the building of the Trent & Mersey Canal)

by Duncan Bourne

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As you glide along the gentle flow of the inland waterway
I’ll sing of the man who built the canals and how they came to be
James Brindley was that engineer, most noted for his skill
The man who’s marvelous schemes, they said, made water flow up hill,
Up hill, Made water flow up hill

Now in those days the packhorse roads through England were a chore
A third of goods were smashed or lost through potholes, ruts and more
Josiah Wedgwood, master potter, said, “We need a plan”
“and I believe, from what I’ve seen, James Brindley is our man” (repeat)

A channel 3 x 12 would be the basis of the scheme
To link the Trent and Mersey was the engineer’s dream
With 35 locks to Runcorn Gap and 40 to Shardlow
And a mile long tunnel at Harecastle to facilitate the flow

Mr B with chalk and cheese outlined all his plans
Surveying every inch of it up and down the land
Folk would cry’ “The canal it leaks! Our work is all in vain!”
“Then puddle it,” James Brindley answered. “Puddle it again!”

For 11 years the navigators they worked awful hard
Round the hills and under hills they fought for every yard
Puddling clay to pave the way for aqueducts and locks
So narrowboats could sail their wares straight to the Liverpool docks
The docks, straight to the Liverpool docks

Alas our great James Brindley near Ipstones got soaked through
He caught a chill and passed away in 1772
In life he achieved many things a credit to his name
But his work on our canals has earned him lasting fame



My thanks go to Duncan Bourne for permission to use these lyrics and video. Duncan's web-site can be found here.