Lock Keeper's Daughter

by Phil Parton

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Come listen folks and I’ll tell you a tale, a tale of an old bargee
Who took his boat and cargo across the Black Country
One evening as darkness fell on a very hot summer’s day
He came to a lock and the lock was locked and the lock was in his way

Oh he hollered and he called and he hammered on the door and a handsome knock he gave
But the cottage was deserted and as silent as the grave
And then he saw a comely wench and a comely wench she were
And he said ‘Please tell me where I might find the lock-keeper’

Oh, her shoved and her said in a careless voice ‘I really do not know
The lock-keeper is my father and my father he ay home’
He says 'In that case can I put me boat into your lock?'
She smiled and she said ‘Mister Boatman, it depends on what you’ve got’

He said you must understand I’m humble boatman
I travel the cut from Stourport and up to Brummagem
She put her hand in his pocket and she ferreted about and she said unto him
‘All I want kind captain is a coin of the realm’

As the sun went down over Dudley Town he put his boat against her lock
And as the siller sky softened the boat began to rock
Oh he sighed and he gasped as he grappled with the tiller and she spread the paddles wide
The boat it entered slowly and upward it did slide

Oh she said ‘O my sir o my very kind sir I’ve never seen a boat like yourn
And I’ve seen all the boats that travel the cut from Brummagem to Stourport’
And in with a gush and a very sudden gush the lock-keeping was done
And he said ‘my wench that’s a very best lock from here to kingdom come’

He awoke the very next day to find he was alone
He enquired of a passer-by when the lock-keeper might be home
‘There ain’t no keeper here’, he replied, ‘where he’s gone we do not know
He buggered off when his daughter drowned in the cut some twenty months ago’

The song and recording were kindly provided by Phil Parton. The transcription from the 'Black Country' recording is mine and I would be happy to correct any mistakes. I'm grateful to Dermot Wardley for taking the time and trouble to provide a much better transcription than mine of verse three.