London to Birmingham
in 4½ Minutes

by Buz Collins

boat

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We leave the Thames at Brentford and we climb the Hanwell flight
Straight on at Bull's Bridge junction for it's Paddington to the right
At Cowley Peachey go straight on, don't take the left for Slough
For as Betjeman once said, "It isn't fit for humans now"
Through Uxbridge and at last the countryside comes into view
Where Denham lock's the deepest lock at near eleven foot two
There's a gentle climb to Watford for it's here the locking starts
From Denham up to Batchworth, from Bucks and into Herts

Chorus:
Through city and through countryside, from London up to Brum
Were travelling the only way - on the Grand Union

Now leaving Watford town we say "Hello M25"
We wave at all the cars parked there whilst underneath we dive
Kings Langley is a lovely place, I used to live nearby
And Berkhamstead and Hemel pass in the blinking of an eye
At Cowroast lock the summit starts named for the village of Tring
It's three short miles to Bulbourne where we start down again
The short arm through to Wendover is derelict as can be
But turning left at Marsworth takes you down to Aylesbury

Chorus

From Pitstone down to Slapton and the fields are quiet and still
But be sure to keep an eye out for the lion on the hill
Through Leighton Buzzard and Linslade and down the Soulbury Three
Then Bletchley marks the outskirts of the town of Milton Keynes
Now Milton Keynes is not as bad as many people say
There's flowers, trees and open fields to speed you on your way
Then Wolverton to Cosgrove lock, and with a little luck
You'll see kingfishers flying round the Great Ouse Aqueduct

Chorus

From Cosgrove to Stoke Bruerne now the locks start up again
And once you're through Stoke Bruerne better put your headlight on
For five and thirty minutes you'll be travelling underground
Through Blisworth's mighty tunnel, longest open in the land
Emerging into daylight and the sky seems awful bright
Straight on at Gayton Junction, it's Northampton to the right
To Bugbrooke on past Weedon and the M1 comes in sight
To keep you noisy company on up the Buckby flight

Chorus

It's here at Norton Junction that the Leicester Line departs
But we are going westward where the Braunston summit starts
Now Braunston tunnel's crooked, as you are soon to learn
Then its down the Braunston lock flight and and it's left at Braunston turn
The Oxford canal joins us 'til at Napton we turn right
Then down the Calcutt Three and further on the Stockton flight
From Itchington to Bascote down to Royal Leamington Spa
'Til at Warwick it's the Hatton Locks, the hardest flight by far

Chorus

Now Hatton's twenty-one locks are a daunting sight to see
And by the time you reach the top you will be ready for your tea
Through Shrewley's little tunnels, one's for horses, one's for boats
Past Kingswood turn where Stratford-bound the Shakespeare lovers float
Climb up five locks at Knowle now and on to Solihull
Where the houses and the factories encroach without a lull
And finally down Camp Hill Locks through bridges and through bends
You come to Bordesley Junction where the Grand Union ends

Chorus

So we've been through one hundred and sixty locks and one hundred and forty miles
Through seven different counties we've been travelling in style
Through city and through country, from London up to Brum
We say farewell, adieu 'til next time to the Grand Union

Chorus

Through city and through country, from London up to Brum
We say farewell, adieu 'til next time to the Grand Union

Recorded on :

 

This song inspired Hilary Rhodes to describe a somewhat different journey in a new song 'Birmingham to London in 4½ Minutes'.