Manchester Ship Canal

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I sing a theme deserving praise, a theme of great renown, sir,
The Ship Canal in Manchester, that rich and trading town, sir
I mean to say, it once was rich, ere these bad times came on, sir,
But good times will come back, you know - when these bad times are gone sir.

Tow, row, row
Tol de riddy, rol de riddy
Tow, row, row

In 1825, when we were speculating all, sir,
We wise folks club'd together and we made this Ship Canal, sir,
I should have said we meant to do so, for we'd the scheme laid down, sir,
That would have made this Manchester a first rate seaport town, sir.

At Oxford Road the dry dock is, to cork and to careen, sir;
Our chief West India Dock is where the pond was at Ardwick Green, sir;
That is to say, they might have been, had these planes been done, sir,
And vessels might have anchored there of full five hundred tons, sir.

Instead of lazy Old Quay flats, that crawl three miles an hour, sir,
We'd fine three-masted steam-ships, some of ninety horse's power, sir;
That is, had it been made we should, and, Lord! how fine 'twould be, sir!
When all beyond St. Peter's Church, was open to the sea, sir.

At Stretford, Prestwich, Eccles, too, no weaver could you see, sir,
His shuttle for a handspike changed, away to sea went he, sir;
I'm wrong, I mean he would have done so had it but been made, sir
For who would starve at weaving who could find a better trade, sir.

Alas! then for poor Cannon Street, the hookers-in, poor odd fish!
Instead of catching customers, must take to catching cod fish;
That is, supposing it were made, may it ne'er be I wish, sir,
These cotton baits for customers, would never do for fish, sir.

Alas! too, for poor Liverpool, she'd surely go to pot, sir,
For want of trade her folks would starve, her custom-house would rot, sir;
I'm wrong, they'd not exactly starve or want, for it is true, sir,
They might come down to Manchester; we'd find them work to do, sir.

Success, then, unto Manchester, and joking all aside, sir,
Her trade will flourish as before, and be her country's pride, sir,
That is to say, if speculation can be but kept down, sir,
And sure we've had enough of that - at least within this town, sir.
The proposal for a Manchester Ship Canal caused many songs and poems to be written, both ridiculing and praising the idea. This song was performed by Mr. Hammond at the Theatre Royal, Manchester in 1827.
The lyrics are from Canal Songs compiled by Jon Raven.
Originally from Notes and Queries, March 12 1881, Manchester Reference Library.

Gary and Vera Aspey recorded this on 'Bold Navigators'.   They omitted verses 5 and 6 and appear to have added the chorus.

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