The Mystery Load

by Dusty Miller

boat

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Back in nineteen fifty nine
When boats worked the Union Line,
Thru’ tunnels, bridges, aqueducts and locks
From Midland wharfs to ocean docks.
The boss called John to his side,
“There’s a load to catch the tide
It’s a run that’s just for you
A job that only you can do”.

“Mr Morton Sir, if I be so bold,
I need to know what’s in ‘me ‘old”.
He cupped his hand around John’s ear
And whispered so only he could hear.
“Now I’ve let you know the secret
Promise me you’ll never speak it”.
John nodded his head and gave his word
“From these lips it’ll not be heard

“The ship is waiting , you can’t be late,
For this job you’ll need a mate
Tied to the wharf’s your brother Ron,
Now get fuelled up and be gone”.
Ron untied both fore and aft
And pushed the boat to deeper draft
Engine starts and into gear
Wind the speed-wheel, get out of here.

Off they flew along the pound
Braunston to Dudley’s smoke they’re bound
Thru green fields and country wide,
Till factories closed on every side.
On they went thru fiery ‘oles,
The landscape huern from iron and coals
When to a hidden arm they neared,
Into its satanic depths they steered.

“Get those crates in me boat,
We’ve no time to stand and gloat
We must wind this motor round
And head back south to London Town”.
Ron said ”We’ll take the bottom road,
We’re in a rush with this precious load
‘Cos once were down the Curd’th flight
We’ll carry on throughout the night.

So on they sped till rose the dawn
Atherstone in early morn,
Up the locks and through the top
On again to Sutton’s Stop
Braunston turn, the locks and then
The tunnel  Bugby locks go down again.
Without a lock for fifteen miles
They took turns to rest a-whiles

From far and near you’d hear the sound
As they raced along the Bugbrooke pound,
Blisworth tunnel, black as night,
The flames and sparks glowed up the pipe
Then the locks at Stoke Bruerne
Jack James was there to help them thru-em.
Cosworth, Finney, Stoke ‘Ammond Three,
Leighton, Maffers, Winkwell, Fishery,

Nash two and passed the mills
Climbing down the Chilton Hills
The locks were coming thick and fast
Under Bull’s Bridge, they turned at last.
And dropping down at Commercial Lock
Finally reaching Regents Dock.
Now the load is aboard the ship
It’s time to get some well earned kip.

When e’en to this day you ask
What they carried on that task
John winks an eye, scratches his chin,
Looks at you and gives a grin.
It’s a story He has never told
What was in those boxes in the hold
It’s a secret which will not be heard
Because a boatman gave his word


From the DP&N Song Book. Kindly provided by Dusty Miller.