Rough Neck Navvy Band

by Sue Lee and John Meleady

boat

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I'm a common sort of working chap
'Young Banker' is me name
And I've joined this band of ruffians
Navigation is our game
We tramp the countryside all over
Digging ditches up and down
With pick and shovel, shifting spoil
Connecting town with town

Our very first job was for some Duke
Up north, over Worsley way
To give the 'townies' cheaper coal
But by God we earned our pay!
The work was hard and the hours long
The 'gaffers' mean and tough
They pushed us 'til our bodies aching
Cried out "Enough's enough!"

For six weeks at a stretch we worked
'Til pay day came around
Then pick and shovel layed away
And in our hoards - hit town!
"Into the nearest alehouse lads
To quench this mighty thirst
And then perhaps a pretty lass ...
But we'll down ten gallon first!"

With bodies bruised and heads all aching
Next day we're on the 'tramp'
Working now for Thomas Telford
And our home's another camp
A hundred tons of spoil we lift
In barrow-loads each day
Digging, delving, loading, tipping
To our necks in mud and clay

Ten thousand miles of navigation
We've dug with our bare hands
We've sweated blood, paid with our lives
But still England demands
A better system for her commerce
Canals throughout the land
So we're off to dig another cut
With our rough neck navvy band
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