The Top Lock

Ron Baxter 1995

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See this stretch of stagnant water
Choked with reeds and green with scum
Home of tyres and plastic bin bags
Mattresses and old oil drums.

Yet once this was a thriving highway
That brought progress, that brought trade
Built by the sweat of a thousand workers
With pick and shovel, plough and spade.

Here was carried the fuel of labour
Cargoes of cotton and of wool
Coal to feed the hungry furnace
Of those dark Satanic Mills.

Here was carried stone and timber
Here was carried slate and brick
To build the slums for the huddled masses
And the mansions of the rich.

But the railways came, trade departed
The canal`s fame was soon forgot
Now nothing remains of its splendour
`Cept the pub`s name.....
"The Top Lock".
This was written by Ron Baxter for a radio programme which was also released as a tape entitled "Reflections on the Canal". This was a collaboration between Ron Baxter, Nick Dow and Mally Dow. Nick and Mally at the time presented Radio Lancashire's "Lancashire Drift" folk programme. Thanks to Ross Campbell for passing on a lot of information about this project and to Ron for his permission for it to be used for research/study purposes. The tune was probably written by Nick Dow but further investigation is needed. The song was not included in the version recorded on tape and made available with help from 'Canal and Riverboat' magazine in 1994. The date I have been given for the writing of the song may explain why.
"Reflections on the Canal" may have been produced to coincide with the 200th Anniversary of the Opening of the Lancaster Canal. More information about this canal can found on the Lancaster Canal Trust website.