Until the Cut Runs Dry

© Graeme Meek 2008

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The cut no longer takes us overland from town to town.
The water is depleted and the weeds are overgrown.
The bridges are neglected and the lock gates, rotted through.
The Bolinders are silent and the boats have vanished too.

There’s slippage on the channel; the embankment’s giving way.
The aqueduct’s a ruin and they’ve stripped the puddle clay.
The basin is all silted and the towpath’s fallen in
And likewise went the boaters and all their kith and kin.

Along the banks for all to see, like ghosts in daylight, clear
There’s ruins of the industry that once abounded here:
The industry that needed, once, the waterways to thrive
To ferry goods from town to town and keep their trade alive.

The sweat of all the navvies, here, two hundred years ago
Now seems to matter nothing as the generations go.
The age of speed and glamour, now, the young, preoccupies
And so our heritage just slips away before our eyes.

There’s nothing here to stay for; there’s no future in the cut.
But if we’d open up our eyes we’d surely stop the rot.
A way of life is ending and we let it drift and die
And leave the realm to water rats until the cut runs dry.
There are canals all over Britain that have been left abandoned when they could not compete with the railways. Some lasted well into the 20th century before finally succumbing; the 1950s being the time when canals seemed to be most likely to fade away entirely into history. This song is as much about derelict canals today as those that could be seen in the 1950s. Some are still to be seen today; try visiting the Buckingham Arm of the Grand Union near the village of Thornton.

Graeme Meek, who wrote the song and kindly provided the words, music and additional information, is a member of song duo 'Life and Times' and dance band 'Time of Your Life'. See www.lifeandtimes.info & www.timeofyourlife.info, www.lifeandtimes.org.uk, www.myspace.com/broadsidesrevisited

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