William Parker

by Buz Collins
boat

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My name is William Parker to a poor man I was born
And I lived my life in Carlton in the town of Nottingham
And I lived my life in Carlton 'til I reached my fifteenth year
And the time it came for me to leave for to travel fair Nottinghamshire

And the time it came for me to leave employment for to gain
So I travelled into Nottingham by the way of Lenton Chain
So I travelled into Nottingham on a route I knew fair well
And it's there I spied my future on the Nottingham Canal

The year was eighteen-hundred and eighteen
And often the laden narrowboats I'd seen
And I knew then my future plan, to be a boatman

It was early Saturday morning down to Gedling I did go
For to gather a basket of mushrooms that in the meadow they did grow
For to gather a basket of mushrooms that I took to the market that day
Where I earned me a pocket of money in the cheapside passageway

Where I earned my pocket of money for the new clothes that I sought
And I went out from the market in the boatman's clothes I'd bought
And I went out from the market feeling proud and feeling free
And I went to find employment at the Nottingham Boat Company

It was Hezekiah Riley that I sought
For to hire myself onto his narrowboat
And it is there that I began to be a boatman

Now Riley's boat it was tied up on the wharf against the road
And it was a cargo of gunpowder they struggled to unload
And it was a cargo of gunpowder in barrels thirty-one
But one of the barrels was broken and it's out the powder did run

But one of them barrels was broken and the powder spilt out bad
And it's crewman Joseph Musson says 'I'll make a flash now lads'
And it's crewman Joseph Musson with a hot coal in his hand
And he touches it to the powder that had fallen to the ground

The warehouse full of powder did explode
My body thrown across the canal to the path where the boats were towed
And I died there in the sand no more a boatman

It was ten men that were killed that day and many others hurt
And it's still I'll haunt that warehouse where my body was torn and burnt
And it's still I'll haunt that warehouse for my spirits shall never be free
So remember the great explosion at the Nottingham Boat Company
A detailed account of the Nottingham Canal and the explosion refered to in this song can be found in the May 1989 on-line edition of the magazine of the Lenton Historical Society - the Lenton Times.

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