Your Loving Son, Dan

by Chris While and Julie Matthews

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Dear Mother, I've landed work again
On the Manchester Ship Canal
The days are long and the work is hard
But the digs are clean and they pay us well
Father would never believe his eyes
A 30 mile stretch with a 60 foot rise
In a year I'll be on my feet
If I don't spend the money on the girls I meet
I'll write again soon
Your loving son, Dan

Dear Mother, It's been the saddest day
On the Manchester Ship Canal
The floods came in and washed Billy away
Now I've lost my nearest pal
You've got to have eyes in the back of your head
Nerves of steel or you'll wind up dead
With every barrow of earth I haul
I think myself lucky when I don't fall
I'll write again soon
Your loving son, Dan

Dear Mr and Mrs Callaghan
I work with your son on the Ship Canal
It's not easy for me to begin
But the news is bad and I have to tell
Danny was tethered to a heavy load
Pulling the earth up to the road
Well he lost his step and he fell below
The barrel came down with a fatal blow
And we said goodbye to your loving son Dan
Go ahead and cry for your loving son Dan
Your loving son


This was written for a BBC radio documentary called 'Tales from the Towpath' about Daniel Adamson's vision and the building of the Manchester Ship Canal. Full details and a recording of the programme can be found here.