36 Miles Away from the Sea

by Chris While and Julie Matthews



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The decline of the city was cruel
But not for the lack of the tool
What broke the back was the lack of the means
To transport her trade away to the sea

Daniel Adamson nurtured a dream
To build a canal the likes never seen
And as Liverpool traders they scorned
In Manchester town, a vision was born

Chorus :
36 miles away from the sea
Building a dream, a gateway, a quay
From the sea to the city, a sight to be seen
36 miles away from the sea

Well the money and time it was tight
But Manchester rose to the fight
And as the deadline dissolved into days
Resolved to the cause three million was raised

Boys and men 16 thousand in all
From town and country they answered the call
To work 60 hours a week for a pound
Removing the earth to channel the ground


Bonfires and flares turned the night into day
160 lives lost on the way
But the toil it was never in vain
And the months turned to years, till '94 came

And how Manchester gathered with glee
When Victoria opened the quay
Manchester city would rise once again
City of dreams, your ship has come in

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. It was recorded by The Albion Band with a brass arrangement by Goff Richards and included on the compilation CD 'The Acoustic Years'. Chris While and Julie Matthews website contains details of all their songs and recordings. In the YouTube recording it is sung by Chris and Kellie While.

Recorded on :

The Acoustic Years (1993-97) - The Albion Band, HTD CD74 Records (1997); Transatlantic TRACD313 (1999)
Too Few Songs - Chris and Kellie While, Fat Cat Records FATCD018 (2006)