Birmingham to Londonin 4½ Minutesby Hilary RhodesWe’re going down to London from up Foxton Staircase FlightAnd its paddles Red before the White, you’ve got to get it rightAnother flight at Watford and we’re starting our descentThat lockie makes us hurry up for speed is his intentIt’s there at Norton Junction that we leave the Leicester LineFor when you’ve locked down Buckby, you’ll know you’re doing fineAnd then you’re now at Whilton, the railway comes in sightTo keep you noisy company after the Buckby FlightThrough city and through countryside, from Leicester or from BrumWe’re travelling the only way on the Grand UnionFrom Weedon then past Bugbrooke is a lock free gentle rideStraight on through Gayton Junction, it’s Northampton to the sideAnd once you’re through old Blisworth better put your headlight onThen for five and thirty minutes you’ll be travelling undergroundThrough Blisworth’s mighty tunnel, one of the longest in the landOf ghosts galore, of leggers yore and boaters’ contrabandAnd coming into daylight the sky seems awful brightAnd into famous Stoke Bruerne where the boats and pubs uniteThen down the heavy Stoke locks and to Cosgrove as we steerWe look right down from such a height it makes us all feel queerUpon the Iron Trunk Aqueduct that’s eighteen metres highO’er the River Great Ouse where the bright kingfishers flyAnd into Wolverton we go, past rail yards and old sitesWe see some slick new yuppie flats and a history of bikesNow Milton Keynes is not as bad as many people sayThere’s flowers, trees and open fields to speed you on your wayThen Bletchley marks the outskirts of the town of Milton KeynesWhere geeks and cypher punks of old can tell their secret dreamsAnd Fenny Compton’s little lock is there to stop a nightTo find out why those engineers can’t get those levels rightThe next lock’s at Stoke Hammond and then it’s up the Soulbury ThreeThen Linslade, Leighton Buzzard, then we have a cup of teaIt’s Grove, Church, Slapton, Horton locks will make your backs all soreAnd then two locks at Seabrook rising 20 feet and moreAnd there’s Seabrook swing bridge it’s an obstacle of sortsPast the rail and road bridge when we see the Pitstone portsIt’s then we come by Maffas locks as boatmen called them, ninePassing Aylesbury Junction Arm where boats got stuck in lineWe’re now on the Tring Summit on the way to Bulbourne shopsLeaving Wendover Junction for the place they once made locksIt’s three short miles to Cowroast lock and we start locking downIts another ten to Berko Port and hard when on your ownThe next stop is at Hemel after another thirteen locksWhere paper mills are now all gone there’s naught but flats and shopsNow leaving Watford town we say “Hello M25”;We wave at all the cars parked there whilst underneath we diveA few more locks are still to go ‘til we’re at Grove Bridge MillWith four sharp bends we have to take without any a spillAnd then it’s down to Cassio along the leafy gladeThrough Croxley Green and Common Moor beside the River GadeWith water all around us we get to Batchworth LakeTo Ricky’s little village for another tea and cakeWe travel past the houseboats and boats like houses tooAnd then its past the Sewage farm that smells just like a looNear Uxbridge and at last the town comes into viewWhere Denham lock’s the deepest lock at near eleven twoAt Cowley Peachey go straight on, don’t take the right for SloughFor as Betjeman once said, “it isn’t fit for humans now”If you’re going down to Brentford to the Thames when tide is highIt’s straight at Bulls Bridge Junction and then down Hanwell you’ll flyIts left at Bulls Bridge Junction if to London town you goLeaving Heathrow all behind you and past the Old Jam ‘OleThe boats at Little Venice are a lovely sight to seeThere’s no more locks to set until the Camden ThreePast Islington and Vicky Park, past Mile End or the Lea,We end up in the Limehouse Dock and Thames down to the sea!Through city and through countryside, from Leicester or from BrumWe’re travelling the only way on the Grand Union Dr Hilary Rhodes, who lives in Australia but who has continuously cruised the UK waterways for six months in each of the last two years, was kind enough to supply supply the above song. It was inspired by Buzz Collins' 'London to Birmingham in 4½ Minutes' though Hilary on NB Willow did the journey rather differently. She says : I wanted to sing London to Brum, but wanted to tailor it to our experiences this year. We went to down to London and then the Thames from Foxton Locks, and had been to Leicester before that. So we went down the opposite way, starting from Foxton Locks which is so widely known. Here is my version of going the other way. It would not have worked reversing the verses, and of course, left becomes right etc.I hope you can use it, and publish it alongside the original. I have a few of the original lines left in, but it is a 95% rewrite, as it would not have made sense otherwise. I added the London Ring in, changed the chorus end to 'from Leicester or from Brum' and left out the journey to Brum.