The Boys that Broke the Ground by Brian McNeill If you're a thinking man at all it stands to reason That the Clydesdale and the cart have had their day Though they've served the country well for many's the season Oh the narrow boats have taken their trade away. But to float a barge's keel you need the muscle sweat and steel Of a thousand navvies working on the line: With our picks all on our shoulders and our shovels by our side We're the boys that broke the ground to join the Forth and Clyde! We had Geordies at the sides of Donegal men We had bothy lads from Brechin and Montrose We had highlanders from Beauly and Breadalbane Who'd start the day with whiskey in their brose But from Dublin or Dundee, every mother's son agreed That the work would make you old before your time: With our picks... We dug the cut from Grangemouth up to Bowling From the German Sea to the Carron Foundry door For the faster they could bring their ore and coal in Then the better they could make their cannons roar And to watch the waters run when the delving was all done Was a sight I'd walk a thousand miles to see: With our picks... So come all you thinking men whate'er your station When next you marvel at the works o' engineers Drink a health unto the navvies of the nation And the way they've changed your fortune o'er the years For Jamaica rum and Baltic herring, the bonnie shawl your lady's wearing All came travelling down our broad canal: With our picks... Brian McNeill was a founder member of the Battlefield Band from Scotland; though he recorded this song on his 1985 solo "Unstrung Hero" album. It's an uplifting tribute to the navvies who constructed the canal crossing Scotland from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde. It is also available on the 2015 double CD "The Falkirk Music Pot" (Greentrax CDTRAX383D) featuring Brian McNeill and Friends.
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