The Shropshire Union © Martin Graebe (1972) Come all you boaters far and near Me story now I’d have you hear For I’ve given a life of fifty years To the Shropshire Union Me father was a Number One On the Birmingham to Chester run And me mother bore her only son On the Shropshire Union And me father’s death it hit mother hard And we sold the boat at Norbury Yard And I went to live upon the land Beside the Shropshire Union And the Company did me employ At Audlem as a length’s man’s boy It was damned hard work and little joy On the Shropshire Union And in forty years the skills I found To keep the water in the pound While the working boats churned up and down All down the Shropshire Union Now the boats are painted yellow and blue For the Roses and the Castles they will not do Now that the Government sends the orders through For the Shropshire Union And the maintenance it ain’t done so well And the lock gates they all leak like hell And the pounds are silting up as well All down the Shropshire Union Well the horse-drawn boats they all passed away Then the diesel engine had it’s day Now the cruisers wash the banks away All down the Shropshire Union Martin Graebe has recorded this song on the 2008 album Dusty Diamonds which includes the following sleeve notes : Martin wrote this song after a very pleasant trip in the 1970s, delivering a boat from Market Harborough to Llangollen. Images of the beauty of the Shropshire Union Canal have stayed fresh in the mind for thirty years. The sentiments of the song are those of the old boaters and canal workers who worked through the difficulties of the first part of the 20th Century, only to experience the dismantling of the commercial canal system as a result of post-war nationalisation. Since it was written it the canal system has been reborn as a major leisure enterprise - but, on some of the more distant stretches of water, it is still possible to enjoy the countryside and get away from the fumes from the trucks that have replaced the old boats. Also recorded on :
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