Alice White

by Alan Bell



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My name is Alice White, I'd have you all to know
I left my father's farm, a long long time ago
My mother called me a silly lass, she said I'd rue the day
That I followed on the heels of the navvies

My first man Dandy Jack, was handsome young and fine
And we travelled throughout England as we trudged from line to line
We lived in shanty houses, had lodgers and children three
As I worked to fill the needs of the navvies

When Dandy Jack was killed, beneath a fall of stone
I wept and cursed the day, that ever I was born
But the children needed feeding and many men looked at me
So I jumped the brush to stay with the navvies

Time came I was deserted, when my children numbered five
And I had to take another man, just to keep us all alive
And now I've had so many men, they call me Alice Free
As I've lived my life away with the navvies

And now I'm getting old, and grey before my time
With the work and the childbearing, as we trudged from line to line
I often think of poor Dandy Jack, lying so cold in his grave
He's the only one I loved of the navvies
Although this was apparently written for a BBC programme about the Settle and Carlisle Railway which never came to fruition, there are no specific references to railways and so it has been appropriated by the canal fraternity and appears on a number of recordings of canal songs.

Recorded on :

Alan Bell - The Definitive Collection - Alan Bell, Greentrax Records CDTRAX285 (2005)