Bolinder Boatman

by Ian Woods



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Now I've been a boatman for most of me life,
I've travelled the country all through.
Seen the grouse on the moor round Saddleworth Way,
Watched trains thunder past out of Crewe.

Chorus :
With me Bolinder beating a steady old thump
And there's smoke drifting out of the stack.
We head through the Potteries then on down south,
Take a load on and then come on back.

I have loaded with pig-iron outside Bilston Town,
And coal out of Bridgewater's mine,
I have legged it through Blisworth with ten ton of salt,
And at Northwich dropped boatloads of pine.

I've basked in the sun on the Middlewich run,
And I've laid up when weather was wet,
Run from Braunston to Lymm in wild winter gales,
In order to win a small bet.

I remember the day of the wagon and horse,
Unloading from ships under sail,
Been from Somerset to London and then on to Goole,
And from there I crossed over to Wales

I've turned eighty now and I'm feeling my age
And soon it'll be time to go
But 'til then I will travel albeit in mind
On the waters that I have loved so

Gary and Vera Aspey changed the chorus slightly in their recording and dropped the original last verse. They replaced it with the following :

Now I am a boatman, of that I am proud,
I've worked long and hard for me pay.
With the cargoes she's carried the timbers now creak,
But the Bolinder's still pumping away.

The original song was written by Ian Woods about an old boatman called Charlie Atkins. This can be heard on the Mark Dowding recording on the 'Play' button and in full on the 'Travelling Tales' CD available from his website. At one time Charlie worked for Cadbury's at Bourneville and got the name 'Chocolate' Charlie - a name he apparently hated! Gary and Vera turned the song around so that it was about the Bolinder engine rather than Charlie. A sound snippet of their version can be heard here.

Recorded on :