Iced In

© Barry Goodman 2008



Song Menu






There’s cold and frost and ice and snow
And the water around us is frozen like steel
And we’re iced in, iced in.
We’re stuck in a boat with a hold full of coal
And we won’t get our wages until we unload
But we’re iced in, iced in.

The ice is so thick you can walk on the water
The snow is so deep that the horse is no good
And here we are crowded in this little cabin
Round a fire making water from snow, coal and wood.

We have to work upon the land
For a poor boatman’s savings will soon be all gone
And we’re iced in, iced in.
This cold is gnawing at our bones
And we’re running up credit we ill can afford
‘Cos we’re iced in, iced in.

The company’s trying to keep the boats moving
With twenty-horse ice-breakers out on the cut,
But the ice won’t give way and the boats can’t get going
So these proud working narrow-boats have to stay put.

And when at last there comes a thaw
And the water releases the boats from its hold
No more iced in, iced in.
We’ll steer through the floods to deliver our load
And hope that we never more have to endure
Being iced in, iced in.


This YouTube video was recorded by Tony Haynes at the Whitehorse Folk Festival, Grove, in 2012.

Winter on the canals could be very hard. Boats could be stuck in ice for weeks on end and the boatmen would be unable to work and earn money to keep their families. Sometimes boaters were forced to find work away from the canals to see them through the period of severe weather. Special boats called ‘ice-breakers’ could be used to try and clear a path through the ice. Men would stand on the deck and rock the boat from side to side to crack the ice.

Barry Goodman, who wrote the song and kindly provided the words, music and additional information, is a member of song duo 'Life and Times' and dance band 'Time of Your Life'. See,,, &

A complete recording of this song can be heard on the Life and Times Myspace website.

Recorded on :