The Ivel Navigation

© Graeme Meek 2000



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Come, list to my song, I shall have you to see
Of a way that this town has been joined to the sea
In a scheme that will bring us such prosperity;
It'll all come down the canal.

This cut does from Tempsford to Biggleswade go,
To Stanford and Clifton and Shefford also;
Such trade will there be as you never could know;
It'll all come down the canal.

Our roads, they disgrace us and cause us to grieve,
Both rutted and pitted, they wend and they weave.
No trader will use them, they'll have you believe
But they'll all come down the canal.

There's coal and there's timber, there's china and glass;
Such profit, our traders will surely amass
When along this canal they are certain to pass;
And they'll all come down the canal.

Along with such cargoes I'm sorry to say
Come flotsam and jetsam all carried our way,
Cheap trinkets and goods that are best kept at bay!
And they'll all come down the canal.

Despite these incursions, such benefits we
Shall gain in transporting this town to the sea.
Good fortune shall reign and I'm sure you'll agree;
It'll all come down the canal.

So onward to Hitchin the navvies will go
And down the canal, then, the trade, it will flow.
They'll share in our fortune as time, it will show;
It'll all come down the canal.

Take heart then good fellows where're you may be,
Both stranded and landlocked, no future to see,
Now help is at hand, it'll soon come to thee.
It'll all come down the canal.


This YouTube video of 'Life and Times' performing this song was recorded by Tony Haynes at the Whitehorse Folk Festival, Grove, in 2012.

The River Ivel was canalised between Tempsford and Biggleswade in the early 19th century during a period of 'canal mania' which was sweeping the country. An extension was built to Shefford a few years later but arrived just in time to compete with the new railway system. A planned further extension to Hitchin was never started. The canal was closed towards the end of the century, the Shefford extension lasting a little over 50 years in all.

Graeme Meek, 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,, &

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