On Leeds/Birmingham/Manchester Becoming a Seaport Town



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Oh dear! Oh dear! his a curious age is,
Alteration all the rage is,
Young and old in the stream are moving,
All in the general cry improving,
From the Exhibition I've brought news down sirs,
They're going to make it a seaport town sirs,
Instead of factories and cheap tailors
Nothing you'll see but ships and sailors.

This 'twill be I'll bet you a crown sirs,
When Leeds it is a sea-port town sirs.

When the first ship appears in sight,
The town will be all joy and delight;
Eating, drinking, dancing, singing,
The old church spire will shake with ringing,
Then we shall meet with touts and prigs sirs,
Aldermen too in their gowns and wigs sirs,
The heads of the town with all their forces,
And the -- new Mayor they'll draw with horses.

All over the town there'll be boats and barges,
Man-o-war ships that never so large is;
Steamers, backwards and forwards towing,
You'll ride for nothing, and they'll pay you for going.
Sailors swearing, spars a battering,
Heave-ye-hoing hand-spikes clattering,
Strange sails crowding every day, sirs,
Sailing and anchoring in Leeds bay, sirs.

The Liverpool Gent's they'll all be undone
Here there will be nought but fun done,
Pats half wild, running their rigs sirs,
Landing their butter, their bullocks and pigs, sirs,
Then to make us merry and frisky,
Mealy potatoes and barrels of whiskey,
New-laid eggs a twelve month taken,
And old maids with money as rusty as bacon.

Such lots of goods the boats will bring up,
Storerooms will like mushrooms spring up;
To hold the wares of all nations,
The town ....... information,
They'd make the town hall into a store-house,
New rooms they'll make out of the workhouse,
At Dock street, grocers will put their figs by,
And Vicars croft they'll make into a pigsty.

In a short time you'll have trade enough, sirs,
All over the world you'll send your stuff, sirs,
Goods of every clime and nation,
Will all come here for embarkation,
Machinery and cloth, coals and carrots,
In return they'll get Poll Parrots,
Baboons, racoons and Spanish donkeys,
Jay's cockatoos and ring-tailed monkeys,

In a few years, say perhaps twenty,
Man-o-war ships will arrive in plenty,
Then as the tide of time encroaches,
They'll run 'em about the street like coaches,
Over the marshes, stones and crosses,
Tars for Jarvies, whales for horses;
But I'll be off, first I'll make my bow sirs,
For, yegod?, I believe there's a ship coming now, sirs.

Broadside : Barr, Printer, 58 Meadow Lane Leeds. From the Broadside Collection, Leeds Reference Library.
As printed in 'Canal Songs' by Jon Raven.

Other versions feature Birmingham and Manchester. The very similar 'Seaport Town of Manchester' can be also be found on this web-site and the Birmingham version is recorded by 'Kempion' on the 'Brummagem Ballads' lp recording.

Recorded on :

and "Jacks Enlisted in t' '98" by Benny Graham (2008)