The Manchester Canal (SS Irwell)


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O the S.S. Irwell left this port the stormy seas to cross
They heaved the lead and went ahead on a voyage to Barton Moss
No fair ship e'er left the slip from this port to Natal
Than the boats that plough the waters of the Manchester Canal

The third day out or thereabout a great storm swept the main
The captain called his officer, I just forgot his name
"You see that light there on the right? Aye, aye" he did exclaim
"Well it's the Wilson's Brewery lightship at the end of Ancoats Lane"

The captain's brow was darkened for he saw a storm was brewing
And the engineer reported that the horse it wanted shoeing
"Is there a chart aboard this barque?" He asked of one or two
The captain he was ashy pale and so was all the crew

"By gum, we've lost our reckoning, whatever shall we do
We must be near to Bailey Bridge on the banks of Pin Mill Brow"
Then all became confusion as the stormy winds did roar
And the captain wished himself and crew were safe again on shore

"Let go the anchor boy" he cried "for I am soerly puzzled
The mate is drunk and in his bunk, see that the cook is muzzled
We're short of grub in this 'ere tub and we are far from land
There's not a oat in this 'ere boat and the engine's broken down"

"Close reef the sails" the bosun cried "we're in a great dilemma
Just row her to Pomona Bay she cannot stand the weather
She's sprung a leak now all is lost let each man do his best
For soon she'll be a total wreck on the shoals of Throstle's Nest"

But soon the storm abated it, was rather overrated
When the captain, crew and officers were quickly congreated
They searched the chart in every part, to find their situation
They were east, nor'east of Bailey Bridge, just south of Salford Station.
This is apparently a version of 'The Cruise of the Calabar' from a broadside unearthed by Paul Graney of Manchester. It comes from 'Folks Songs and Ballads of Lancashire' compiled and edited by Harry and Lesley Boardman. Harry apparently sang the song to the tune of 'The Girl I Left Behind Me'. The geographical references in the song indicate that it is about the Rochdale Canal which enters the city via Ancoats.

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