Poor Old Horse



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A number one came a bacca-ring by,
And they think so, and they hope so.
I said, Old man, that horse will die.
Oh, poor old horse!

Oh, he'll work all night and he'll work all day,
And they say so, and they hope so.
Put him on the inside he'll back her away.
Oh, poor old horse!

At Exhall wharf they go to load,
And they say so, and they hope so.
And then he comes out on the London road,
Oh, poor old horse!

From Atherstone in the Heart's Hill length,
And the say so, and they hope so.
T'was there that poor beast broke his strength,
Oh, poor old horse!

And after years of such abuse,
And the say so, and they hope so.
You're salted down for sailor's use,
Oh, poor old horse!
David Blagrove in the sleeve notes to 'Straight from the Tunnel's Mouth' wrote : This mournful ditty is known among sailing barge men, Thames men and canal boaters. I have heard of a version from the Grand and Royal Canals of Ireland, but this version is the canal one. Atherstone and Exhall are on the Coventry Canal, the section between Hartshill and Nuneaton has long been notorious because of silting from the nearby granite quarries. A 'number one' is a boatman who owns his own boat. To 'bacca' means to let the horse work on its own with no driver.

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