Seaport Town of Manchester



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Oh dear! Oh dear! this a curious age is,
Alterations all the rage is,
Old and young in the stream are moving,
All in the general cry improving,
To Manchester there's news come down, sirs,
They're going to make it a seaport town, sir,
Nought you'll see but ships and sailors.

Thus t'will be I'll bet you a crown, sir,
When Manchester's a sea-port town, sir.

When the first ship appears in sight,
The town will be all joy and delight;
Eating, drinking, dancing, singing,
And th' old church bells will crack with ringing,
They'll cover the bridge with touts and prigs sir,
Aldermen too in their gowns and wigs sir,
The heads of the town with all their forces,
The Manchester Mayor too drawn by horses.

They'll crowd the river with boats and barges,
Man-o-war ships that never so large is;
Steamers back and forwards towing,
You may ride for nought, and they'll pay you for going.
Sailors swearing, spars a battering,
Heave yo ho-ing, hand-spikes chattering,
Strange sails crowding every day, sir,
Anchoring in Victoria Bay, sir.

The Liverpool gents they'll all be undone
Here there will be nought but fun done,
Pats, half wild, running their rigs sir,
Landing butter there, bullocks and pigs, sir,
Then to make us jolly and frisky,
Mally potatoes and barrels of whiskey,
New laid eggs a twelve month taken,
Then all will feed on eggs and bacon.

Such lots of goods the ports will bring up,
Store rooms will like mushrooms spring up;
To hold the wares of every nation,
The town must have a transformation,
They'd make the town hall into a store-house,
Cotton and corn rooms out of the poor-house,,
One for grocers to put their figs by,
And the Royal Exchange they'll make in a pigsty.

In a short time you'll have trade enough, sir,
Over the world you'll send your stuff, sir,
Goods of every clime and nation,
Will come here for embarkation,
Oldham canals, cabbage and carrots,
And in return receive poll parrots,
Baboons, racoons and Spanish donkeys,
Jays, cockatoos, and ring tail'd 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 or gorses,
Tars for jarves, whales for horses;
But I'll be off, - first make my bow sir,
For I really believe there's a ship coming now, sir.

'jarvies' are hackney coachmen.

Text is from the broadside printed by Jack Harkness, Printer, Church Street, Preston. The ballad was probably printed between 1847 and 1849, though it may date from earlier. Other versions feature Birmingham and Leeds and J.O Bebbington issued a version which left the singer to insert a town of their choice.
'On Leeds Becoming a Seaport Town' can be found on this web-site.

Recorded on :

and 'Victorian Ballads' by Strawhead (Dragon Records, DRGNCD941, 1994)