Bring the Sea to Manchester



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We’re fair on the job that is taking people down
I mean the ship canal from Liverpool
Manchester’s a city you know of renown
And go ahead now ought to be the rule
The sea is far away which promises to stay
And we cannot move our city to its shore
But if we can’t move the town
We can bring the sea down
And fetch the cotton bang up to the door

We've got the money, we've got the men
We'll soon have the ships and we'll tell 'em then
Where there's a will, there's a way as you must know
To bring the sea to Manchester and Yo-heave-ho!

You’ll soon see the sailors a-walking through the streets
With the minders and the winders they’ll agree
With each pretty face they’ll splice the main-brace
And every girl they’ll christen Nancy Lee
Bills and Sams and Jacks will be hauling up their slacks
As they’re a-coming down the ship canal
Who’d a thought they’d all say
That we should come this way
And drop anchor to the sound of city bells

We’re bound to have more trade when the ship canal is made
We can send our goods to India straight away
To China and Peru, New York and Timbuctoo
Our ships they will be sailing every day
Independence we shall get of all the lot you bet
Who’ve tried so often mills and looms to rob
They must let us pass while we’ve got the brass
To make a start and finish up the job

Sailors homeward bound, their voices will resound
If they meet another vessel on the way
Let the winds blow as they will, we’re bound for Shudehill
Where all the folk are Irish so they say
Another on the main may be bound for Ancoats Lane
And one for Rochdale Road all bright and trim
Liverpools knocked out we have put our ships about
And Liverpool will have to douse the glim

To Salford you can go when the tide is running low
And pick up shrimps and mussels by the score
Fish for eels and soles all in the old bog-hole
Or with Sally take a walk along the shore
So we’ll wish them all success, may their shadow get no less
The gentlemen who’re doing this so well
Another gill we’ll fill and drink all with a will
A health to Manchester and her new Ship Canal

The words are transcribed from the Brian Peters' recording on 'The Bold Navigators' CD. Through the amazing Mudcat community I have had some help getting the words 'right', including help from Brian himself. He related the tale of how the last line on the recording came to be 'Here's a health unto the bloody ship canal'. 'Harry Boardman's wife Lesley, who was typing out a whole pile of lyrics from Harry to give to me (I was learning songs for a radio documentary) had got so fed up by that point that she inserted a little protest of her own. I only found out about it years later'. Additionally he adds : In the original I seem to remember that the line in v4 went "all the pigs are Irish", which maybe meant simply that it was such a large Irish community that even the livestock spoke with an accent, but I decided to change it anyway to avoid any offence. My thanks to Brian for those fascinating insights.

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