The Rochdale Canal

by Mair Potter and Brian Green


Song Menu



It was four days prior to Christmas in eighteen hundred and four
Then church bells rang, the band played loud and crowds began to roar
The Rochdale now was open, boats used it by the score
Carrying cotton, coal and limestone for a hundred years or more

Don’t let them fill the Rochdale in
Don’t let them close the cut
Will Jessop made the canal to last
And be restored it must

She leaves the Calder and Hebble and climbs the mountain side
Through Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge she shows herself with pride
She drops down into Rochdale, through Manchester she goes
And finally at Castlefield, to the Bridgewater she flows

There’s thirty-three miles of water from one county to another
Through Denholme, Gauxholme, Todmorden, Long Lees and Littleborough
She drops down into Slattocks, past many a mill she flows
Past Boarshaw Lane and Tanners Field to Dale Street wharves she goes

There’s ninety-two locks of rugged stone upon this broad canal
Each known by name, there’s Wadsworth Mill, Punchbowl and then Pinnel
They’ve bridges over tailgates and the locks are very wide
With massive gates of solid oak with sluices at the side

Some fellows up in London said the Rochdale had had its day
So in nineteen hundred and fifty two it fell into decay
They dropped the gates into the locks, rubbish filled the cut
The paddle gear began to rust, this Pennine Way was shut

In nineteen hundred and seventy one the aims were to restore
One hundred boats sailed up the nine as in the days of yore
And now in May of seventy eight boats gather once again
It must be right to state our case, the fight we will maintain

Written for the occasion of the Rochdale Canal Rally, May 20th/21st 1978.