by Bill Webb



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It was one October evening just as the sun had set
Along the locks at Grindley Brook a horse drawn boat I met
It was a Shroppie fly-boat dropping down the flight
It was a Shroppie fly-boat working through the night

The boat, her name Saturn, she was rigged to carry dry
All laden down with Cheshire cheese for Manchester to fly
Her crew of four worked through the night and likewise through the day
On the move the journey through changing horses on the way

From Newtown through to Ellesmere Port and Welshpool down to ‘Brum’
This sturdy timber vessel would carry many a ton
For speed there’s none could match her as she travelled ‘round the clock
But no longer does she ply her trade and work from dock to dock

At Tower Wharf in Chester this boat was built to last
Working hard for fifty years, travelling long and fast
Until the railways made their mark and trade began to fail
Then Saturn’s days were numbered and she began to pale

But then a change of fortune, and an engine placed on board
Along the narrow waterways as hotel boat she toured
In nineteen eighty seven retirement came her way
Never dreaming restoration would come along some day

Thanks to a group of volunteers with great determination
Saturn once again is seen on the waterways of the nation
So here of this Shroppie fly I now conclude my story
Pleased to know that once again she’s returned to former glory

This song was originally a poem written by Bill Webb in 2004 when he became interested in the restoration of the Shroppie fly-boat 'Saturn' whilst living alongside the Llangollen Canal. Just two years later he was able to celebrate the completion of the restoration by modifying the last verse. He was then able to sing the song on board the newly restored boat at the Whitchurch Waterways Trust boat rally in 2006. My thanks to Bill for sending me this song. More details of the Shropshire Union Flyboat Project can be found on their web-site. In 2016 Bill Webb supplied me with a recording of his singing of the song. I am very pleased to be able to add it to this site. I recently came across the above video of 'The Shropshire Boatmen' (including Bill Webb) singing this song.