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A description of the navvies' working life, especially barrowing soil.

 [335Notation] (suggested tune - see Music Comment)

All you that delight in the railway making
Come and listen awhile to what I do sing;
In summer time they will use you all well,
In winter you'd best stay at home with your girl.

Chorus: That's the rule of the railway makers,
               Rare good jolly bankers(1) O. [Note 335.1]

On Monday morning its one of our rules
For every man to choose out his tools;
and they that come first do pick out the best,
And they that come after must just take the rest.

Now when that we come to the bottom run
We fill our barrows right up to our chin [Note 335.2]
We fill our barrows, right up, breast high
If you can't wheel it, another will try.

And when that we come to the main plank wheel
We lower our hands and stick fast on our heels
For if the plank does bend or go
Our ganger on the top cries "lookout below!" [Note 335.3]

Our master he comes with his staff(1) in hand;
He knows very well how to measure the land, [Note 335.4]
He measures our dumpling(1), so deep and so wide, [Note 335.5]
He measures it well for his own side. 

Now when we are struck by the frost or the snow,
We'll blow up our mess(1) boys, and off we will go;
We'll call to our timekeeper without any damp(2)
To let us have our time before we go on trampĀ¹.

On Saturday night we receive our pay;
It's then to the ale-hose we go straightway,
And each sits his sweetheart upon his knee,
And we treat them well with the barley bree(1).

Last Saturday night, I received my full pay;
On Monday morning I ran away.
I buzzed(1) the tommy(1) shop and stopped that score(1)[Note 335.6]
And swore that I'd never go that road no more.

But when several months are gone and past,
Those pretty young girls got thick round the waist,
They run to buy candles they learn lullabies,
And wish that they still had their dear banker boys.

 

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