Final Whistle                                        Barry Cundill

Rise and shine for the Wilson Line, ’Ull ships are for me,
Finest boats I’ve ever seen bore black and red and green;
A ship’s ashore at Marfleet, she’s old before she’s due,
She’s buckled, red and rusty, she keeps a motley crew.

The shudd’ring clatter of the winch, enough to wake the dead,
It makes the youngest deckie flinch and gets inside me head;
Bunkers we’re a-loading in good old Aberdeen,
Chips is up for boarding a lassie called Jarrow Jean.

And now we’re making heavy seas, forward I must grope,
To where the leading hands must tease and splice the hempen rope.
Up she rises high to heaven, she plunges down below;
Me sea legs feel like seven, bunkwards I must go.

Rialto’s made the crossing, St John’s we espy,
So ending all the tossin’, reachin’ to the sky.
Down the lakes we feel the heat eyes [ears] glued to the set,
As England their arch-rivals [meet], we’ll beat the Germans yet.

And when the final whistle goes spirits they lift on high;
In life there’s many highs and lows, forget the ship must die;
We know that is her last run and steam has had its time,
A way of life that’s nearly done; some that seems a crime.

So it’s rise and shine for the Wilson Line, the ’Ull ships are for me,
The finest boats I’ve ever seen bore black and red and green;
A ship’s ashore at Marfleet what’s old before she’s due,
She’s buckled now and rusty, she keeps a motley crew.



A fine song written by Barry Cundill about the demise of a Hull steamship of the Wilson Line, the SS Rialto. Both Barry and Mick sailed with Hull’s Wilson Line ships in the 60s although Mick tells us, “I knew my way around most of the engine rooms of the Wilson fleet before I left school. My dad worked as a shore donkeyman for Wilsons for many years and would take me with him in the school holidays.’ A splendid model of a sister ship, SS Marengo, can be seen in Hull’s Maritime Museum.

The story behind the song is that in 1966 when England were beating Germany in the World Cup the Rialto made her last run, was sold and the following year went for scrap, as did most of the Wilson fleet in those years. The ship was one of three, the other two being SS Marengo and SS Consuello (built in 1936, originally a coal burner). They came to be known to local seafarers as Western Ocean Boats originally sailing to New York, but latterly to St John’s, Newfoundland and up the St Lawrence to the Great Lakes when ‘all ears were glued to the set’ for news of the World Cup.