The Collier Brig (traditional)
Oh, the worst old ship that ever set sail,
Sailed out of Harwich on a windy day.
Chorus: Stormy weather, boys, stormy weather, boys,
When the wind blows the barge will go.
She was built in Roman style,
Held together with bits of twine.
Skipper’s half Dutch and he hasn’t got a clue,
The crew were fourteen hands too few.
Cook spilt the dinner on the galley floor,
Skipper caught his hand in the wheelhouse door.
Off Orford Ness we sprang a leak,
Hear our poor old timbers creak.
We steered our way round Lowestoft next,
The wind backed round to the sou-sou-west.
Through the Cockle to Cromer Cliff,
Steering like a wagon with a wheel adrift.
Up The Humber and up to town,
Pump, you devils, pump or drown.
Then on a sandbank we got stuck,
Skipper’s drunk in the Dog and Duck.
Up come a mermaid covered in slime,
We took her down the hold and we had a good time.
We kept on course all through the night,
Nearly went aground at the Apex light.
Coal was shot by a Keadby crew,
Bottom was rotten and it went right through.
So when we saw the brig was sunk,
We went to the Barge and we all got drunk.
Thames bargee Bob Roberts is the main source for this song. It must have been very popular in the nineteenth century because of its easy adaptation to new verses. Bob put his versions together from bits and pieces of others and over the last fifty years I have done the same. All of the versions tell of a vessel coming up the east coast with various starting points and destinations and comic incidents en route, much in the same vein as others on this album. One of Bob’s versions concerns a trip on a Thames barge from London to Yarmouth and another forms the basis of our song here of a collier brig on a trip from Harwich to Keadby on the Trent to take on a cargo of coal.