The Trip                             Gezz Overington

I rise at all hours so early in the morn,
While the streets are still empty, ’fore the day starts to dawn,
For the last twenty years that’s how I’ve earned me pay,
For the last twenty years on the waterway.
I roll out of bed and I pull on me clothes,
Stumble downstairs, it’s so chilly and cold,
Pull on me topcoat as the clock starts to strike,
Then I pick up me bait and off on me bike.

Chorus: Working the Aire and Calder Navigation Canal;
The work it is hard but we don’t give a damn;
We bring down the coal by night and by day,
That’s how we earn our living on the waterways.

It isn’t too long ’fore I’m on board the tug,
Down in the cabin so warm and so snug,
I put on the kettle to boil up a brew,
Then I sit down and wait for the rest of the crew.
When the lads come on board, why, there’s no time to shirk,
Old Bill the engineer gets the engine to work,
The jebus is chained tight up to the bow,
And the pans are in line so we take ’em in tow.

There’s nineteen empties to take up this trip,
To be filled up wi’ coal at a South Yorkshire pit,
That’s six-hundred tons of Yorkshire’s black gold,
To be carried abroad in a collier ship’s hold.
When the tug she is ready the long trip is on;
We travel through Rawcliffe and then Barmby Dun;
We tie up in Doncaster just before noon,
Then it’s off into town for a pint or two.

When the pans are all ready we’re heading for Goole;
It takes between four and five hours as a rule,
To work the canal and to haul through the locks,
Then to moor the Tom Puddings by the hoist in the docks.
That’s one more day’s work and one more day’s pay,
One more day travelling the waterway,
Then I’m off on me bike for a sup and a kip,
Then it’s up before dawn for to start the next trip.



Gezz’s song accurately describes the basic daily routine of a Tom Pudding tugman. The seven diesel tugs built in 1959, all named after West Riding pits, were kept in constant use back and forth between the pits and the docks. They each had a crew of four who could handle the tugs and pans with great skill. Goff and three of his brothers all crewed the tugs, Harry being the last skipper in 1986 when the job finished. The crew comprised skipper, engineer, and 2 men whose main job was to run up and down the train of pans adjusting the chains as the train navigated the bends in the canal, a very precarious job in wintry conditions.