a poem sought

4th November 2008, 09:59
i was chatting with an old seaman many years ago and he was a great mine of information and a one for quoting poems and rhymes, there is one i would love to find the words to and it was about all the waypoints on the Thames Tyne collier run. anyone have any clues?

Nick Balls
4th November 2008, 10:29
I too would be extremely interested to hear more on this, Unfortunately I do not have the words!
Around 15 years ago I was talking to one of our ships older AB,s Now his Dad had worked on a ship called the "Yarmouth Trader" An east coast ship if ever there was one! (at the time we were training up people in the art of navigation around the east coast sandbanks ,supply boat) Anyway he told me that his dad had been taught the whole of the East coast as a series of "Aide memoir" and that at the time this happened( Probably 1950's) companies did not like to spend money on expensive Charts! ....... I think too that there is an obscure reference to this in one of Bob Roberts books on working Barges.
Another interesting point on these kind of things is the verbal reference that seafaring people on the east coast have to referring to "North" as "Down" and "South" as "Up" ....as in "We were in Lowestoft and going down to Hull"
I have come across this several times in conversations between people as far apart as Essex to Lerwick! I want to know why this is. I suspect it to be a reference to the tidal direction . ie Tide floods "Up" to London (To the south)

Hope all this is of Interest!

4th November 2008, 11:57
I'm pretty sure that rhyme is already on SN somewhere - maybe if you plough through the collier threads.

The "up" and "down" business may be the same as on the railways - the "up" line always goes to London, thus: from John O'Groats up to London (even though it's a southerly direction), from London down to Newcastle (even though it's a northerly direction) and Bristol up to London (an easterly direction).

John T.

Hugh Ferguson
4th November 2008, 12:12
There was a program on T.V. years ago presented by one of the authors of the scripts for the Dad's Army series (Jimmy Savill maybe?). It was all about old time Victorian Music Hall performers. One of the songs was called, "Lighterman Tom From Tilbury Town" Wonderful stuff, I'd love to hear it again. Could it have been that poem put into song?

4th November 2008, 14:29
I don't know if it's from the same poem,but a couple of lines from something similar I heard on colliers"When ye come to Flamborough Head,pack yer bag and dump yer bed!"

4th November 2008, 16:03
i was chatting with an old seaman many years ago and he was a great mine of information and a one for quoting poems and rhymes, there is one i would love to find the words to and it was about all the waypoints on the Thames Tyne collier run. anyone have any clues?
try these sites
the reference to whitby high light is not as i remember


the second one for a poetic version of the directions. the collier version was much condensed and the ones quoted are usually wrong, the result of mistakes occurring as they were passed on by word of mouth
i seem to remember that they appeared in one of the old style almanacs, reeds or browns, in amongst the coastal directions and distance tables.

b rgds

bert thompson
4th November 2008, 20:35
Could it be the one that starts First the Dudgeon then the Spurn ?

4th November 2008, 20:47
Hello Bert,
That is a poem that springs to mind.

First the Dudgeon, then the Spurn,
Flamborough Head is next in turn,
Whitby Light is shining bright,
We'll be in canny old Shields tonight.

Sorry, I can't remember any more.


5th November 2008, 00:22
i think thats the one!
thanks for all the help folks.

someone made mention of a poem lighterman tom?
many many years ago i and a couple of workmates took part in a Son et lumière up river at windsor. we had towed a punt (lightemans speak) for a 60 NRT barge wich was used by the firm i worked for for driving ( rowing with long oars or sweeps) down in the tideway well we had to be dressed as 19 century lightermen and row this barge through the set while this nice old fella that just happen to be a VICAR, while we did the driving he sat on the hatches and and sang lighterman tom. we weould do our bit and fetch the barge up at the donkey house pub the lowerside of windsor bridge and go and supp a few and the dear old vicar would join us and then sing his song again when he had a few wets down him.
no if i can recall the song went:
I'm lighterman tome from tilbury town,
im known as a jolly bargee.
from twickenham down to tilbury town they know this old vessel of mine.
sing hay for the river,
the jolly ol river,
that carries this jolly bargee.

the girls that i know,
that i pass below,
and wave me on my way.
the kisses they blow are more than a few to lighterman tom while he row's
sing hey for the river ect.

i am sure there are a few merchantmen on this forum will mutter and curse us lightermen as the oafs that would rub the paint off the sides of their loverly ships whilst loading overside in the docks or out on the tiers and blow the whistle as a slow moving barge waddled up in front of them under oars!
i know many older lighterman that did a lot of rowing craft and tales of working up through the bridges as the tide was making and then colliers and small ship would be passing and dodging them. the mud pilots that took the colliers up through would always shout out things like "one more behind!" or "LAST ONE" telling the lighterman that they were the last collier for that tide making their way up.
seems strange to think when the tideway was far more busy and there were no RT's on a lot of craft and tugs there were very few accidents. i remember in the last 5 years working down with craft and a ship was breaking away from the HMS belfast outward, the port VTS told us to hold back as it was "very busy!" and let the ship get away. the skipper i was with rolled his eyes and laughed "gawd knows what they would have called this 30 years ago... a bleeding quiet day!" hey ho!

bert thompson
5th November 2008, 08:42
Think my memory says something like
Whitby stands on high black land
Fifty miles from Sunderland
And so they say if all goes rite
Weel be in canny Shields the nite.
Sure the poem has been aired on SN before so someone will give us the full poem

Albert Bishop
5th November 2008, 09:55
First the Dudgeon then the Spurn
Flambourgh Head stands next in turn,
Scarborough Castle standing high,
Whitby rocks are drawing nigh
Hartlepools lie in a bight
We will have a pint in Shields tonight.
First the Dudgeon and the Spurn
Flamborough comes next inturn
Whitby Light stands on a height
Forty-two miles from Tynemouth light.
First the Dudgeon, then the Spurn.
Flamboro Head comes next in turn,
Whitby Castle stands out to sea,
Twenty seven miles right northerly
Sunderland town lies in a bight
Thirty six miles from Whitby highlight
The Old Man say's If all goes right
WE will all get drunk in Shields tonight.comes.

These are three versions sent to me earlier
Though I think there are quite a few more
Cheers Albi

Albert Bishop
5th November 2008, 10:01
Thinking about it, The original one I remember finished off
"Souter light stands high and bright,
We'll be in canny ould Shields the night."

michael higgins
5th November 2008, 13:17
yes albert thats the one i know, first the dudgeon then the spurn flamborough head comes next in turn whitby light stands high and bright hartlepool lies in the bight souter point flashing red the tyne piers liejust ahead.

Albert Bishop
5th November 2008, 14:31
Could probably go on forever Mike, I think there may have been more versions than there were colliers. All bring back fond memories though. Cheers, Albi.

Geordie Jon
22nd January 2009, 09:37
first the Dudgeon, then the Spurn, Flamborough head comes next in turn. the Whiby light standing high, the Tyne piers will soon be nigh. the Skipper said if all gans rite , we will be in canny Shields by the nite.

23rd January 2009, 20:30
I know the lights of Glasgie
The loom of the lone Azores
And I've eaten my grub from a salt-horse tub
Condemned by the Navy stores

I know the sights of Aukland
The lights on Sydney Heads
And I've stood close-hauled
As the leadsman's called
The depth of the Channel bed

So it's good-bye Johnny - leave her
Your days ashore are through
For we're All Clear aft
And we're down to our draught
And ther's only the ocean blue

During ww2 I sailed with a quartermaster on the Calcutta steamers. He was called Standing and had a squeeze box and knew loads of songs like the one above. Wish I'd written them down !
Someone should record all these ditties for posterity !