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Manchester Ship Canal
Boy how times change, retired here on the White River in Northern Arkansas, a beautiful blue ribbon trout river, you lose touch, but today looking at the Daily Mail on line there was this picture of people jumping off a bridge and swimming in the Manchester Ship canal. In the mid and early sixties as a cadet on Prince Line three hatchers we were told that you would be rushed to hospital and have your stomach pumped if fell into it, our favorite past time in the locks was counting the Salford Salmon, you got extra points if there no knot tied in them, happy days.
Can't remember where I stole this from (Probably here!!):
Captins Log - Brigantine “Phylis Gizzard”, out bound for Salford.
Seventy days out not a hint of a breeze, the bosun reports we are down to a single tin of sea biscuits and a fathom of hard tack, luckily still plenty of rum, but the water situation means we cannot dilute it and have to cut it into cubes and let the men suck their daily tot, this is a grave chore for men have not a cupful of spit betwixt them.
The man in the topgallants reported hearing breakers, could this be the dreaded reefs of Runcorn? Many a poor sailor man had been sent to fiddlers green on those evil spires, or worse, been cast ashore and devoured alive by the Cloggies.
A week since my last log entry, had to hang able seaman Jim Gonad, the sailmaker caught him drinking the last of my ink, nobody had the energy to administer a flogging but discipline must be maintained lest we turn into a rabble and begin to act like French sailors.
Liverpool Bay still fogbound, we feel our way forward using the lead, we must hit the Runcord entrance soon or we are doomed. The Mate Mr Rivet reports the Galley boy in a bad way , "He be losing flesh fast Capin" he said, this is bad news indeed, as we had been feeding young Jim Scuttle extra rations, for as the old sea saying goes, "a lb on the galley boy is a week in the lifeboat"
At last praise be, we are thru the Runcorn entrance and into the Canal, two men died horrible deaths by drinking the canal water in the thirst madness, at least this means there will be stew for tea tonight.
Seventeen day passage to Letchford, howls of the natives can be heard thru the fog, the men are very afraid, had the bosun issue musket and Cutlass, we keep a watch from the ratlines.
Day eighteen, no crew died in the night so it is back to hard tack and biscuit for myself and the crew, the mate says we could take one of young Scuttles kidneys as he is extremis and would probably not miss it, but no, must not give in to temptation , we must set a example.
Day 30, old Enoch Scrote sighted a whale spouting off the weather bow, this means that Lechford cannot be too far ahead, we pray for a breeze and a relief from the stifling heat, the natives were restless again last night, taunting us from the banks, their women folk lifting their dress's in lewd invitation, Harry Bollard and Jack Truss overcome with lust and thirst dove overboard, a shark got one before he made the shore, the other’s screams kept us awake well into the night.
Day fourty, my birthday today, fourty years man and boy at sea, at last my own command it looks like the Brigantine Phylis Gizzard may be my last. Cookie made a effort, he had the crew heave the anchor onto the focsul head, chipped the rust off, and made a pan of soup with it, our spirits were lifted for a while.
Praise the lord we have forced the straights of Irlham and are over halfway now, the heat grows worse as we penetrate the interior.
Had to punish four of the men yesterday, they had been hoarding their rum cubes. I will not allow drunkenness on the Phylis Gizzard, the heat is so great that the ropes are drying out, two of them snapped before the miscreants had finished dancing, had to order the bosun do the honours with a belaying pin.
Day fifty, two more crew to punishment, poor Enoch they had taken the lads right leg, this is ironic for I had issued orders that all men turn over their left shoes to cookie for stew.
The crew hop about the vessel now, as it is impossible to place a bare foot on the red hot decks. Old Dan the bucket maker is having a hard time, he had only one left leg at the start of the voyage, he shrieks in pain with every footstep.
Day sixty, Old Enoch croaked something incomprehensible in the tops, pointed a scrawny hand to the east, and plunged dead into the black swirling waters. But there thru the mists we sighted the black cliffs of Salford.
The men are in high spirits I have warned them of the ladies of Salford and the black pox, but alas in vain.
Day 75, I pay off the ships company, forty three men set sail from Birkenhead before the mast of the Phylis Gizzard, 17 remained on payoff day, thus is the life of a sailor, and those that dare the waters of the Manchester Ship Canal.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana (1863 - 1952)
A Sad, sad tale, that, nevertheless, brought the occasional grimace to my visage.
"The kitten and the snail got off the bus!"
Most stirring stuff!
May God bless the Manchester Mariner, or, as the Rev Canon Bob Evans once observed:-
... And Manchester Liners, from Montreal,
Coming home with bugger all!
There is a splendid painting in the Gallery to that effect, by Colin Jones.
The ship (Manchester Merchant, I think, of late 1950s) is seen in Crosby Channel, inward bound and flying a Q flag, wholly in ballast!
Last edited by Barrie Youde; 27th June 2018 at 16:55..
I once passed through Runcorn on an old BR train,
Tis a strange looking place, I would say in the main.
But I felt comfort from the sound of the clackety clack
As I moved from the darkness on the railway track.
I'm told there are monsters that roam in that place,
Things you'd not choose to meet face to face.
A mixture of Scouse, and Cheshire, perhaps even Wales,
Dark things therein, not just old wives tales.
So hear me you travellers if you venture that way,
You'll encounter things that could spoil your whole day.
It's place filled with madness, chaos, disorder,
Tolkien went there once, and named it Mordor.
"Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense."
The Runcorn Ferry By Marriott Edgar
On the banks of the Mersey, o'er on Cheshire side,
Lies Runcorn that's best known to fame
By Transporter Bridge as takes folks over t'stream,
Or else brings them back across same.
In days afore Transporter Bridge were put up,
A ferryboat lay in the slip,
And old Ted the boatman would row folks across
At per tuppence per person per trip.
Now Runcorn lay over on one side of stream,
And Widnes on t'other side stood,
And, as nobody wanted to go either place,
Well, the trade wasn't any too good.
One evening, to Ted's superlative surprise,
Three customers came into view:
A Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom it were,
And Albert, their little son, too.
'How much for the three?' Mr Ramsbottom asked,
As his hand to his pocket did dip.
Ted said: 'Same for three as it would be for one,
Per tuppence per person per trip.'
'You're not charging tuppence for that little lad?'
Said Mother, her eyes flashing wild.
'Per tuppence per person per trip', answered Ted,
'Per woman, per man, or per child'.
'Fivepence for three, that's the most that I'll pay',
Said Father, 'Don't waste time in talk'.
'Per tuppence per person per trip', answered Ted,
'And them, as can't pay, 'as to walk!'
'We can walk, an' all', said Father. 'Come Mother,
It's none so deep, weather's quite mild'.
So into the water the three of them stepped:
The father, the mother, the child.
The further they paddled, the deeper it got,
But they wouldn't give in, once begun.
In the spirit that's made Lancashire what she is,
They'd sooner be drownded than done.
Very soon, the old people were up to their necks,
And the little lad clean out of sight.
Said Father: 'Where's Albert?' And Mother replied:
'I've got hold of his hand, he's all right!'
Well, just at that moment, Pa got an idea
And, floundering back to old Ted, He said:
'We've walked half-way. Come, tak' us the rest
For half-price -- that's a penny a head.'
But Ted wasn't standing for none of that there,
And, making an obstinate lip,
'Per tuppence per person per trip', Ted replied,
'Per trip, or per part of per trip'.
'All right, then', said Father, 'let me tak' the boat,
And I'll pick up the others half-way.
I'll row them across, and I'll bring the boat back,
And thruppence in t'bargain I'll pay'.
T'were money for nothing. Ted answered: 'Right-ho',
And Father got hold of the sculls.
With the sharp end of boat towards middle of stream,
He were there in a couple of pulls.
He got Mother out -- it were rather a job,
With the water, she weighed half a ton --
Then, pushing the oar down the side of the boat,
Started fishing around for his son.
When poor little Albert came up to the top,
His collars were soggy and limp.
And, with holding his breath at the bottom so long,
His face were as red as a shrimp.
Pa took them across, and he brought the boat back,
And he said to old Ted on the slip:
'Wilt' row me across by me'sen?' Ted said:
'Aye, at per tuppence per person per trip'.
When they got t'other side, Father laughed fit to bust.
He'd got best of bargain, you see.
He'd worked it all out, and he'd got his own way,
And he'd paid nobbut fivepence for three!
"The kitten and the snail got off the bus!"
As recorded by Stanley Holloway.
Never regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many. Don't worry about old age - it doesn't last.
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