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Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal

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Newport Boy 21 Aug 09 - 11:11 AM
Newport Boy 21 Aug 09 - 11:36 AM
sian, west wales 21 Aug 09 - 06:11 PM
SussexCarole 21 Aug 09 - 07:29 PM
Newport Boy 22 Aug 09 - 05:15 AM
sian, west wales 22 Aug 09 - 12:16 PM
GUEST,Skipper Jack 22 Aug 09 - 01:26 PM
Newport Boy 23 Aug 09 - 04:42 AM
Paul Burke 23 Aug 09 - 04:51 AM
Newport Boy 23 Aug 09 - 05:28 AM
Newport Boy 23 Aug 09 - 01:25 PM
Ian Hendrie 24 Aug 09 - 05:59 AM
Mick Tems 24 Aug 09 - 04:58 PM
Mick Tems 24 Aug 09 - 05:50 PM
Newport Boy 25 Aug 09 - 03:52 AM
sian, west wales 25 Aug 09 - 04:22 AM
GUEST,Hugo 25 Aug 09 - 04:54 AM
Mick Tems 25 Aug 09 - 05:52 AM
GUEST,Hugo 25 Aug 09 - 09:04 AM
GUEST,Ian Bruce 25 Aug 09 - 11:23 AM
Newport Boy 08 Jan 10 - 01:15 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: Newport Boy
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 11:11 AM

In February I posted two verses of this song in the Canal Songs (UK) thread (here) with a promise to try and find the rest of the song. I've now found a few more verses, but there's a long way to go - I have 5 of 19 verses. Since the search may well take some time, I've started this separate thread to keep track. Any help welcome!

The five verses I have found are given below, and the story so far is as follows.

I came across a reference in Charles Hadfield's British Canals to this song, written for the opening of the Neath & Swansea Junction Canal (usually called the Tennant Canal - George Tennant was the promoter). Hadfield gives the first and last verses and says:

The opening of a canal was an occasion for considerable jollification. Sometimes verse contributed, as when Elizabeth Davies, who kept a lollipop shop in Wind Street, Neath, wrote a song of nineteen verses, of which two are given here, to commemorate the opening of the Neath & Swansea Junction (usually called the Tennant) Canal:

The song is quoted from The History of the Vale of Neath by DR Phillips, 1925. I found a recent limited edition reprint in Port Talbot library this week, but I had very little time available. In a section on the canal, Phillips quotes the five verses below with the following preamble:

In 1824, to herald its opening ceremony, Elizabeth Davies the Rhymer, who kept a lollipop shop in Wind Street, Neath, issued 'Lines on the Neath and Red Jacket Junction Canal'. The ballad, printed by Filmer Fagg at Swansea, shows that, in her simple way, the author was anxious to do justice to the enterprise of Squire George Tennant of Cadoxton Lodge. She lauds the skill of Mr. William Kirkhouse who was in charge of the operations, and notes that no accident marred the progress of the great aqueduct 'where two crystal rivers in union do meet'. She carefully points out, in one stanza, that:

"The stones that are in it are the best of all:
They came from the rocks of Dylais water-fall."

The song contains 19 verses. It begins and closes as follows:-


O! could I make verses with humour and wit,
George Tennant, Esquire's great genius to fit;
From morn until even, I would sit down and tell,
And sing in the praise of Neath Junction Canal.

To his noble genius, great merit is due,
The increase of traffic, he'll daily pursue;
Employ to poor labourers, it is known full well
He gave them by making Neath Junction Canal.

***

But I think that my duty I do not fulfill
If I pass Mr Kirkhouse's very great skill.
He exerted his talents as wonderf'lly well
In that great undertaking; Neath Junction Canal

My song it is ended and now I will rest
In hopes Squire Tennant will ever be blest.
His goodness to the poor there is no tongue can tell
Of his courage in making Neath Junction Canal.

I hope when he's dead and laid in his grave,
His soul will in heaven be eternally saved;
It will then be recorded for ages to tell,
Who was the great founder of Neath Junction Canal.

Neath, March 1 1824    Elizabeth Davies


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: Newport Boy
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 11:36 AM

I didn't have chance to read or follow up other references in Phillips, but Elizabeth Davies the Rhymer indicates she was well known for her verses (like Jones the Fish), and there are other entries about her. I will pursue these when I get chance.

The song was printed by Filmer Fagg at Swansea. Filmer Fagg's Circulating Library was at Wind Street, Swansea in 1824, but moved to Wind Street, Neath as Fagg's Circulating Library in about 1827. I haven't found any record of their printing business. Records about their Swansea activities are possibly in Swansea library

The local library search is complicated by the many changes to local government structure. Fortunately, Swansea and Neath have a joint archive organisation, although the documents are scattered. Unfortunately, their online index is some way from completion.

I intend to dig further, but I will need an initial visit to identify sources. It's a decent trip from Bristol, so it may not happen soon.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: sian, west wales
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 06:11 PM

Check with Mick Tems (Dr Price on Mudcat) in case he has some extra info!

sian


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: SussexCarole
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 07:29 PM

Wind Street Neath vs Wind Street Swansea & Fagg - research for the winter months - watch this space


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: Newport Boy
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 05:15 AM

Thanks, Sian & Carole. I did think that there was possibly some confusion over Wind Street, but it seems it's just a coincidence that Fagg chose Wind Street in both Swansea & Neath. The other coincicence is that Elizabeth Davies was in Wind Street, Neath when Filmer Fagg printed her verses in Wind Street, Swansea.

I suppose most of the towns round the bay would have a Wind Street.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: sian, west wales
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 12:16 PM

Actually - and correct me if I'm wrong, Swansea peeps - but I think it's pronounced 'wind' as in 'wind a clock' not 'wind from the west'.

sian


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: GUEST,Skipper Jack
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 01:26 PM

Indeed that is correct Sian


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: Newport Boy
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 04:42 AM

Hmm - West Wales always had odd pronounciations!!

OK - I can guess the derivation of 'wind' as in southwest, but where would the clockwork version come from? Both streets are fairly straight, so that's not it, and I doubt specialist clockmakers streets. How about wool - wind a ball?

Side issues are often as interesting as main subjects.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: Paul Burke
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 04:51 AM

To wind, pronounced as in clock, is to turn a narrowboat round- though as the Neath and Swansea wasn't connected to the main system, it's unlikely to be more than coincidence.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: Newport Boy
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 05:28 AM

Hadn't thought of that one, Paul. Plus the fact that the street names preceded canals in Wales.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: Newport Boy
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 01:25 PM

Realised the truth while trimming the hedge. Swansea pronounciation is simply poetic:

Blow, blow thou winter wind
Would that thou wert not so unkind

I knew I was right!!

Phil


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 05:59 AM

Though some years ago I would have agreed with Paul Burke that narrowboats turned in winding (a clock) holes, I have been corrected so many times that I believe narrowboats wind (as in north-east) in said holes. This may have something to do with the fact that any significant wind plays a major part in turning the boat - more so than the boater - as I know to my cost.
Ian


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Subject: ADD: Neath Junction Canal
From: Mick Tems
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 04:58 PM

Hi Phil,
As it happens, I've got this song - I've just been recording in St Fagans Museum for four months on my South Wales Archive, about 400 songs which I've collected, a three-way project between collector Dafydd Idris Edwards and trac, the all-Wales folk development body, and me. Incidentally, I worked for seven years in the South Wales Evening Post; with the other journalists, I walked up Wind Street to the pub where we had a liquid lunch. The whole of Swansea called it Wind Street, pronounced "whynde" (or wind up a clock.)   



NEATH JUNCTION CANAL

Oh could I make verses with humour and wit
George Tennant Esquire's great genius to fit
From morn until even, I'd sit down and tell
And sing in the praise of Neath Junction Canal.

To his noble genius, great merit is due
The increase in traffic he'll daily pursue
Employ to poor labourers, it is known full well
He gave them by making Neath Junction Canal.

Now this will improve the trade of the place
I hope that the business will daily increase
All sorts of provisions we shall have to sell
Conveyed us in boats by Neath Junction Canal.

The work it is finished, and now is complete
And no man did there with an accident meet
Though there was great danger, yet nobody fell
By building the aqueduct on the canal.

All you that are lovers of gazing around
On the grand work of nature where 'tis to be found
Rich woods, pleasant valleys, groves, rocks, hill and dell
You can view as you walk by Neath Junction Canal.

In gazing around you, how pleasant to view
From Dulais to Swansea those objects still new
The ships in full sail you can see see very well
As you walk on the banks of Neath Junction Canal.

The new docks at Swansea will be very grand
For floating the vessels all at their command
Quite safe from all dangers when high tides do swell
To take in their trade from Neath Junction Canal.

My song it is ended, and now I will rest
In hopes that Squire Tennant will ever be blessed
His goodness to the poor there is no tongue can tell
Or his courage in making Neath Junction Canal.

Mick Tems


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: Mick Tems
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 05:50 PM

Hang on a minute - I've got eight verses, so where are other 11? And I definitely haven't had your Kirkhouse and your "I hope when he's he's dead and aid in his grave" verses! It seems that Elizabeth Davies was quite a prolific writer...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: Newport Boy
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 03:52 AM

Great work, Mick. We're creeping towards the full song. 'Elizabeth Davies the Rhymer' indicates that she had a local reputation for her verses, but I haven't found any others.

Have you or the others come across songs printed by Filmer Fagg? I haven't found any reference to their printing activities, but it seems unlikely that this was a on-off.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: sian, west wales
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 04:22 AM

E. Wyn James in the Welsh Dept. at U.Cardiff has done a LOT of work on ballad publishers in Wales. I'm sure he would try to respond to any questions. His address is E. Wyn James is jamesew at cardiff dot ac dot uk.

sian


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Subject: Lyr Add: LOCK KEEPER'S DAUGHTER (Thomas, Pudner)
From: GUEST,Hugo
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 04:54 AM

Bob Thomas and I have recently written a song called "The LockKeepers Daughter" ,[ inspired by Alexander Cordell] about the Neath canal.

THE LOCK KEEPER'S DAUGHTER
(Bob Thomas and Huw Pudner)

I remember the barge
on the old Neath Canal
Where we hauled coal for a living
Through the Lamb and Flag Lock
To the Giants Grave Dock
When the winters were unforgiving
From Resolven to Neath
We'd float down the vale
South past the ponds of the Melyn
Old Ned would pull slow
We were heavy and low
And the Irish women were yellin'

chorus
We'd fill up the barge
With the coal from the yard
She'd weigh down low in the water
But in sunshine or cold
I would make bold
And I'd kiss the lockkeeper's daughter

And it was on to the dock
By the Giant's Grave wharf
Where the coal was piled high on the quay
A coal ship on the tide
At anchor would ride
And sail off down to the sea

repeat chorus

She was fiery and free
Just right for me
Her father would not have consented
But we tumbled and played
In the sweet month of May
By December he had relented
I made her my wife
We lived a good life
Had children to the number of three
Two girls and a boy
All our pride and joy
The Lockkeepers Daughter and me

repeat chorus2

Bob Thomas and Huw Pudner


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: Mick Tems
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 05:52 AM

Greetings, Huw,

Nice words - have you got the tune? It deserves to be circulated.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: GUEST,Hugo
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 09:04 AM

Greetings Dr Price,
Thank you! Bob and I hope to come down to Llantrisant in the near future and we can sing you the tune then!! Chris Hastings and I also have a song about the little known Red Jacket canal which links the Tennant and the Neath canals.Oh, and Bob and I have a song called Mary Bottles about the Mary Bottles pond near the Tennant!! These canals are only a few hundred yards away from where we live so we felt we had to write about them...and they are very evocative.
Huw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: GUEST,Ian Bruce
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 11:23 AM

Hi Hugo,
As you contributed as a Guest I wasn't able to contact you directly. I maintain the Songs of the Inland Waterways web-site which aims to provide a repository for songs about British canals. I have taken the liberty of including your 'Lock-keepers Daughter' song. I hope you don't mind - please let me know if you do and I will remove it. I would be happy to include the other songs you mention if you would be kind enough to provide them. I can be contacted via the web-site.
Cheers,
Ian Bruce


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Neath & Swansea Junction Canal
From: Newport Boy
Date: 08 Jan 10 - 01:15 PM

Dr Price, Sian

Apologies for my lack of response. I've been occupied with a few other interests and a knee replacement.

My researches did get a little further, but no more verses to the song - although I now where they are. There's a copy in the British Library catalogue, in the reference collection, shelfmark: 11652.aaa.53.(2.) It's recorded as 4pp 8vo. They also have another dozen of her poems/songs.

Unfortunately, �36 for a copy is a bit too much for me.

I also found the following information in D Rhys Phillips book.

DRP also published papers (no dates or references) on:
Our Balladists: Eliz Davies
Ballad Singers of Wales
Tally Ho! Some Welsh Hunting Songs

Filmer Fagg was a printer in Swansea from about 1820. He opened as probably the first printer in Neath about 1828, and later returned to Swansea.

Elizabeth Davies had a sweet shop in Wind Street, Neath (close to the site of the 1925 Post Office). She later lived in the Alms House, Water Street, which she left in 1855-6 and died in the Union Workhouse 27 April 1857, aged 88.

DRP says of her: Her muse, though of little distinction, served a useful purpose in that it has handed down to us versed chronicles of people and events that were allowed to pass unnoticed by those who were capable of higher flights. For this she deserved the place given to her in the British Museum catalogue, which registers fifteen of her songs.

DRP also gives the (uncorrected) text of a handwritten letter from Elizabeth Davies to Geo Tennant, dated Feb 1 1825.

Most Worthy Sir I hope that you will parden the liberty that I have taken in makin use of your name in these imperfect lines. I did not think that they would be notised but I was mistaken for the working class of people is much pleased with them pertickerly those in your employment feels gratefull that any small trybute is offered to the merit of thear employar. They has a great decear to have them printed there is nothing in them but plain simple truth that suits theyar taste and understanding better than the fine langwedge of the great athers. I do not intend to print them without your aprobation sir if you object to the publishing of them they will be greatly disappointed for they all wishes to have copys of them sir I will intrude on you a little longar to let you know what created a desiar in me to compose these lines. ....

She then continues at great length to outline her family's connection with canals.

I think that's probably as far as I'm going with this. The British Library charge was for up to 100 pages, but per shelfmark, so I don't know if all ED's documents could be obtained for the same fee.

Phil


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