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Mary P Cooper: A shipwreck, anniversary & a song

Paul Burke 01 Feb 11 - 02:46 PM
Charley Noble 01 Feb 11 - 08:06 PM
Mr Happy 10 May 17 - 11:19 AM
Steve Gardham 10 May 17 - 04:02 PM
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Subject: ADD: The Wreck of the Mary P Cooper
From: Paul Burke
Date: 01 Feb 11 - 02:46 PM

The facts:

On March 21st 1961 at about 5.45pm, the Mary P Cooper, about 1000 tons and carrying sand dredged from the Mersey Estuary, collided head on with the SS Foamville, about the same size, in the Manchester Ship Canal at Stockton Heath, Warrington, about half way along the canal. The Mary P Cooper had a large gash cut in her port side, and sank. The crew were all saved without serious injury, thanks to local residents and a policeman on the beat. The canal was blocked for several days, but eventually the stricken ship was raised by salvage crews and beached in a disused wharf, which was later buried by a rubbish dump. For all I can find out, she may be there yet, under a modern housing estate.

I have not found any indication of which vessel caused the collision, and the suggestion that the captain was drunk is libellous. The Mersey (which was also the Ship Canal at this point) at that time, and for twenty years after, ran with the effluent of most of South Lancashire, so the dunking must have been unpleasant.

For those who don't remember it, Greenall Whitley's was.... no I can't talk about it even now.

Since the 50th anniversary is only a couple of months away, I think this event deserves a song. Here's my try; the tune is probably (C) Hughie Jones of the Spinners, in any case you'll hopefully come up with a better song.


The Mary P Cooper sinking

Mary P Cooper after recovery

The Wreck of the Mary P Cooper

Titanic, Lusitania,
Ellan Vannin and Carpathia,
Mary Cooper beats them all
For she sank in the Manchester Ship Canal.

Mary P Cooper,
Her fate unusual,
Mary P Cooper,
Lost in the Ship Canal.

From Pomona Docks she travelled far,
To the dredger at the Mersey Bar.
The building trade had need of sand
So they scooped it up to take to land.

In the spring of 1961
She set of on her fatal run,
Her cargo, gravel, richly laced
With slightly sea- washed human waste.

With Ellesmere Port and Runcorn clear
The gallant sailors knew no fear,
The happy thought in each man's mind
Of the loved ones they had left behind.

But as she came to Stockton Heath
The Mary Cooper came to grief.
Another ship approaching fast,
In the narrow channel they must pass.

When the SS Foamville came in view,
The helmsman wondered what to do-
Green to green, or red to red?
He could never quite get it in his head.

The vessels met with mighty force
But the Mary Cooper came off worse,
With a hole ripped through her port bow side
She sank beneath the foaming tide.

When he felt the mighty blow
The captain hastened down below.
Was there a seaman e'er so brave?
He saved their whisky from a watery grave.

In the water they must surely die
But a copper who was passing by
Threw a lifebelt in the roaring waves
So the shipwrecked sailors were all saved.

They quickly hauled them to the shore
And helped them through an alehouse door-
A fate that sailors dread and fear,
For the pub served Greenall Whitley beer.

She blocked the cut for many a day
So they had to get her out of the way,
Though cranes and divers got her raised
The hole meant she could not be saved.

The graveyard of this gallant ship
Was a Warrington Council rubbish tip
Interred in bottles, rags and bones
She sleeps as sound as Davy Jones.

But at dead of night by Stockton Heath
When the gale blows pigeons in your teeth
And the dogmuck's washed by the driving rain
The Mary P Cooper sails again.

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Subject: RE: A shipwreck, an anniversary, and a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Feb 11 - 08:06 PM

Love the last verse!

You should pass this on to Ian who maintains the Canal Song thread.

Charley Noble

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Subject: RE: A shipwreck, an anniversary, and a song
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 May 17 - 11:19 AM

As performed by the author at 'Folking up the Moors' Easter 2017.

This song's bound to go down in the anals of history!

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Subject: RE: Mary P Cooper: A shipwreck, anniversary & a song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 May 17 - 04:02 PM

In the humorous canal song tradition of which there are hundreds, this one stands out as being based on a real event. I like it. There are 4 such pieces on our forthcoming album, from t'other side of country.

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