As I Went A-Walking Down Ratcliffe Highway

Interesting Facts about As I Went A-Walking Down Ratcliffe Highway

Here is the old forebitter “Ratcliffe Highway”; which was sometimes sung at the pumps and the capstan. This version mentioned by Stan Hugill comes from William Doerflinger’s “Shantymen and Shantyboys” (1951). Doerflinger mention about is that the same stanza words; were sung in the halyard shanty “Blow the Man Down”. Captain Tayluer believed this song; was composed about 1840; by an East India trader.
In Doerflinger’s book, we can find this song in the chapter “Deep-Water Songs”. I will try myself reconstruct by Me as a capstan shanty.
I would also like to thank Artur Pietrzykowski for the wonderful illustration that you can find at the beginning of the record.

The source of this sea shanty

The music: “Shantymen And Shantyboys” by William Main Doerflinger (1951).

The lyrics:  “Shantymen And Shantyboys” by William Main Doerflinger (1951).

Mentioned in: “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 201).

The Record of As I Went A-Walking Down Ratcliffe Highway

You also can find this record on my YouTube channel here or directly listen below. Additionally, if you want to share your opinion about the record or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or leave a comment at the bottom of this blog article.

The musical notation

As I Went A-Walking Down Ratcliffe Highway - music notation

The full lyrics

As I Went A-Walking Down Ratcliffe Highway

    *introductory verse*

Now, Come all you young sailors and listen to me,
Sure I’ll tell you a story all about the high sea,
Well it ain’t very short, nor it’s not very long,
It’s of a Flyin’ Fish sailor bound ‘ome from ‘Ong Kong.

– With you fol the did-dle lol did-dy, fol de did-dle lol did-dy,
– fol-the did-dle lol did-dy, hay, hay, hay,
– fol-the did-dle lol did-dy, fol de did-dle lol did-dy,
– fol the did-dle lol did-dy, hood-le dum day!

* 2 *

Now as we went a-walking down Rat’liffe Highway,
Well, a flash-lookin’ packet we chanced for to see,
She was bowling along with the waind blowing free,
And she clewed up her courses and waited for me.

* 3 *

Now, she ‘ad up no flags did she show;
She was round in the counter and bluff in the bow.
Were she did ‘ail from I could not tell,
But I threw out my flipper and we’re both bound to hell!

* 4 *

Now, into a snug little corner, oh soon we did moor,
Just be’ind the little table around the door.
We eat there and drank till we nearly did bust,
Then she let out first with her Irishman’s roar, etc…

* 5 *

I’ll bring you silk dresses and all that I know,
Fine gold rings and stones from the islands, you know.
I’ll bring you home plenty of money to spend,
If you’ll only wait till I do return,

(Final chorus, slower)

Related to this sea shanty

Sacramento – Norvegian English worded version

Heisevise (Norvegian Wergland version)

Bound To California

Ratcliffe Highway

Interesting Facts about the Ratcliffe Highway

Here is the old forebitter “Ratcliffe Highway”, which was sometimes sung at the pumps and the capstan, as told to Stan Hugill, his fellow sailor Paddy Delaney, who used to sail in the old days on the Packet Ships. As Stan Hugill tells us, regarding the words of this song, they were used in the first version of “Blow the Man Down”, which Stan Hugill calls in his book the “Blow the Man Down – A”.
As one of these Western Ocean shanties, I will reconstruct with a common introductory verse (first verse at the beginning).
I would also like to thank Artur Pietrzykowski for the wonderful illustration that you can find at the beginning of the record.

The source of this sea shanty

The music: “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 200).

The lyrics:  “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 200, 201).

The Record of the Ratcliffe Highway

You also can find this record on my YouTube channel here or directly listen below. Additionally, if you want to share your opinion about the record or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or leave a comment at the bottom of this blog article.

The musical notation

Ratcliffe Highway - music notation

The full lyrics

Ratcliffe Highway

    *introductory verse*

Come all ye young sailors an’ listen to me,
I’ll sing ye a song all about the high sea,
Now it tain’t very short, nor it tain’t very long,
‘Tis of a Flyin’ Fish Sailor just home from Hong Kong.

– Singin’ too-relye-addie, too-relye-addie,
– Singin’ too-relye-addie, aye, too-relye-ay!

* 1 *

Now as I wuz a walkin’ down Ratcliffe Highway,
A flash lookin’ packet I chanet for to say,
Of the port that she hailed from I cannot say much,
But by her appearance I took her for Dutch,

* 2 *

Her flag wuz three colours, her masthead wuz low,
She wuz round the counter an’ bluff at the bow.
From larboard to starboard an’ so sailed she,
She wuz sailing at large, she wuz runnin’ free.

* 3 *

She wuz bowlin’ along wid her wind blowin’ free;
She clewed up her courses an’ waited for me.
I fired me bow-chaser, the signal she knew,
She backed her maintops’l an’ for me hove to.

* 4 *

I hailed her in ENglish, she answered me clear,
I’m from the Black Arrow, bound to the Shakespeare,
So I wore ship an’ with a ‘What d’ya know?’
I passed ‘er me hawser an’ took ‘er in tow.

* 5 *

I tipped up my flipper an’ took her in tow,
And yard-arm to yard-arm away we did go,
She then took me up her lily-white room,
An’ there all the evening we drank and we spooned.

(Verses 6 and 7 omitted.)

* 6 *

Soon the evening did pass, boys, I lashed up an’ stowed,
I gave her some shillings ‘fore I left her abode,
But it ‘twarn’t quite enough, boys, she wanted some more,
She cursed me an’ called me a son-o’-a-whore.

She blazed like a frigate, at me she let fire,
An’ nothing could stem, boys, that Irish tart’s ire,
She kicked me an’ cursed me an’ stove in me jaw,
An’ I beat retreat through her open back-door.

* 7 *

I’ve fought wid the Russians, the Prussians also,
I’ve fought wid the Dutch, an’ wid Johnny Crapo,
But of all the fine fights that I ever did see,
She beat all the fights o’ the heathen Chinee.

* 8 *

Now all ye young sailors take a warnin’ I say,
Take it aisy, me boys, when yer down that Highway,
Steer clear of them flash gals, on the Highway do dwell,
Or they’ll take up yer flipper an’ yer soon bound ter Hell!

Related to this Forebitter

The Fishes – W. B. Whall

The Limejuice Ship (Short Chorus)

Oh, Aye, Rio

Knock A Man Down

Interesting Facts about the Knock A Man Down

This is one of the earliest versions of the shanty sang at the capstan or at the pump “Blow The Man Down”, this version comes from Cecil Sharp’s “English Folk-Chanteys” (1914). Stan Hugill mentioned is this song was probably the Hoosier version.
“Hoosier” refers to the cotton-Stowers, both black and white, who move cotton bales from docks to the holds of ships, forcing the bales in tightly by means of jackscrews. A low-status job, it nevertheless is referred to in various sea shanty lyrics. “Shanties from the Seven Seas” includes lyrics that mention Hoosiers.
Cecil Sharp in his book says:
“I have supplemented Mr. Short’s words – he could only remember two stanzas – with lines from other versions.
I would also like to thank Artur Pietrzykowski for the wonderful illustration that you can find at the beginning of the record.

The source of this sea shanty

The music: “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 200).

The lyrics:  “English Folk Chanteys” by Cecil Sharp (1914).

The Record of the Knock A Man Down

You also can find this record on my YouTube channel here or directly listen below. Additionally, if you want to share your opinion about the record or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or leave a comment at the bottom of this blog article.

The musical notation

Knock A Man Down - music notation

The full lyrics

Knock A Man Down

– Knock a man down, kick a man down;
– way ay knock a man down,
– Knock a man down right down to the ground,
– O give me some time to knock a man down.

The watchman’s dog stood ten foot high;
– way ay kno-ck a man down,
The watchman’s dog stood ten foot high;
– O give me some time to knock a man down.

* 2 *

A livery ship and a lively crew.
A livery ship and a lively crew.

* 3 *

O we are the boys to put her through
O we are the boys to put her through

* 4 *

I wish I was in London Town.
I wish I was in London Town.

* 5 *

It’s there we’d make the girls fly round.
It’s there we’d make the girls fly round.

Related to this sea shanty

Sacramento (D)

Banks Of Sacramento – Patterson Capstan version

Sacramento – Version from German barque Gustav

The Fishes B

Interesting Facts about The Fishes B

This is a great shanty, sang usually at the capstan and at the pumps “The Fishes B”. This particular version, popular in the south of England, Stan Hugill had had it from a Devonshire seaman. In the book, Stan Hugill gives us only two first stanzas, due to the other ones were taken from the “Blow The Man Down” shanty, so I took another 3 verses from the mentioned shanty, to make this reconstruction a sensible length, and a bit more entertaining.
I would also like to thank Artur Pietrzykowski for the wonderful illustration that you can find at the beginning of the record.

The source of this sea shanty

The music: “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 198).

The lyrics:  “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 198).

The Record of The Fishes B

You also can find this record on my YouTube channel here or directly listen below. Additionally, if you want to share your opinion about the record or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or leave a comment at the bottom of this blog article.

The musical notation

The Fishes B - music notation

The full lyrics

The Fishes B

I’ll sing you a song of the fish of the sea,
An’ I’ll trust that ye’ll join in this chorus with me.

– Wi’a wind-y old weather! Stormy old waether!
– When the wind blows, we’ll all heave together!

* 2 *

O, the first came the herring, the king of the sea,
He jumped on the poop, “I’ll be captain,” said he.

* 3 *

The next was a flat-fish, they call him the skate,
“If you be the captain, why sure, I’m the mate.”

* 4 *

The next came the hake, as black as a rook,
Says he, “I’m no sailor, I’ll ship as the cook.”

* 5 *

The next came the shark, with his two rows of teeth,
“Cook, mind the cabbage and I’ll mind the beef.”

Related to this sea shanty

Sacramento (B)

Sacramento (C)

Der Hamborger Veermaster

The Fishes – W. B. Whall

Interesting Facts about The Fishes – W. B Whall

Here are The Fishes – W B Whall, forebitter version of the great shanty, sang usually at the capstan and at the pumps “The Fishes”. This version mentioned by Stan Hugill belonging to the W. B. Whall, and comes from his book “Sea Songs Ships & Shanties” (4th extended edition 1913). According to Captain Whall:
…”this song, probably owed much of its popularity to the good chorus. This song has a good opportunity for the improviser. Even if he got off the beaten track it did not matter much, as any verse gave an opportunity for the chorus. Out
of many such I remember hearing:

” The next came the conger as long as a mile,
He gave a broad grin and continued to smile.”

Sometimes the improviser broke down, but the chorus promptly chipped in and saved the situation.
According to Stan Hugill, the version of W. B. Whall appears to have been used as a forebitter rather than as a shanty, and in this way, I will reconstruct it.

The source of this sea shanty

The music: “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 198).

The lyrics:  “Sea Songs Ships & Shanties” by W. B. Whall (4th extended edition 1913).

Mentioned in: “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 197,198).

The Record of The Fishes – W. B Whall

You also can find this record on my YouTube channel here or directly listen below. Additionally, if you want to share your opinion about the record or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or leave a comment at the bottom of this blog article.

The musical notation

The Fishes (Whall) - music notation

The full lyrics

The Fishes (Whall)

Oh, a ship she was rigg’d, and ready for sea,
And all of her sailors were fishes to be

– Windy weather! Stormy weather!
– When the wind blows we’re all together.

* 2 *

O, the first came the herring, the king of the sea,
He jumped on the poop, “I’ll be captain,” said he.

* 3 *

The next was a flat-fish, they call him the skate,
“If you be the captain, why sure, I’m the mate.”

* 4 *

The next came the hake, as black as a rook,
Says he, “I’m no sailor, I’ll ship as the cook.”

* 5 *

The next came the shark, with his two rows of teeth,
“Cook, mind the cabbage and I’ll mind the beef.”

* 6 *

And then came the codfish, with his chuckle-head,
He jumped in the chains: began heaving the lead.

* 7 *

The next came the flounder, as flat as the ground,
“Chuckle-head, damn your eyes, mind how you sound.”

* 8 *

The next comes the mack’rel, with his stri-ped back,
He jumped to the waist for to board the main tack.

* 9 *

And then came the sprat, the smallest of all,
He jumped on the poop, and cried, “main topsail haul.”

Related to this Forebitter

Roll Alabama Roll! – Forebitter

Rolling Home – W. B. Whall

The Limejuice Ship (Long Chorus)

Gibb Schreffler – Boxing The Compass (2018)

Gibb Schreffler – Boxing The Compass

I have already read a few books on shanties, and the life and work of Tars from the period when the sails dominated seas and oceans. Each of the items I read brings something to my knowledge; but I must admit that this time; I was really positively surprised by the Gibb Schreffler’s – Boxing The Compass.

Although the author, Gibb Schreffler; surprised me more than once; I will only mention that he was the first (channel name on YT: Hultonclint); to do the almost impossible: he recorded on YouTube all the shanties and forebitters from Stan Hugill’s work – “Shanties From the Seven Seas” ( well, maybe almost all of them; but of course, it’s just a matter of approach; whether each version of the shanty from this book can be treated separately). His articles helps me a lot, and really extended my knowledge, which he publishes on the world’s largest forum of folk music; “Mudcat Caffe” (on the Mudcat Caffe forum, uses the nick Gibb Sahib). In addition, he is a musicologist lecturer, closely associated with the Mystic Seaport Museum.

his book, as I have already mentioned, surprises with its professionalism

This book, as I have already mentioned, surprises with its professionalism, is a great scientific compendium, showing the activity over the centuries concerning, finding, acquiring, shanties collection, and describes each source perfectly, showing its influence, but also the approach to the subject of individual collectors, I try to show the value of each of these works, in an academic manner. There are little guesswork and a lot of reliable and proven information on the subject.

This book is enriched; by a huge list of source texts; which are a great place for the list of the greatest works dealing with shanties. One more note, this book does not contain shanties, but contains the knowledge about people and works describing shanties, does not even describe the shanties themselves “per sé”. For all shanties enthusiasts who wish to have a general view of the history of shanties learning, this is a must-have position.

Do you want to be more involved? …

You can find excellent records of sea shanties here. If you want to discuss this book or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or below post in the comment section.

Related to Gibb Schreffler – “Boxing the Compass”

The Atlantic Monthly – July (1858)

Robert C. Leslie – A Waterbiography (1894)

Stan Hugill – Shanties and Sailors’ Songs (1969)

Jim Mageean – Sail Away (2021)

Jim Mageean – Sail Away – A Collection of Forebitters and Sea Songs compiled by Jim Mageean.

After spending more than 50 years gathering all the information on maritime songs. Particularly the shanties or work songs but also forebitters and sea songs, used by sailors. He finally decided to share some of what he learned; with other lovers of these songs in the Jim Mageean – Sail Away.
Jim Mageen sang with all the greatest shanty singers of our world. Through his old friend and mentor Stan Hugill and others such as Louis Killen; Johnny Collins, Pat Sheridan; Marek Szurawski; and many more shantyman; that not possible to list them all. He is one; of not too many shantymen left who singing and learn; traditional as it is, shanties and forebitters.
The collection includes 21 very special favored Jim songs (this time are their Forebitters and Sea Songs). Some of the songs from this collection, published and recorded for the first time. Every single song contains a description with essential information. The last thing that I can tell; is that book contains CD with all songs from the book, ready to listen to, read, and sing. If you will have this tool in hand, you have the chance to extend; the great company of the maritime singers of the world.

Do you want to be more involved? …

You can find excellent records of sea shanties here. If you want to discuss this book or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or below post in the comment section.

Related to Jim Mageean – Sail Away

Jim Mageean – Haul Away (2020)

Shanties and Sailor’ Songs (1969

Jim Mageean – Heave Away (2020)

Blow The Wind Wester. – Second Version

Interesting Facts about the Blow The Wind Wester. – Second Version

According to Stan Hugill, both versions of the “Blow The Wind Wester.” song, recorded and documented by Cecil Sharp in the “Journal of the Folk-Song Society” (No 18 from January 1914) was a shanty sang at capstan and at the pumps. This version was Sung by Mrs. L. Hoper, Hambridge, Somerset, April 4th, 1904.

The source of this sea shanty

The music: “Journal of the Folk-Song Society” (No 18 from January 1914).

The lyrics:  “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 197).

The Record of the Blow The Wind Wester. – Second Version

You also can find this record on my YouTube channel here or directly listen below. Additionally, if you want to share your opinion about the record or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or leave a comment at the bottom of this blog article.

The musical notation

Blow The Wind Wester. - Second Version - music notation

The full lyrics

Blow The Wind Wester. (Second Version)

Up jumps the salmon,
The largest o’ ’em all;
He jumps on our fore-deck,
Say-ing; Here’s meat for all.

– O blow the wind whistling, O blow the winds all!
– Our ship is still hearted, boys, How steady she go!

* 2 *

Up jumps the shark,
The largest of all;
He jumps on our fore-deck:
You should die all!

* 3 *

Then up jumps the sprat,
The smallest of all ;
He jumps on our fore-deck,
Saying: We shall be drowned all!

Related to this sea shanty

Rio Grande – Norvegian sailor version

Opsang For Brasiliefareren, Briggen Preciosa (Norwegian)

Sacramento (A)

Blow The Wind Wester. – First Version

Interesting Facts about Blow The Wind Wester. (First Version)

According to Stan Hugill, both version of the “Blow The Wind Wester.” song, recorded and documented by Cecil Sharp in the “Journal of the Folk-Song Society” (No 18 from January 1914) was a shanty sang at capstan and at the pumps. This version was Sung by Mr. Wm. Woolley (aged 84), Bincombe, Somerset, January 6th, 1908.

The source of this sea shanty

The music: “Journal of the Folk-Song Society” (No 18 from January 1914).

The lyrics:  “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 197).

The Record of the Blow The Wind Wester. – First Version

You also can find this record on my YouTube channel here or directly listen below. Additionally, if you want to share your opinion about the record or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or leave a comment at the bottom of this blog article.

The musical notation

Blow The Wind Wester. - First Version - music notation

The full lyrics

Blow The Wind Wester. (First Version)

It’s up jumps the sprat, the smallest of them all;
She jumped on the foredeck, well done, my lads all…

– So blow the wind wester, blow the wind, blow!
– Our ship she’s in full sail, how steady she goes.

* 2 *

Then up jumps the eel, with his slippery tail;
He jumped on the fore deck and glistened the sail.

* 3 *

Then up jumps the nirl-log, with his pretty spots;
He jumped on the fore deck and looked on the top.

* 4 *

Then up jumps the nirl-log, with his rolling teeth;
He said: “Mr. Captain, shall I cook your beef? “

* 5 *

Then up jumps the roter, the king of the sea;
He jumped on the fore deck and turned the key.

Related to this sea shanty

Rio Grande (F)

Bound for the Rio Grande (R. R. Terry’s Version)

Rio Grande (A. Connan Doyle version)

Blow The Wind Southerly – Shore Song

Interesting Facts about Blow The Wind Southerly

The melody and text of the Blow The Wind Southerly, which you will hear in my reconstruction, were taken from the earliest source I can achieve W. G. Whittaker’s “Blow The WInds Southetly” (1921 by J.Curwen & Sons Ltd.), but the origin, of course, is much older and some part of this song was first in print in the Sharp, Cuthbert, ed. (1834) “The bishoprick garland, or A collection of legends, songs, ballads, &c. belonging to the county of Durham”. This song generally is called “The Fishes”, it is the origin of the shanty under the same title. What we know about it this song is undoubtedly a Scottish fishermen’s song.

The source of this sea shanty

The music: “Blow The WInds Southetly” by W. G. Whittaker (1921 by J.Curwen & Sons Ltd.).

The lyrics:  “Blow The WInds Southetly” by W. G. Whittaker (1921 by J.Curwen & Sons Ltd.).

Mentioned in: “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 197).

The Record of the Blow The Wind Southerly

You also can find this record on my YouTube channel here or directly listen below. Additionally, if you want to share your opinion about the record or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or leave a comment at the bottom of this blog article.

The musical notation

Blow The Wind Southerly -music notation

The full lyrics

Blow The Wind Southerly

Blow-the wind southerly, southerly, southerly,
Blow
the wind south o’er the bonnie blue sea;
Blow-the wind southerly southerly southerly
Blow bonnie breeze, my lover to me

They told me last night there were ships in the offing.
And I hurried down to the deep rolling sea;
But my eye could not see it, wherever might be it
The barque that is bearing my lover to me.

* 2 *

Blo.w the wind southerly, southerly, southerly
Blow the wind south, that my lover may come;
Blo
.w the wind southerly southerly southerly,
Blow bonnie breeze, and bring him safe home.

I stood by the lighthouse the last time we parted,
Till darkness came down o’er the deep rolling sea!
And no longer I saw the bright bark of my lover–
Blow bonnie ‘breeze, and ‘bring him to me.

* 3 *

Blo.w the wind southerly, southerly, southerly
Blow the wind south, that my lover may come;
Blo
.w the wind southerly southerly southerly,
Blow bonnie ‘breeze, and ‘bring him to me.

Is it not ‘sweet to ‘hear the breeze singing,
As lightly it comes o’er the deep rolling sea?
But sweeter and dearer by far when ’tis bringing
The bark of my true love in safety to me.

Related to this song

The Wild Miz-Zou-Rye (Alan Lomax) -River Song

Hieland Laddie (B) – stevedores chant

The Powder Monkey – Shore Sea-Song