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Wee Pot Stove (Wee Dark Engine Room)

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 6274 ; Harry Robertson (1923-1995)]

Scottish born, Australian Folk singer Harry Robertson recorded his own song Wee Pot Stove in 1971 for his album Whale Chasing Men. Leith Harbour was a whaling station on the north-east coast of South Georgia.

Nic Jones covered this song as The Little Pot Stove on his 1980 Topic album Penguin Eggs; the song also gave the album its title. On the same album, he recorded another one of Robertson’s songs, Ballina Whalers, as The Humpback Whale. His original LP did not credit Robertson as the author of both songs; this was rectified on the album’s CD release.

This video shows Nic Jones at Cambridge Folk Festival 2012, accompanied by his son Joseph Jones and Belinda O’Hooley:

John Wright sang Little Pot Stove in 1993 on his Fellside album Ride the Rolling Sky.

Danny Spooner sang The Wee Pot Stove on his 2006 CD of songs of the whaling industry, The Great Leviathan. He noted:

Like many a son of Scotland, Harry Robertson went to sea as a young bloke out of Glasgow. He served in Royal Navy tugs during the war and later ‘… went to the whaling” to earn a few bob to raise a family.

To earn extra money some engineers would stay down at the whaling base over the winter to work on the engines of the whale chasing boats and this is the point of this song. It was so cold in the engine rooms that tools would stick to bare flesh so the men carried the tiny stoves to warm themselves and their tools. So, this is the only love song I know to a pot-bellied stove.

Jon Boden sang Little Pot Stove as the 28 December 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.


Please find the lyrics for this song at Harry Robertson’s website.