> Peter Bellamy > Songs > The Dockyard Gate

The Dockyard Gate

[ Roud 1739 ; trad.]

Norfolk singer Sam Larner sang The Dockyard Gate in a recording by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger in 1958-60. This was included on his Folkways anthology, Now Is the Time for Fishing. The album's liner notes commented:

Nothing could be further removed from the romantic sea “ballad”, so admired by the Victorians, than this cynical piece. [Frank] Kidson, who collected one and a half verses of it in Whitby, Yorkshire, describes it as “one of a type of song which is produced even today, on shipboard. It is here that real sailors' songs are invented and occasionally passed on to the shore people, where a generation or two of singers form them into folk songs pure and simple.”

Ewan MacColl sang Sam Larner's version of The Dockyard Gate on his and A.L. Lloyd's Prestige/Transatlantic LP, A Sailor's Garland.

Peter Bellamy learned The Dockyard Gate from the singing of Sam Larner too, and sang it in 1969 on his second LP, Fair England's Shore. He recorded it again in 1983 for his privately issued cassette Fair Annie. Peter Bellamy commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

The Dockyard Gate comes from the fishing communities of East Anglia—this version being learned from the sparkling singing of the late Sam Larner of Winterton in Norfolk.

Roy Harris sang The Dockyard Gate in 1977 on his third Topic LP, By Sandbank Fields. This track was also included in 1998 on the Topic anthology CD Round Cape Horn: Traditional Songs of Sailors, Ships and the Sea.

Lyrics

Peter Bellamy sings The Dockyard Gate

Come list all you seamen unto me
While these few words to you I'd write.
Just to let you know how the game it do go on
When you are out of sight.
Just to let you know how the lads on shore
Go courting with your wives
While you are out on the raging seas,
A-venturing of your sweet lives.

Now, the last farewell of her true love
When she then began for to cry.
She pulled her handkerchief out from her breast
To wipe her weeping eye.
Saying, “My true love is gone to sea,
How hard that is, my case.
But there's plenty more sittin' here on the shore
And another one shall take his place.

So you go down to the dockyard gate
And wait till I come out;
For this very day, we'll spend his half-pay
And we'll drink both ale and stout.”

So the day being spent in sweet content
And his half-pay it was no more;
“Nevermind, my true love,” she did say,
“My husband, he is working hard for more.
Perhaps it is his watch on deck,
All shivering in the cold;
Or perhaps it is his watch below,
Our joys he can't behold.

But you go down to the dockyard gate
And wait till I come out;
For this very day, we'll spend his half-pay
And we'll drink both ale and stout.”