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The Dogger Bank

[ Roud 18836 ; Laws D8 ; Ballad Index LD08 ; trad.]

Norfolk singer Sam Larner sang The Dogger Bank in a recording by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger in 1958-60. The first verse of it was spliced into the radio ballad Singing the Fishing (at the end of track 4 of the Topic CD) and the whole song included on his Folkways anthology, Now Is the Time for Fishing. The album's liner notes commented:

This is possibly an English parody of the American song Cruise of the Bigler, and probably is of music hall origin. The reference to the Knickerbocker Line in the last chorus is almost certainly an echo from the very popular music-hall song which greeted the inauguration of the Boston street-car service known as The Knickerbocker Line. Another song, which has for its refrain the final chorus of the song printed here, was collected by Cecil Sharp in 1911 at Shipton, Somerset (Sharp MS 2620). The tune appears to be fairly wide distributed in both Scotland and Ireland. Mr Larner learned his version of the song in 1890 from a trawler fisherman in Great Yarmouth.

Peter Bellamy learned The Dogger Bank from the singing of Sam Larner and sang it in 1969 on his second LP, Fair England's Shore. Peter Bellamy commented in the album's sleeve notes:

The Dogger Bank is another of Sam Larner's fishing songs, but this one probably began life in America, to come over with the “Coon Shows”, go into the music-halls and eventually find its way to the fishermen who adapted it (drastically) to their own needs.


Peter Bellamy sings The Dogger Bank

Sailing over the Dogger Bank
Oh, wasn't it a treat?
The wind a-blowing 'bout east north east,
We had to give our sheet.
You should to see us rally,
The wind a-blowing free,
A passage from the Dogger Bank
To Great Grimsby.

Chorus (after each verse):
So watch her, twig her,
She's a proper ju-ber-ju.
Give her the sheet and let her rip,
We're the boys to see her through.
You should to see us rally,
The wind a-blowing free,
A passage from the Dogger Bank
To Great Grimsby.

Now the captain he's a shangaroosh
And he loves a drop of good ale,
The mate he is a road-stone inspector,
He's been seen in many a jail.
The third hand he's a bush ranger,
He comes from the African Isle,
And take a look at the poor old cook,
He gets the bugger wild.

Now, we are the boys to make a noise
When we come home from sea,
We get right drunk, we roll on the floor,
We have a jubilee;
We get right drunk and full of beer
We roll all over the floor,
And when the rent it is all spent,
We'll go to sea for more.

So it's watch her, twig her,
It's down the street she came;
With high heels and painted toes
Good Jilly is on the game
She is one of them flash girls,
Can't she cut a shine?
She can do a double shuffle
On the Knickerbocker line.