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William Delph

Methinks I see a host of craft
Spreading their sails alee
Down the Humber they do glide
All bound for the Northern Sea
Me thinks I see on each small craft
A crew with hearts so brave
Going out to earn their daily bread
Upon the restless wave

And it's three score and ten
Boys and men were lost from Grimsby town
From Yarmouth down to Scarborough
Many hundreds more were drowned
Our herring craft, our trawlers
Our fishing smacks, as well
They long to fight that bitter night
The battle with the swell

Methinks I see them yet again
As they leave this land behind
Casting their nets into the sea
The herring shoals to find
Me thinks I see them yet again
They're all on board all right
With their nets rolled up and their decks cleaned off
And the side lights burning bright

Me thinks I've heard the captain say
"Me lads we'll shorten sail"
With the sky to all appearances
Looks like an approaching gale
Me thinks I see them yet again
Midnight hour is past
The little craft abattling there
Against the icy blast

October's night brought such a sight
'Twas never seen before
There were mast and yards and broken spars
Come a washed up on the shore
There were many a heart in sorrow
Many a heart so brave
There were many a fine and hearty lad
That met a watery grave

Footnote:  The text was by William Delph, a Whitby fisherman and song-maker. It commemorates a freak storm in 1889 The Dreadful Gale in which eight boats from Grimsby and two from Hull were lost. It was sold as a Broadsheet to raise funds for the bereaved families. It quickly passed into the oral tradition and was very popular during the 60s folk-song revival.



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