The Bold English Navvy


I’m a bold English navvy that works on the line
An’ the best place I met wis Newcastle-on-Tyne
I wis tired, sick and weary while working all day
To a cot down on the hillside I’m makin’ my way

I firsta had a wash and then had a shave
For courting my true love I was highly prepared
The moon in the skies, and the stars, they shone down
And I hit for the road wi’ my navvy boots on

I knocked on my love’s window, my knock she did know
And out of her slumbers she woked so slow
I knocked her again and she says: “Is that you, John?”
“Yes, indeed, it is me with my navvy boots on”

She opened the door and then let me in
It was to her bedroom she called me then
Well the night being warm and the blankets rolled down
So I jumped into bed with my navvy boots on

Early next morning at the break of the day
I says to my true love: “It’s time to go away”
“Sleep down, sleep down, for you know you’ve done wrong
For to sleep here all night with your navvy boots on”

Six months being over and seven months being past
This pretty fair maid she grew stout round the waist
Seven months being over and nine come along
And he hands me a young son with his navvy boots on

Come all you pretty fair maids take heed what I’ve said
Never let a navvy come into your bed
For when he gets warm he’ll take a leap on
And he’ll jump on your bones with his navvy boots on

As sung by the late, great Jimmy MacBeath on the Topic record Wild Rover No More. He picked this song up while singing on Merseyside in 1966. In Aberdeenshire it is more usually sung as Wi’ his coortin’ coat on, but it has been adapted to suit various trades; the rural workers making it Wi’ his cattle coat, the miners Wi’ his pit boots and a recent version has the hero wearing McAlpine’s boots.
See also Navvy Boots.