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Bowton's Yard
by Samuel Laycock
 
From ‘Collected Writings’ Samuel Laycock, 2nd ed., 1908.
 
This is one of the most famous poems in Lancashire dialect. It has been set to music and sung widely - my sister and I used to sing it in the car with my father when we were very young. Bowton's Yard apparently existed, in Stalybridge I believe, and the people described are based on real characters.
 
Link to Glossary

Bowton’s Yard

 

At number one, i' Bowton's yard, mi gronny keeps a skoo,

Hoo hasna’ mony scholars yet, hoo's nobbut one or two;

They sen th' owd woman's rayther cross,—well, well, it may be so;

Aw know hoo boxed me rarely once, an' pood mi ears an' o.

 

At number two lives widow Burns, hoo weshes clooas for folk;

The’r Billy, that's her son, gets jobs at wheelin' coke;

They sen hoo coarts wi' Sam-o'-Ned’s, ’at lives at number three;

It may be so, aw conno tell, it matters nowt to me.

 

At number three, reet facin' th' pump, Ned Grimshaw keeps a shop;

He's Eccles-cakes, an' gingerbread, an' traycle beer an' pop;

He sells oat-cakes an' o, does Ned, he has boath soft an' hard,

An' everybody buys off him 'at lives i' Bowton's Yard.

 

At number four Jack Blunderick lives; he goes to th' mill an' wayves;

An' then, at th' week-end, when he's time, he pows a bit an' shaves;

He's badly off, is Jack, poor lad! he's rayther lawm, they sen,

An' his childer keep him deawn a bit, aw think they'n nine or ten.

 

At number five aw live misel', wi' owd Susannah Grimes,

But dunno like so very weel, hoo turns me eawt sometimes;

An' when aw’m in ther's ne'er no leet, aw have to ceawer i' th' dark;

Aw conno pay mi lodgin' brass, becose aw’m eawt o' wark.

 

At number six, next door to us, an' close to th' side o' th' speawt,

Owd Susie Collins sells smo' drink, but hoo's welly allus beawt;

An’ heaw it is, ut that is so aw’m sure aw conno’ tell,

Hoo happen mak’s it very sweet, an' sups it o hersel’.

 

At number seven ther's nob'dy lives, they laft it yesterday,

Th' bum-baylis coom an' marked the’r things, an’ took 'em o away;

They took 'em in a donkey cart—aw know nowt wheer they went—

Aw reckon they'n bin ta'en an’ sowd becose they owed some rent.

 

At number eight—they're Yawshur folk—ther's only th' mon an' th’ woife,

Aw think aw ne'er seed nicer folk nor these i' o mi loife!

Yo'll never see 'em foin' eawt, loike lots o' married folk,

They allus seem good-temper’t like, an' ready wi' a joke.

 

At number nine th' owd cobbler lives, th' owd chap ut mends mi shoon,

He's getting very wake an' done, he'll ha' to leeov us soon;

He reads his Bible every day, an’ sings just loike a lark,

He says he's practisin' for heaven—he's welly done his wark.

 

At number ten James Bowton lives, he's th' noicest heawse i' th' row;

He's allus plenty o' summat t' ate, an’ lots o' brass an' o;

An' when he rides or walks abeawt he's dressed up very fine,

But he isn't hawve as near to heaven as him at number nine.

 

At number 'leven mi uncle lives, aw co him Uncle Tum,

He goes to concerts, up an' deawn, an' plays a kettle-drum;

I' bands o' music, an' sich things, he seems to tak' a pride,

An' allus mak’s as big a noise as o i' th' place beside.

 

At number twelve, an' th' eend o' th' row, Joe Stiggins deols i ale;

He's sixpenny, an' fourpenny, dark-colour’t, an' he's pale;

But aw ne'er touch it, for aw know its ruin’t mony a bard,

Aw’m th' only chap as doesn't drink 'at lives i' Bowton's Yard!

 

An' neaw aw’ve done, aw'll say good-bye, an' leov yo' for awhile;

Aw know aw haven't towd mi tale i' sich a fust-rate style;

But iv yo're pleased aw’m satisfied, an' ax for no reward

For tellin' who mi neighbours are ut live i' Bowton's Yard.

 

Return to Index of Lancashire Dialect Poems

 

Audio File

 

Below is a recitation of the poem, followed by a sung version. Pavaroti had nowt on me, but at least my rendering gives an idea of the tune.. You may need to allow 'ActiveX' control to listen. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Spoken

 

 

Sung 

 

 

 

 

 

Explanations

Hoo - she

Sen - say

Wayves - weaves

Pow - cuts hair

Lawm - lame

Ceawer - sit

Smo' drink - low-alcohol beer

Bum-baylis - bailiffs

Sowd - sold

Shoon - shoes

Welly - nearly

Summat t'ate - something to eat (food)