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Alan of Australia Penguin: Ratcliffe Highway (40) Penguin: Ratcliffe Highway ^^ 01 Jul 00

From the Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs, Ed Pellow's rendition of the tune of Ratcliffe Highway can be found here.


As I was a-walking down London,
From Wapping to Ratcliffe Highway,
I chanced to pop into a gin-shop,
To spend a long night and a day.

A young doxy came rolling up to me,
And asked if I'd money to sport.
For a bottle of wine changed a guinea,
And she quickly replied: 'That's the sort.'

When the bottle was put on the table,
There was glasses for everyone.
When I asked for the change of my guinea,
She tipped me a verse of her song.

This lady flew into a passion,
And placed both her hands on her hip,
Saying: 'Sailor, don't you know our fashion?
Do you think you're on board of your ship?'

'If this is your fashion to rob me,
Such a fashion I'll never abide.
So launch out the change of my guinea,
Or else I'll give you a broadside.'

A gold watch hung over the mantel,
So the change of my guinea I take,
And down the stairs I run nimbly,
Saying: 'Darn my old boots, I'm well paid.'

The night being dark in my favour,
To the river I quickly did creep,
And I jumped in a boat bound for Deptford,
And got safe aboard of my ship.

So come all you bold young sailors,
That ramble down Ratcliffe Highway,
If you chance to pop into a gin-shop,
Beware, lads, how long you do stay.

For the songs and the liquors invite you,
And your heart will be all in a rage;
If you give them a guinea for a bottle,
You can go to the devil for change.

Sung by Mrs Howard, King's Lynn, Norfolk (R.V.W. 1905)

Click here for another version. And here for yet another.

Previous song: The Ploughman.
Next song: The Red Herring.

Penguin Index provided by Joe Offer

Alan ^^

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