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The Runcorn Ferry

A monologue by Marriott Edgar.


On the banks of the Mersey, over on Cheshire side,
Lies Runcorn, that's best known to fame
By Transporter Bridge as takes folks over its stream,
Or else brings 'em back across same.

In days afore Transporter Bridge were put up,
A Ferry Boat lay in the slip,
And old Ted the Boatman would row folks across
At tuppence per person per trip.

Now Runcorn lay over on one side of stream,
And Widnes on t'other side stood,
And as nobody wanted to go either place -
Well, the trade wasn't any too good.

One ev'ning, to Ted's superlative surprise,
Three customers came into view -
A Mister and Missus Ramsbottom it were,
And Albert, their little son, too.

'Ow much for the three?' Mister Ramsbottom asked,
As his hand to his pocket did dip.
Ted said 'Same for three as it would be for one:
Per tuppence per person per trip.'

'You're not charging tuppence for that little lad?'
Said Mother, her eyes flashing wild.
'Per tuppence per person per trip,' answered Ted,
'Per woman, per man, or per child.'

'Fivepence for three, that's the most that I'll pay,'
Said Father, 'Don't waste time in talk.'
'Per tuppence per person per trip,' answered Ted,
'And them as can't pay has to walk.'

'We can walk an' all,' said Father.
'Come, Mother, it's none so deep, weather's quite mild.'
So into the water the three of them stepped -
The father, the mother, the child.

The further they paddled the deeper it got,
But they wouldn't give in once begun;
In the spirit that's made Lancashire what it is,
They'd sooner be drowned than done.

Very soon the old people were up to their necks
And the little lad clean out of sight.
Said Father, 'Where's Albert?' and Mother replied,
'I've got hold of his hand, he's all right.'

'Twere just at that moment Pa got an idea,
And floundering back to old Ted,
'E said, 'We've walked that way -
Come, tak' us the rest for half-price, that's a penny a head.

But Ted wasn't standing for none o' that there,
And making an obstinate lip,
'Per tuppence per person per trip,' Ted replied,
'Per trip or per part of per trip.'

'All right then,' says Father,
'Let me tak' the boat and I'll pick up the others half-way,
I'll row them across and I'll bring the boat back
And thrupence in t'bargain I'll pay.'

'Twere money for nothing. Ted answered 'Right-o,'
And Father got 'old of the sculls.
With the sharp end o' boat towards middle of stream
He were there in a couple of pulls.

He got Mother out - it were rather a job -
With the water she weighed half a ton;
Then, pushing the oar down the side of the boat,
Started fishing around for his son.

When poor little Albert came up to the top
His collar was soggy and limp,
And with holding his breath at the bottom so long
His face were as red as a shrimp.

Pa took them across and he brought the boat back,
And he said to old Ted on the slip,
'Wilt row me across by myself?'
Ted said 'Aye! at per tuppence per person per trip.'

When they got t'other side Father laughed fit to bust,
He'd got best of bargain, you see,
He'd worked it all out and he'd got his own way and
He'd paid nobbut fivepence for three.