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Poem by Ron Ducker

Down to the shipyard I did run
As soon as I got out of school
It was my last day, now for some fun
Some would say what a fool.

The Gravelines 1 she wanted a crew
Tawas her I was looking for
The skipper said yes you will do
We are in need of just one more.

Soon came along a strong looking chap
George Taylor was his name
He came on board and tipping his hat
Said yes this is my game.

Sam Lucas was the man in charge
The Firecrest was his last ship
She was a steamship not a barge
This will be a different sort of trip

Off the yard we came with our maintenance done
Just a short trip for trials they said
Felixstowe is a nice little run
In the orders that Sam read

Beside the quay we laid that night
Waiting for the tide
I washed up the crocks after we’d had a bite
And tipped all the new cutlery over the side

The skipper he took it all in good part
Because I was still very young
It’s only because you’ve just got a start
That’s saved your neck getting rung. (good old Sam)
Things went well right after that
We got back and unloaded our grain
Sam went after orders in his smart Trilby hat
And was soon back on board once again

To the Thames we’re to go
On this very tide
The wind it sure doe’s blow
So we’ll have a rough ride

Up through the sheers we had a good run
The wind being onto the land
Every now and again we could hear that big gun
That echoes across Maplin sand.

We soon arrive at smoky town
And get our cargo stowed
It will be a quick turn round
We will soon be back to unload.

George Taylor did not in fact make this trip he got married or something silly like that.
The stand-in mate was Dyke Smith who was a retired barge Master, his last command I believe was the Marjorie belonging to Paul’s of Ipswich, he was at the time working in the sail loft.
Whilst in the Co- Op cutting in the royal Victoria Dock we laid alongside the Pimlico a river barge belonging to the London and Rochester trading co.
The mate of the Pimlico turned out to be a friend of mine Walter Todd. I told him the mates berth was vacant and he went and had a word with the skipper, who in fact lived next door to Walter in Austin Street Ipswich. I am glad to say that he got the job.
A few years later Walter lost his life on Ipswich Dock whilst he was a docker in a motor cycle accident.

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