Andrew Poleson with Gilbert Hutchison SA1974.237.5
It was after 2.0am on the night of July 26th 1974 and the drinks had been freely flowing in The Cooks’ House where the older men sat around chatting and singing, while the cauldrons of meat had been stewing for the wedding feast along the road at Symbister Hall. Andrew started the ballad and after one verse Gilbert Hutchison took over with a part of the Refrain but did not proceed very far.
Several different street ballads and numerous broadsheets commemorated the bravery of Grace Darling, and her father, the keeper at the Longstone lighthouse, when on September 7th 1838 they rescued nine persons after the paddle steamer Forfarshire struck on the western edge of the Harcar rock in the Farne Islands. We have added a set of verses taken from a Broadsheet in the Bodleian Library, Oxford; but neither it nor other versions give a truthful report of what ensued that morning. Roud Index no. 1441.
It was at the Longstone lighthouse there lived a pretty maid,
Pure as the air around her, of dangers ne’er afraid.
One morning just at daybreak a storm-tossed crew she spied
An’ in through tempted madness “I’Il save the crew” she cried.
For Grace had an English heart, the raging sea she braved.
She pulled away on a dashing spray and the crew she saved.
Come help me father and save the crew she cried.
“’Tis madness” cried her father… “Naa, I canna ….”
‘Twas at the Longstone lighthouse, there dwelt an English maid,
Pure as the air around her, of danger ne’er afraid,
One morning just at daybreak a storm tossed crew she spied,
And though to try seemed madness, “I’ll save the crew!” she said.
Chorus: And she pulled away o’er the rolling sea
Over the waters blue
Help, help! she could hear the cry,
Of the shipwrecked crew.
But Grace had an English heart
As the raging storm she braved
She pulled away o’er the dashing spray
And the crew she saved.
They to the rocks were clinging, A crew of nine all told,
Between them and the lighthouse The seas like mountains rolled,
Cried Grace , “Come help me, father, To launch the boat”, said she.
‘Tis madness,” cried her father, “To face that raging sea”.
One murmured prayer, ‘Heaven guard us’. And then they were afloat,
Between them and destruction, The planks of that frail boat,
Then said the maiden’s father, Turn back or doomed are we,
Then up spoke brave Grace Darling, Alone I’ll brave the sea.
They bravely rode the billows And reached the rock at length.
They saved those storm-tossed sailors, In Heaven alone their strength.
Go tell the wide world o’er What British pluck can do
And sing of brave Grace Darling Who nobly saved that crew.