Stokers' Songs


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William Woodland Hastings

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Hi Folks,
I'm brand new to this board. I'm writing a novel based on the Titanic. I'm trying to find out what songs the stokers on board Titanic would likely have sung. Any ideas, tips or info out there?
Thanks,
Woody
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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You could try the Ulster Titanic Society at http://www.ulstertitanic.com/ I'll bet that their James Carlisle has some bright ideas.

As it's a work of fiction, I'd suggest the old standard Maggie May. Few people would know whether it was correct and is was certainly well-known at sea. The real question might be whether stokers sang at all. It was decidedly hard work and more likely to produce grouching than singing.

Any thoughts from Eric Sauder?
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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Sorry, I meant Bill Sauder!

Come to think of it, I once heard a stokers' song called To hell with the Mauretania, so I suppose they did combine singing with grouching at times.
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 26, 2000
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A couple of songs have been mentioned as being sung by the crew - both of these, however, were reported to have been sung in the lifeboats after the catastrophe.

In Lawrence Beesley's book, "The Loss of the S S Titanic", he states, after those in the boat sighted the Carpathia: "The captain (Barrett) called for a song and led off with 'Pull for the Shore, Boys'."

Also, in that same boat (#13) Elizabeth Dowdell recalled, in the April 20, 1912 edition of the Hudson Dispatch,: "Several of the people suggested that we should sing which would keep the women from hearing those mournful groans, and it was with much effort that we sand, 'And We Parted on the Shore'."

Now, for all I know, these two could be one in the same song, only under different titles.

Hope this is of some help.

Best regards,
Cook
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 26, 2000
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Thanks Shelly and Dave for clearing up that confusion for me. As always, I owe you several.

Warmest regards,
Cook
 

Cal Haines

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Nov 20, 2000
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A&E's "Titanic: Death of a Dream" has a quote from Frankie Goldsmith, a third class passenger. He is quoted as saying the he snuck down to one of the boiler rooms and saw the firemen singing and banging their shovels on the grates to keep time.

According to his ET bio, Frankie was 9 at the time.


I suppose any of the Irish pub songs of the day might have been sung.

Cal
 

Tracy Smith

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Nov 5, 2000
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Interestingly enough, there is a verse from "Pull For the Shore" in one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series of books.

The lyrics are slightly different here:

Pull for the shore, sailor
Pull for the shore
Heed not the stormy winds
Though loudly they roar
 
Jun 4, 2000
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Hello William,

A Titanic related novel, eh? Well, I'm interested.

Apart from the above suggestions, and depending on how far you want to take this, I'd recommend getting in touch with Sheila Jemima, an oral historian working for the Southampton City Council. (Although to be quite frank, I’m not sure how relevant ‘Irish pub songs’ would be given the number in the stokehold who were Englishmen from Soton and Liverpool... but as Dave G wrote, who would really know the difference? Well, anoraks - like us - I suppose.)

Sheila Jemima is one of the co-authors/oral historians who worked on Titanic Voices. She specialises in oral history projects specifically relating to the experience of Southampton’s docklands and seafaring communities — including the men of the black gang. She’s bound to have access to some excellent primary source material or be able to make suggestions on further sources of information.

Web site details: http://www.southampton.gov.uk/leisure/oralhistory/index.html
Sheila Jemima’s email: [email protected]

Please bear in mind that the oral history section there is quite small and that Sheila may still be receiving many requests for Titanic related information above and beyond the call of duty.
happy.gif


And why not pop into the Titanic books forum at some stage and tell us a bit more about what you're working on?

Cheers,
F
 
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William Woodland Hastings

Guest
To All (Dave, Pat, Shelley, Cal, Tracy, & Fiona),
Wow, thanks for all the excellent suggestions. I'll be sure to check them all out. You guys, and gals, are great!
-Woody
 
Dec 12, 1999
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William, I wish you luck on your Titanic novel. I once attempted writing a Titanic novel myself, but found that I wasn't meant to do it!

Ah well, there's always F. Scott Fitzgerald...not many works of fiction about him...

I'm sure you'll be more successful!
happy.gif
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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It's taken me two years, but I've at last found a the stokers' song I mentioned. All I need now is the tune, not that it's a very good one, as I recall.

Firing the Mauretania

In nineteen hundred twenty four
Found myself in Liverpool on the floor
So I went to the Cunard office door
Got a job on the Mauretania

Chorus: Oh, firing the Mauretania
She surely is a slaver
To Hell with the Mauretania

The Mauretania's stokehold's a wonderful sight
Sixty-four fires a-burning bright
But you'll shovel coal from morning to night
A-firing the Mauretania

The coal was so hard and full of slate
And that's what got to the four-to-eight
It very soon wearied the four-to-eight
A-firing the Mauretania

The eight-to-twelve were much better men
But they were weary by half part ten
So tired and weary by half past ten
A-firing the Mauretania

The fan's on the bum and fire won't draw
And that's what got to the twelve-to-four
It very soon buggered the twelve-to-four
A-firing the Mauretania

So come all you firemen, listen to me
The Mauretania spells purgatory
Stick to the coast, don't go deep sea
A-firing the Mauretania
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Dave, I think (but I'm not sure) that it's on this album: [Winsor, Martin and Redd Sullivan: The Troubadour. Deacon: DEA 1045 (Stereo): UK, 1971]. You can generally find copies for sale for a few pounds from dealers on the web.
 
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Michelle Tanner

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Hi Kritina, Just picked up on your comment re F Scott Fitzgerald (I know! a long time after you made it! lol)I found it interesting because F.S.F's mother was called McQuillan prior to marriage, and a William McQuillan was a Stoker who lost his life on Titanic.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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"FIRING THE MAURETANIA"
Although this is an old thread, I think I know the answer. The tune of Firing the Mauretania is probably the same as the navvy song WORKING ON THE RAILWAY, which begins:

"In eighteen hundred and forty-one,
I put me moleskin breeches on,
Thought I'd go and have some fun,
Working on the railway....."
 
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daveuk2002_yahoo_com

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This is a very old thread I know but my grandfather Harry Senior, one of the firemen used to sing Shenandoah as he was working.
 

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