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The Apprentice Song

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 9308 ; Ian Campbell]

Martyn Wyndham-Read sang Ian Campbell’s The Apprentice Song in 1966 on his, Danny Spooner, Gordon McIntyre and Peter Dickie’s album A Wench, a Whale and a Pint of Good Ale.

Danny Spooner and Duncan Brown sang The Apprentice Song in 2016 on their CD of songs of the working life, Labour and Toil. The album’s liner notes commented:

Apprenticeship—the commencement of the working life in most trades in the past—the start of a long and laborious journey, learning from “the boys who know their stuff”. The young lads were well aware that it would be many years before they would rise to the top of the tree, but were proud to have begun the climb, particularly as a trade meant a secure income. This song was written by Ian Campbell in the early sixties for a stage production, The Master and His Tool. The song vividly describes the tasks of the apprentices in the gas industry. The technical terms were gleaned from interviews with men from the Saltley gasworks, Birmingham.


Danny Spooner and Duncan Brown sing The Apprentice Song

Come on lad and bring your tool bag,
Keep your eyes peeled, use your head.
Fetch your footprints, spanners, chisels,
From now on they’ll earn your bread.
Keep your eyes on the older fitters,
They’re the boys who know their stuff.
One day you will do their job
If you’re smart and keen enough.

Come on boy and take your place
Among the men who serve the trade.
Scalers, cokers, valvesmen, stokers,
This is where the gas is made.
Keep your eye on the old Fairweather gauge,
The gas that’s on the town.
Send it out bang on four fifty
Or else you’ll let the housewife down.

Wake up, son, and mind your setting,
B-range is the one to watch.
Number three is due for scaling,
See she don’t get too much ash.
Mind your eye with that red hot poker,
Read your heat and see it’s right.
Leave your range in decent order
For the lads on shift tonight.