> Folk Music > Songs > I'll Have a Collier for My Sweetheart

I'll Have a Collier for My Sweetheart

[ Roud 3505 ; trad.]

Harry Boardman sang I'll Have a Collier for My Sweetheart on his and Dave Hillery's 1971 Topic album Trans Pennine and in 1975 on his Topic album with the High Level Ranters, The Bonny Pit Laddie. The first album's sleeve notes commented:

Wherever this song originated, it seems to have flourished almost exclusively in the Lancashire colliery areas. There is a set of words in Come All Ye Bold Miners (L&W 1952—edited by A.L. Lloyd), which was supplied by William Oliver of Widnes and a fragmentary version was also communicated to A.L. Lloyd by a miner, originally from Platt Bridge near Wigan. The text here was learned by Harry Boardman from his mother, Mary, who, in fact, learned it from her mother. The reference to factory lads “get nowt but brass” obviously referred to cotton factory lads. The young lassies of Failsworth near Oldham, however, seem to have found it more amusing to substitute this with “Ferranti’s lads”. It may be worth noting that Harry’s father was a Ferranti lad—before he retired.

Mary and Nigel Hudleston print three verses of Collier Lads, “[a]s [s]ung by an unknown singer, boundary of West and South Yorks”, in 2001 in their book Songs of the Ridings.

Laura Smyth sang I'll Have a Collier in 2014 on her and Ted Kemp's EP, The Charcoal Black and the Bonny Grey. They noted:

I’ll Have a Collier is a song of defiance. A young girl refuses to part from her sweetheart, a collier lad, despite her mother’s condemnation and attempts at bribery.

These sentimental lyrics were sung by Harry Boardman on the record Trans Pennine where he states that it had also been sung by his mother. A.L. Lloyd noted the similarities between this song and another traditional song commonly known as Johnny Todd, particularly to the offer and rejection of a silver cradle. The original tune seemed rather too jovial for the subject matter, and so Laura wrote a new tune loosely based on a version of Johnny Todd as collected by Roy Palmer from Samuel Webber.

Maddy Prior with Hannah James and Giles Levin sang The Collier Lad in 2014 on a digital download single.

Lyrics

I'll Have a Collier for My Sweetheart in Come All Ye Bold Miners Collier Lads in Songs of the Ridings

My mother sent me for some water,
For some water for our tea.
My foot slipped and down I tumbled,
A collier lad came a-whistling a me.

My mother says I must not have a collier,
For if I do he'll surely break my heart.
But I don't care what my mother tell me,
I'll have a collier for my sweetheart.

My mother said I must not have a collier,
For if I do he'll surely break my hear.
But I don't care what my mother tell me,
I'll have a collier for my sweetheart.

My mother says If I wed a drunkard,
It'll break her tender heart.
I don't care what my mother tells me,
I'st have a collier for my sweet-heart.

Collier lads get gold and silver,
Factory lads get nowt but brass.
Who'd be bothered with a naughty bobber,
When there's plenty collier lads?

Collier lads bring gold and silver,
Factory lads bring 'owt but brass.
Who'd be bothered with a two-loom waiver,
When there's plenty collier lads?

I don't want your silks and satin,
Nor your guinea golden ring.
I don't want a silver cradle
For to rock my baby in.

My mother said that I could be a lady
If from my collier lad I'd quickly part;
I'd sooner walk on the bottom of the ocean
Than I'd give up my collier sweetheart.

Harry Boardman sings I'll Have a Collier for My Sweetheart Maddy Prior sings The Collier Lad

Spoken: This is a song my mother used to sing, and in fact it tells of a mother who says to her daughter: “Whatever you do, lass, don't marry a collier!” The daughter replies: “I'll have a collier for my sweetheart.”

I went out to get some water,
Get some water for my tea.
And I caught my foot and down I stumbled,
A collier lad's come kissing me.

I went out to get some water
Get some water for my tea,
caught my foot and down I stumbled,
A collier lad's come kissing me.

My mother says I mustn't have a collier,
It would surely break her heart.
I don't care what my mother tells me,
I'll have a collier for my sweetheart.

My mother said I mustn't have a collier
It would surely break her heart.
I don't care what my mother tells me,
I'll have a collier for my sweetheart.

“If you leave your collier sweetheart
I'll buy you a guinea gold ring.
You shall have a silver cradle
For to rock your baby in.”

“If you leave your collier sweetheart
I'll buy you a guinea gold ring.
You shall have a silver cradle
For to rock your baby in.”

“I don't want your silks and satins,
I don't want your guinea gold ring.
I don't want your silver cradle
For to rock my baby in.”

“I don't want your silks and satins,
I don't want a guinea gold ring.
I don't want a silver cradle
For to rock my baby in.”

Collier lads get gold and silver,
Ferranti's lads get nowt but brass.
And who'd be married to a lad from Ferranti's
When there are plenty of collier lads.

Collier lads get gold and silver,
Ferranti's lads get nowt but brass.
Who'd be married to a lad from Ferranti's
When there are plenty of collier lads.

My mother said I could be a lady
If from my collier lad I'd part,
I'd sooner walk on the bottom of the ocean
Than I'd give up my collier sweetheart.

My mother said I could be a lady
If from the collier lad I'd part
I'd sooner walk on the bottom of the ocean
Than I'd give up my collier sweetheart.

(Repeat first verse)

(Repeat first verse)