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The Last of the Clydesdales

[ Roud 22005 ; Archie Webster]

Jack Beck sang The Last Clydesdales on the 2004 Greentrax anthology celebrating the Clydesdale Horse in song, Gentle Giants.

Pete Shepheard and Tom Spiers sang The Last of the Clydesdales in 2005 on Shepheard, Spiers & Watson's Springthyme album They Smiled As We Cam In. Pete noted:

Archie Webster, who wrote this song in the 1950s, was caretaker at the village hall in Strathkinness outside St Andrews when I met him around 1963. John Watt’s group The Tregullion and ourselves from St Andrews folk club were singing on some event in the hall and in the interval we naturally graduated to the local Strathkinness Inn. John quickly struck up a conversation with Archie who in no time at all had sung John the local bothy ballad Tattie Jock. Archie was a horse ploughman all his working life and had composed The Last of the Clydesdales in praise of the horses he had worked with on the nearby farm of Denbrae where the farmer had maintained the old ways well into the 1950s.

A live recording of Gordon Easton singing The Last of the Clydesdales at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in between 2004 and 2007 was included in 2007 as the title track of his Autumn Harvest CD The Last of the Clydesdales. The album's notes commented:

Gordon left school at fourteen to work a pair of horse with his grandfather—so this song, composed by a Fife horseman Archie Webster around 1950, means a lot to him.

Chris Hendry sang Last of the Clydesdales, accompanied by Johnny Handle, at the fiftieth birthday party of the Bridge Folk Club in Newcastle. This was released in 2008 on the anthology 50 Years of Folk Music in Newcastle.

This video shows Archie Fisher singing The Last Clydesdales live in Scotland in May 2011. I don't know of him recording this song:

Iona Fyfe sang The Last Clydesdales on 30 June 2020 for her Patreon subscribers.

Lyrics

Tom Spiers sings The Last of the Clydesdales

O come aa ye young ploughboys that list tae my tale,
As ye sit roond the tables a drinkin your ale;
I’ll tak ye aa back tae a far distant day,When
I drove the last Clydesdales that worked on Denbrae,
When I drove the last Clydesdales that worked on Denbrae.

There were twa bonnie blacks, wi white faces and feet,
In the hale o the roond, they could never been beat;
You’d hae lookit gey far, ’twixt the Forth and the Tay,
For tae match thae twa Clydesdales, the pride o Denbrae,
For tae match thae twa Clydesdales, the pride o Denbrae.

They were matchless in power in the cairt or the ploo,
And ma voice and ma hands on the reins they weel knew;
There wis never ae thocht in their minds, but obey,.
Ma twa gallant Clydesdales, the pride o Denbrae,
O ma twa gallant Clydesdales, the pride o Denbrae.

But the time it wears on and the winters grow cauld,
And horses, like men, can dae nocht but grow auld;
But I mind on them still, though it were yesterday,
When I drove the last Clydesdales that worked on Denbrae,
When I drove the last Clydesdales that worked on Denbrae.