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’Ware Out, Mother

[ Roud 2551 ; Mudcat 169753 ; trad. / Charley Yarwood]

Mrs Marina Russell of Upwey, Dorset, sang a short fragment of ’Ware Out, Mother in December 1907 to Henry Hammond. This was printed in the Journal of the Folk-Song Society 8 (1930).

Sam Richards and Tish Stubbs printed the same short ’Ware Out Mother in 1979 in their book The English Folksinger and sang it on their accompanying Transatlantic album of the same name.

Ian Woods and Charley Yarwood sang Ware Out, Mother in 1984 on their Traditional Sound album Hooks & Nets. Charley Yarwood noted:

Only one verse and one chorus of this song were collected from Mrs Russell of Upwey, by Hammond. Tom Brown gave me a photocopy of this fragment from the EFDSS journal, saying, “Do you want to do anything with this?” I did. The original may also be found in The English Folksinger by Sam Richards and Tish Stubbs, who suspect that there may never have been any more; it being used interspersed with mouth music for dancing.

Melrose Quartet learned ’Ware Out Mother from the singing of Charley Yarwood. They sang it on their 2017 CD Dominion.


Mrs Marina Russell sings ’Ware Out Mother

“ ’Ware out, Mother, there’s a navvy in the cellar
and two more looking through the window outside.”
“Do you go along, you naughty, filthy hussy,
Else I’ll put the stick about your back.”
“ ’Ware out, Mother, there’s a navvy in the cellar
And two more looking thro’ the window outside.”

Melrose Quartet sing ’Ware Out Mother

Nightmares, Mother had, of navvies in the cellar
And dark eyes looking through the window outside.
How we used to vex her, how we used to taunt her,
How we would laugh and chant to her dismay.

Chorus (after each verse):
’Ware out Mother! There’s a navvy in the cellar
And two more looking through the window outside

Mother heard there was to be a river builded,
Just a stone’s throw away from the window outside.
How we hugged each other, as we told our mother,
“It’s a canal, there’ll be navigators too.”

We told Mother there’d be barges full of jewels
And wondrous things past the window outside,
But where’s this river from? We said it flows from China.
“Woah,” thought Mom, “there’ll be alligators too.”

One night Jimmy led the navvies into town
And they looked like beggars through the window outside.
There were navvies in the ale house, arguments and street fights,
Mother was delicate, she stayed in bed all week.

One night Jimmy had a gentle way with words
And more pairs of hands than was decent, alright.
“Will you come along, me saucy little Susie,
Just let me put a few arms around your waist.”

Soon our mother saw the navvy with her daughter
And she locked her up in the cellar downstairs.
“Do you come along, me naughty filthy hussy,
Else I’ll put this stick about your back.”

Jim gave a wink, or it might have been a blink,
And he organised a tunnel ’neath the window outside.
Not a body saw them, then they struck foundations.
“Right,” thought Jim, "“ I shall blow a little hole.”

Muffled bang, and there was dust and rubble everywhere,
And Jim was in the cellar of his Susie once more.
How they hugged each other, yet no-one told our mother,
She still has her dreams, yet she’s never learnt the truth.