Doris Darbyshire

The River Douglas
Our bit of the river

On the banks of the River Douglas, you know we grew up there,
In the village of Poolstock, not far from Wigan Pier.

We didn’t know where it came from, and we didn’t know where it went
But we children played beside it, and it flowed to our content.

It made Poolstock an island, with the canal along one side,
And the brook from one to the other, passing the mill which it supplied.

At the beginning of our village, canal and river almost met,
Then diverging from each other, went as far as each could get.

Poolstock started at Henhurst Bridge, where the river ran amok,
And soon became a waterfall, as it thundered over the rock.

From the waterfall, straight for a bit, then twisted round about,
Past the back of the houses built on the bank, it rippled in and out.

The houses were built for the workers, at the mill in old Nat’s pit,
They huddled one another, and were most inadequate.

Some workers couldn’t afford much rent, no more than half a crown,
They felt themselves real lucky, with two rooms up, two down.

And some had only one below, and one above for the bed,
There wasn’t much room to move about, though it was a roof over the head.

But them in Corporation Street, had parlour and a lobby,
Their back yards stretched to the river bank, and they grew flowers for a hobby.

To live there cost more money, they had to have a job of skill,
Of fireman at the pit maybe, or of overlooker at the mill.

And some lived there as had a trade, a cobbler or a baker,
And one there was made coffins, he was an undertaker.

At the end of Corporation Street was the Honeysuckle Inn,
Where men folk went on Friday night, then took their wives a gin.

It stood on the banks of the Douglas, by the road to Wigan Town,
And so enhanced with river, was a pub of some renown.

Next by the meadows the river went, the houses there were few,
A pretty good stretch and good for play, it flowed to pastures new.

The children loved this part of the stream, falling in and clambering out,
We wouldn’t have had half of the fun, if at river we’d (not) been born.

It weren’t a famous beauty spot, but the banks were lush and green,
And when the sun shone on the water, it gave a lovely sheen.

And if you had chance to go up the tower in the village church you’d find,
As good a view as any other river of its kind.

Now my eldest sister, Sally, was courting but she said,
Her intended had to find a house, before she’d promise to wed.

One night he came with happy news, he’d found a house as would do,
It was one of them one-roomed ones, but big enough for two.

She went to have a look at it, suspicious of his pranks,
It wasn’t Sally’s cup of tea, she loudly said ‘No Thanks.’

It was built on the bend of the river, precarious like over the stream,
‘Heavens, it’ll fall in any minute,’ her voice rose to a scream.

‘On a windy night in bed up there we’d topple in, Lord love us,’
No you’re never getting Sally sallying to down Douglas.’

Now, it’s many a year since my childhood,
What I’ve written is memory’s song,
And the houses, alas have all been pulled down,
But our River Douglas is still flowing along.


Back to Doris’s original version.