Dudley Canal Tunnel Song

(Push Boys Push)

Dudley Canal Trust


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We're going though this tunnel, push boys push
We're trying to save this tunnel, push boys push
It's the pride of Dudley Town
And they're trying to close it down

So, push boys push
Ho! push boys push

We'll go through Castle Mill, push boys push
Cathedral Arch as well, push boys push
There's no more fresh-air smell
When you pass by the Well

So, push boys push
Ho! push boys push

The boat's been going through, push boys push
Since seventeen-ninety-two, push boys push
It's a crime and it's a shame
That we cannot do the same

So, push boys push
Ho! push boys push

Don't let your strength to fail, push boys push
'Cos we're coming to the Jail, push boys push
We may get stuck inside
If the boat it is too wide

So, push boys push
Ho! push boys push

The tunnel's two miles long, push boys push
That's why we sing this song, push boys push
It keeps our spirits high
While we cannot see the sky

So, push boys push
Ho! push boys push

And now we're coming nigh, push boys push
Oh don't you see the sky, push boys push
We'll have a celebration
Now we've sung it to the nation

So, push boys push
Ho! push boys push
Yes! push boys push
Now! push boys push
Well, push boys push
The words to "Push Boys Push" were written, circa 1966, during a trip through Dudley Tunnel by Glyn Phillips and other members of the then Dudley Canal Tunnel Preservation Society, and later added to the tune composed by Glyn. DCTPS became Dudley Canal Trust. Jon Raven took the song and performed a slightly different version. (Information kindly provided by Tony Gregory).
Dudley Tunnel is a very narrow tunnel running under the town, connecting the Dudley Canal to the Birmingham Main Line at Tipton. This 3000 yard tunnel was opened in 1792 and as it had no towing path, boats had to be legged through. The closure of the canal was proposed in 1959 but a group of enthusiasts resisted the closure, forming what became the Dudley Canal Trust. The canal was re-opened in 1973 and as the ventilation is poor, boats must still be legged through or pulled by an electrically operated tug.

The tunnel contains old limestone workings, and is not a simple straight-through tunnel.
The various features referred to in the song are: Castle Mill - a basin open to the surface; Cathedral Arch - the underground junction of two tunnels; the Well - an air shaft; the Jail - a kink in the tunnel.

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