Ratcliffe Highway


One of a number of related songs and tunes of the same, or similar, names.

For the uninitiated, Ratcliffe Highway runs down to London docks and is, or was, the pitch of a large number of sailors comforters, now known as "working girls". This song is, therefore, to be sung with lustful enthusiasm and much lewd gesturing to ambiguous "nautical" terms.




As I was a-walking down Ratcliffe Highway,
A flash looking packet I chanced for to see.
I hailed her in English, she answered me clear,
I'm from the Blue Anchor bound to the Black Bear.

Sing too-rel-ye ad-die
Sing too-rel-ye ay
Too-rel-ye ad-die
Sing too-rel-ye ay.

She had up her colours, her masthead was low,
She was round in the counter and bluff in the bow.
She was bowling along with the wind blowing free,
She clewed up her courses and waited for me.

Sing too-rel-ye ad-die
Sing too-rel-ye ay
Too-rel-ye ad-die
Sing too-rel-ye ay.

I tipped her me flipper, I took her in tow,
And yardarm to yardarm away we did go,
She lowered her topsail, t'gansail and all,
Her lily-white hand on my reef-tackle fall.

Sing too-rel-ye ad-die
Sing too-rel-ye ay
Too-rel-ye ad-die
Sing too-rel-ye ay.

I said, My fair maiden it's time to give o'er,
For twixt wind and water you've run me ashore,
My shot-locker's empty, my powder's all spent,
I can't fire a shot for it's choked to the vent.

Sing too-rel-ye ad-die
Sing too-rel-ye ay
Too-rel-ye ad-die
Sing too-rel-ye ay.

Here's luck to the girl with the black curling locks,
Here's luck to the girl who run Jack on the rocks,
Here's luck to the doctor who eased all his pain,
He's squared his main-yards, and he's a-cruising again.

Sing too-rel-ye ad-die
Sing too-rel-ye ay
Too-rel-ye ad-die
Sing too-rel-ye ay.


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