Saturday, November 5, 2011

Number Twenty-Two

Words:  Unknown (Javey)
Tune:  Traditional (The Wearing of the Green)

If you talk of locomotives and would like to know the star,
Step up here on the footplate for a trip to Waratah.
Oh, I drive the finest engine - I can prove the statement true,
They've neither man or engine equals me and Twenty - Two.

There's the four-wheeled coupled Fairburns, Numbers One, and Two, and Three,
They're as fleet as Flying Dutchmen, but they're weak as any flea:
For speed and strength and steaming, and likewise for running true,
There's a happy combination in old Number Twenty - Two.

Look at Billy Martin when he is running late,
A- ripping and a -whipping Doctor is his mate;.
Drive, Billy, drive, but no matter what you do
You couldn't hold a candle to old Number Twenty - Two.

There's Four, Five, Six and Seven, Number Eight and Number Nine,
They could all hook on behind me and I'd tow them up the line;
Ten, Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen - I can only name a few -
And I'd gladly do without them if they'd give me Twenty - Two.

There's the Thirties and the Forties, they are Beyer Peacock's make,
They're easy on the lever, they're handy with the brake,
With improvements and inventions, and with everything that's new;
But the bully engine of them all is Number Twenty - Two.

What's the use of Norman, bothering his pole,
Sighing and a crying about his oil and coal.
Drive Freddy drive, but no matter what you do
For economising fuel, you can't beat old Twenty - Two.

There's the bogies, Beyer and Peacocks, and some more by Dubs supplied,
And the new Mogul goods engines, with their cylinders outside,
With their air brakes and their steam brakes, give me the good old screw,
I can pull up in a jiffy, when I'm driving Twenty - Two.

There's Bill Gold and Jack McNulty, and there's Sam and Billy Brown,
Sure they blow about their Moonbies, and the gradients up and down.
There's Matt Coburn, Pierce and Saxon and the Murrurundi crew,
But they all play second fiddles, when I'm driving Twenty - Two.

Take a trip with Wrightson, Number thirty eight,
Always on the knocker, not a minute late.
Drive Geordie drive, but no matter what you do,
The darling of the Northern Line, is Number Twenty - Two.

There's Bill Neal and Tom his brother, Harry Wallace and old Nat
Matthews, Sanderson and Blundells, Stewart King and Billy Pratt
Oh they skite about their sheep trains and the work they have to do,
But I'd pull their loads and engines with old Number Twenty - Two.

There's Fred Bracey, Doug and Dedman, brother Tom and brother Dick,
Sure they talk of Micky Reynolds, 'til they'd make a fella sick,
Of expansion and combustion, they can prate 'til all is blue,
But when they want real science, they must come to Twenty - Two.

Cabby runs to Maitland, little seventeen,
Dancin' and a prancin', like a ballet queen.
Drive cabby drive, but no matter what you do,
You know you couldn't foot it, with old Number Twenty - Two.

There's Jim Massie and Jack Howden, Johnny Boyd and Harry Bell
There's the coal men and the goods men, half their names I couldn't tell,
But if you want a driver that is sure to pull you through,
Just ask for Thomas Plunkett and old Number Twenty - Two.

I can work the staff and ticket and keep time with any train,
I can pull the best amongst them and I'll tell you once again,
You may search the Northern Railway, you may search it through and through,
And the devil blast the engine, equals Number Twenty - Two.

Look at Billy Martin, doctor looking sour,
Ripping and a slipping, sixty miles an hour,
Drive Billy drive, but no matter what you do,
You know it's "Faugh a Ballagh",
When I'm out with Twenty - Two.

Published in The Locomotive Journal (Journal of the Australian Federated Union of Enginemen) in 1880 under the pen-name of "Javey" of Murrurundi.

Recited by Denis Kevans on Trains of Treasure: Poems, Songs and Music of the Railways (a project of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union).  Set to this tune by Ron Edwards.

Faugh a Ballagh is an Irish war cry, meaning "Clear the Way!"

The illustration to this post is a photograph from around 1880 from the State Library of Queensland.  Follow this link for more information.

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