Aboard the Kangaroo - Shanty U.K. Archive

Search
Go to content

Main menu

Aboard the Kangaroo

Shanties
Aboard the Kangaroo

Although it saw service at sea at capstans, Aboard The Kangaroo was not a traditional shanty, but composed by the music hall performer, Harry Clifton, and published in 1856 as On Board Of The Kangaroo. Many of Clifton's other compositions have also passed into the folk tradition over the last century and a half, such as The Calico Printer's Clerk; The Dark Girl Dressed in Blue; I'll Go and Enlist for a Soldier; Paddle Your Own Canoe; and The  Watercress Girl.


Both words and tune have seen quite extensive changes in their passage through generations of singers. Stan Hugill gives two versions, in Shanties of the Seven Seas: one from Stanley Slade of Bristol, and one from Elizabeth Cronin of Macroom, County Cork. Slade's version has since been recorded by Monkey's Orphan and Mrs Cronin's version by Stormalong John: both have picked up further minor changes from what appears in Hugill.

Harry Clifton's original version is on this website as On Board Of The Kangaroo

Roud 925
Click to play MIDI file
On Board Of The Kangaroo - Cronin/Stormalong version
On Board The Kangaroo
Aboard The Kangaroo

Oh, once I was a waiter man who sat at home at ease

But now I am a mariner who sails the raging seas
I always loved seafaring life, and bid my love adieu
I shipped as cook and steward, my boys, on board the Kangaroo

Oh, I never thought she would prove false, or prove to be untrue,
Till we sailed  away from Milford Bay, on board the Kangaroo.

'Oh, think of me, oh, think of me,' she mournfully did say,
'When you are in a foreign land and I am far away.
Now take this lucky threepenny bit, 'it'll make you bear in mind
Of a loving, trusting faithful heart you have left in tears behind.'

'Cheer up, cheer up, my bonny lass, don't weep so bitterly,'
She sobbed, she sighed, she choked, she cried, and  could not say goodbye.
'I won't be gone so very long, just for a month or two,
And when that I return again, of course I'll marry you.'

Our ship it was homeward bound from many a foreign shore,
With many a foreign present unto my love I bore.
With tortoises from Teneriffe and ties from Timbuctoo,
A Bengal cat, a china rat, and a Bombay cockatoo.

Paid off, I made my way to a suburb of the town,
Where an  ancient dame upon the line was hanging out her gown.
'Where is my love?' 'She's married, sir, about six months ago,
To a nice young man who drives a van for Chipping, Son and Co.'

Here's a health to thoughts of married life, to the soap, to the suds, to the blue,
And broken hearts, patent starch and washing soda too.
I'll go unto some foreign land, no longer can I stay,
And on some Singaporan lass I'll throw my love away.

My love she was no youngster, her age it was two score,
My love she was no spinster, she'd been married twice before.
I cannot say it was her wealth that stole my heart away,
She's a laundress and a starcher-er for eighteen pence a day.

Recorded by Stormalong John,
A Liverpool Packet, 1994
Aboard The Kangaroo

Once I was a waterman;I lived a life of ease

But now I am a mariner, and plough the raging seas

I never thought she would  be false, or ever prove untrue
As we sailed away from Bristol quay on board the Kangaroo

I thought I'd like seafaring life, so I bid my love adieu,
And sailed away as bosun's mate, on board of the Kangaroo.

You would not say it was her wealth what stole me heart away,
She was starcher at a launderer's for eighteen-pence a day.

My love she was no foolish girl, her age it was two-score,
My love she was no spin-i-ster, she'd been married  twice before.

Paid off, I sought her dwelling place upon Bedminster Down,
Where an ancient dame upon a line was hanging out her gown.

'Where is my love?' 'She's married, sir, about six months ago,
To a smart young man who's  the skipper of a barge that trades in coal.

Farewell to dreams of married bliss, of soapsuds and the blue,
Farewell to all you Bristol gals, you fickle-hearted crew.

I'll seek some distant foreign clime, no longer will  I stay,
And on some Chinese Hottentot I'll waste my life away!

I never thought she would  be false, or ever prove untrue
As we sailed away from Bristol quay on board the Kangaroo


Recorded by Monkey's Orphan,
More Monkey Business, 2003
Play MP3
Aboard The Kangaroo (Bristol Quay)
On Board The Kangaroo - Stanley Slade's version where we sail away from Bristol Quay. Sung by Vaughan Hully
Play MP3
Aboard The Kangaroo - Milford Bay version
Aboard The Kangaroo - Elizabeth Cronin's version, where we sail away from Milford Bay as in Harry Clifton's original words. Sung by Vaughan Hully
Back to content | Back to main menu