Saturday, 13 June 2009

Runcorn Ferry (Tuppence Per Person Per Trip)

Now this monologue is revelant to my youth. I was born in Widnes, Cheshire, and this story is about crossing the River Mersey from Runcorn to Widnes. Apparently 'no-one wanted to go to either place and trade wasn't any too good!' Hmm! - I can understand that sentiment! I remember the Transporter Bridge (now demolished and replaced with a a spanking new bridge) but I am not that ancient to remember Old Ted the Boatman who, in this delightful story, wants to maximise his profits. However, he meets his match in Mr Ramsbottom who likes a bargain and schemes to get one! I used to recite this monologue often.

(Tuppence Per Person Per Trip)
by Marriott Edgar (1933)

On the banks of the Mersey, over on Cheshire side,
Lies Runcorn that's best known to fame
By Transporter Bridge as takes folks over it's stream,
Or else brings 'em back across same.

In days afore Transporter Bridge were put up
A Ferry Boat lay in the slip,
And old Ted the Boatman would row folks across
At per tuppence per person per trip.

Now Runcorn lay over on one side of stream
And Widnes on t'other side stood,
And as nobody wanted to go either place -
Well, the trade wasn't any too good.

One ev'ning to Ted's superlative surprise
Three customers came into view -
A Mister and Missus Ramsbottom it were,
And Albert, their little son too.

"How much for the three ?" Mister Ramsbottom asked,
As 'is 'and to his pocket did dip.
Ted said, "Same for three as it would be for one:
Per tuppence per person per trip."

"You're not charging tuppence for that little lad ?"
Said Mother, her eyes flashing wild.
"Per tuppence per person per trip," answered Ted,
"Per woman, per man or per child."

"Five pence for three, that's the most that I'll pay,"
Says Father, "Don't waste time in t'talk."
"Per tuppence per person per trip," answered Ted,
"And them as can't pay 'as to walk."

"We can walk an' all," said Father, "come, Mother,
It's none so deep, t'weather's quite mild."
So into the water the three of them stepped
- The father, the mother, the child.

The further they paddled the deeper it got,
But they wouldn't give in, once begun;
In the sprit that's made Lancashire what she is
They'd sooner be 'drownded' than done.

Very soon the old people were up to their necks
And the little lad clean out of sight.
Said Father, "Where's Albert ?" and Mother replied,
"I've got 'old of 'is 'and, 'e's alright."

'Twere just at that moment Pa got an idea,
And floundering back to old Ted,
'E said, "We walked that way, come take us the rest
For half price, that's a penny a head."

But Ted wasn't standing for none of that there,
And making an obstinate lip,
"Per tuppence per person per trip," Ted replied,
"Per trip or per part of per trip."

"Alright then," said Father, "Let me take the boat,
And I'll pick up the others half-way,
I'll row them across and I'll bring the boat back.
And thruppence in t'bargain I'll pay."

'Twere money for nothing. Ted answered, "Right-o,"
And Father got 'old of the sculls.
With the sharp end of boat t'wards middle of stream
‘E were there in a couple of pulls.

'E got Mother out, it were rather a job -
With the water she weighed 'alf-a-ton;
Then pushing the oar down the side of the boat
Started fishing around for his son.

When poor little Albert came up to the top
'Is collar was soggy and limp,
And with 'olding his breath at the bottom so long
'Is face were as red as as a shrimp.

Pa took them across and 'e brought the boat back,
And 'e said to old Ted on the slip,
"Wilt row me across by myself ?"
Ted said, "Aye! at per tuppence per person per trip".

When they got t'other side Father laughed fit to bust,
‘E'd got best of bargain, you see,
'E'd worked it all out, and 'e'd got 'is own way
And 'e'd paid nobbut fivepence for three.


  1. That's a fun poem and I love the dialect...I don't get to read many poems from the 30's - let alone from over seas. Thank you for sharing!

    I thought you were on vacation? Hiding out over here?

  2. Poor Albert...... :-)) Thank you for sharing another great poem. Being from across the ocean, I'm not accumstomed to the brogue, but I'm learning...and smiling....thanks to you, Eddie.
    Smiles from Jackie

  3. Oh Eddie, I just knew you would have a funny poem, I love the dialect and found myself saying each word out loudn. Too funny and very uplifting.....Thank you for sharing...
    Have a wonderful Sunday.....:-) hugs

  4. Brings back happy memories of Christmas parties shared with our neighbors, one of whom was from Leeds and had all of these monologues memorized and would recite them to entertain us.


Welcome, pull up a chair and enjoy


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