Union Songs

Ship Repairing Men

A song by Harry Robertson©Harry Robertson 1967

- [play]

To the workshops off we go, toolkits heavy in our hands,
To the big ship that's come in from a trip to foreign lands
Salty streaks of rust don't matter, for her moorings hold her tight,
And we'll work to fix her engines all the day and half the night

Don't wait up for me this evening, I'll be out all night again,
Working on the Brisbane River with the ship repairing men.

Oil fired boilers throb with power drinking up the furnace heat
Water turns to driving steam to make her engines beat;
But the feed pump's sob and wail to us cuts through all other sounds
And sings a song of triumph for the valves that we have ground

Engine bearings that knocked and hammered in the wild and stormy seas
Will be machined and fitted till they run with silent ease,
And the winch that rattles every time the piston turns her shaft
Will hum along and sing its song to men skilled in their craft.

When you see an ocean liner glide between the river banks,
And the captain in his gold braid orders men of lesser ranks,
Have you ever thought that stately craft might never sail again
If it wasn't for the toil and sweat of ship repairing men?


Ship Repairing Men is sung here by Declan Affley and Mike Ball from Declan's 1967 LP "Rake and Rambling Man". More recently the song was reissued in 2003 on the MUA centenary CD "With These Arms".

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