93 - Three Score And Ten

Words by William Delf
Tune by Traditional

"Three Score and Ten" is a broadside ballad commemorating a tragic storm off Grimsby and Hull in February 1889. With 9 vessels sunk and many men losing their lives, it remains one of the greatest disasters in the history of the towns. The song was composed by local fisherman William Delf to raise money for the affected families.

From the Hull Times, 2 March 1889:

"As day after day passes and no tidings arrive of the missing Grimsby smacks, it is beginning to be realised that the gale of the 9th ult. will prove one of the most disastrous to the Grimsby fishing trade on record. altogether nearly a dozen fishing vessels, carrying between 60 and 70 hands, are missing.

Most of the vessels were provisioned for eight or nine days, and many of them have been out for over a month. Of the safety of seven of them all hope has now been abandoned."

Methinks I see a host of craft
Spreading their sails alee
Down the Humber they do glide
All bound for the Northern sea

Methinks I see on each small craft
A crew with hearts so brave
Going out to earn their daily bread
Upon the restless wave

And it’s three score and ten
Boys and men were lost from Grimsby town
From Yarmouth down to Scarborough
Many hundreds more were drowned
Our herring craft, our Trawlers
Our fishing Smacks, as well
They long to fight the bitter night
And battle with the swell

Methinks I see them yet again
As they leave this land behind
Casting their nets into the sea
The herring shoals to find

Methinks I see them yet again
They’re all on board all right
With their nets rolled up and their decks cleaned off
And the side lights burning bright

Methinks I’ve heard the Captain say
“me lads we’ll shorten sail”
With the sky to all appearances
Looks like an approaching gale

Methinks I see them yet again
The midnight hour is past
The little craft abattling
There against the icy blast

October’s night brought such a sight
'twas never seen before
There were masts and yards and broken spars
Awashed up on the shore

There were many a heart in sorrow
Many a heart so brave
There were many a fine and hearty lad
That met a watery grave