The ore's a-waiting in the tubs, the snow's upon the fell
Canny folks are sleeping yet but lead is reet to sell;
Come, me little washer lad, come, let's away
It's verra hard to work for four pence a day.
Four pence a day, me lad, and vera hard to work,
And never a pleasant look from a gruffy-looking Turk,
His conscience it may fail and his heart it may give way
Then he'll raise our wages to nine pence a day.
It's early in the morning, we rise at five o'clock,
The little slaves come to the door to knock, knock, knock,
Come, me little washer lad, come let's away,
It's very hard to work for four pence a day.
My daddy was a miner and lived down in the town,
'Twas hard and poverty that always kept him down.
He aimed for me to go to school but brass he couldn't pay,
So I had to go to the washing rakes for four pence a day.
My mother rises out of bed with tears on her cheeks
Puts my wallet on my shoulders which has to serve a week
I often fills her great big heart whenne she unto me does say
"I never thought thou would have worked for four pence a day."
Ewan MacColl is credited with recording this song from the singing of John Gowland, retired lead miner of Middleton-in-Teesdale, Co. Durham.