Fire Down Below
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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Lyrics
This song (as evidenced by the title) was a pumping shanty. When wooden ships were replaced by iron ships, the shanty was used for the capstan. Hugill states it was one of the last shanties sung aboard a British squarerigger. He was the shantyman who sang it on the four masted barque Garthpool just before it wrecked on Ponta Reef, Cape Verde Islands in October 1929.* Hugill gives three different tunes for the shanty.



Beefkid = small wooden tub in which beef salt is served.

scouse = mixture of salt beef and crushed biscuit.

orlop = the name of a lower deck.

Fire in the galley, fire in the house,
Fire in the beef kid, scorching the scouse.
Fire, fire, fire down below,
Fetch a bucket of water,
Fire down below.


Fire in the cabin, fire in the hold,
Fire in the strong room melting the gold.
Fire, fire, fire down below,
Fetch a bucket of water,
Fire down below.


Fire round the capstan, fire on the mast,
Fire on the main deck, burning it fast.
Fire, fire, fire down below,
Fetch a bucket of water,
Fire down below.


Fire in the lifeboat, fire in the gig,
Fire in the pig-stye roasting the pig.
Fire, fire, fire down below,
Fetch a bucket of water,
Fire down below.


Fire in the store room spoiling the food,
Fire on the orlop burning the wood.
Fire, fire, fire down below,
Fetch a bucket of water,
Fire down below.


Fire on the waters, fire high above,
Fire in our hearts for the friends that we love.
Fire, fire, fire down below,
Fetch a bucket of water,
Fire down below.


Related Links
From Fifty Sailor's Songs or Chanties and
*Shanties from the Seven Seas
See Bibliography for full information.