Little Pot Stove


Now here’s something I wished I’d seen as I think I’ve said before as Jon recalls, “Singing this at the Nic Jones tribute concert at Sidmouth 2010 would have to count as a career highlight. At one point I thought Nic was going to take over lead vocals but sadly not. What a chorus though.” It appears on Nic’s Penguin Eggs and Mainly Norfolk covers that. The song was written by Harry Robertson in the 1950s and is also known as Wee Dark Engine Room. To a degree at least it’s autobiographical, or based on first-hand experience at least. Mudcat gives the story and I can’t help but agree with the sentiments on the thread that it would be a good thing if this song was a fitting recollection of a line of work consigned  to history.
You can buy the December digital album now from all good download stores.


34 Responses to “Little Pot Stove”

  1. Ollie says:

    The Nic Jones concert will probably rank as one of the best gigs of my life. This very nearly set me completely blubbing on the day. Here’s hoping Nic will be a little more forethcoming at the re-run in May! Many thanks for this.

  2. Ian Bowns says:

    Dear All,

    Fantastic song, amazingly evocative, been doing it for years but learned a lot about it in 2007 in preparation for a cruise including a visit to Grytviken (a whaling station close to the Leith Harbour of the song) on South Georgia. Grytviken is the only station you can currently visit, as the others are considered too contaminated and the Govt can’t afford to clean any more up. If you look at this web page for photos, including the score of the song on the wall of Grytviken Museum.

    Many thanks for giving the song another airing, it can’t have too many.


  3. jonathan says:

    @Ollie, do you have more info for the May re-run please?

  4. Shelley says:

    @Jonathan (I’m sure Ollie won’t mind me replying on his behalf) – the information I have is that it will be at London’s Southbank Centre on 28th May, but there is nothing on their website yet.

    A very moving song, well executed by Jon here.

  5. Ralph Jordan says:

    Nice rendition Mr Boden!!
    And at the Sidmouth gig, The Backing Vocals weren’t bad either!!

  6. David says:

    I first heard this done by Sandy and Geoff Clough, with bluegrass=style banjo accompaniment and consequent speeding up. I love both approaches; it is one of those songs which are infinitely adaptable.
    Nice one.

  7. StephenH says:

    One of those songs that draws people into the chorus even if they had intended to do no such thing. nicely done.
    @Simon, is Emusic no longer carrying the AFSAD albums?

  8. edith lewis says:

    What a beautiful song beautifully sung

  9. Kevin Tudor says:

    One of my favourite songs – I learnt it from Triality about three or so years ago. It often comes out as one of my stock songs.

    Very nice Mr Boden, my version is similar to yours. Keep up the good work with this FANTASTIC resource!!!



  10. jonathan says:

    @Shelly, many thanks, J

  11. muzza (s east England) says:

    a favourite song…..Thanks to Ian for the background info on Leith Harbour.
    Being picky again ..verse three
    “Trundled”…..doesn’t have the same bleakness as the original “struggled”
    Only in a picky mood as song for 29th not up yet …and it’s almost 2am!aaaagggghhh

  12. Reinhard says:

    No song today, my love has gone away
    The blog stands for lorn, a symbol of the dawn
    No song today, it seems a dreary sight
    But people passing by don’t know the reason why

  13. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    Excellent Reinhard………..Glad it’s not just me……and still we have no fix.
    Simon/Jon where are you!

  14. Ian Bowns says:

    This is clearly a much-loved song.

    I also think it’s very accurately observed. When researching the area (South Georgia), I found pictures on t’Interweb that illustrate winter in Leith Harbour, including one with the boats “anchored ten abreast”. Happy to share, if anyone’s interested?


  15. Reinhard says:

    yes please, Ian

  16. Ian Bowns says:

    Have a look at:

    Photos of Leith Harbour at

    South Georgia Govt and Museum Web Page

    S Georgia Heritage Trust

    I have added some other photos of Leith Harbour, including “anchored ten abreast” (bottom left) to my Grytviken web page. Will add a credit for them, when I find it.


  17. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    Thanks for the links Ian……..really gives a background to the song.

  18. Reinhard says:

    Thank you very much for the links, Lan. I added the first one to my Little Pot Stove page.

  19. Jane Ramsden says:

    Very moving, Jon, especially when listened to whilst viewing Ian Brown’s photos of Leith Harbour. Some of those are very poignant – the blown-down tank, the cemetery, the whales; so thank you, Ian, I missed those first time around. I now have my own copy of ‘Penguin Eggs.’ (Thanks, Pierre Walsh!) Wouldn’t have known about it if not for AFSAD! (Novice, now hopefully intermediary level!)

  20. muzza (N.W Surrey) says:

    Huzzah……….I have my own version on line………and despite Ian’s wonderful information I still used a background of “engine less” sailing ships that are right out of context!………….but the strange thing is that when I first heard the song…sailing ships came into my imagination and have stayed there over the years.
    Just as you would read a book or hear a play on the radio and then it appears as a film or on TV and your own version is challenged…..or when the radio voice of “Phil Archer” from Ambridge forms in your head and then you see a photo of him.
    Anyway Lucy……I love this song.especially the chorus.

  21. Diana says:

    What a change after all the carols – but so interesting – what a terrible life those poor whalemen suffered. I don’t condone whale hunting but everyone has the right to earn a living. This was a sign of the times in which this song was written.

    Pleased to see that a certain person has used his alias.

  22. Diana says:

    Just browsing through the 2010 comments and found a little poem about “No song today” which seems to fit into the tune of “No milk today” by Herman and the Hermits.
    Of no particular interest but just an observation.

  23. muzza (N.W Surrey) says:

    @Dainer……..ref herman………I’m sure Reinhard had that in mind….he’s such a rascal.

  24. Dainer says:

    Hi Muzza I’m glad that I wasn’t imagining a connection with Herman that wasn’t there cos it’s a long time since I have heard that song. The little ode just seemed to fit the tune.

  25. Reynard says:

    … maybe some sly fox has just changed a few words from “No milk today”?

  26. Dainer says:

    Muzza was right, you are a rascal and a sly fox to boot.

  27. Geoff, N. Yorks says:

    Nice one.

    This is a favourite of Jim Wilkinson of the White Hart Folk Club, Mickleby, N. Yorks and he always sings it at the Black Bull Bender, held each year in June and September in the old cow byre on Jim & Mu’s farm. Imagine an old cow byre, stone built, filled with people sitting on straw bales singing their hearts out on the chorus with Jim singing the verses. Magical!

    Sadly Jim’s not so well these days but I hope he will be around for the 2012 Benders.

  28. Diana says:

    Still a gppd song.

  29. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Ha……….I dunno wot went wrong up above……Youtube seems to have swopped video…I hope this is my version!…………..note that I nearly lost it towards the end (I had several attempts)

  30. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Blimey…..Youtube seems to have lost it completely……..bunged a whole load of stuff up now!!.sorry folksp

  31. Old Muzza (NW Surrey UK) says:

    Ha….who can explain why Youtube has decided to flash up my 2017 Islington Folk entry and plonk it in my 2011 comment….what will they do next year!!!!

  32. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    JUst to say….The virus hasn’t got me yet and I’m still waiting to be called for the vaccine….and the virus has got right down to the remote islands to which this song relates…nowhere is safe!

  33. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Still clinging to the wreckage…..very pleased to be reminded of this song and brush up on the words

  34. OldMuzza(NW Surrey UK) says:

    Yeah….still here….and with the help of a ‘little pot stove’, I managed to render a festive Sainsbury’s, vegetarian chestnut roast…inedible …and the potatoes and sprouts got cold as well and I couldn’t be bothered to put them in the microwave…old blokes…I ask yer!
    My thoughts go with all you hardy folk oop North in UK…you are having some inclement, snowy weather…darn south we have very dark, mild days and buckets of rain.!!
    Hang in there!

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