Warrington Ale!

This September we’re emptying the larder, preheating the oven, and setting the table for the theme of Edible England for Heritage Open Days. Yesterday we presented the forgotten recipe for Warrington Cakes and today we present for you an early Lancashire folk song, and one that pays homage to the Warrington’s brewing heritage – namely Warrington Ale!


Your doctors may boast of their lotions,

And ladies may talk of their tea;

But I envy them none of their potions:

A glass of good stingo for me.

The doctor may sneer if he pleases,

But my recipe never will fail;

For the physic that cures all diseases

Is a bumper of Warrington ale.

D’ye mind me, I once was a sailor.

And in different countries I’ve been;

If I lie, may I go for a tailor,

But a thousand fine sights I have seen.

I’ve been crammed with good things like a wallet,

And I’ve guzzled more drink than a whale;

But the very best stuff to my palate

Is a glass of your Warrington ale.

When my trade was upon the salt ocean,

Why, there I got plenty of grog,

And I liked it, because I’d a notion

It set one’s good spirits agog.

But since upon land I’ve been steering,

Experience has alter’d my tale;

For nothing on earth is so cheering

As a bumper of Warrington ale.

Into France I have oftentimes follow’d,

And once took a trip into Spain;

And all kinds of liquor I’ve swallow’d,

From spring-water up to champagne.

But the richest of wines, to my thinking,

Compared with good stingo is stale;

For there’s nothing in life that’s worth drinking,

like a bumper of Warrington ale

We might have to explain a few terms here: A “bumper” is a drinking vessel that has been filled to the top whilst “Stingo” is 18th century slang term for a strong or old ale – reputedly because some well-matured dark beers of the era had a sharp “stinging” flavour.

‘Warrington Ale’ was first published by John Harland in his “Ballads & songs of Lancashire: chiefly older than the 19th century“, in 1876. Harland describes it as a favourite ballad in Warrington, especially with those to whom the beverage it celebrates is preferred…