Published on August 26th, 2014 | by All Things Warrington

‘A Bumper of Warrington Ale’

First published in 1875 in the second edition of a book by dialect expert and ballad collector John Harland, the author of ‘A Bumper of Warrington Ale’ is unknown. However thanks to its inclusion in Harland’s ‘Ballads and Songs of Lancashire, ancient and modern’ it is well established in Lancashire folklore.

A Bumper of 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.

Author unknown (c1800).


Given the number of pubs that exist or have existed in and around Warrington town centre (see my Old Warrington pubs database for details) it’s no wonder that ‘A Bumper of Warrington Ale’ has entered into Lancashire folklore.
The poem was first published in 1875 in the second edition of a book by dialect expert John Harland entitled ‘Ballads and Songs of Lancashire, ancient and modern’. It is unclear whether Harland, who died in 1865, or Thomas Turner Wilkinson, who revised and enlarged the 1875 book, discovered the rhyme. However, as the preamble in the book states the piece was by a “deceased author” and had “never before been printed”, it is perhaps Wilkinson we have to thank for preserving it.
A couple of explanations regarding the poem’s content: A ‘bumper’ (according to thefreedictionary.com) is ‘a drinking vessel filled to the brim’ whilst a ‘stingo’ (according to Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary of 1913) is ‘old beer, sharp or strong liquor’.
It is not known if ‘A Bumper of Warrington Ale’ is singing the virtues of one particular brand of Warrington ale or Warrington ale in general. Clearly, whether it’s the former or the latter, whoever wrote the rhyme liked a tipple.

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