Friday, 20 March 2009

" A Bit of Binder String"

The Gibbins Family

" Someone, some day will write a book about the Gibbins Family, but it will have to be someone much better informed than yours truly. The farming members alone run into scores and are contained mainly within the Exeter, Cullompton and Honiton branches. I know just enough of the ramifications of the family to known that it is very large, but not enough to go into detail. However the purpose of mentioning this remarkable clan is to pen a song which may be of interest to you and which, I am told used to be sung often by Grandfather Gibbins, who I may add is still very active and of our oldest members.

The Devonshire Farmer Eastern. [Perhaps this is a local farming newspaper]

A Bit of Binder String.

Dost mind Bill Bates as used to work for Drake at Badgers End
There weren’t a tool about the farm this feller couldn’t mend
From a hayfork to a harvester or any mortal thing
Old Bill could always fix it with a bit if binder string

One day a Friesian bull got out and raged and tore around
Nobody dared go near ‘im as he roared and hooked the ground
Till Boss shouts “Bill” the bull’s got out and been and broke his ring
An Bill lassoed the beggar wi’ a bit of binder string

Bill courted Mabel seven years an’; then he said “Let’s wed”
I’ve got a table an’ some chairs an’ Granny’s feather bed
Ther’s half a ton o’ taters up in the field as I can bring
An’ I’ve made some handsome doormats out of thic’ there binder string
Well Mabel said “ We’d best get wed before they cut the hay
So they had a slap up Wedding on the seventeenth of May
But when they got to the church Bill found he had gone and lost the ring
So he had to marry Mabel with a loop of binder string

Next year a little daughter came to bless the happy pair
Wi’ girt blue eyes and a tuft of ginger hair
And Bill, he says to Parson at the baby’s Christening
Zee, ‘er be just the colour of a bit of binder string

Well time went on an’ old Bill died an’ came to Heaven’s Door
He heard them all a singing there and he was worried sore
An’ he says to good St. Peter, “Zir I’ve never sung before
I were always kep’ so busy mendin’ things wi’ binder string”
“Don’t worry Bill”, St. Peter said “The Good Lord understands
He’ve been a carpenter and likes to see folk use their hands
An we’m veryhappy to see ‘ee here, we’ve plenty who can sing
But we need a handy chap like thee, has ‘ee brought some binder string?

So Bill do bide in Heaven now, he’s very happy there
He’s got a liddle workshop round behind St. Peter’s chair
An’ while the Angels play their harps and all the saints do sing
Bill mends the little cherub’s toys with bits of binder string. "

Note: Sadly we do not know who wrote this page, it is a copy of a hand written note found in the farm papers and maps when we moved to the farm in 1991.


  1. It is written by May Crook.

  2. Thank you very much for posting this, it's something that my Dad has been searching for over many years and he's never managed to find a copy. It will bring back happy memories for him I'm sure.

  3. I remember my mother reciting this. It is a poem that was read in Lincolnshire dialect by (among others) a lady called Edith Burgess and it was issued on record in the 1960s. Mark

  4. Christine Gibbins26 February 2010 at 20:08

    This link gives the poem in the Lincolnshire accent, click on poetry recital:

  5. My Aunt Dorothy was locally well known for her Somerset monologues and used to do this one in her delightful Somerset dialect. It has obviously travelled across county borders!

  6. a hand written copy of this was found in my great grandmothers belongings it was a favourite of my grans we are in the new forest so very well travelled!!

  7. Please can you tell me how to obtain the record for my gran she would be so happy to hear it again.

  8. Generations of my family have been reciting binder string at village events harvest suppers etc, for years never knew where it originated from thanks To the internet my dad will find out more.