The Best Part of the Night Shift
This poem was inspired by this favourite photograph I took of BP Chemicals’ Salt End Works at Hull (where I worked) early one winter’s morning.

Pink frosted fields aflame, their grass, green-grey,
Tinted by the roseate glow of morn -
That melting warmth, as breaks another day,
And from the eastern bound now leaps the dawn
Into a cloudless sky. White wreathèd tracks
Of vapour rise and slowly interband
The silver spires and slender chimney stacks
Which, sentry-like, beside the Humber stand
On Salt End’s skyline. Soon the morning moon,
Whose crescent gave the western sky its light,
Is fugitive before the rising sun
And fading, sets, to wait returning night.
The jetty, like some giant’s causeway, strides
On legs of concrete through the muddy stream
Towards a ship which at her mooring rides,

Her superstructure held in golden gleam.
Within the Works a hundred tired men,
Their night shift over, see the sunrise creep
Amongst the morning mists, and homeward then
They plot their daylit course to welcome sleep.
© Anthony J. Finn 1995
Salt End Dawn
Red line

In the Sixties and Seventies, there used to be a
sign where Thearne Lane joined the Beverley road at
Thearne, with the above words on it. The poignant
finality of the wording led me to write a poem about
it, and what I imagined it to be like. The ferry
itself closed in 1946, long before I came to live in

“Wawne Ferry Closed” proclaims the sign
In white on blue, and on the line
Below, apologetic, adds
”permanently” - stark, but sad!

What bureaucratic mind was bent
To make that closure permanent?

The passer-by will wait in vain
To hear the clanking of the chain
Which pulled the creaking wooden stand
From bank to bank, upon demand.
What lovers’ hearts in twain will yearn
To cross the River Hull to Thearne,
Now that the closure thus has torn
Apart the link from there to Wawne?

There’s been no ferry here for ages:
Long gone are the landing stages.
Bits of history now, they are,
Victims of the motor car.

I look again, some five years on;
I find the sign itself now gone,
Proclaiming true finality
By very temporality.

©Anthony J. Finn 1982


The Best Part of the Night Shift

Wawne Ferry Closed - permanently

Ships (from my office window)

A Seafarer's Prayer

Public Speaking

Exit Button
In 2003, the journalist Martin Limon wrote a History of the Ferry entitled "A Passage over the River Hull:
the story of Wawne Ferry", for which he asked my permission to quote this poem. However, for reasons
best known to himself and without my permission as copyright holder, and to my great annoyance, he
saw fit to alter the last line of it, which completely altered both its meaning and its poetic style.
The version given here is the only correct version, and any copies of the booklet in existence with different
wording should be corrected. I assert my right to be acknowledged as the author of the poem, and
owner of the copyright and to have it correctly quoted.