Dirty Old Town

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"Dirty Old Town"
Single by The Dubliners
B-side "Peggy Gordon"
Released 1968
Format 7"
Genre Folk, Irish, Pop


Label Major Minor
Writer(s) Ewan MacColl
Producer(s) Tommy Scott
The Dubliners singles chronology
"Maids When Your Young Never Wed An Old Man"
"Dirty Old Town"
"Hand Me Down My Bible"

"Dirty Old Town" is a song written by Ewan MacColl in 1949 that was made popular by The Dubliners and has been recorded by many others since.


The song was written in reference to Salford, then in Lancashire in England, the town where MacColl was born and brought up. It was originally composed for an interlude to cover an awkward scene change in Ewan MacColl's Salford-set, 1949 play Landscape with Chimneys,[1] but with the growing popularity of folk music the song became a standard. The first verse referred to the Gasworks croft, which was a piece of open land adjacent to the Gasworks 53°28′50″N 2°16′36″W / 53.4806°N 2.2768°W / 53.4806; -2.2768, and then speaks of the old canal, which was the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal.

When MacColl first wrote the song, the local council were unhappy at having Salford called a dirty old town and, after considerable criticism, the words of the song were changed from "smelled the smoke on the Salford wind" to "smelled the spring on the smoky wind".[citation needed] The Spinners made the first popular recording of the song, singing "Salford wind". The lead singer on the track was Mick Groves, fittingly a Salfordian.

The song was written about an English town, but later became associated with The Dubliners and The Pogues with a few word changes.

A portion of the canal referenced by the song
Salford docks, another place mentioned in the song

The Dubliners[edit]

Chart (1968) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[2] 10
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[3] -

Recordings and performances[edit]

Notable renditions of the song include:


External links[edit]