By the time this song was written, steamboats had become a popular mode of transport. Replacing the smaller sail-boats, keels and wherrys that had previously carried cargo and passengers up and down the Tyne, the steam ferries were able to go farther and faster. Popular destinations for these ferry's included coastal towns such as South Shields, as well as rural and scenic Northumbrian towns such as Warkworth.
This song forms part of a short run series of 'Shields' songs that were published some time in the 1850s by the Shields Gazette editor, William Brockie. The songs reflect the characters, landscape and industry in the small coastal towns of North Shields, South Shields, Tynemouth and Cullercoats. Famous for their fishwives, press gangs and tars (sailors), these towns, lying at the mouth of the River Tyne, were the gateway for trade in and out of the region. This small pamphlet forms no.3 of a series thought to consist of only 3 publications. Bound together in one volume held by South Shields Library, no.s 1-2 are complete with no.3 lacking all before p.17., and all after p.32. Songs are attributed to various authors in manuscript notes throughout the series, revealing that publisher William Brockie also contributed to the content of the publication.