Old Clem - Dickens expression. Help!

Posted by James Briggs on August 09, 2002

I had the following request today. A Google search doesn't help - merely giving sites which quote the Dickens' text. Can anyone offer suggestions?
Dear James,
I am currently working as an assistant director on a stage adaption of Great Expectations by The Melbourne Theatre Company.
I have just discovered your enlightening comments on the phrase 'happy as a sandboy' and am hoping you may be able to help me with a few other Dickensian mysteries.
Joe and Pip sing a song in chapter 12 as they work the forge called (I presume this is the title) "Old Clem"
The text is as follows:

Hammer boys round - Old Clem!
With a thump and a sound - Old Clem!
Beat it out, beat it out - Old Clem!
With a clink for the stout - Old Clem!
Blow the fire, blow the fire - Old Clem!
Roaring dryer, soaring higher - Old Clem!

I was hoping you may have some information regarding the historical context of the song, any further lyrics to the piece and possibly a suggestion as to where I may source the tune - either in printed form or recording.

I look forward to your reply,
kind regards,
Ben Harkin.
Assistant Director
Great Expectations

Melbourne Theatre Company
129 Ferrars Street
VIC 3006