All posts by Gavin Atkin

Slavery, piracy and a hanging: the unforgettable tale of The Flying Cloud

This mighty and horrifying ballad is packed with journeys: first, the butcher’s boy runs away to sea and sails to Bermuda; second the young lad joins a brutal get rich quick slaving voyage to Africa and Cuba; third he becomes a merciless pirate and sails for the Spanish Main; and fourth he is captured and taken to London to be tried and hung on the gallows.

And I suppose the fifth is a mental and spiritual journey in which this adventurer becomes contrite, and bitterly wishes he’d never done any of it.

I guess all of this may well have happened in some genuine cases, but I suspect this ballad was written in a later era, and packed with adventure in order to sell printed ballad sheetsy. The earliest date it was collected as a song was in 1906.

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An appeal for information: are there any other surviving airborne lifeboat mark IIs?

Nina Plumbe has written to appeal for information about any mark II airborne lifeboats that may be in existence. If you have any information, please write to me at gmatkin@gmail.com and I’ll pass the message on.

Here’s what she says:

‘We are about to start a huge restore on an airborne lifeboat mark II, which is 30ft long. While we are aware of several mark Is (24ft long) we cannot find a single mark II.

‘The photos sho how she looked in the 1960s and how she is today.

‘Is ours the only one surviving? We know that they were built in a boatyard in Wales as well as in a boatyard at Potter Heigham on the Norfolk Broads.

‘Thanks for your help, Nina Plumbe’

Nina and her friends are setting up a trust to care for the airborne lifeboat.