Category Archives: Culture: songs, stories, photography and art

Traditions and culture relevant to the world of real boating and sailors

Sailing barge on the Swale, September 2017

It’s probably Greta.

The Song of the Waterlily, set to music

Martin Newell’s increasingly acclaimed quartet poem The Song of the Waterlily – the building of a boat has been set to music and recorded by Martin and local band The Hosepipe Band, together with another poem Black Shuck, telling the story of an ancient ‘black dog’ legend.

The Song of the Waterlily describes the building and proving of a traditional Essex deep-sea fishing smack through the eyes of a young shipwright, who helps a master shipwright to construct the boat.

It follows the progress of the Waterlily, from launching and naming, her first regatta, and her first North Sea storm…

“I am The Keel, therefore the king,
For me, the adze and whetstone sing…
And hewn from woodland oak so tall,
Take precedence above you all.”

There’s a sample of the recording on the band page linked above.

Martin’s poem was inspired by the restoration of The Pioneer – a similar boat rebuilt at Brightlingsea by the Pioneer Sailing Trust, an organisation which takes on apprentices and trains them in boat-building skills.

A book of The Song of the Waterlily illustrated by artist James Dodds (see him talk about The Pioneer rebuilding here) is published by Jardine Press.

Barges on the telly: Jimmy Lawrence and Nick Ardley on BBC2 TV 29th and 30th September

Jimmy Lawrence talking about life on the barges

I gather that the first programme of the new BBC2 series Floating History of Britain goes out on the 30th September, and that it is to be about Thames sailing barges. I’m told it will include material from this year’s Thames Match.

I told also that the BBC Breakfast show on the 29th September will include an interview with legendary barge skipper, sailmaker and wonderful raconteur Jim Lawrence together with cruising sailor, long-time barge hand and author Nick Ardley, whose young life was spent on the barge May Flower.