Whitby’s harbour walls, complete with capstans

Whitby Harbour

Whitby Harbour Whitby Harbour Whitby Harbour

Whitby Harbour Whitby Harbour

Views of Whitby Harbour

This is a varied selection of photos of Whitby Harbour. The first in which a little boat returns from a round-the-cans session seems to me to be particularly sweet, despite the image’s flaws, which include a modern yacht.

The second shows a fairground in full cry on the harbour walls, which seems at least a little unusual. By the way, the numerous specs in the air aren’t dirt on the print, but seagulls wheeling over the harbour. No doubt they’re triumphant after a day of eating holidaymakers’ left-over fish and chips.

The amazingly preserved old capstans got me thinking about capstan shanties and sea songs in general (see below), and the final photo shows the extraordinary texture of the stonework of the harbour light tower seen in the background of the previous photo.

I’ve no idea whether capstans on harbour walls would ever have heard a capstan shanty, but it seems likely. Here are some links that the interested might find interesting, or useful:

A collection of sea songs.

The ISSA website.

A nice short explanation by the Penobscot Marine Museum.

A slightly longer explanation from the Wikipedia.

A challenging review of an American CD of sea songs from Fred McCormick.

And Bert Lloyd’s book The Singing Englishman includes some material on sea songs as worksongs, as well as an introduction to the real meaning of ‘folk’ or ‘traditional’ songs.

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