Old Sailortown, Sheerness

Old sailortown, or Bluetown, by the docks at Sheerness. An interesting place where you can still get a sense of what life there was like long ago – yet the row of officers’ houses and the burnt-out but once very elegant church is just yards away from what I sure was often noisy debauchery… That music hall looks cool too.

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The Brightlingsea Tiles: an unusual and touching memorial to lost sailors

The History House website has the story about the remarkable Brightlingsea Tiles. (Images reused under the Creative Commons Licence.)

Malcolm Woods has alerted me to these memorials to local fishermen and sailors who died at sea in All Saints Church, Brightlingsea. They include 213 memorial tiles placed in frieze that runs around the nave.

The local custom of placing the tiles on the church wall was begun by All Saints vicar Reverend Pertwee following a big storm in March 1883 in  which 200 mariners from the counties bordering North Sea were lost, including 19 from Brightingsea.

Pertwee decided that a memorial tile should be made for each of his lost parishioners going back to 1872, when he first became vicar at the church. The first tile is dedicated to William Day and his son, David, who were drowned off Hartlepool.

The tiles were continued in later decades, and later tile memorials are to sailors killed in various storms, the loss of the Titanic and the World Wars.

I’ll make a point of taking a look when I get the chance – last time I was in the area the church was locked, as usual in a town.

Thanks Malcolm!

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.