An interview with Bob Roberts’ Cambria mate Phil Latham

Phil Latham on sailing the Cambria from Richard Fleury on Vimeo.

Richard is the chap who runs the The Quay website, which campaigns for the maritime future of Faversham Creek.

On the day of the Cambria’s relaunch earlier this week he was lucky enough to be able to meet Phil Latham, who was Bob’s mate aboard the sailing barge from 1964-68, and and to film an interview. I think it’s of great interest to anyone fascinated by sailing barges and Bob Roberts,  but also to sailors who know or plan to visit the East Coast.

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News from the Boat Building Academy, Lyme Regis, and from Charlie Hussey

(Above) Boat Building Academy alumnus Charlie Hussey’s latest project. She was
launched in 1892.
(Below) Another Clyde 17/19 lugger, Harlequin, in flight

Principal Yvonne Green writes from the Boat Building Academy at Lyme Regis:

‘Hi Gavin,

‘Thought you might be interested that Charlie Hussey (the student who built Seapod the Peapod during the last academic year) has just started a job restoring a Fife-built and designed Clyde 17/19 lugger, and has started a terrific blog that will chart the commission at http://www.marinecarpentry.com/katydid/ .

‘We will also be launching seven (crossed fingers) student boats on  the 10th December at noon in Lyme Regis harbour.

‘They’re an interesting lot, both students and boats. Student profiles and photographic diaries of the boats are at http://www.boatbuildingacademy.com/students/ClassofMarch2008.htm The students started the builds in mid-June this year, and are also required to attend lessons and complete assessment pieces, so they’ve been quite busy.

‘I’ll send further details, and photographs of each boat nearer launch time, but thought you might like an idea of what’s happening on the workshop floor at the moment.

‘Very best wishes,

‘Yvonne’

I certainly do – and thanks for the update!

Websits: Boat Building Academy

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Time to wet your whistle and let out a song

Tonight, I think it’s about time we had some music on the intheboatshed blog. Boating isn’t just about boats and sheds, boatbuilding or restoration, or even about navigating your boat – it’s also about a rich tapestry of personalities and culture.So tonight we have sea songs from my old friend Keith Kendrick. I hope Keith won’t mind when I say that with his dangerous smile he has something piratical about him and that when he sings with his concertina, he looks every inch everyone’s idea of the old fashioned sailor man. I’m sure he won’t mind when I say he’s a great singer of sea songs, as the MP3s I’m posting tonight will prove.

Ironically, Keith is a land-lubber by birth, originally hailing from the English county of Derbyshire and still living there today. Despite this, he did live on the East Kent coast for eight years where he was able to nurture more effectively an already strong leaning towards all things maritime. He has a long established and well documented history of performing and recording all kinds of music of the sea worldwide both solo and with various collaborations over forty years!

Keith is clearly passion-driven in his performance of sea shanties, fore-bitters and various other maritime related material including dance tunes on the English and Anglo concertinas.

He draws his influence from the old sailors and source singers of the material like: Stan Hugill (the last real shanty man), Bob Roberts and Cyril Tawney to name just three.

All of these three great singing heroes are now sadly gone and singers who have really studied their singing styles and songs, such as Keith, play an important role in carrying their legacy forward.

Listen in particular for the breaks and turns in his voice in the shanty set, for example – they’re one of the keys to real shanty singing.

Here are two tracks from his latest CD on the Wildgoose label Songs from the Derbyshire Coast. The first is the shanty Bold Riley (I’ve read somewhere that it’s a halyard shanty) and a set of three shanties, A Hundred Years Ago, Essiquibo River, and Rolling Down the Bay to Juliana. The files will take a moment to download but I can assure you that they’re well worth the short wait – this is shanty singing with real class.

Bold Riley is a windlass shanty that started life making the sugar run from the West Indies to the UK. Who ‘Riley’ was, unfortunately, is anybody’s guess.

A Hundred Years Ago is to one of two melodies commonly associated with this halyard Shanty from the USA – the other one is English in origin and both can be found in Stan Hugill’s seminal book, ‘Shanties From The Seven Seas’. Two other shanties: ‘A Long Time Ago’ and ‘Leave Her Johnny Leave Her’, share the same metre and are likely its two closest relatives.

The name of the Essiquibo River gives away the West Indian origins of this song – it would likely have been used originally inland for heavy shifting work and would have been lead by a Negro ‘shantyman’ eventually finding it’s inevitable way to sea where it’s use would need little adaptation. I take this at a slightly faster lick than it would have been sung in a working context.

Among the shanty set, I guess Rolling Down the Bay to Juliana, sometimes called Emma, is probably the least well known. It’s nevertheless one of the best halyard shanties around, and Keith tells me he believes it was collected in the early 1950s by folklorist A L Lloyd from ex-sailor Ted Howard. Ted, it is said, was on his death bed in a sailors’ hospital surrounded by all his shipmates when he sang this to Mr Lloyd. Apparently, his dying words were ‘Strike up South Australia and let me die happy!’

Bold Riley

Shanty set

Songs from the Derbyshire coast is available here:
http://www.guestlistwebarts.co.uk/eyup/cds.htm

More songs from Keith and friends:
https://intheboatshed.net/?p=78

A song from me:
https://intheboatshed.net/?p=609

Keith Kendrick, singer of sea songs and concertina player

Photo by Andrew D C Basford (2006)