Sea shanties recorded in the 70s – John Roberts & Tony Barrand


The Black Ball Line Packet Ship ‘New York’ off Ailsa Craig by the Scottish artist William Clark (1803-1883)

Across the western ocean, part 1

Across the western ocean, part 2

I’m always interested in older recordings of sea shanties, not least because I tend to feel those sung by singers who have actually heard old time shanty singers have just a touch of authenticity.

These nice, clear radio station recordings of two Englishmen John Roberts & Tony Barrand and friends Jeff Warner, Susan Warner and Davey Jones show the fruits of some serious research, and I think are worth listening to – notwithstanding that the performances are neatly polished for public consumption… The lyrics are interestingly different from the standard ones we tend to hear, and the introductions are interesting and informative about the later sailing ship era.

‘The seamen would sing the most vulgar songs directly over my skylight… ‘ complained a lady diarist. I can’t say I’m surprised.

My thanks to Chris Brady for the tip-off!


Wrinkles in Seamanship or a ‘Help’ to Salt Horse, by Lieut. C Cradock, RN, part 1

I love the advice about taking in the spanker very quietly to avoid waking the skipper.

In thought this book might be particularly useful for Mal Nicholson, master of HMS Pickle. As it happens, it’s only a few days late for his birthday…

Author Lieutenant C Cradock seems to be the same gentleman as Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher “Kit” George Francis Maurice Cradock a British officer of the Royal Navy who earned a reputation for great gallantry.

If he is the same Naval officer, he died fighting the German fleet led by Admiral Maximilian von Spee’s during the Battle of Coronel off the Chilean coast along with the entire crews of HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth, who together numbered 1570 men.  It is said that Cradock was outgunned and ill-equipped to fight Spee’s fleet.

These events followed soon after Rear-Admiral Ernest Troubridge was court martialled for failing to attack a superior enemy force.

Alan Villiers’ photographs on the Royal Museum Greenwich’s wonderful Flickr account

A selection of Alan Villiers famous photos appears on the Royal Museum Greenwich’s wonderful Flickr Photostream.

Villiers seems to have been a naturally talented photographer, but I’m also struck by the sharpness and contrast of the images he was able to take using large format film on his Box Brownie camera.