The sad tale of the Steamship London, which is said to have sunk in a storm in the Bay of Biscay as a result of being overloaded. If you’ve ever wondered what disasters prompted the legal changes that brought in the Plimsoll Line, this is one of them.
Foul Weather Call can be thought of as a hornpipe or a reel, I think. Either way it comes from a 19th collection of tunes owned by the Welch family, who lived in the little Sussex port of Bosham.
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.
Our protagonist sails to Moville in the county of Donegal – almost at the northern tip of Ireland to watch the races. While there he meets Mary, ‘the star of Moville’ and emboldened by whiskey he talks to her and buys her a drink – but then she rejects him and he sails home… The singing of Len Graham is wonderful!
Find out about the song’s origin here.