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Singing at The Ship Inn

Various: Singing at The Ship Inn (Alan Lomax Archive)

Singing at The Ship Inn
Alan Lomax’s 1953 Blaxhall Recordings
Various Artists

Alan Lomax Archive (DL, UK, April 2013)

On 10 October 1953, Alan Lomax and Peter Kennedy, with tape-machine in tow, visited The Ship Inn, a pastoral public house situated in the village of Blaxhall, Suffolk, East Anglia. The Ship was by that time already well-known for its vigorous afternoon sessions of folk-singing and step-dancing, which had been going strong since at least the early days of the century.

Under the stern direction of chairman Wicketts Richardson—who calls the crowd to order and announces the singers—“the old boys” performed ballads (Three Jolly Sportsmen), topical pieces (The Bonny Bunch of Roses), bawdy numbers (The Nutting Girl), and step-danced to tunes pumped out on the melodeon, while the publicans, Mr and Mrs Hewitt, kept the pint glasses filled.

In 1955, Kennedy and Lomax returned to Blaxhall, where they made a short film, called Here’s A Health to the Barley Mow and featuring many of the same singers here. It can be viewed online via the East Anglian Film Archive.


Wicketts Richardson, chairman;
Jack French, vocals [7, 9];
Fred Pearce, melodeon [6, 11];
Cyril Poacher, vocals [2-3];
Joe Rowe, vocals [10];
Bob Scarce, vocals [1, 4-5, 8]


  1. [BS] The Bonny Bunch of Roses (Roud 664; Laws J5; G/D 1:155) (5.03)
  2. [CP] The Nutting Girl (Roud 509; G/D 7:1475) (3.38)
  3. [CP] Young Man from the Country (Roud 1510) (2.00)
  4. [BS] Three Jolly Sportsmen (Roud 17; Laws L4; G/D 2:186; Henry H185) (6.09)
  5. [BS] The Poaching Song (Roud 2427) (5.42)
  6. [FP] Sailor’s Hornpipe (2.15)
  7. [JF] Good Ship Dolphin (Roud 690; G/D 1:41; Henry H560) (5.02)
  8. [BS] How Paddy Stole the Rope (Roud 2037) (3.48)
  9. [JF] Good Luck to the Barley Mow (Roud 944, 10722) (4.32)
  10. [JR] The Blackbird (Roud 387; Henry H79) (4.50)
  11. [FP] Manchester Hornpipe (1.24)

All tracks trad.