Sea shanty festival saved from sinking by city publicans

Phil Daly, landlord of the Minerva pub in Hull, is hoping to raise thousands for the festival.
Phil Daly, landlord of the Minerva pub in Hull, is hoping to raise thousands for the festival.
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A SEA shanty festival has been saved from going under by a group of pub landlords.

The festival in Hull, which for 21 years attracted performers and craftsmen from around the world to the city’s marina, was facing the axe after the city council withdrew £25,000 funding.

But rather than see the festival disappear altogether, landlords from three local pubs have decided to keep it going.

The landlord of the Ruscadors, Pete Smith, said he’d been incensed by the council pulling the plug: “At the end of the day the city is all about seafaring. They were taking away our history by not having it on.

“Last year we had singers from Bristol, from Canada, from far and wide – why would you want to kill that?”

Phil Daly, who is landlord of the waterfront Minerva pub, said they couldn’t let the event go by the wayside: “It was a big blow for the city, not just us,” he said.

“It’s gone on for 21 years and there isn’t much of the city’s heritage left. We understand funding is tight but we thought if we all get together and we work as hard as we can we can make it happen.”

Already 10 acts have been lined up, with some groups agreeing to perform free of charge, and there will be two outside stages, one on the pier front outside the Minerva, the other next to Ruscadors.

Hull-based musician Mick McGarry, a former merchant seaman who has been involved in the folk scene for 50 years, is helping bring in acts.

Mr McGarry, whose band is called Owd Chyvers, said: “We’ve been involved in the festival in the past in singarounds and last year we were paid artists. It’s not all down to money – yes it’s nice to get a few bob for expenses, but it’s about keeping music live. It is what more people should be doing, to be quite frank.

“I think it is a brilliant idea that this is going to be a self-help job, rather than relying on the council. We have generated a lot of interest – we should have been doing it earlier. The more money we can get in the bigger we can make it.”

Mr Daly is appealing for sponsorship. He said: “We believe the grant was in the region of £25,000, we are not going anywhere near that, but if we can get £5,000 it would be phenomenal.”

Shanties were sung seafarers as they went about the work. The oft-repeated refrains, sung to a regular rhythm, helped them co-ordinate whatever work they had at hand, whether heaving, hauling, pushing or turning. The expression shanty is thought to derive from the French chantez, from the verb chanter, to sing. Anyone interested in sponsoring the event is asked to contact Mr Daly on 01482 210025.