2024 Festival

We are excited to be planning this year’s Festival (11-13 October), and are looking for volunteer stewards to help us with the following tasks:
– checking or selling tickets on entry to our concerts, workshops and other events
– roving collecting on Ha’Penny Pier, our pubs, the Redoubt and Shanty Train
– assisting passengers arriving for shanty cruises on the SB Victor
– selling programmes and welcoming visitors at our car park
Other ad hoc tasks may come up, and extra support is always welcome.
In exchange for giving your time to support the Festival, we offer refreshments and a chance to see/hear the shanty singing, even (in most cases) when you are not on duty.
If you are interested in helping, please email info@harwichshantyfestival.co.uk with your contact details and availability.
Thank you!

Linda Irene Mitchell

It’s another sad post unfortunately. Linda Irene Mitchell, more affectionately known as ‘Little Lin’, was a member of ‘The Golden Rivets’ for over 20 years and played at the Harwich Shanty Festival from the very first event up until last year.

Living locally to the event and ‘playing for fun’, she enjoyed her time with the Golden Rivets, rehearsing, practising and performing with her accordion and whistle – keeping the group in time but always with a smile, cheeky grin and a joke. She will be fondly remembered not only for her musical skills and love of music but for her funny little quips and what we called her ‘Linderisms’. She is and will be sadly missed.

Cakes & Shanties

Our popular Cake Sale with Shanties will be taking place this year on Sunday 26th May, starting around 10.00 a.m. As ever there will be a delicious array of cakes to purchase, some Shanty Merchandise and of course musical entertainment. More details will follow closer to the event, but be sure to put the date in your diary now.

Treasure Hunt Results

Congratulations to all the winners:

Hazel Prosser, Adam Rudland, Alex Sandquest joint first children

The Mayflowers 1st Adults 19/20
Andy & Maggie Schooler 2nd 18/20,
Peter & Sheila Davis plus Cath Offord and the Alexanders all joint 3rd

And thanks to the generosity of everyone taking part we have raised £250 for Shanty Festival funds! Thank you!

Adult Questions:

  1. What are the fruits of the labour of Carter & Company?  Apples (tile picture in doorway)
  2. Where do maritime traders and seafarers live next door to each other? Two cottages in Currents Lane (Chandlers & Mariners)
  3. Place of imprisonment for newlyweds? Bridewell House
  4. What sort of a mark might you make if you phone 01255 556006? Tattoo (phone number for tattoo parlour)
  5. Selling beer for 101 minutes? Foresters (Alehouse between 1800 – 1940)
  6. He commanded a dolphin? Matthew Flyn (packet boat Dolphin, House opposite St. Nicks)
  7. Edit got woodcraft in Kings Head Street? Driftwood Cottage
  8. A disciplinary boot? The Wellie Stern
  9. He met his end MDLV. William Bamford (burnt at stake in 1555)
  10. Where is the Chieftain 600? Drain Cover Angelgate
  11. A seat for cheerful talkers? Happy to Chat Bench
  12. #smells singular?   #AROMAONE (graffiti on garage doors)
  13. A scarlet box from Kirkintilloch? Telephone Box
  14. What is it UR missing at Harwich Town Station? Your Advert
  15. Furthest extent of the municipality as the sun sets? Outer Part of Town Westward
  16. A Holm baker’s dozen? 13 Holm Oaks
  17. An island only in 2D? Traffic Island at end of George Street (has 2 D’s written in concrete)
  18. A dwelling for 3? Trinity House
  19. In which direction is Turkey Island from Poor Cottage? Due East
  20. This building was officially an equally bisected orb in the 18th Century Now Thai Up at the Quay (formally(!) Half Moon Public House)

Childrens Answers

  1. Lambards (lobster on window)
  2. Swan Inn (Dutch Flag)
  3. West Street Bake House (doormat)
  4. Chinese Takeaway (top window)
  5. No. 2 Kings Head Street 
  6. No. 2b Kings Head Street 
  7. HHA Crest (Angelgate)
  8. St. Helen’s Green (garden gnome)
  9. Harwich Town Station Platform
  10. Trinity Village, Southwark (on Trinity House boards)
  11. Visitor Centre (on Mayflower model ship)
  12. Painted door in Eastgate Street/Castlegate Street)

Christmas Treasure Hunt 2023

We will be running a Treasure Hunt again this year on 30th December at the Alma Inn. Start the challenge anytime between 12.00 and 13.00 and return by 15.00 latest ready for prize giving at 16.00.

This will be a mixture of cryptic clues for adults and picture clues for children. Lizzie is pictured holding the 2021 children’s clues.

£5 per adult or £12 per family (max 2 adults)

For info the very popular Murder Mystery held last year may well take place in February half term or Easter 2024, but time has run out for this year. So make a note in your diaries and we hope to see as many of you as possible on 30th December. 


Massed Shanty

We will close the festival on Sunday afternoon with a massed shanty in St Nicholas Church. This is a great opportunity to see a large selection of the artists who have played over the weekend.

Grand Opening

Join us on Ha’Penny Pier for the Grand Opening with Jennifer Tolhurst, Lord Lieutenant of Essex

The Jack Tars

The Jack Tars are an energetic Yorkshire-based Shanty band specialising in traditional seafaring songs and British/Irish folk staples. The Tars are ready to transport audiences back in time to the ale-soaked taverns of old. You can expect rousing vocal harmonies, crisp fiddle lines and a foot-stompingly good time with The Jack Tars at the helm!

Short Drag Roger

Now in their 20th year, Short Drag Roger continue to bring shanties and sea songs to the landlocked people of Oxfordshire and further afield. They have performed at shanty and folk festivals all over the UK and Europe as well as pubs, theatres, village shows and other venues closer to home. Their performances are a mix of traditional shanties, modern sea songs and self-penned numbers. www.shortdragroger.co.uk

Tyburn Road

This talented duo join us again with some accomplished musicianship, harmonious singing and intriguing workshops. Their musical expertise and relaxed presentation make their performances readily accessible and a delight to hear and you can be sure of always finding some new gems in their extensive repertoire.

Swinging The Lead

Swinging the Lead began singing together in 2010 and are based on the banks of the River Thames at Gravesend. They have been the resident Shanty Crew on the famous ‘Cutty Sark’ since 2011. With regular appearances at many shanty festivals, Simon, Joe, Andy, Pete, Dave and TC have cemented their reputation and place in the worldwide sea shanty community. Their musical offering ranges from unaccompanied traditional shanties through to self-penned contemporary sea songs. www.swingingthelead.com

Steve Turner

Steve Turner can boast a long list of accolades from the folk world including “majestic, brilliant, sheer genius and foremost concertina player of his generation”. We are delighted that Steve has a maritime set amongst his repertoire which he will be entertaining us with over the shanty festival weekend. Don’t miss him!

Spinnaker Shanty

Spinnaker Shanty was initially formed to help out at an event on board The Victory in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. From that day the group has continued to perform at many events. They enjoy singing shanties and sea songs to all kinds of audiences, from folk clubs to shanty festivals and have a regular monthly spot at the 4 Ale Taproom in Gosport. All four members of the group have many years of singing experience brought together to form Spinnaker.

Silver Darlings

Since they first cast off in 2017, the Silver Darlings, an all-female crew from Southend on Sea, have been making waves both nationwide and internationally.  With their beautiful harmonies, interweaving traditional shanties and other songs of the sea, the Darlings really bring the shanty party and absolutely encourage audience participation.

Shotley Wailers

Shotley Wailers are a mixed, locally inspired shanty singing group accompanied by guitar, harmonica, melodeon and percussion. They sing out to Shotley, Felixstowe and Harwich Harbour every Monday night at the Bristol Arms within ear shot of what was once the home of HMS Ganges. The Shotley Wailers motto is ‘Give It A Try, We Did And We Love It’. Enjoy their performance.

Shötley Crüe

Shötley Crüe are a 7 piece pocket choir who with their own unique arrangements, have been singing shanties and songs about the sea since 2014. Never more than 70 miles from the sea, they are Dulwich Folk Club’s resident folk group.


ShantyFolk are a landlocked a capella shanty crew based in the Sudbury area of South Suffolk, who love singing shanties but also like to weave in the occasional folk song, when nobody is looking. Performing to local clubs and organisations, audiences enjoy the fascinating stories behind the songs of the sea, and also the blend of voices and harmonies, which benefit from their past life as members of a mixed choir.

Salty Groyne

Having made their debut last year, Suffolk based duo Craig & Phil are delighted to be returning to Harwich in 2023. They sing in harmony a variety of familiar and lesser known shanties and maritime songs, often accompanied by guitar, ukulele and banjolele! They took their name from a Felixstowe beach hut!

Salt Water & Beer

Salt Water and Beer were formed in 1995, and have been singing together ever since in the Maldon area and surrounds, even venturing as far afield as Harwich! As well as traditional shanties, they sing anything from Bruce Springsteen to barber-shop or music hall, and hope to carry on singing for another 28 years.

Rogue Shanty Buoys

The Rogue Shanty Buoys were described by fRoots magazine as “Guardians of the old songs, delivered with captivating authority.” The group have an unmistakably bold sound and an emphasis on strong vocals, tight harmonies and unfussy arrangements, giving fun and energetic performances with a fresh and dynamic approach to folk music that has seen them described as “A slightly salty Mumford & Sons”.

Rattlin’ Winches

Another home grown Harwich Town group, the Rattlin’ Winches have been singing together for several years now and are all keen exponents of the shanty tradition, performing at many local events. This busy trio also sing with other Harwich crews, so look carefully and you may spot them more than once over the weekend.

Pot Of Gold

Pot of Gold has spent the last year performing in their home of East Anglia, Cornwall’s Port Isaac Shanty Festival and the Cutty Sark Shanty Festival, London.  Expect inclusive, laid back, entertaining sessions, full of great harmonies, humour, musicianship and audience participation.  For more information and future gig dates visit www.potofgoldshantycrew.co.uk

Nelson’s Shantymen

Based in the Burnhams, birthplace of Admiral Nelson, Nelson’s Shantymen are a diverse group of enthusiasts, driven in equal measure by a love of singing and a desire to keep the tradition of the authentic sea shanty alive. True to the original spirit of the shanty, a major emphasis is placed on the voice, although instrumental accompaniment, in the form of banjo, bodhran, guitar and harmonica is an integral part of their performance.

Motley Crew

Just along the coast in Brightlingsea, Motley Crew have been singing together now for a number of years and gained a loyal following for their entertaining performances. They are much in demand locally and have performed at numerous events, often raising money for charity, particularly the RNLI.

Mains’l Haul

A short trip down the Essex coast to Maldon on the Blackwater estuary finds the shanty crew Mains’l Haul. Formed in 2014, the group sing mainly unaccompanied, but also play a variety of instruments including melodeon, guitar, concertina and recorder. The group sing mainly at festivals, regattas and sailing clubs and have become regulars at HISF.

London Sea Shanty Collective

A mixed community choir based in Hackney, the London Collective love singing together, keeping shanties and songs of the sea alive and hauling. Most of their material is arranged, sometimes with a contemporary twist, by their own members. They sing on ships and barges, at festivals, in National museums, to lifeboat crews and even Naval chiefs. They are greatly looking forward to their third visit to HISF.

Les Brouilleurs d’Ecoutes

From La Rochelle in France, Les Brouilleurs d’Ecoutes describe themselves as a Franco British group with an Irish flavour. Their upbeat multi-instrumental approach to shanties has earned them a strong following both in their home country and abroad. Les Brouilleurs d’Ecoutes made a huge impression on their first visit to Harwich and we are pleased to welcome them back.

Ken Stephens

An accomplished concertina player, Ken sings sometimes solo and sometimes alongside Hans during the festival programme. He is the author of many well known modern sea songs, tunes and shanties which have been absorbed into the tradition. This year he will be running a workshop on songwriting.

Isle ‘ave a Shanty

Isle ‘ave a Shanty are a 6 piece shanty crew based on the Isle of Ely. They specialise in traditional songs from the sea and the country in a folk style as well as putting a folk twist on some modern classics. They may come from a landlocked county but they bring their own style to both traditional and self penned songs

Hoy Shanty Crew

The Hoy Shanty Crew have been entertaining appreciative audiences around the UK for many years and are known for their rousing and raw interpretations of traditional sea shanties and drinking songs. Their extensive repertoire also includes a number of local songs written by founder member Jack Forbes, best known for penning “Rolling Down the River”. 

Hoy Boy

From just down the Essex coast and also singing with the crew of the same name, Hoy Boy (Peter Purnell) is a young(‘ish) enthusiastic a capella Sea Shanty Soloist with a passion for Maritime Folk Music. Specialising in rousing uplifting shanties from the golden age of sail that will have you joining in with gusto.


Hailing from Wivenhoe in Essex, The Hoolies are much in demand for their entertaining mix of traditional shanties and songs of the sea with lively musical accompaniment. They combine a love of shantying with support for community events and good causes.

Hog Eye Men

London based, the Hog Eye Men sing at events in the capital and beyond. They host a monthly sea song and shanty session in central London and are a resident shanty crew aboard the Cutty Sark. The Hog Eye Men have a vast repertoire of traditional shanties and other songs of the sea. They are keen to keep these great songs alive, singing them as they used to be sung: simply, boldly and loudly.

Harwich Sing

Harwich Sing Tendring Voices is a community choir all about the love of singing. They have groups for all ages and abilities but love to come together and perform as one from time to time, kids, teens and adults! They sing all kinds of music but have found a lot of joy in learning shanties and sea songs and are excited to be part of this year’s Shanty Festival.

Harwich Shanty Crew

The home town Shanty Crew of the festival was born out of a workshop run at a very early HISF. They now perform at many events both locally and further afield with a dedicated and expanding group of singers and wide repertoire of sea songs and shanties, some self penned.

Hans Weehuizen

Hans is a familiar face at HISF and indeed at many other festivals in the UK and further afield. Join Hans at one of his “Learn to Play the Bones” workshops, or catch him as he sings Dutch and English shanties, accompanied by concertina or melodeon.

Forebitter Crew

From Leeuwarden in the Netherlands the crew have been singing together as a mixed crew for the last two years, singing both at home and abroad. They perform a mixture of Shanties, Sea songs and Maritime songs and also organise an International Shanty Café in their home town every year. This will be their second visit to HISF and they are looking forward to meeting many of their Shanty friends and making new ones.

Fire & Ice (1915)

Dave, Andy, John, Tony, and Stephen were all students at the London Nautical School. Several went to sea after leaving school and some have recently crewed together on the tall ships Sorlandet and the Statsraad Lehmkuhl. And if there are any ex LNS in the audience, raise your voice and sing along.

The LNS was created as part of the BOT report’s recommendations into the sinking of the Titanic. As for the name – Ice is obvious, but Fire comes from a suggestion that there was a bunker fire in one of the coal holds from the time the Titanic left England. 1915 is the year the school came into existence (not the band).

Felix Stowaways

This fine group of shanty singers from just over the water in Suffolk have been making a name for themselves for several years now, attending clubs and festivals and holding their own “Shanty Café” annually in their home town. This will be their 8th appearance at HISF and we welcome them back

El Pony Pisador

El Pony Pisador describe themselves as a cross between JRR Tolkein’s world and Monty Python! Humorous, quirky, entertaining and hugely talented, this captivating group have in the last few years catapulted themselves onto the folk/shanty scene and into our hearts. This will be their third visit to HISF and we can’t wait to welcome them back.


Columbines are an all-female trio who have played extensively within the East Anglian folk scene for the past few years.They are known for their striking use of close harmony singing and their own arrangements of traditional folk songs, shanties and sea songs which are performed a cappella or accompanied on instruments including guitar, Irish bouzouki, cello and concertina.

Chris Roche

Chris has been singing shanties virtually all his adult life and was a founder member of The Shanty Crew, back in the days when shanties were very much a niche interest. A long time friend of Stan Hugill, Chris will be presenting a workshop about that father of shantying, his ships, his paintings, his books and his shanty singing in addition to singing shanties himself.