Cancelled: Treasure Hunt 2020

Unfortunately it was announced today that our corner of Essex will also now be going into Tier 4 on Boxing Day. Regrettably this means we have no alternative than to cancel the treasure hunt. 

Note: If it is possible to run the Treasure Hunt in early spring then we will make an announcement on our social media channels


Firstly (and most importantly) the Treasure Hunt is wholly dependant on the Coronavirus Rules that pertain on 28th December. Please remember that masks are still currently required whilst you are moving around in the pub. Also, please keep an eye on this page and our social media accounts for the latest news and any updates.

The short info:

  • Meet at the Alma Public House’s new garden between midday and one o’clock on Bank Holiday Monday to collect your clues 
  • Don’t forget a pencil or a pen, please!
  • £5 per individual or £10 per family
  • Answer sheets should be back by 3pm for marking, results by 3.30pm.

The long version:

To collect clues please enter the Alma through the gate at 26, Kings Head Street (to the right of the Alma front doors). Please do not use the Eastgate St entrance.

The gate leads into the new Alma garden. For information, this is soon to be a new seafood restaurant, Lambard’s Salt House. Watch out for a poster on the gate. Here you will find a large heated marquee where you can collect clue sheets between 1200 -1300.

Under current Tier Two rules, you can buy soft drinks, tea, coffee etc. Note, If you want to buy alcohol, you will have to order food from the menu, but you can reserve it for consumption upon your return. There is table service here and a one way system takes Treasure Hunters out through the door of No. 26, back into Kings Head Street. There are toilet facilities too, so no need to enter the Alma Inn at all.

Completed sheets are due back at the Alma between 1430 and 1500 and competitors should bring their sheets back to the Alma. Please enter the pub through the front door and walk through to the back garden of the Alma (which is also heated). We hope to have all sheets marked and the results ready by 1530. Whilst waiting for results people can either take a seat in one of the outdoor areas or sit inside if consuming a meal. Again, apologies but soft drinks only for those not eating.

Alma Inn

Many thanks to Nick May and the Alma staff for their fantastic support.

You can contact the pub to book a meal via their website



Amaury Villain

It is with shock and sadness that we report the death of Amaury Villain, whom many will remember as the Accordionist with Brise Glace, from Montreal, who went down a storm at our 2019 Festival. Amaury was just 45 years old and we send love and condolences to the band, his friends and family.


Brise Glace in the Angel during the 2019 Festival

Brise Glace

Mayflower CD “The Harwich Ship”

Our Mayflower CD is back in stock and available via this site priced £5 plus p&p. 

For purchase options please see below.

The Harwich Ship

In 2014 Harwich International Shanty Festival ran a very special project commissioning new songs to commemorate the town’s connections to the Mayflower and its Master, Christopher Jones, who was born and lived in Harwich. We had a fantastic response with some 17 new songs written and a unique concert showcasing the songs. This CD comprises the fruits of everyone’s labours. Unfortunately there are a few songs not able to be represented here, not because of lack of excellence but because the vagaries of a live performance means that occasionally the sound quality is not sufficient.

We apologise to those artists not featured, but hope everyone will agree that the songs which do feature show a wide variety of interesting takes on the subject matter. We very much hope that not only will some of these songs be taken up and sung in clubs and pubs around the land, but that they will awaken an interest in the history of the Mayflower and its voyage to the New World. Harwich can rightly be proud of its heritage and of the fact that such an important aspect of it is now recorded in song.

Thanks go to all artists who took part in this project, including: John Conolly, Old Wild Rovers, Malcolm Ward, Naze Shanty Crew, Alan Lake, Ian Roper & Mick Rogers, Swinging the Lead, Peter Hunt, Bob Watson, Mick Verrier, Alan Whitbread, Gerald Donaldson, Michael Fitzgerald & The Chantey Cabin.

  1. The New World Shanty – The Naze Shanty Crew 2:46
  2. Haul Away Drift Away – Swinging The Lead 2:56
  3. Flowers of May – John Conolly 4:41
  4. Bound For North America – Holland Park Primary School 2:18
  5. Mayflower Last Waltz – Malcolm Ward 4:04
  6. Sign Up With Capt. Jones – Alan Whitbread 3:50
  7. The Tale of Christopher Jones – The Naze Shanty Crew 3:10
  8. Pollyanna..Bob Watson 4:37
  9. The Little Harwich Ship – Ian Roper and Mick Rogers 3:29
  10. Josian Jones – Burning Glass 5:31
  11. We Sail Together – Pete Hunt 4:27

UK postage (£2) included


Europe postage (£3) included


Rest of the world postage (£5) included


Mayflower CD - A Harwich ShipThe CD is available via this site but, if you are having difficulties or require further information, contact us by email – [email protected]





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2019 CD Limited Stock!

Our 2019 Shanty Festival CD is back in stock and available via this site for only £5 plus p&p. It features 24 artists who played Harwich Sea Shanty Festival in 2019

See below for purchase options

Back in 2019 we recorded some of the performances from artists appearing at that year’s festival:

Alan Whitbread
Armstrong’s Patent
Brise Glace
Chris Roche
Dan McKinnon
Dutch Uncle
Geoff Higginbottom
Hog Eye Men
Jim Radford
Ken Stevens
Mains’l Haul
Malcolm Ward
Motley Crew
Naze Shanty Crew
New Scorpian Band
Pete McCelland
Salt Water & Beer
Sheringham Shanty Men
Shotley Crue
Swinging The Lead
Sloop Groggy Dogs
Tyburn Road

Sadly a few of these artists are no longer with us.


UK postage (£2) included


Europe postage (£3) included


Rest of the world postage (£5) included


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RIP Jim Radford

We are saddened to hear of the passing of Jim Radford. He has been a stalwart supporter of HISF and a valued contributor to many concerts, workshops, talks and singarounds over the course of the Festival. We shall all miss him, his songs, both traditional and self penned, his stories, his wit and his personality. Sleep well Jim, we are sorry not to see you again.


Cancelled : 2020 Festival

The 2020 Harwich International Shanty Festival, together with its planned emphasis on the 400th Anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower, will be deferred until 2021, in common with virtually all other Mayflower celebrations both in the UK and overseas. We would therefore like to invite all artists who were confirmed for 2020 to come instead in 2021 on the same terms and conditions. We can only apologise profusely that we find ourselves unable to run this year and hope that you will all understand that it really is out of our control. The dates for 2021 are 8-10th October and we really hope you can all make it. We would be very grateful if those interested in this re-run next year could let us know as soon as possible so that we know if there are gaps we may need to fill.

We had hoped that we might hold a scaled back event this year, perhaps featuring local groups only in a “Back to Roots” Festival, but have now regretfully decided that this will not be possible. It is a huge blow to us all at the end of a devastating year for the music industry in general, but in the light of the current uncertain situation worldwide we cannot risk promoting an event of any size. Our monthly newsletters will continue, as will posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and of course here on our website, keeping you all up to date on any Shanty news and looking forward hopefully to happier times in 2021.



We are holding our first online auction, the original artwork for our latest CD.

Local talented artist Len Smith created an original acrylic painting to be used as the artwork for the ‘In Dry Dock’ CD. He has now donated this painting to the Festival for auction.

The painting is approximately 2ft (60cm) square & is painted in acrylic, it is not framed and is not watermarked. Visit our auction page for full details.

Shanty Festival Auction

“In Dry Dock” CD

Our lockdown shanty CD, In Dry Dock, is back in stock and available via this site priced £8 plus p&p. It features 22 artists who have either played Harwich Sea Shanty Festival in recent years or who were due to play this year:

For a track listing and purchase options please see below.


Well the year 2020 will certainly go down in history, but not as a commemoration of the 400th Anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower, as many in the UK and USA had hoped! The plans of the whole world have been put on hold, including ours here at Harwich International Shanty Festival. When Coronavirus first hit and the world was reeling in disbelief, we still hoped, with a Festival towards the end of the year, that we might be able to go ahead. It soon became apparent this was not an option and we regretfully took the decision to postpone our planned special Mayflower Festival until 2021.

But what now? An online event was considered but rejected for various reasons, though we wanted to mark this rather strange year in some way. And so, just as the Festival is effectively In Dry Dock for the year, the idea of a CD “In Dry Dock” was born. We are hugely grateful to all those artists who have so generously donated a track to this project and to Chantey Cabin for their work in producing the CD. The result is a mix of songs both from those due to perform this year – now deferred until 2021- and many past performers, including some of our most popular acts from the last fifteen years. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supports the Festival for their loyalty over the years and we hope that you will enjoy this unique souvenir. And finally, we look ahead to brighter times when we can all meet up again in person. Here’s to October 2021!!

  1. Shake Her Johnny Chris Roche
  2. Sam’s Gone Away El Pony Pisador
  3. Herzogin Cecile Ken Stephens
  4. Davy Nik Nik Hans Weehuizen
  5. Johnson Girls The Johnson Girls
  6. Wild Goose The London Sea Shanty Collective
  7. Ranzo Ray Nordet
  8. Limehouse Reach Alan Whitbread
  9. Flash Frigate Dominic Magog
  10. The Corncrake The Rogues Shanty Buoys
  11. Reuben James Act of Mutiny
  12. Little Pot Stove Mains’l Haul
  13. Fire Maringo Hoy Boy
  14. The Captain’s Daughter The Longest Johns
  15. John Cherokee Tyburn Road
  16. Noah Could Not Navigate Men Overboard
  17. The Worst Old Ship The Hoolies
  18. Wellerman Norfolk Broads
  19. Brave Wolf Sound Tradition
  20. Rolling To Cairo Town Naze Shanty Crew
  21. Crossing the Bar Swinging the Lead
  22. Shores of Normandy Jim Radford

We would especially like to thank every artist, or their representative, for the kind offer of their tracks.

The CD is available via this site but, if you are having difficulties or require further information, contact us by email – [email protected]



UK postage (£2) included


Europe postage (£3) included


Rest of the world postage (£5) included


Please ensure your correct address is logged with Paypal

Cancelled: Melodeons On Sea

We are very sorry to announce that the Melodeons-on-Sea workshop due to be held here in Harwich over the weekend of 18/19th April has just been cancelled. The current situation with the Coronavirus has already caused cancellations and the organisers feel that the financial stability of the event, coupled with the uncertainty of keeping the public safe, leave no other alternative. A 2021 event is however planned to replace this particular workshop.

A related event, but not run for the Festival, is a weekend of melodeon workshops on 18/19th April at the Harwich Town Sailing Club and the 1912 Club. Katie Howson and Simon Care will be the tutors for the first of what is hoped will be an annual event. Full details are available at and tickets are already on sale.

Alan Whitbread: Order of Service

Owing to the current pandemic, only family were able to attend Alan Whitbread’s funeral. We are however able to share the order of service which may be of interest as it contains a fascinating insight into Alan’s history. (Please note that it is a large PDF file and may take a few seconds to load.)

A celebration will now take place on 27th March 2021 at the Fleece Inn, Bretforton WR11 7JE. Keep an eye on our usual social media channels, the newsletter and this website for up to date news.

Alan Whitbread_Order of Service


Unsurprisingly we have to report that Shanty Sundays at the Pier are suspended for the foreseeable future, so no Hoolies to brighten your Easter. We have no plans to cancel our Festival at this present time, but of course we are continually monitoring the situation and will let everyone know if there is any change

Shanty Jack

For the past 30 years or more, Shanty Jack (Pete Hayselden) has been a regular fixture at Shanty Festivals both in the UK and abroad. He spent a large part of his life working on Tugs in the Humber and was instrumental in establishing the Hull Sea Fever Festival. At HISF Pete will be singing and playing and proudly representing Boston/Immingham area as part of our Mayflower 400 celebrations


Monkey’s Fist

Steve, John and Colin have been singing shanties, sea songs and forebitters for over 20 years now and are well known both nationally and internationally, having appeared at numerous festivals and events. They sing both acapella or accompanied by guitar, concertina, harmonica and bodhran.

Johnson Girls

All the way from the USA, Johnson Girls are the foremost all woman acapella maritime group in the world and have been singing together for over 20 years now. Rousing work songs, sensitive ballads and soaring harmonies are all part of their repertoire and they join us this year not only to entertain with all of these but also representing Plymouth USA as part of our Mayflower 400 celebrations.

Hoy Boy

Sailing in from Canvey Island in Essex, Hoy Boy (Peter Purnell) is a young enthusiastic acapella 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.


Powerful singing, innovative arrangements and unusual instrumentation all make up the unique sound of Doggerland who combine the traditions of England and Scandinavia in their shanties and ballads.

Act Of Mutiny

As part of HISF participation in and support for the Mayflower 400 Anniversary, we are very pleased to be inviting Sea Shanty groups from nearly all of the Mayflower towns. Act of Mutiny are from Leiden in Holland, representing that town as part of our very special concert, but also of course entertaining at other times throughout the weekend. We welcome them on their first visit to Harwich.

Alan Whitbread

As many of you will have already seen from our brief post yesterday evening, Alan Whitbread sadly passed away on Tuesday evening. He has been a supporter and valued performer at our Festival for many years, his knowledge, musical ability and rapport with his audience made him a ready favourite. He could always engage an audience, whatever the situation and he was always remarkably cheerful and optimistic, remaining so during his illness.And so we would like to pay tribute to him, here on this page. We appreciated being his friends!

Shanty Workshop – Photos & Feedback

Please could I say a personal thank you to everyone who was involved in making our workshop and concert yesterday such a success. I’m not going to name individuals as I will miss someone, but, thank you to you all … To all of those of you that bought a ticket and came along , our large team of volunteers and our performers….. A truly successful day all round , remarkably stress free as, for the first time ever , everything went to plan… Oh and we made a profit and raised money for the festival…..
Watch this space as we are planning another workshop and concert next Feb…
Thank you everyone
Penny xx


Dear all.  I’d like to say a huge thank you for the super Workshop day.  It far exceeded my expectations.  The Rogue Shanty Buoys ran an excellent workshop – lots of interaction, tuition, new songs and techniques and history explained.  Very professional.

The evening shanty concert was also superb  –  new and old songs, lively, witty.  Even our daughter and son in law, who joined us at short notice and hadn’t a clue what to expect, thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  If run again, this workshop and concert are highly recommended for experienced and novice singers.

Finally, well done the catering team (excellent lunch and coffee breaks) and organisers for a super day.  Regards,  Trevor Williams”



The Rogue Shanty Buoys

Following on from last years very successful Shanty Workshop we have another coming up for you on 22nd February 2020 featuring the popular and talented Rogue Shanty Buoys. The Rogues have guested for us at previous Festivals and gained quite a following here in Harwich. They are also well known in their home town of Lowestoft and further afield where they have already run several excellent shanty workshops. The day will finish with a concert and tickets for both workshop and concert are available below.

The day’s full timetable:

0930-1000 Workshop Registration & coffee/tea

1000  Session 1 (Coffee/Tea break at 1115)

1130  Session 2 (Lunch at 1230)

1400 Session 3 (Coffee/Tea break at 1515)

1530 Session 4 – Singalong

1630 Workshop finish

1930 Doors open for concert

2000 Concert


Silver Darlings

Silver Darlings from Southend-on-Sea made a big impression at last year’s Festival and so we are very pleased to welcome them back for 2020. Their performances are lively and engaging and they are rapidly making a name for themselves both here in Essex and further afield. 

London Sea Shanty Collective

The London Sea Shanty Collective is a community choir who sing shanties and maritime songs with one eye to tradition and the other to the future. They perform regularly in London and across the UK and Ireland and have sung at festivals, pubs, bars, theatres, the British Museum the British Library and more.

Old Gaffers

A performance from Old Gaffers from South Devon is always inclusive and engaging and delivered with their own brand of humour. During the 10 years of their existence they have performed widely in the West Country and further afield and return to Harwich this year in particular to represent Plymouth UK as part of our Mayflower 400 celebrations.

Sound Tradition

Talented group with super harmonies and a wide range of songs, Sound Tradition are very much in demand at Clubs and Festivals and between them have many years of experience with Folk and Traditional music, much of it maritime related. Their sets range from lively chorus songs to lilting ballads.