Suffolk

Traditional singing still in vogue at The Ship Inn, Blaxhall

  • 23 September 2011
  • From the section Suffolk

A century-old tradition of folk singing is still going strong in a Suffolk pub.

The Ship Inn in Blaxhall appears in archive footage from 1955, showing a man leading the clientele through a version of The Barley Mow.

Clive Woolnough is one of a group of musicians and singers who still meet at the pub on Mondays.

"There's a couple of us who have kept the tradition going," he said. "I'm Blaxhall boy, born and bred and I still hit the old Ship regular."

Dave Drain, barman and musician at The Ship Inn, said "the old boys" arrive at the pub at lunchtime.

"After they've had their sandwiches, the melodeon, the banjos, the guitars - all sorts come out," he said.

Clive Woolnough
Clive Woolnough is keeping the tradition alive at The Ship Inn, Blaxhall

"It's usually a very, very good afternoon.

"We usually haul the last one into a taxi around half past five time."

Although currently healthy, Mr Drain fears the tradition is in danger of dying out.

"These are the sons of the old pioneers and once it's gone, it will be gone forever," he said.

Mr Woolnough said: "It's part of the history, a big part of the history, of the Ship.

"It's well renowned for over 100 or more years.

"My father was born in Blaxhall in 1902 and that was going on when they were young men - old boys singing songs."

And does he follow in the footsteps of the man from 1955 and sing The Barley Mow?

"I'm not really a Barley Mow man. I don't do The Barley Mow."

Video footage and stills courtesy of the UEA East Anglian Film Archive.

Melvin Bragg's Reel History is on BBC Two, weeknights at 18:30 BST.

The Long Shop Museum in Leiston is holding a Local Life on Film event on 13 October.

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