A Challenger’s Song Book Launch

Book launch performance by the London Sea Shanty Collective

Thursday 9 December 2021


Introductions and welcome – David Judson

1. Charlie and Stella Collins: Philip Pearson

2. Getting underway (December 1872): Laila
A drop of Nelson’s Blood (Trad) – Jowan, Naomi, Nick, Claire

3. Challenger’s mission to explore the great ocean basins: Laila
The Ocean (Poem- Nathanial Hawthorn, Arrangement- Danny Toeg) – Danny, Aidan (clarinet)

4. So hungry crew: Zac
Turkey Bones (Lyrics- Philip Pearson, Arrangement – Maggie Boyd and Jane Perrot) – Nick, Danny, Naomi, Danny, Philip

5. The Azores: Fine specimens found, and a taste of shore leave
Drunken sailor (Trad) – Jowan, Nick, Beth, Dawn, David

6. Brutal treatment of slaves loading coal: Laila, Hugh, Zac
Slaves Lament (Poem – Robert Burns, Arrangement Laila Sumpton and Owen Shiers)
Blow the man down (Trad) – David, Beth

7. An albatross follows the ship deep into the Southern Ocean:
Mollymawk (Trad) – Anita

8. Inaccessible Island, October 1873.
10,000 miles (Trad, music hall origins) – Miriam

9. Sounding the deep for submarine cables made in Silvertown.
Silvertown (Lyrics- Philip Pearson, Arrangement- Ruth

Renfrew and Will Rivers)– Will (guitar, vocals), Pen (violin), Chris

10. The Swire Deep (March 1875)
Stormalong (Trad) – Hugh

11. Mary, a tribute: Pen, Philip
Skipper Girls (Trad shanty ‘Yellow Girls’ re-written

by Norfork Broads and Vick de Rijke due to it’s sexist

and mysogenistic lyrics, Arrangement- Danny Toeg) – Vick

12. No word from home (July 1875): Zac
Valparaiso (Lyrics and melody- Philip Pearson and Nony Ardill, Arrangement- Maggie Boyd, Benni Lees-MacPherson, Chris Wilson) – Chris (trumpet), Philip

13. Homecoming (June 1876): Pen, Hugh, Laila
One more pull, boys (Trad) – Emer

Cast, Musicians, Singers, Technical Support


Introduction: David Judson

Narrator: Laila Sumpton

Charlie: Hugh Simpson

Joe: Zac Lamdin

Mary: Pen Woods

Philip Pearson


Musicians and technicians

Clarinet: Aidan Pearson

Guitar: Will Rivers

Violin: Pen Woods

Trumpet: Chris Wilson

Lighting and camera: Damian Wilk and Robert Polewski

Sound recording: Jowan Collier

Book cover design: Nick Grant


Reception and catering

Mary Gillard, Cathy Gillard, Anya Pearson and Emma Green



With thanks to the 

whole choir but especially to:

Naomi Holford

Nick Grant

Claire Morgan-Jones

Danny Toeg

Beth Askham

Dawn King

Anita Reilly

Miriam Wells

Chris Wilson

Vick de Rijke

Emer Duffy

Will Rivers

John Primmer

Bea Patel

Doug Cowan

Amanda Wray

Eli Carola

John Healey

Tom Bennett

Sea Shanties

Book launch – Songs and Sea Shanties

The book makes frequent reference to sea shanties, they may be work songs or tell a story of some aspect of a sailor’s life. Valparaiso is about the long-for letters from home. Turkey Bones is about a hungry sailor, The Ocean is about exploring the mysteries of the deep, and Silvertown a strike among workers in London making the undersea cables that made up the ‘Victorian internet’.  

Visit our Sea Shanties page.