Heave Away, My Johnnies - Kingston - Shanty U.K. Archive

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Heave Away, My Johnnies - Kingston

Shanties
Heave Away, My Johnnies


'Heave Away, My Johnnies' belongs to a huge family of shanties, comprising
several completely different sets of words, any or all of which may be (and probably were) sung to several different tunes. Words set to the tune below were sung at the brake windlass for "warping" a vessel in or out of the dock: a cable would be run from the ship, round a bollard on the quayside near the dock entrance and back on board. As the cable was wound in the ship would move slowly towards the dock gates

In 1957 A.L. Lloyd and Ewan MacColl recorded an album of sea shanties, whose sleeve notes said of
'Heave Away, My Johnnies': "This version was sung by the Indian Ocean whalers of the 1840s. ‘Kingston’ is another name for Hull." For Louis Killen's 1964 recording, Lloyd's own sleeve notes for the album stated: "Originally, it had words concerning a voyage of Irish migrants to America. Later, this text fell away. The version sung here was “devised” by A. L. Lloyd for the film of Moby Dick."

Monkey's Fist sing Lloyd's whaling version, with the same four verses that Killen sang, but in a different order.


Roud Number 616
Click to play MIDI file
Heave Away, My Johnnies
Heave Away, My Johnnies



The pilot he's a-waiting for
The turning of the tide

Heave away, my Johnny, heave away

It's then, my boys, we're bound away,
On a sweet and a westerly wind

Heave away, my jolly boys,
We're all bound to go.


There's some of us bound for New York town;
There's some of us bound to France

Heave away, my Johnny, heave away

And some of us bound for Bengal Bay
To teach them whales to dance

Heave away, my jolly boys,
We're all bound to go.

So come you hard-weather sailing lads,
That sails the Cape of Storms

Heave away, my Johnny, heave away

Don't forget your boots and your oilskins lads:
You'll wish that you'd never been born.

Heave away, my jolly boys,
We're all bound to go.


So fare you well, you Kingston girls;
Farewell Saint Andrew's Dock

Heave away, my Johnny, heave away

If ever we return again,
We'll make your cradles rock.

Heave away, my jolly boys,
We're all bound to go.


The pilot he's a-waiting for
The turning of the tide

Heave away, my Johnny, heave away

And then, my boys, we're bound away,
On a sweet and a westerly wind

Heave away, my jolly boys,
We're all bound to go.



Recorded by Monkey's Fist
Play MP3
Heave Away, My Johnnies, sung by Monkey's Fist
Farewell, Saint Andrew's Dock

Hull's arctic whaling industry can be traced back to the late 1500's, and from 1617 Hull ships fished Jan Mayen Island over 1,000 miles away in the Arctic Ocean, but the real growth of whaling took place from about 1750, when Hull ships accounted for some 40% of the British fleet. The peak year was 1820 when 62 vessels averaged over 11 whales each, but in the two following years 15 ships were crushed by ice and another eight returned empty. Over the next 40 years the fleet dwindled away to nothing, with the very last Hull whaler being wrecked in 1869 while approaching the mouth of the Humber homeward bound.


St Andrew’s Dock was named after the patron saint of fishermen and often called simply the Fish Dock. It had originally been planned for the coal trade, but this was changed to fishery before it opened in 1883. (So, of course, it was never home to Lloyd's "Indian Ocean whalers of the 1840s"). To cope with the rapidly increasing trade, a large extension was opened in 1897 with all the facilities required to service Hull's large fishing fleet, such as an ice plant and a maintenance slipway, but it also provided things like banks, shops, cafes, post office, doctor’s surgery and police station. The dock was closed to shipping in 1975, with the fish trade re-located to Albert Dock. In 1985 the dock was was filled in and is now the St. Andrew’s Quay retail park.

Outward bound trawlers were normally seen off from the dock only by fellow trawlermen and dock workers: it was considered very bad luck for family - and in particular, women - to be seen anywhere near the Fish Dock.

... we're all bound to go
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