The Singer And The Song

1959 - earlier, Norfolk (Norfolk)

Two elderly gentlemen discuss their lives and sing folk songs.

The film begins by introducing Sam Larner and Harry Cox. Sam, aged 84, of Winterton, Norfolk, is filmed sitting in a chair in his sitting room. Harry, aged 78, from Catfield, Norfolk, is scything grass at the front of his cottage. Throughout the film, the two men offer selections of folk songs they learnt and sang at work and for leisure. Larner was a fisherman from 1892 until the age of 56 when he had to retire from the sea for health reasons. Cox, born in 1895, was a farm worker from an early age. Sam Larner talks of Winterton c. 1900 when there were over 100 men at sea. He sings songs including Windy Old Weather and The Dewy Morning. He recalls his first spell at sea. He spent 20 weeks as a cabin boy, for which he earned £5. He recalls that in 1894 the fishing was very bad and the fishermen made a banner and went around the streets singing for beer money. He sings one of the songs that was composed by the fishermen themselves. The fishermen used to sing in pubs and at sea. Larner points out that there was no cinema and they had to take the train to Yarmouth so they made their own entertainment. Asked if he learned songs from sheet music, he sings two popular songs of the day and other examples of folk songs. Harry Cox has a 'dancing doll' that he made himself. This doll step dances like the men in the pubs did at the tine. He talks of his early life, and that of his father who went to sea. Cox has worked on the land since the age of 12 1/2. He remembers earning 'nine bob' a week. He talks of school. He attended from the age of 6 and had to pay 'tuppence' a week. This was hard when there were six children at school. He has learned more since he left school at 12. He explains where he learned songs and sings a sea song taught to him by his father. He also offers and example of a song sung at work and others.


Fishermen; Folk Songs; Sea Shanty

Other Places

Catfield; Winterton

Background Information

The Midland Region Film Unit operated from Birmingham and was the local BBC channel for East Anglia until BBC East was founded in October 1959.

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