The Earl de Grey

Words: Chip Wilson
Music: Chip Wilson arr. the London Sea Shanty Collective

Written by our very own Chip Wilson in tribute to a much-loved Hull landmark, a pub that offered “all a sailor may wish for” on shore leave. Despite its fame – notoriety? – and an LGBT history stretching back to Victorian times it was recently threatened with demolition.

This song was written as part of a successful local campaign to save the Earl. We’ve sung it in Hull during its City of Culture Year – at UK Pride and the Hull Folk and Maritime Festival – and it won an award at the 2018 Fastnet Maritime and Folk Festival in Ballydehob, County Cork.

The London Sea Shanty Collective at Hull Pride 2017

They call it the Earl, the Earl, the Earl
They call it the Earl de Grey
Ya’ve money from whalin’
In fine days of sailin’
But you’ll leave there without your pay

There’s a place on the dock for you skipper
It’s waiting for you and your crew
Spurn Lightship’s a-glowin’
And home winds are blowin’
Now find you a sweetheart anew

There’s a place on the dock for your bosun
A place full of whisky and sin
For the price of a porter
Old Molly or her daughter
Will heartily welcome you in

You’ve spent 12 long months on the ocean
And you ’an’t seen Hull since last May
Just fish, ice and water
And men in close quarters
We’re itching to get to the Grey

Though it might be a bloke what you’re into
And sir that’s no bother at all
The lad there yon side yer
Can see that he’s eyed yer
Three shilling to enter his stall

They say Hull’s a cask for each sailor
And skin for each woman or man
And if our next voyage is deadly
No use drowning wealthy
So let’s go and spend what we can!