The origins of the Harry Browns can be traced back to the late sixties. John Broomhead & Nobby Dye first sang together at the
Nova Scotia Folk Tradition Club in Bristol, after hearing shanties being sung by that wonderful old Bristol seaman, Eric Illot.
The two began singing together just for the fun of it, at first calling themselves "The Sand Diamonds " (another Bristol sand dredger) and sometimes, " The Melodious Larks ". The Harry Browns were born, however, when they performed at the Albion dockyard from where their inspirational namesake had been launched in 1962.
Over the next few years Steve Hawkins, John Knowler, & David Francis sang with them more & more frequently, until they also became an established part of the permanent crew. Fast forwarding to 1994 Steve Derrick & Ian Greening were drafted in as an emergency crew for a gig and decided to stay. Steve & Ian complemented Johns Knowler's harmony singing style and between them they had many years professional singing experience.
Unfortunately in the late '90's, Broom had been unable to sing as often as he would like, because of failing health and sadly died in 2005.
In 2001 Darren, our youngest Harry joined and the Harrys started to get a younger audience. He was shortly followed by Maurice Boye, who had recently completed his seven years apprenticeship as the gopher !
However Darren had to take extended shore leave because of work commitments.as did Steve Hawkins
Knobbler decided to take permanent shore leave and retired in 2005. His songs, his personality and commitment had given a different perspective to the Harrys. However there's still life in the old sea dog yet, as still makes the odd guest appearance.
In 2005 we took the opportunity of drafting Chris Fry in from The Shanty Crew, when he moved to Somerset.
Later that year Helen the Cabin Boy came aboard on a full time basis.
After many years as a performer and arranger of all our material, Ian Greening decided to take permanent shore leave in the summer of 2009. Ian's drive and musical expereience helped to shape us in to the group we are today and the contribution he brought to the Harrys will be greatly missed .
Pete Glanville ( Blue Peter ) joined the crew in 2011. A fine singer, fiddle, tinwhistle, recorder player .He made a good addition to the group, despite his relative short time with us, moving on in 2013.
2013 also saw the return of "Grreeland" Greening, as Chris , because of personal problems decided to have a long period of time out. Regrettably, these problems were not resolved and Chris died in May of 2014.
Chris had had a good impact on the group, introducing many new songs old & new to the Harrys and sung in his own inimitable style.
Another blow to the group, was that Nobby, one of the initial co-founders of the group, decided to call it a day, later that month. A fine shanty singer, with a wealth of knowledge of shanties and maritime songs. He was also a composer of contemporary maritime themed songs,which were a backbone of our material. He too, will be missed.
Moving on..... In 2014 , Simon Dillon and Ian Bentley were invited to join the Harrys.
Simon is a Morris Dancer and a hairy biker , who never sang before he joined us but
is certainly making up for lost time !
Ian ( Basher ) was poached from the Great Western Chorus. He has a varied background,
and probably never thought he would end up in a shanty group .
This year also saw the return of the old sea-dog Greening forced out of retirement.
Zac , the son of Helen the Cabin Boy joined us ,a very good instrumentalist, and appeals
to the more mature ladies of our fan base !
Yet two more additions to the group came on board , in 2016.
Ken Godsell and Neil Ross
Ken is now the second oldest member having exceeded three score year & ten,
last year. A fine tenor of many years experience but can sometimes forget we can't always be
wearing our tight y -fronts !
Neil is a former Morris dancer, ( retired - hurt, ) but has had many years experience in the folk world.
He is also the only one of us, who knows all the words to the " Sailors' Alphabet "