King of the Beggars: The Extraordinary Life of Billy Waters

July 2024

Billy Waters was born into enslavement in 1770s New York, before becoming a sailor in the royal navy. After losing his leg in a fall from the rigging, the talented Waters became London’s most famous street performer, celebrated on stage and in print. Towards the end of his life he was elected ‘King of the Beggars’ by his peers. Waters died destitute in 1823 but his legend lived on for decades. To find out more about life as a black man in the Royal Navy and on the streets of Regency London, Dr Sam Willis spoke with Mary Shannon, author of the excellent new book Billy Waters Is Dancing.

Mary’s research was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals.

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    Mary Shannon and Sam Willis discuss the life and rise to fame of Billy Waters, a black street performer in Regency London. They highlight his unique costume, music, and cultural influences, as well as the significance of his story as a reflection of the teeming cultural world of 19th century London. Later, they delve into the backstory of William Waters, a black sailor who joined the British Navy in 1811, and explore his experiences as a disabled individual in a society that often marginalized or erased his existence. Through their discussion, they shed light on the often-overlooked experiences of disabled individuals in historical contexts and emphasize the need to recognize and value their contributions.

    Sam Willis 

    From the Society for Nautical Research in partnership with Lloyd’s Register Foundation, I’m Sam Willis. And this is the Mariners Mirror podcast, the world’s number one podcast dedicated to all of maritime history. Hello everyone and welcome to the Mariners Mirror. Today we hear about the fantastic character Billy Waters. Billy was a black street performer in Regency London, whose huge celebrity took on a life of its own. The celebrated ‘King of the Beggars,’ Billy was born into enslavement in 1770s, New York before becoming a sailor in the Royal Navy. After losing his leg in a fall from the rigging the talented and irrepressible waters became London’s most famous street performer. His extravagantly costumed image blazed across the stage and in print to an unprecedented degree. For all of his contemporary renown, however, he died destitute in 1823, though his legend lived on for decades, it’s a cracker of a story. And to tell me more, I spoke with Mary Shannon, author of the fab new book, Billy Waters is dancing. Mary’s a historian of the cultural world of 19th century London and what she describes as its teeming history, meaning the places the people and the streets, it’s an outstanding topic to focus on. Mary has an expertise of which I am frankly, jealous. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to her as much as I enjoyed talking with her here is a lady teeming with knowledge and ideas like those streets that she writes about here is Mary.

     

    Sam Willis 

    Mary, thank you very much indeed for joining me this morning. I

     

    Mary Shannon 

    It’s a pleasure, Sam, nice to be talking with you.

     

    Sam Willis 

    It’s such a fantastic story. Why don’t you start by painting us a picture of Billy performing? Where is he? What’s he doing? Who were the audience?

     

    Mary Shannon 

    Let’s picture ourselves on a London street in the beginning of the 19th century, almost exactly 200 years ago. So it’s 1820 let’s say. And it’s summer. It’s busy. We’re in Charing Cross, by the statue of Charles the First on his horse which is still there today. There are lots of people around some wealthy, some very ordinary people. The pickpockets are out doing a roaring trade. Because lots of people in the crowd are distracted by Billy Waters. There he is by the statue, he’s set up a good prominent place to perform. He’s singing, he’s dancing. And this is all the more extraordinary because he’s performing with a wooden leg. He’s a disabled performer. He’s wearing an extravagant eyecatching costume. He’s wearing a sailor jacket. He’s got a large bicorn hat on his head with colored feathers. And he also stands out because he’s a black man in Regency London. None of these things are altogether unusual. It was common to see disabled sailors in this period, just after the Napoleonic Wars. It wasn’t hugely unusual to see a black person on the streets of London in this period. But the combination which Waters cleverly exploited of his race, his costume, his musical ability is drawing attention as people listen to his music and watch his dancing.

     

    Sam Willis 

    Do we know what his music was like, when what were the influences of his music, the sound?

     

     

    Lots of different influences. He played the fiddle, and he sang a signature song Polly Will You Marry Me? Sometimes rendered as Kitty Will You Marry Me? The Polly version was a bit racier. But he would have played a mixture of music influenced by his time in the Navy. So lots of jigs reels, hornpipes but he was also born in New York. He was African American by birth. And so I strongly suspect his music would have been influenced by Afro Caribbean rhythms by African American music festivals and culture, especially the Pinkster festival from New York state. So his music would have sounded are familiar yet also different to Regency ears he would have brought a whole kind of panoply of cultural influences from around the Atlantic world. And that would have been part of what made him stand out and and be so exciting to Regency listeners.

    Sam Willis 

    How did he get from being a busker to being famous?

     

     

    Well, it was because he was so striking and so visible on the streets of London. His  costume, his performance act that he puts together his sheer originality and love catches the eye of artists and writers and playwrights. So what happens first is his portrayal is drawn by lots of different artists. He turns up in children’s books, and in a particular genre of street literature called London Cries, or Cries of London, which was a really popular genre at that time showing street people of London in picturesque attitudes, kind of it was always slightly antiquarian in a way it was it depicted then as kind of a separate world from your ordinary middle class Londoner. I use those terms in quote, marks and showed off the sort of picturesque glamour of London through the street, people who, who sold goods on the streets, played music on the streets, did acrobatics on the streets, tried to scratch a living anywhere they could on the streets of London. So first off, he turns it in those kinds of books. And then what happens? He is depicted in a really, really popular book, a mega hit. It was a book called Life in London. And this is where I first came across Waters, actually. The book was, you’ve got to think sort of Harry Potter levels of fame, about this book. It’s it. They couldn’t hand color the illustrations fast enough when it came out. And it came out in 1820. And was serialized all the way through to 1821. What it was about was about two guys called Tom and Jerry, who were young lads around town. It’s all about girls and booze and gambling and you know where to find where to find where to get up to trouble in London. So you can see why it was so popular. It had these beautifully colored pictures done by the Cruickshank brothers who went on to be famous in their own right, George Cruickshank illustrates Oliver Twist for Dickens. And they’re gorgeous. They’re so eye catching. I was looking through this book in the British library one day, and in the middle of one of the pictures, there was Billy Waters. And this particular picture is a scene in a London pub in St. Giles. So you’ve got people fighting and drinking and smoking and flirting and it’s chaos. Imagine the noisiest, Smokiest busiest rowdy a scene you could possibly picture. And there in the middle is Billy Waters in his sailor jacket, with his dramatic hat, the feathers, his wooden leg kicked out as if he’s dancing. He’s playing the fiddle. And he’s almost depicted as driving the sort of energy of the scene. And when I saw this, I thought Who is that? And I suspect a lot of Regency readers thought the same thing when they saw that picture. Because what happens next is a playwright called William Moncrief, who made a living by ripping off the work of writers and turning them into hip plays. He takes Life in London the book and turns it in to a play called Tom and Jerry. We’d now call it Tommy and Jerry the musical because it was full of music and songs and you know, big dance numbers. Doesn’t really have much of a plot, but it was a huge hit again, Moncrief boasted that he could shut down the strand in London at three o’clock in the afternoon, because so many people were desperate to get tickets and queuing at the Adelphi Theatre to get tickets, I know imagine. And so, what Moncrief was clearly fascinated by the same by this illustration in of the pub scene, he turns that picture into a key scene in the play, and Billy Waters has a speaking part. He comes on – the stage direction is ‘enter Billy waters dancing’ with a kind of wooomph!. There is this character say singing, dancing, playing the fiddle, driving the energy of the scene. But, but and it’s a big but the Billy Waters himself the real man who was performing a few 100 yards away at Charing Cross, as we know. He did not get to play himself live on stage. The roll was a black face roll for a white actor.

     

    Sam Willis 

    Yeah, it’s fascinating the the computations of how that came to be, let’s go back in time a little and explore his earlier history. Particularly interested in how he joined the Navy. Tell us about that.

     

    Mary Shannon 

    That’s a really interesting one. Well, he ends up in the British Navy in 1811. He first appears in the muster records in October 1811. And his birthplace is listed as New York. So somehow, he gets from New York in the late 18th century, a period when the revolution has just happened. The political separation of Britain from America just begun. It’s a slaveholding economy. This is where the young William Waters grows up. This is where we find William Waters, the actual person, the living, breathing person, as opposed to Billy Waters, the street character he creates, or indeed, Billy Waters, a fictional character that other people create an exploit for their own ends. So waters arrives in the British Navy, an American in the British Navy, just before the War of 1812. So just before Britain and America going head to head in this important conflict, or that there often gets forgotten when we talk about the Napoleonic Wars and he arise as an Able Seaman. That’s how he’s rated in the first muster list, which tells us something very important. It tells us that he was already a very experienced sailor, which means from his youth adolescence time as a young man in New York, in America, he must have been learning maritime skills. Either he went to sea because he was enslaved and his slaveholder put him to work, maybe in the docks or maybe used him as an enslaved mariner. Or perhaps Waters was born free. It’s possible, in which case he may have been following on from his father’s work, or indeed, seen maritime workers as an opportunity to grab back some freedoms, that the freedoms that would not have been allowed to a young black man in New York in the late 1700s.

     

    Sam Willis 

    We don’t get any sense of whether he was impressed. I mean has he voluntarily joined the Navy? There are two interesting things here. One is we don’t know that. And the other is that he joined the Royal Navy, not the American Navy.

     

     

    Yeah, exactly. He’s listed in the muster list as well for volunteer when he turns up in 1811. But of course,

     

    Sam Willis 

    We may not believe that we may not believe that!

     

     

    Yes, because a lot of press men saw they saw the press gangs and their cudgles saw the you know, the British Navy ship coming over the horizon with its guns trained on their, their merchant ships deck and thought, Okay. I’ve got no no options here. Apart from submitting to the inevitable, taking the volunteers bounty, getting some extra cash. I’m going to be pressed anyway. I might as well class myself as a volunteer. We’ve got several naval autobiographies by ordinary seaman from the time who were they’ve done it, they do exactly that.

     

    Sam Willis 

    I’ll just come in here as well, we do know –  the one thing about the War of 1812 Is that one of the grievances cited by the Americans was impressment of all of their sailors. Definitely fits into that narrative, doesn’t it?

     

     

    It certainly does. And that’s the other thing that places Waters in the British Navy in 1811. Most likely, the British Navy is hungry for more, more manpower and has been as you, as you rightly say, greedily impressing American sailors to feed its war machine. And this is a part of the reason for conflict between British in Britain and America; America gets fed up with the fact that Britain is is stealing its sailors and saying, Well, you know, they’re basically British citizens anyway, Americans like no, we’re, we’re a new country now, hands off our manpower, we need them. This is the tip of a major, a big diplomatic iceberg, though. And a lot of the problem between Britain and America is of course, the fact that America exists at all, you know, the whole world order, it has to kind of shift and reset because this this new, energetic young political entity has arrived on the scene. But sure, Waters Waters was at high risk of impressment because he was American, because he was a experienced mariner. He was a hot target for oppressed gang.

     

    Sam Willis 

    He’s got two legs at this stage, yeah, he’s not a disabled person. Yet.

     

     

    Yes, absolutely. So what is it this point is is he’s at the peak of his experience and his abilities. And he hasn’t yet had the accident, that terrible accident, which ends his career in the Navy, or his his career at sea full stop, but begins his new career as a busker, what we would now call a busker as a street performer, and leads ultimately to his to his fame.

     

    Sam Willis 

    What about his career in the Navy? Do we know anything about what he got up to where he went? Any details at all?

     

     

    Well, his career in the British Navy was short, but it was a really important part of his life. Before he joins the British Navy, he could have been sailing to all kinds of places, there are stories that he he went to Demerara he could have been doing sort of local hops around New York State or indeed Philadelphia, that kind of coast. He could have been doing deep sea voyages, he must have been building up considerable sea skills to be rated as an Able Seaman on his first entry into the British Navy. But most strikingly, he is promoted very, very quickly. Once he is placed on his on his on the warship HMS Ganymede, the British warship which, which changes his life. So he starts off in the Navy and on one of the receiving ships at the Nore just more just off sheerness. And then is transferred to the Ganymede which is which needs re recruiting is heading out on a convoy to Cadiz ultimately but but cruising the European coast of the Atlantic. So the Ganymede comes to the Nore stocks up on Able Seaman and ordinary seaman. And then the Captain has a chance to take a look at his crew once they get from the Nore to Portsmouth, and there’s a there’s a whole spate of promotions. One of those who’s promoted is Waters. He’s made a quarter gunner, which is that that’s petty officer level, that’s a highly responsible role. He there’s there’s one quarter gunner to every four guns. And he is responsible for maintaining those guns for reporting to the gunner. He’s part of what’s called the gunners crew, which is a crew of elite seamen on board a warship. And he would also have been trained how to handle the powder. Probably trained how to fill cartridges and distribute cartridges in the magazine, when the ship is in action. This is a big job. This is a very important job because obviously get that wrong. The whole ship’s blown sky high. So this tells us that Waters was spotted as intelligent, experienced somebody with initiative somebody with leadership qualities. Somebody who because of his race was was likely to never be promoted to warrant officer status or indeed commissioned officer status. But nevertheless was given that petty officer role and that’s that’s, that’s striking. That’s important that tells us a lot about his personality, I think.

     

    Sam Willis 

    Do we know about his accident?

     

     

    Well, picture the scene the Ganymede is just off Cadiz it’s, in Cadiz Bay. And the weather has been relatively quiet for the past week or so. And the crew is, is on sail duty. Maybe a school has blown up and the sails need to be loosened slightly. Maybe it’s a sail drill and and they’re just rushing things. Waters, part of Waters’ duties was manning the sails. He wasn’t used in the same way as the topmen who were the very useful most agile of sailors. But he would still be doing doing sail duty up in the rigging. Something goes horribly wrong, he falls he comes crashing down onto the deck of the Ganymede. Now bear in mind, you know the main mast of the Ganymede is 100 foot high. So you know wherever he falls from that mast that is one horrible drop. Imagine the kind of the stomach drop that when you realize you’re going he hits the deck, he breaks both legs. We know this because of the Captain’s log, it was recorded in the captain’s log that William waters fell, broke both legs and was severely hurt. So this is a major crisis. But Waters still managed to have some luck. He’s clearly very strong, his constitution is good. But he also has a very good surgeon on board. A man called Francis Delaney who manages to save one of waters legs and also save waters life. So, Delaney performs a speedy amputation. One leg has to have to go it must have been a compound fracture, because, you know, waters would have putrified to death if you’d left that if Delaney had left that. So the procedure’s done very quickly. Limited anaesthetic of course. It it’s it’s a moment that you could view as a kind of a tragic accident, a real tipping point in someone’s life. But it also can be viewed as as an incredible moment of survival and endurance.

     

    Sam Willis 

    Why do you think we need to know about Billy Waters his life in the modern world? What do we need to know about this guy?

     

     

    Well, for starters, he he was a an extremely impressive, talented, innovative, creative individual who came up with a a incredible street performance which drew people’s attention then, and brings him back to our attention. Now. He was living he lived a rich life. Despite the challenges, the dangers, the difficulties of being a black disabled poor man in the early 90s in the Atlantic world. Another reason is because he tells us interesting things about early celebrity culture. Because we should remember that the first creator of Billy Waters, the performer, that character if you will, was William Waters himself. The the the actual historical person. The first person who creates Billy Waters, the flamboyant street performer is him. And though Billy Waters gets taken over later, by by middle class writers and artists and performers, and they use that character for their own ends, William Waters has that original idea. Also, the life of what Billy Waters William Waters shows us a diverse Regency world that still is underexplored and gives us a new window into the lives of black sailors and disabled sailors in this crucial period of Britain’s maritime history. And finally, looking at history now. retelling history now reclaims Billy Waters’ reputation. Because the important thing to note in about the way his performances were received, is that a lot of commentators, a lot of commentators talked about him at the time with great admiration. They called him a genius. People said his his talent for comedy and dance was just unrivaled. They were amazed by him. But there were a lot who who sstereotyped him who caricature him as Oh, it’s a comic black man, the funny disabled guy who performs on the streets. He was written about as if he was a drunk hit. The king of the beggars, a sort of carnivalesque, comic happy go lucky character. He was he was written about in ways that erased any sense of, of his actual struggles, trying to earn money for his family, trying to dance on an amputated stump when sawn bone is not meant to be load bearing a complete kinds of erasure of all of that. So looking at him from a 21st century perspective, or rather, I should say, looking with Waters, rather than looking at him, as the 19th century did, trying to see his world through his eyes while going through the racist and ablest charactering that the 19th century used that, hopefully, I, at least I hope my book goes a long way to restoring his reputation and recognizing his creativity.

     

    Sam Willis 

    And what a wonderful book, it is a very, very impressive, one of the issues with something like this, which is a difficult subject to find the kind of excellent detail that a publisher requires, I can put it like that. But nonetheless, you’ve done you’ve done tremendously well. And it’s the same with any historian. Here’s a question. Are you more pleased with what you’ve managed to find out or frustrated by what you haven’t been able to find out?

     

     

    That’s a great question. So a bit of both. The realities of researching black history and disability history, especially from the late 18th, early 19th century, is that a lot of the information about people’s lives simply doesn’t exist. And it doesn’t exist because it was deliberately erased. So, for example, we don’t have the kinds of information about enslaved New Yorkers in the 1790s, that you would expect to find about ordinary people today. We don’t know when people were born, where they were born, who their families were, when they went to school. It’s just it’s that that information is not just missing, it was deliberately not kept. So that that’s, that’s a fact you can’t get around that as a biographer.

     

    Sam Willis 

    But it’s really interesting in its own right, it’s like you’re you’re dealing with, with stuff that has been edited, you’re dealing with the changed version of history to start with, which it is, I’ve always seen as a particularly interesting challenge, and certainly not one to be shied away from. So, you know, even embracing that as a topic worthy of research is, is is very, very worthwhile.

     

     

    And it’s important to, to say it and to and to do that work precisely because of those deliberate erasers is the only way we have of kind of, well, it’s one tool that we have as historians, I guess of redressing the wrongs of history. So it’s important to be to be clear about that and be open about that. But at the same time, I did want to tell Waters’ life story, I want to award him the kind of attention and respect that that more powerful, more wealthy figures have had from biographers. So what I saw when I was thinking through this problem, which which which Habib calls the the arc of invisibility, which basically just means exactly what we’ve been saying, you know, if people aren’t recorded in the archive, they’re there then they’re basically missing from history, and you’ve got to do something about that. I was thinking, How do I do something about that, for Waters? What I realized was the images we have of Waters were produced by 19th century artists. They were done through 19th century lenses. They were characterized and stereotyped in particular kinds of ways. But they also show us what his costume. Now Waters didn’t leave any diaries or papers or accounts of his own life. It but he did put together his costume. So I said to myself, ha, that’s actually all we have of autobiography. That’s where Waters was giving the information about his life, his cultural influences, and his feelings about the 19th century world in which he danced. So that’s where I began to look for the threads of Waters’ life and to pull in as much as I could about not just the fact of his time as a sailor, for instance, or his time in Haslar hospital recovering from his accident.

     

    Sam Willis 

    I’m really interested in that sorry to jump in, sure that the kind of the post traumatic side of it. So, you know, he wakes up from whatever limited understanding he’s had, he’s got one leg, the other one’s knackered. And he immediately I suspect, becomes part of a community of disabled people who have suffered some form of accident or illness, whatever it might be within the Navy, or without that we know, even more broadly. And I think that’s very interesting. There are lots of wonderful images of Greenwich pensioners, you know, the streets of Greenwich were full of people with one arm or one leg. Just the the intricate detail of that, I think it’s really interesting. I’d like to know where he got his leg from, I want to know if he could choose which leg he got. I’d like to know if he could decorate it or whether there was a kind of a naval choice, you know, was it made from the timber of a ship or something? That I think that’s fascinating and that whole community of Haslar hospital where you’ve got people recovering from something terrible that’s happened to them – well through service to the king – I bet there were some interesting conversations going on there definitely.

     

    Mary Shannon 

    Haslar is a fascinating place I mean, it was it was state of the art for its time you know this this was where the Navy was trying to put it bluntly repair its important assets that the sailors so we we it was a busy place it had a large staff it had an operating theatre. It wasn’t without its problems. One of the one of the most interesting windows of the world of Haslar are the surviving letters by the governor. And he forever writing about, you know, staff staffing problems and and also problems with wooden legs. There was a problem where the staff weren’t fitting wooden legs correctly. And the governor writes memo saying this must stop, you know, so Waters would have received his prosthetic from Haslar. But remember, this is this is very basic levels of prosthetic. None, none of a sort of articulated legs some of the officers of the Waterloo got – but a basic wooden stump. We don’t know where Haslar got their wood, from how they, you know, what they made the wooden legs out of, but it wouldn’t have been there wouldn’t have spent much time on it. This This was sort of very basic levels of of prosthetics, right?

     

    Mary Shannon 

    Do you think you know so you’re you’re a kid nowadays, and you break your arm and you get your arm in a cast and you have people sign your cast? Don’t they? They write write poems or kind of goodwill messages on it. I’m wondering whether people decorated their legs.

     

    Mary Shannon 

    So really good question.

     

    Sam Willis 

    I would bet they did. I bet there’s carvings on it from shipmates dates, all sorts of fascinating things.

     

     

    I would like to think that they did, I would like to think that they people are very good at turning adversity into into comedy or, or sort of defiance, aren’t they? And Walters was certainly very good at that in by by dressing in his sailor jacket by wearing his extravagant hat he’s both celebrating his status as a disabled Jack Tar, but also mocking it and mocking the Navy and mocking the officer dress and not not – he’s skating the line really, I suppose of defiance and and subservience. So yeah, I would like to think that the sailors would have banded together and, and found found humor in their situation wherever they could.

     

    Sam Willis 

    The other thing I’m interested in Sorry, just keep interupting it’s such a great story. It’s the the actual movements, right So Billy Billy Walters is dancing. Okay. How does he dance? What movements can you make with a prosthetic wooden stump.

     

    Mary Shannon 

    The move that that people most celebrated wooden legged dancers for was that that spin on your wooden leg. So Waters probably would have balanced on that wooden leg spun around on it, he certainly we know from contemporary accounts, he kicked it out in time to the music, he would have done basic hornpipe steps, sort of jig steps. Because we know that because of counts of other wooden legged dancers who managed to change the hornpipe so that they could still perform it adapt it, essentially, he would have lent on the comedy that was associated with wooden legs in that period. But also, the the, the sympathy that was given towards disabled sailors disabled soldiers. If you had a wooden leg in this period, just after the Napoleonic Wars, you were thought of as potentially very amusing and also very tragic, it was a kind of push pull thing. So he would have had people laughing at him finding him ‘Oh, you know, look at look at look at the man with a wooden leg’, it would have been cruel laughter, there also would have been appreciative laughter. And there, there also would have been a great deal of sort of sentimental sympathy. So he would have been doing a lot of hornpipe and jig steps, but at the same time, it’s my strong suspicion that his dancing would have been reflected by African American and Afro Caribbean rhythms. There’s dance researcher called Rodreguez, King-Dorset, who’s done a lot of work on black dance in this period. And he talks about how black dance in the period creates a different shape to European dance in the period. So European dance, solo dance was very stiff, upright, you know, body up, right, arms down, legs moving, but but basically kind of keeping the same rhythm through the body. Whereas King-Dorset points out that black dance in the period, you could have really different rhythms moving through your head, your shoulders, your arms, your legs, and much more syncopation. So Waters would have had a mixture

     

    Sam Willis 

    Basically better dancing.

     

    Mary Shannon 

    So no wonder everybody was drawn to him. And, and, and remembered him above all the street performers who were desperately trying to grab some attention on the London streets and there were many there were there were many. So Waters did well, to carve out a space for himself and create something original. That’s that’s a clever marketing strategy. And he knew it – this guy was was clever, creative.

     

    Sam Willis 

    Yeah, I’d love to have met him it would have been brilliant, and love to have watched his performance. Thank you very much indeed, for sharing this brilliant story. And I hope that everyone who’s listening will go out and buy your brilliant book.

     

    Mary Shannon 

    You’re very welcome, Sam. And just to say the book is Billy Waters is dancing, and it’s on order and all good independent bookshops right now.

     

    Sam Willis 

    Thank you all so much for listening. Please remember that the podcast comes from both the Society for Nautical Research and the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, you can find the Heritage and Education Center of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation at hec.lrfoundation.org.uk. Where you can find out all about their amazing history and heritage projects in particular, please check out Maritime Innovation in Miniature just Google it Maritime Innovation in Miniature where I’ve been filming the world’s best ship models with the very latest camera equipment and it really is extraordinary. And you can find the Society for Nautical Research at snr.org.uk where I would urge you all to join up. It’s a brilliant way and simple way and cheap way of supporting the podcast. If you enjoy the podcast, please join the Society. It’s as easy as that. It’s also a brilliant way of finding out all about the maritime past from the very best of the business and of finding some like minded friends.

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