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Songs for a new generation of county residents

The salty sound of sea shanties might seem distant in land-locked Storrington.

Yet an organisation based there is promoting the health of the sometimes lusty songs across Sussex.

Secret Shore is the name of a project being run by the Storrington-based South Downs Society.

It seems a new generation of Sussex singers are singing the shanties and sea songs sung on the Sussex coast two hundred years ago.

Sussex students have been learning these rousing anthems as part of the project run by the society  a small charity that aims to conserve the landscape of the Downs and run a quarterly walks and events programme. Members of the public will be able to learn and sing the songs at free workshops in Shoreham and Littlehampton, starting this September.

Secret Shore project manager Chris Hare, who is a Sussex historian as well as a singer, will lead the workshops with his colleagues, Emily Longhurst and Lisa Fairfield. Full details of the workshops and how to enrol can be found on the project website www.secretshore.org.uk The website includes videos of the Secret Shore team singing some of their songs.

Chris said: “It has been really great to sing with a group of young people in their late teens and early 20s.

“These shanties would have been sung by young men who worked the tall-masted vessels that plied their trade at Sussex ports and harbours in the nineteenth century.”

“Hearing these old work songs sung with youthful vigour, the way they should be sung, is an exciting experience. We hope that younger people living in Sussex will be keen to join the workshops and feel the power of the songs.”

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