Page last updated at 09:13 GMT, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 10:13 UK

Sea shanty recordings unearthed


Family hears dead relative's song

Relatives of a sea captain from Sunderland have heard their long dead ancestor singing sea shanties recorded in the 1920s.

The songs, which were in a collection recorded on wax cylinders by American academic James Madison Carpenter, were restored for a BBC documentary.

Mark Page, born in 1836, ran away to sea as a boy and contributed to the scholar's work when he retired.

The recordings then lay untouched in an attic for decades.

Relatives of Mr Page were tracked down by BBC documentary makers and invited to the family reunion, but not told the reason why. One guest came from Australia.

Hundreds contributed

After hearing her great-great-grandfather sing, Cynthia Ellmore said: "It's like history laying a hand on your shoulder."

James Madison Carpenter was particularly interested in sea shanties and toured ports in the 1920s asking retired mariners to sing into his contraption, named an Ediphone, which recorded on to wax.

Julia Bishop, from the James Madison Carpenter Project, said: "We think about 800 people contributed to this collection, who knows how many others out there may find their ancestors represented on these wonderful cylinder recordings."

The story will feature on Inside Out on BBC one in the North East and Cumbria at 1930 BST on Wednesday.

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