Midwinter Musings.

Last year around this time came a post with the seasonal title of We Three Kings. This year there's another with a seasonally-appropriate title. On the occasion of the winter solstice I present my Midwinter Musings.


I shall start with some musing about Midwinter.


The Waters of Sweet Sorrow - Midwinter

Although Midwinter have been described by some as prog rock, to my mind that's stretching the bounds of that particular musical sub-genre somewhat and a characterisation of acid folk, psychedelic folk or even folk rock might fit the bill better. But what's an album of tracks recorded in 1973 doing in a post in a blog about lost pubs? Let me tell you a story...


From the autumn of 1972, along with a number of school friends, I used to occasionally frequent the folk club in Great Yarmouth. It was there that Ken and Paul invited my classmate Jill to join them to produce some tracks for the club's Christmas party. And so Midwinter was born. Up until then the only time I'd heard Jill sing was as Edith in a school production of The Pirates of Penzance - a production in which I wasn't allowed to perform. I was, however, allowed to be in charge of the curtain!


All this ear-cupping and finger-picking took place, accompanied by the odd pint or three of Titbread Wankard, in an upstairs room of the Lord Nelson at 85 North Quay.


A fairly new Lord Nelson c1902.

There certainly wouldn't have been any off-key offerings of Streets of London or Matty Groves when Pigot's directory recorded Judith Fodder as being at the Lord Nelson on North Quay in 1830. (It also listed two other Lord Nelsons, neither of which are still in existence. Perhaps I'll get around to them investigating them some day.) The place where Judith was dispensing their brews was located on the other side of the street and was demolished around 1895 when Lacon's repurposed the site for brewery use. A new Lord Nelson rose across the road to replace it.


In September '74 my cohort dispersed to the four corners of the country to continue our chosen fields of education and the Nelson closed a few months later. In October the following year it reopened as an Italian restaurant to be replaced later by a seafood one, which only closed when owners Miriam and Chris retired in 2018 after 39 years of grilling gurnards, steaming saithe and poaching plaice. I understand that the remaining lobsters in the tank looked relieved upon hearing the news of their plans.



So the Lord Nelson moved, became Italian, was marinised and then closed. What became of Midwinter? Like the rest of us, Jill moved away and Midwinter ceased to be. The demo tapes they had recorded languished in Ken's loft before being rediscovered two decades later and then made available for wider consumption. The album seems to have been produced with two different covers - the one with a less than flattering image of Jill that appeared further up the page and another featuring John William Waterhouse's The Lady of Shalott. I have to say, I think I prefer the latter.


It has become a bit of a cult recording amongst those of a certain age and with a certain musical taste. Mick, yet another old classmate, also featured. The album just wouldn't be the same without his percussion and Jew's harp contributions! Sadly, he too could've been included in the earlier Year After Year Their Numbers Get Fewer post, for he went to drum for the Choir Invisible back in January of this year.


To round off this post, on midwinter's day, here's Midwinter's take on the traditional Winter Song. Have a good Midwinterfest everyone. Or as good a one as is possible in the current circumstances.



Evelyn Simak's images are copyright and reused under this license.


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