A-Rovin – Pump Shanties

Interesting Facts about the A-Rovin – Pump Shanties

A-Rovin – Pump Shanties is a set (variations and versions), of the shanty “A-Rovin” also known under the title “Maid of Amsterdam”, used for pumps and old fashion windlass (by windlass I mean anchor windlass when pulling the anchor happens in way of raise-up levers on both sides of the device, by moving up and down, the mechanism spin anchor or line, and each move pull anchor about couple inches).

Sailors work at anchor windlass

The above image gives us an idea of how looks work at the anchor windlass. In this particular section, I want to describe to you another purpose of this beautiful shanty; namely shanty for the pumps. Stan Hugill in his description of the “A-Rovin'” tells about the very intriguing fact about the evolution of the pump or windlass shanties. He says that many shanties started life at the pump-brakes or old-fashioned windlass levers. Later, when ships started using capstans with a large windlass below the fo’c’sle-head and iron ships began to replace wooden ones, these shanties were adapted for use at the capstan and more modern and not so often used flywheel or Downton Pump.

On this occasion, I will show you a few versions described by Stan Hugill in his “Shanties From the Seven Seas”, when they were used at the pumps, all video reconstructions are trying to direct the listener to how they sound in actual ship deck action when sailors using it.

The above image displays sailors working at a Downton type of pump.

Here list of the A-Rovin – Pump Shanties

  1. A-Rovin’ (A)
  2. A-Rovin’ (A2)
  3. A-Rovin’ (B)
  4. A-Rovin’ (C)
  5. A-Rovin’ (D)

Short story of the A-Rovin

Stan Hugill tells us that some collectors state that the words are in, or bear a certain resemblance to lines in, a song given by T. Heywood in his play “The Rape of Lucrece” (1640). But Stan Hugill doesn’t agree with this thesis.

At the end of this article worth mentioning is Stan Hugill’s opinion about the tempo used by nova days stage shanty bands. When singing A-Rovin, he tells us that he feels, always sings much too fast. The words “A-Rovin, a-rovin'” should be timed to fit the downward movement of a four-diameter pump wheel.