Hazard to Shipping

September 3, 2018 12:24 pm Published by

As we leave Summer behind, for me, it’s time to explore new avenues in Radio. I’ve been thrilled to be back at the BBC’s headquarters, New Broadcasting House in London, to put in some appearances on Radio 4.

The late duty at Radio 4 concludes every night with the Shipping Bulletin, which was a bit of nostalgic voyage for me as I worked out that, until last week, I’d not read a “Ships” for at least 38 years! We used to have a maritime forecast at closedown on my first radio station, BBC Radio Scotland, but then the Scottish report was subsumed into the national Radio 4 version in either 1979 or 1980 – none of us can remember exactly.

The ability of music to take one right back to a place and time came home to me most strongly with the tune that precedes the late night shipping bulletin on Radio 4. We used it on Radio Scotland too and, as I faded it up the other night, I felt that tingle down the spine as, just for a moment, the years melted away and I was right back at the beginning, in Studio 4, Queen Margaret Drive, Glasgow.

The music in question is Sailing By, surely the best remembered composition of the late Ronald Binge. By no means his only work, of course; he did many arrangements for the Mantovani Orchestra, and his Elizabethan Serenade is a Light Music favourite.

Here it is, then. Sailing By, beguiling seafarers and landlubbers alike, since the year Nineteen-Hundred-and-Actually-Nobody-Can-Precisely-Remember!

Sailing By – the Perry/Gardner Orchestra


  • Michael Powles says:

    Ah yes. I remember Eddie Cole closing down R4 after his programme ‘Unforgettables’ (music supplied by International Recordings on the Radioplay label, as far as I remember when I worked there) one night in the late 70’s. I had the good fortune to be in R4 Con with him at the time. (I rather liked the atmosphere of a Con even then). A wonderfully evocative piece of music.

    You may also know, Charles, that Ronald Corp (ex BBC Sheet Music Library in Yalding) and the New London Orchestra have recorded 3 volumes of British Light Music Classics including ‘Calling All Workers’, Jumping Bean, The Devil’s Gallop, Puffin’ Billy, Barwick Green, Sailing By, In Party Mood and many more. Happy Radio Days of yore.

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