Personal Life

Cyril Tawney was born into a naval family in Gosport, Hampshire, in 1930. At his young age of sixteen, he served in the Royal Navy as an electrician for thirteen years.

Cyril Towney


Most periods throughout his lifetime were characterized by maritime service and making folksongs. While still working in the Navy in 1957, Cyril performed on a radio show on Christmas Day, with the song titled ‘’Sing Christmas and the Turn of the Year’’. He also made a special Television appearance on the next year of Easter Sunday.

Cyril progressed in his media broadcasting activities as he continued to have a weekly radio show called ‘’Folkspin’’; at the time when he was researching traditional songs of West England.

Cyril Tawney officially quit his services in the Navy in 1959 to become a full-time folk musician.

In 1959, he wrote a song titled ‘’Oggie Man’’ which featured on the album, A Cold Wind Blows. The song narrates the story of the demise of the Oggie man from the Devonport Naval Dockyard, at the period when archaic ”fast food” was being substituted with modern hot dogs. The character known as the Oggie Man gave his pasties to sailors coming from the sea.

The British Song Writer began to conduct his findings on traditional songs of southwest England and the twentieth century Royal Navy songs. This research, however, heightened his interest about folksongs and in the early 1960s, he formed his first folk club in the city of Plymouth, where he had his first meeting a beautiful lady who would later end up his loving wife, Rosemary.

He also established the West of England Folk Center and was actively involved in the establishment of folk clubs in other places within the region. With this feat, Cyril Tawney was seen as the Pioneer who brought revival to the West Country folk.

As an ex-mariner, he loved and appreciated marine life, and this made him feature most of his experiences in many of his folk songs. After that, Cyril became a leading authority on maritime music, and this reflected in one of his songs in 1964, known as Farewell Nancy.

Cyril Tawny always believed that a typical folk singer should have a regional identity, be an ambassador of a people in a particular area, should be able to express their views and standpoint on issues not just in songs alone but how the song is being sung.

One music group Cyril did not join was the one the music composer Peter Bellamy put together for his ‘’ballad-opera’’, called The Transports. Bellamy designed the Shantyman to have his resemblance; whereas, Tawney had already worked on ballad-opera in early 1969.

Cyril Tawney, having married his wife in the 1960s, died in 2005 of severe bacterial infection, at the age of 74.