Ian Rawes: The London Sound Survery

Last August, In The Dark kindly invited me to present some recordings, old and modern, from my field recording website The London Sound Survey. It’s the done thing to claim how hard it is to select a favourite from a number of candidates. But a 1947 BBC recording titled Sewer flushers singing is an easy choice out of the dozen or so sound files played that evening.

You can listen to it here >>

It’s my favourite because the workmen you can hear sound like friendly people whose company you’d enjoy. Also, the recording was made in a sewer under the New Kent Road, and anything subterranean is somehow intriguing. The recording is not just of sound, but about sound too.

The men sing partly because the acoustics of the sewer-tunnel make singing a more rewarding thing to do.The sound from old analogue carriers like the sewer flushers’ BBC transcription disc has the quality of a voice become weak and quavery with age. Perhaps that adds something to the urge to look after them.

Ian Rawes