During the 1970s folk legend Peter Bellamy wrote a cycle of songs to tell a single story – a true story from two centuries before – about poor folk from East Anglia transported as petty criminals to the new colony of Australia. His 1977 record of The Transports featured The Watersons, Martin Carthy, Nic Jones, AL Lloyd, June Tabor, Cyril Tawney, Dave Swarbrick and others. Several times since, further generations of folk musicians have gathered to re-create the piece.

This exciting new production features a stellar cast from today, including The Young’uns, Faustus, Nancy Kerr, Rachael McShane, Greg Russell and Matthew Crampton. Fresh musical arrangements come from Paul Sartin of Faustus and Bellowhead.

Storyteller Matthew Crampton has created fresh narration for the show, amplifying its central tale into a broader exploration of exile and migration. Plus, through the Parallel Lives project, he ties each performance into both the modern day and the local setting, with stories of past and present migration specific to each venue.

Mass migration is a defining dilemma of today. There’s seldom been a more vital moment to bring back The Transports – not just a great music experience, but a sharp reminder of folk music’s power in portraying the way the world actually works.

See production photos


★★★★★ “Stunning….truly a transport of delight” Alfred Hickling, The Guardian

★★★★ “an ensemble success….ten voices uniting in magnificently lusty, rousing chorus” Rob Adams, The Herald

“Truly stunning ensemble singing and individual instrumental virtuosity” Chris Kenny, Songlines

“Superb…the best piece of work I have seen in a very long time” John Tams

“The Transports is truly magnificent” Ian Croft, RnR Magazine

“The folk music event of 2017” Mike Ainscoe, Louder Than War blog

“Not just a re-visit, but a remarkable re-interpretation … one of the best stage performances in a very long time …led to a standing ovation from the Exeter audience.” Alex Gallaher, Folk Radio

“Outstanding” Nigel Schofield, Living Tradition

“Thought provoking, beautifully performed, hopeful, educational, inspirational – a triumph” Natalya Catton Wilson, EDS Magazine

“Crampton has a great voice that entices and explains. He pulls in the audience like a magical toyshop owner, he has some joy and sorrow that he cannot live to keep to himself.” Folk Phenomena blog

“Matthew Crampton’s passionate, eloquent and unhurried delivery employing improvised monologues was at times spine-chilling. The company were afforded a well-deserved standing ovation.” Ger Evans, e-festivals review at Shrewsbury.

“Moving and compelling” Keith Savage, Arts Beat

The Cast
  • Henry Cabell: SEAN COONEY (The Young’uns)
  • Susannah Holmes: RACHAEL MCSHANE (Bellowhead)
  • The Father: PAUL SARTIN (Faustus/Belshazzars Feast/Bellowhead)
  • The Mother: NANCY KERR
  • The Narrator: MATTHEW CRAMPTON
  • The Turnkey: GREG RUSSELL
  • Abe Carman: DAVID EAGLE (The Young’uns)
  • The Shantyman: SAUL ROSE (Faustus/Waterson:Carthy/Whapweasel)
  • The Jailer: BENJI KIRKPATRICK (Faustus/Bellowhead)
  • The Coachman: MICHAEL HUGHES (The Young’uns)
Peter Bellamy

bellamy1Acclaimed solo singer and member of the Young Tradition, Peter Bellamy carried the banner of traditional singing very high indeed. Himself a traditionalist and perfectionist, he was ultimately dissatisfied with his ability to popularise of the people music. To put it bluntly he had wanted the Young Tradition to be as popular as The Rolling Stones. He made about 15 solo albums, and produced others (of which The Transports is the best known). To call his music simply folk doesn’t do it justice. It was ballads, shanties, cowboy songs, hymns, blues and hollers and the occasional contemporary piece.

“I feel that the only person successfully to accompany Peter Bellamy was Peter Bellamy. To do so, he hacked out a totally unique style on concertina and occasional guitar, that was a triumph. Singing, however, remained his ruling passion, and his belief in the importance of improvisation led him, when in full flow, to flights that were truly awesome in their scope, daring and execution.” Martin Carthy

Find out more about Peter Bellamy’s original show and subsequent productions at http://thetransports.com/