Buckler's Hard & Dire Straits

Jun 20, 2011, 3:45 PM |

   Buckler's Hard is a small shipbuilding hamlet a little ways up the coast from here, in Hampshire actually, opposite the Isle of Wight and across the Solent just east of the Needles and a short distance up the River Beaulieu on the fringe of the Beaulieu estate. There is a Dire Straits connection, and Mark Knopfler ~ a great guitarist ~ up there with Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and the best of the rest, is my reason for blogging it.


It was built in the early 1700s and consists of two idyllic parallel rows of Georgian cottages running perpendicular to the river and the old slipway in between and running to the waters edge.


There have been many ships of the line built there over the centuries, with ample supplies of timber coming from the New Forest close by. The eighteenth century was a busy time, and being at war with France (as we nearly always were) much of Nelson's navy was built there including three rather famous vessels that fought with him at Trafalgar ~ the Frigate HMS Agamemnon a 64 gun Third Rate ship of the line, HMS Euryalus a Fifth Rate 36 gun Frigate, and HMS Swiftsure, a Third Rate 74 gun Frigate, who's namesake, the previous HMS Swiftsure, and still bearing the same name was there too, fighting for the French, having been captured by them four years earlier.


Buckler's Hard is an old corporate entertaining haunt and somewhere we used to visit in summer ~ chartering a luxury motor cruiser for the day, just a group of boys and girls out for fun, taking a trip down the Solent and up to The Master Builder's Pub-come-Hotel at Buckler's Hard and mooring up for a few pints before heading back down river and across the Solent to Cowes on the Isle of Wight for lunch followed by vintage port at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club before putting out again for a bit more fun around while cruising around the island.


The Master Builder's Hotel/Pub is owned and run by Amy Willcock (the author of “Aga Cooking’) and her husband and John Illsley, bass player of Dire Straits fame! Never did see any of the other band members there though, but it is a truly lovely little spot to tie-up and unwind! The pub is towards the bottom of the left hand Terrace


Now, down to the music; here is an insight into how it all begins and what makes for a great guitarist ~ meet Mark Knopfler lead-guitar and founder member of Dire Straits. . .



Their best known hit is almost certainly Sultans of Swing and here's Mark Knopfler and the core band members giving a great instrumental version of it billed as the best guitar performance ever. I'm not sure about that, but it IS very very good J What do you think?



This for me is a close contender for best ~ it is an instrumental called Going Home from the film Local Here. If you like sax (NO… I SAID SAX), then the way the guitar and sax play off eachother here will just send you!!! Indulge yourself... it's cool bananas. . .

(it has a 25 sec lead in ~ be patient)



The live performance, above, is from probably their greatest and best known gig. It was back in the 80s at the Hammersmith Odeon in London ~ the album is called Alchemy Live, it's available on DVD, I have it digitally remastered on blue ray and it is money well spent!


Just to convince you here's Sultans of Swing, complete with vocals, performed at that same concert at the Hammersmith Odeon ~ it just gets better and better



And just so you get you bearings here's the Beaulieu River ~ Buckler's Hard is downstream on the left-hand bend in the river to the right  ~ and you can just make out the quay and the terraced cottages at the extreme right



And for good measure ~ a Going Home bonus track with a slightly more classical backing



And finally a favourite of mine that I like do at karaoke parties in our local pub (been doing it a lot lately)




~ m8ed ~