Our History

      “From little acorns mighty oak trees grow”  

Never has this saying been truer than in the case of Shannon Express.

From its beginnings in 1978 - when nine or ten men gathered together to share their love of singing - to its present status as one of the UK's leading amateur choirs, never has that initial feeling of fun and friendship left the chorus. Amateur maybe but definitely not 'amateurish'. Singing is our hobby and the enjoyment that this brings is manifest in all our performances be they in small churches in the wilds of Bedfordshire, the Royal Albert Hall or venues in Europe and the USA.

Since its inception Shannon Express has recorded significant achievements in the world of barbershop singing, as gold medal winners in the past. As Chorus Champions we have represented Great Britain twice at international level, in the USA. More recently Shannon competed in the highly competitive world of performance singing at the BABS Convention in 2013, achieving eighth place in the UK and second place in the Eastern Region.

What’s in a Name?


Captain William Peel, son of the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, owned a large estate at Potton, now home to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. When the Great Northern Railway opened in1850, he thought it would be a good idea for the estate to have its own railway running from Potton to the main line at Sandy. Building began in 1855 at about the same time as Captain Peel was sent by the Royal Navy to the Crimean War. His bravery earned him the Victoria Cross and soon after he was sent to China in his frigate, the “Shannon". Meanwhile, his railway had been completed and was opened in 1857. The engine was named - yes you've got it - "SHANNON"

Captain Peel's vessel was diverted to India whilst en route to China, where he died of smallpox in 1858. He never saw his railway and engine, which stayed independent for five years before becoming part of the London and North Western's Bedford to Cambridge line. By 1862 after further extension it became known as the Universities Line linking Oxford and Cambridge. The line was used only lightly mainly for transporting market gardening produce.

The original "Shannon" engine now resides at the Didcot Railway Museum in Oxfordshire. The engine can no longer be fired up but it is kept in immaculate condition in its original livery. We are proud to carry the name today, and keep it in the public eye by association with our high energy performances.

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