As a result of our small exhibition of items relating to SS Great Eastern, we’ve had one of the items photographed by our in-house photo studio. So here is the Great Eastern Quadrille by Charles Marriott, in all its 1861 full-colour lithographic glory!
Tanya (Reader Services Librarian)
As Christmas is approaching I thought I would remind our readers of our opening hours over the holiday period.
Saturday 22nd December – 10am-1pm; 2pm-4.45pm (by appointment)
Monday 24th December – CLOSED
Tuesday 25th December – CLOSED
Wednesday 26th December – CLOSED
Thursday 27th December – 10am-4.45pm
Friday 28th December – 10am-4.45pm
Saturday 29th December – 10am-1pm; 2pm-4.45pm (by appointment)
Monday 31st December – 10am – 2.45pm
Tuesday 1st December – Caird Library CLOSED. E-Library open 12pm-1pm; 2pm-4.45pm.
Wednesday 2nd January onwards – as normal.
Tanya (Reader Services Librarian)
We have recently put online a collection of over 500 historic photographs taken between 1891 and 1919 by the architectural photographers Bedford Lemere & Co.
Founded in the late 1860s, Bedford Lemere and Co are considered as the most productive architectural photographers of their age and they remain to this day a key source for images of the built environment in England from 1870 to after World War II. The photographs in the NMM collection are all large format 12 x 10 inch glass plate negative purchased from the National Monument Record in 1961.
We’re very excited as the Bedford Lemere photographs are the first of our extensive historic photograph collection to go live. They mainly show the interiors and exteriors of passenger liners but a small number captured the various stages of their construction at Clydebank shipyard in Scotland.
The photos are beautiful and visually striking. They are also particularly evocative and they vividly recapture the splendour of the golden age of ocean liners.
Rich and prestigious passengers would have enjoyed dinners in lavishly decorated dining rooms inspired by English or French aristocratic mansions, they would have had access to gyms and indoors swimming pools, and would have enjoyed their cigars surrounded by copies of famous Old Masters. But beyond the luxury of first class interiors, the photographs also show the rudimentary simplicity of lower class accommodations.
This new online addition will no doubt be a useful resource for maritime historians but we are also hoping that it will be of interest to researchers working across other disciplines such as the history of photography, design and architecture.
Barbara (Digital Collections Coordinator)
December’s item of the month is a Christmas special from our Manuscript collections. The publishing of a Christmas themed item of the month is tradition that goes back several years at the Caird Library. Previous years’ festive items have included a staff magazine of the Cunard Steamship Company, The Illustrated London News of 1854, and the Christmas dinner menu of the HMS Hood.
This year’s item consists of two notes from the Denning collection recounting some drunken escapades one December evening during WWII. Sir Norman Egbert Denning relates how he came to find himself in Trafalgar Square with a Christmas tree, a Norwegian agent, Ian Fleming (creator of James Bond) and a bottle of aquavit!
You can read the full item of the month, including the notes themselves, on the main museum website.
Renee (Digital Resources Librarian)
Recently I’ve been researching the story of Alain Bombard, the French doctor and biologist who survived for sixty days in a dinghy on the Atlantic Ocean without food or water.
In 1951, shocked by the deaths of local fishermen brought to his hospital after their trawler was wrecked, Bombard became obsessed with techniques of survival at sea. He was convinced that one of the main causes of death for castaways was not hunger or thirst, but terror and despair. He based this in part on case studies such as the Titanic, where some people died or went mad in the lifeboats, but no children were among these – children being less prone to despair, he theorised.
Bombard deduced that it should be possible for a castaway to survive for some time on the open sea without any provisions, by drinking seawater and gaining further hydration through eating raw fish (if you’re interested, the fish with the highest water content is apparently ray, containing up to 82% water, although dolphin is nearly as high – shame on you, Alain). He decided that the only way anyone would believe his calculations was if he tried it himself, by crossing the Mediterranean, then the Atlantic, in a small dinghy without either food or water!
He managed to do this successfully, setting off on October 19, 1952 and arriving in the Canary Islands in December. His obiturary in The Times, after his death in 2005 at the age of 80, noted that:
His triumph that December did wonders for the sales of the Zodiac dinghy which became a popular recreational craft.
You can read more about his experience in two books here in the Caird Library: “The Bombard Story”, and his children’s version “Doctor Bombard goes to sea”.
And finally, here’s some advice from Alain himself:
From time to time when you drink a glass of cold water, think of me out there like that, and you’ll see how much better it will taste.
Tanya (Reader Services Librarian)
The library collection is continually growing here at the Caird Library and every month the library team works hard to catalogue new material covering all aspects of the National Maritime Museum’s collections. You can see all the material we’ve catalogued in November on the “What’s new?” section of the online catalogue.
This month we’ve been concentrating on new material relating to the Museum’s new permanent gallery “Atlantic Worlds“. We’ve catalogued many new books that explore the main themes of this new gallery such as trade and commerce in “Empires of the Atlantic world: Britain and Spain in America, 1492-1830” by J.H. Elliott, exploration and cultural encounters in “Transatlantic encounters: American Indians in Britain, 1500-1776” by Alden T. Vaughan, and enslavement and resistance in “Slavery, colonialism and connoisseurship: gender and eighteenth-century literary transnationalism” by Nandini Bhattacharya.
In our art section we’ve catalogued two new books examining the lives of two artists whose work we hold here at the National Maritime Museum “Leslie A Wilcox” and “William Hogarth“. While
“Sundials at Greenwich : a catalogue of the sundials, nocturnals and horay quadrants in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich” by Hester Higton offers a fascinating insight to our unique horology collection in the Royal Observatory.
Finally, we’ve added two new series of children’s books to the E-Library. Annie O’Dowd’s “A seadog adventure” series of picture books follows the adventures of the Sandburrow family from the seaside village of Foamy Bay. And in the non-fiction section children can learn about “The real world of pirates” in Allison Lassiuer’s series of books.
Be sure to check back next month to find out more about the next batch of new books we catalogue. There’s a six volume collection of the scientific correspondence of Joseph Banks that looks particularly intriguing…
Gary (Assistant Librarian)
Friday 30 November saw the opening of the Museum’s new permanent Gallery, Atlantic Worlds, focusing on the role that the Atlantic Ocean has played as a conduit for the movement of goods, peoples and ideas over the centuries. It really is an interesting gallery – I’d encourage you to come and have a look should you be in Greenwich. As ever, the collections of the Library and Manuscript department are represented in the cases, so visitors can see, for example, the Museum’s recently acquired log of the Juverna, one of the last slave vessels to legally arrive at Jamaica before the abolition of the trade in 1807, or the letterbook kept by Dr McIlroy, the surgeon on board HMS Phoenix in 1841-3, serving off the West Coast of Africa attempting to suppress the slave trade.
The story of the slave trade and its suppression is not the only story on view in the gallery, however. So, visitors can also study material relating to European exploration of the “New World”, including an early copy of Hakluyt’s “Principal Navigations…. of the English Nation” from 1599, in which the author strongly advocated the establishment of a colony in Virginia, the beginnings of Empire. Also on display are two of the Library’s charts by Herman Moll, of Africa and North America. The issue of conflict and wars is also an important one, and so the Museum’s copy of the American Declaration of Independence, sent to Lord Sandwich, the First Lord of the Admiralty, and possibly the first news of the declaration to arrive in England, is of great interest!
Of course, such an exhibition can only skim the surface of the Library’s holdings, so here are a few treasures still available to be viewed in the reading room. Our fabulous collection of de Bry’s “Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia” from 1590, based on the watercolours of John White, the Governor of the first British settlement at Roanoke, give a real flavour of early European encounters with the Americas.
If your interest is in the Transatlantic slave trade, then we have several logs and account books kept on board slave ships, as well as the Michael Graham-Stewart collection of material. To show the role of more general trade, we have the Henley collection of business papers, detailing their involvement in eighteenth century trade between Britain and the West Indies.
For those of you who are interested in blood and gore, then the Warren collection contains the letter written by Captain Broke after the famous action between the Shannon and the Chesapeake in 1813, signed in Broke’s shaky hand after he received a serious wound to the head.
Or Admiral Hood’s bitter complaint about the behaviour of his commander, Admiral Graves, at the battle of the Chesapeake in 1781, which led to the defeat of the British land force stranded at Saratoga, and the loss of the American colonies?
A real favourite, though, must be our manuscript copy of what has been termed the first American novel – William William’s The Journal of Llewellin Penrose, a fictional account of a shipwrecked sailor’s attempts to survive on the coast of central America, beautifully illustrated by Nicholas Pocock.
So, all in all, it’s a fascinating gallery, well worth a visit to view. And if it arouses your interest in the subject, then please pop along and see what we have in the Library about Britain’s role in the Atlantic!
Andrew (Manuscripts Curator)