Friends of the Maritime Museum
Newsletter No 78 October 2001
"News from the Bridge"
It is with great pleasure that we welcome the new Lieutenant-Governor, Sir John Cheshire, KBE, CB, as a Patron of the Friends, and hope that in due course we will be able to welcome Sir John and Lady Cheshire at one of our events.
We must congratulate the whole team of the Jersey Clipper on their wonderful achievement. Their sailing prowess has put Jersey back on the map of the world, rekindling memories of when our sailing ships traded round the world. We hope that we will have a first hand account of their trip from the skipper Paul de la Haye at our November meeting.
Many thanks to everyone on the day for the help and support for our Open Garden at Badgers Holt, and we thank our members Mr & Mrs Reg Langlois for again allowing us to use their water garden.
Although not so well attended this year, the Open Evening at the Maritime Museum was a success and allowed Friends to wander at their leisure and view the changes which have occurred during the year.
Kevin Le Scelleur, Chairman.
It will soon be time to lay up the boats for the winter and in the next few weeks we will take the masts out of Jesse and Florence and put the covers on them.
Fiona is still in the workshop, but work is progressing, we now have the hole for the sterntube bored and it will be fitted soon. The engine is now in our possession, and was on show at the recent Members meeting. We will have to modify the rudder and/or the sternframe to allow for the propeller aperture. The date of the re-launch is moving back but we will be keeping everyone posted through the Newsletter.
Looking back on the summer sailing, the boats had reasonable use, Jesse and Florence raced against the other dayboats throughout the season, with Diana acting as start boat and tug.
Martlet has spent most of the summer in A store, not because there was a lot of work, but due to the lack of time as we have been concentrating on Fiona. We will put Martlet back in the water as soon as she is starting to dry out and the seams are opening up.
Looking forward to 2002, when Fiona is back in service with a proper engine we hope to be able to venture a bit further on occasions. There are several old boat meetings within reasonable reach of the Island, and we hope to be able to show the flag at some of these.
Research - Sailors at Sea
Sitting at the Friends computer, wondering what to write, and suddenly it clicked. There it was, right in front of me, the enormous ledger of the Jersey Merchant Seaman’s Benefit Society, open at the page on which Mervyn Billot had last been copying into the computer files. It is a very old book, first used in the reign of William 1V, two years before Victoria became Queen, its 600 pages in use through more than half her reign. There are three other similar volumes. On that page were the records of ten sailors who had been paying in their compulsory 6d per month while at sea towards a pension if incapacity was caused by their work, or otherwise a pension for their widow, but it was the details that interested me. The first three went to sea in 1837, the second three in 1839, and the other four have their starting dates quoted.
Edward Clement---------- Age 48, b. St. Brelade, and at sea for twenty years.
Edward Mollet------------- Details not recorded. At sea for over thirty years.
Thomas Gallienne jun.-- Age 15, b. St. Helier, died at sea two years later.
Elias Le Sueur------------ Age 23, b. St. Lawrence, was at sea for nine years, then "Lost on the ‘Judge Thompson’ ".
John Le Masurier-------- Age 20, b. "Jersey", at sea for four years, "Died at Gaspé, 8 th Augt. 1843 ".
William Trachy----------- Age 17, b. St. Lawrence. At sea for ten years, "Dead", 1849, age 27.
Ambrose Pittigan-------- Age20, b. Guernsey, (One short voyage only, 1837).
John Parsons------------ Age 38, b. Modbury, (Two voyages, one short, one of 14 months, 1839- 1841).
James Hugo------------- Age 21, b. Cork, (Two short voyages, 1848-9).
Frederick Loundes----- Age 30, b. Colchester, (Two short voyages, 1856-7).
Here we have a clear picture of Jersey vessels crewed by Jerseymen, but with sailors from other places filling in, as still occurs today. Some were more exotic in their countries of origin, such as ‘Nelson Trafalgar’, born in the West Indies, and ‘Blackie’ born in Africa, but as the century progressed and the number of Jersey vessels increased, the demand for crews was too great, and the number of non-Jerseymen in the crews increased also.
There is a great deal of interesting information in these ledgers, and it is a pity that they are in such poor condition that they are not available for public use. They have been microfilmed, and these are available in the Lord Coutanche Library at Pier Road, but with faded ink in many places the films are very difficult to read. That is why we are trying to get it all on to computer.
This is why I repeat once more our plea for volunteers to help in this work as it will take a long time to complete and the more people who could lend a hand even for one morning or afternoon each week (or fortnight) would make a difference. Ed.
Local Ships on the web
The Jersey Heritage Trust art collection contains many local maritime pictures painted predominately in the 19th century. These can be seen on its website at www.jerseyheritagetrust.org. By accessing the art catalogue through the collections pages and then clicking on the ship painting, you can browse through the records of over 1000 maritime paintings, including many ships portraits. The first page shows you thumbnail images, which can be enlarged by clicking on the thumbnail. Alternatively,if you know the name of the ship you are interested in this can be entered as a subject category. Artists names also have a separate search button, so entering the name Ouless will access over 700 works by the ship portraitist Philip John Ouless. As well as viewing finished works of art, you can also view the many sketches made by Ouless. These sketches range from very basic sketches of the outline of a boat, to highly detailed drawings of masts and rigging, often including detailed measurements.
The maritime pages on the Jersey Heritage Trust website are a veritable treasury for those interested in Jersey’s ships and maritime history.
Louise Downie, Curator of Art
Westward – post racing.
The Scottish Ailsa Craig rock named "Paddy’s Milestone" (one end of the nautical mile for new ocean liner speed testing) is connected to the Jersey "J" class "Westward" yacht by the engines of that name. Let me explain.
T.B.Davis used to race "Westward" against King George V, who sailed "Britannia". After King George V died, "T.B." gave up racing as a mark of respect and wanted to convert "Westward" for cruising. She had no engine, being towed for harbour manoeuvres. "Britannia’s" tender was fitted with an Ailsa Craig engine (then the "Rolls Royce" of marine engines). My Father had been awarded the Royal Warrant (which I once showed off at a Friends meeting) as Maker of Marine Engines to the King. Maybe it was this that influenced "T.B." to order an Ailsa Craig engine for Westward. The installation was to be carried out only by his Jersey crew and all external sterngear was to be easily removable so "Westward" could race as before. Ailsa Craig designed and supplied the special sterngear and propeller, the "P" bracket can be seen in the photograph of "T.B." on the wall as you descend into what I call the "The Globe" hall.
The special installation description in the Ailsa Craig History with the Maritime Museum Library is worth reading. Mainmast man George Hairon, living at Ann Street Lane, told me some stories about all this. "Westward" had a very fine lines and with just one engine, not only did she steer "like a pig" but did not have enough power to satisfactorily handle the Alderney Race if it was against her. "T.B." simply ordered a second identical installation for the other side and all problems disappeared.
"Westward" was laid up during the Second World War at Dartmouth where little care could be taken of her and rusting of the steel plates and ribs ocurred and this, combined with the corrosion that had started whilst laid up in the Kiel Canal during the First World War, resulted in a postwar survey declaring that a complete rebuild was necessary. No one at that time was willing to undertake the task, so the "Westward " was stripped and sunk in the Alderney Deep. The engines turned up in other craft over the years and, for all I know, may still be giving "No Trouble " service – the motto of the company. The Ailsa Craig company is no more but this, and the subsequent Jersey connection, provides words for other stories – for example "Ayesha" (with an Ailsa Craig auxiliary engine) sailing round Jersey…..
Dr. Robert Kisch D.Sc.(Mech.Eng.)
Shanties in the Museum
On Saturday 29th September the Maritime Museum played host to an evening of sea songs and shanties as part of the International Arts Festival. The final line up was Johnny Collins (left) from Norfolk who had only just returned from a tour of Canada and the USA, Pete "Shanty Jack" Heyselden from Grimsby another well known figure on the international circuit and a group of four musicians from Normandy, Marèe de Paradis, who were guests at the Mystic Seaport Festival this year. All the singers had an obvious and contagious enthusiasm for their craft and it did not take long for this to captivate the audience. The general feeling was that it was an excellent evening’s entertainment.
This is the third shanty concert we have staged at the Maritime Museum since we opened in 1997. I would like to think that it could become an annual affair as it is in many maritime museums around the world.
Our Membership Secretary, Mrs. Sheila De Gruchy, has enclosed the annual subscription reminder and would appreciate it if all Members will send in their annual subscription on time.
to Commodore Shipping for buying the advertising space which covered the costs of producing the hard copy of this newsletter.
16th November at 8pm, Members Room, Pier Road.
All being well, we will have a talk by Paul de la Haye, Skipper of the Jersey Clipper in the Members Room at 8pm on 16th November. Also present will be Philip Jeune whose reports in the Jersey Evening Post made fascinating reading. This time we will be having – dare I say it - our Christmas party a little earlier than usual with all the festive food and drink. We hope you will all join us for this occasion, at least it should not clash with other celebrations that all occur in December!
And to the Sailors of Today
Congratulations to Jersey Clipper, Skipper Paul de la Haye and all his Crew, a voyage well done.
Editor: Sheila Billot, La Porte, Rue du Pont, Maufant, St. Saviour, Jersey JE2 7HT.
To return to the Friends of the Maritime Museum homepage
To return to Patrimoine des Côtes