Tag Archives: History

The Fishing and Heritage Museum, Folkestone

We dropped into the Fishing and Heritage Museum at Folkestone at the weekend – it’s crammed with interesting objects such as boat models – but the best things the little museum has is a fine set of old photographs, and helpful volunteers ready to answer questions.

I was intrigued that so many models of fishing vessels were of boats that had been built in Cornwall. The answer, it turns out, is that Folkestone’s boats used to be beach boats launched off the beach and designed to land and be hauled up at the end of a trip – like many of those elsewhere along the South Coast. However, once the harbour was built in the early 19th Century a different type of boat was needed. Such vessels were not built locally and so Cornish boats were brought in.

Here are some favourites… Some brave lifeboatmen and fishermen, a grand old boy with his melodeon and dog, some models and a priceless bit of local weather lore.

Suffolk – the uneatable cheese of the Royal Navy

I’d like to introduce you lot to the excellent Foods of England project.

I particularly liked its entry for Suffolk Cheese, a product that is no longer made for reasons that will become obvious. Until the mid-18th Century it was used by the Royal Navy to feed its sailors, but by all accounts it was dry, salty and so hard there were many stories and jokes about the difficulty of eating it.

Naval administrator Samuel Pepys wrote that he was upset when his domestic staff complained about having to eat it. On the 19th December 1825, The Hampshire Chronicle carried a notice that read: ‘As characteristic of Suffolk cheese, it said that a vessel once laden, one half with grindstones and the other half with the above commodity, on arriving at its destination it was found that the rats had consumed all the grindstones, but left the cheeses untouched.’

Historian NAM Rodger reports that the Navy gave up provisioning ships with the stuff in 1758, no doubt to loud cheering from the foc’sl. My crews, of course, are always provided with the finest cheese I can afford…

Other sea related entries are hardtack or ships biscuits (a nuclear bomb test was named after them), grog, bumpo, and  Cheshire cheese (another Naval staple).

My thanks to Sarah Coxson for the tip!

The manliness of sailors

the-manliness-of-sailors

‘I’ve just finished writing up a paper on images of Jack Tar between 1760 and 1860. I’ve rather fallen in love with Jack Tar. When my analytical brain was idling, I wondered why his figure appealed to me. After all, he’s often thoughtless, drunk, and womanizing.’

For the rest, see:

All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor