143-year old Solomon Islands canoe is restored for Maidstone Museum

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Solomon Islands canoe at Maidstone Museum

Solomon Islands canoe at Maidstone Museum

Solomon Islands canoe at Maidstone Museum

19th century Solomon Islands canoe arrives at
Maidstone Barracks for restoration

A mid-19th Century canoe brought to the UK by explorer Julius Brenchley is being restored before going on public show at Maidstone Museum, close to where we live in Kent, England. I hope to be able to let you all know when it goes on show. Curiously, the work’s being done at Maidstone Barracks.

Here’s the museum’s press release:

Canoe leaves museum for a year to undergo a revamp

A canoe has now left Maidstone Museum for a year’s worth of restoration work.

The 143-year-old Soloman Island fishing canoe left the St Faith’s Street museum yesterday (Thursday) to go to Maidstone’ s army barracks.

The 25-foot vessel would have been crewed by eight people and was collected by Julius Brenchley in 1865 when he travelled through the South Pacific.

While at the 36 Royal Engineer Regiment in Royal Engineers’ Road the wooden canoe will be housed in one of the hangers, where it will be worked on.

Eight people helped get it onto the removal lorry and once it had made its short journey down the road, Maidstone’s Royal Engineers helped get it into the hanger.

Conservator Justin McMorrow will be repairing and restoring the piece to bring it up to display standards. This will include cleaning; strengthening it to ensure it will stay together for the next few years and consolidating it meaning repairing parts which have previously broken. It will eventually end up as one of the key exhibits in the new East Wing of the museum.

Keeper at Maidstone Museum, Giles Guthrie said this canoe is going to be one of the ‘wow’ objects of the museum and was pleased the canoe made it in one piece. He said: ‘This piece has to be conserved because it’s an unusual item. The fact Julius Brenchley managed to get it back is a test of his ability’.

For much more on boats from cultures around the globe, go to Bob Holtzman’s great weblog Indigenous Boats.

4 thoughts on “143-year old Solomon Islands canoe is restored for Maidstone Museum”

  1. Your readers might be interested in the following extract from the Wikipedia:

    "Julius Lucius Brenchley was a 19th century English explorer. Born in Maidstone, Kent, he was what was called a 'Gentleman Explorer'. Travelling the globe in search of knowledge and adventure he sent many artefacts from his travels home which are now on display in Maidstone museum. During his travels, Brenchley visited every continent except Antarctica. He was especially active in the South Seas.

    Julius Lucius Brenchley of Maidstone spent much of Queen Victoria's reign exploring the world in his tireless search for knowledge.

    Julius' life was shaped by his 'passionate love of wandering'. Born at Kingsley House, Maidstone on 30th November 1816, and educated at Maidstone Grammar School and Cambridge, he was all set for a life in the Church, having been ordained at Holy Trinity, Maidstone in 1843. However, in 1845, his father persuaded Julius to accompany him on a European tour, Julius was bitten by the tavel bug, and from 1845-1867 he travelled the world, collecting, recording and sending material home. He was a passionate collector of art, ethonography and natural history. Brenchley died aged only 56, on February 24th 1873 in a Folkestone Hotel, and is buried in the family vaults at All Saint, Maidstone.

    Brenchley Is acredited to writing at least two books "jottings during the cruise of HMS Curacoa among the south sea islands in 1865" "A journey to great salt lake city"

    1. As per information by Roger Neich, a curator of Ethnology at the Auckland War Memorial Museum and professor of Anthropology at The University of Auckland, said that very few nineteenth century Ulawa canoes are now left in the world, one at Auckland Museum and perhaps only the one in the British Museum and another in the Maidstone Museum, Kent, England. The Maidstone Museum canoe is a type made for inter-island travel, maybe its not the one used by Ulawan to catch bonito.

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