Geoffrey Robertshaw’s stunning photos from the last days of sailing ships

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Geoffrey Robertshaw’s photos of ships’ crews in the the final days of cargo-carrying sailing ships. Click on any of the images for much larger photos

Over 70 years ago Geoffrey Robertshaw kept a personal log and took many remarkable photos of life on-board cargo-carrying sailing ships travelling between Australia and Falmouth.

The photographs were taken on a Kodak No. 2 Box Brownie camera but their quality is remarkable; they were issued by the National Maritime Museum Cornwall to promote a lunchtime talk given by Elvin Carter a little earlier this month at the NMMC in connection with the Farewell to Sails exhibition. However, life caught up with me a little and I apologise for failing to post them in time to publicise the event. Hopefully we’ll still be able to draw attention to the exhibition itself!

Some of Robertshaw’s diary entries are as striking as the photos. One reads:

‘Day 127, Friday June 29th 1934. At 4am this morning we are dead opposite the Lizard Point. I can plainly pick out the villages of Cadgwith, and Coverack and the dangerous Manacle rocks.

‘It may have been hell at times, we have been short of food, fresh water and cigarettes, we have had fights, we have been wet through and hungry and thoroughly worn out with continuous work. But it has been worth it.

‘I love the sea and what is more I love the old sailing ships and without doubt Cape Horn will call me back again, and I shall not refuse.’

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2 thoughts on “Geoffrey Robertshaw’s stunning photos from the last days of sailing ships”

  1. These are great pictures. The National Maritime Museum also has a short film made by Alan Villiers in the 1930s called The Voyage of the Grace Harwar.

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