The City of Adelaide calls in to the Thames on its way to Australia

City of Adelaide at Gillingham

My thanks to River Thames Photos for this shot of the clipper ship City of Adelaide arriving at Gillingham on her historic voyage to Australia.

For many years the 1864 clipper has stood rusting on a slipway at Irvine in Scotland – a neglect that seems incredible, but after years of wrangling she’s now to be looked after on the other side of the world. I hope they make a wonderful job of it!

The Australians’ interest in the City of Adelaide is that she carried so many emigrants from the British Isles to a new life in the country in a series of 29 regular voyages. Huge numbers of Australians are said to be descended from her passengers.

National Historic Ships UK and the weblog The Liquid Highway both have more information on the ship.

Buckingham Palace has announced that before the City of Adelaide leaves, she will take part in a celebration ceremony on the 18th October at Greenwich with the Duke of Edinburgh, close by that other clipper ship, the Cutty Sark. Details of the event, which is also a renaming ceremony (from Carrick back to City of Adelaide) are here.

The Duke has long had an interest in such things – we don’t have to be great fans of royalty to think it is worth remembering that in 1951 the Cutty Sark Preservation Trust was formed by the Duke and the then-director of the National Maritime Museum, Frank Carr. Here’s a clip of him visiting the Cutty Sark in 1953.

While I’m delighted that she is to be cared for by the Australians who have so much reason to venerate her, I think we should have very mixed feelings about the whole issue. It’s obviously sad to see her leave the country that built her but I can’t help reflecting on all those years of shameful neglect here in the UK. No doubt the Duke will have a salty remark or two to make about the issue…


Hidden collection of maritime paintings on show at Falmouth museum

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RSMA Exhibition - Pamela Drew (1910-1989) Ship Building, Belfast 1946 oil on canvas.

Ship Building, Belfast 1946 oil on canvas – Pamela Drew (1910-1989)

A collection of paintings by members of the Royal Society of Marine Art on being admitted to the organisation are on show at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall at Falmouth until the 29th November.

This is a rare event, so catch them if you can.

Founded in 1939, the RSMA collects and promotes contemporary British marine painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking, and is a focal point for much of Britain’s finest marine art.

Like other national art bodies, the the Society asks new members to submit one piece of work to its ‘diploma collection’, which today includes over 100 paintings.

The collection has been stored by the museum for years, but lack of space has meant it hasn’t appeared in public before. That’s a great shame if they’re as good as the sample painting above by Pamela Drew, but I guess this reflects the reality for museums – there’s always far more in store than the public will ever see on a single visit, or even on many visits.

400 18th and 19th century drawings now at the National Maritime Museum website

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Storm at Mazatlan, Mexico, painted by Admiral Sir Edward Gennys Fanshawe, 1851. As usual, click on the images for a closer look – but expect this one to send a shiver up your spine!

national maritime museum, mutiny on the bounty edward gennys fanshawe schetky, gabriel bray,  website, royal navy,  national maritime museum, mutiny on the bounty edward gennys fanshawe schetky, gabriel bray,  website, royal navy,

Two male figures, one with a large cocked hat and a quizzing glass painted by Gabriel Bray; Ovolu [Ovolau], Feejee Islands painted by Admiral Sir Edward Gennys Fanshawe 1849

A grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation has allowed the National Maritime Museum to make part of its collection of 70,000 prints and drawings available online for the first time.

The newly digitised drawings are mainly by Royal Navy officers in the 18th and 19th centuries, and give a glimpse of tropical islands, exotic cities and indigenous peoples at a time when the ability to draw a landscape was not just a pastime but also a means of intelligence gathering.

Highlights from material recently added to the NMM’s online collection include over 100 working sketches by John Christian Schetky (1778-1874), an album of drawings by Gabriel Bray recording his voyage as second lieutenant of HMS Pallas to West Africa in 1775, and over 100 watercolours from albums by Admiral Sir Edward Gennys Fanshawe (1814-1906), covering his service in the Pacific from 1849-52, in the Baltic during the Crimean War, and in the Mediterranean.

Schetky and Bray’s works are very rare drawings of everyday shipboard life in the age of Cook and Nelson as well as some unique depictions of street-life ashore, while the much less well known Fanshawe was an amateur artist who recorded his varied and distinguished career with a skilled hand in highly finished watercolours.

The journeys Fanshawe depicts include an investigative diplomatic voyage during which he visited Pitcairn, where he met the last survivor of the Bounty mutineers, Susan Young, and heard first hand the account of how she killed the last Tahitian crew member with an axe during the island’s conflict; Fiji, where he drew what are possibly the earliest portraits of Seru Thakombau, founder of the modern state of Fiji; and Samoa, where his drawings of women show the enduring influence of English fashions on their Sunday-best costume.

The prints, along with commentary, can be accessed through the relevant pages of the museum’s website.