Full marks for your story on Jersey’s Maritime Museum in the April 2016 issue of Sea Breezes.
I am an unashamed nautical museum buff. To my mind, Jersey’s museum is one of the best anywhere in the world, especially among small museums. I confess I spent a lot of my childhood in Jersey, but that bias aside, I have visited the Greenwich National Maritime Museum, Liverpool Maritime Museum, Bristol Maritime Museum, Portsmouth in the UK and also a stream of nautical museums in Australia and New Zealand including Sydney and Brisbane Nautical museums, Auckland Voyager Museum, Wellington and Dunedin Maritime Museums and even the Henley-on-Thames Rowing Museum and I am a volunteer at my own local Coastal Museum at Mangawhai, New Zealand.
Several families at Mangawhai are descendents of migrants who shipped out from Britain in The Evening Star in the mid 1800s when she was on charter to the Shaw Savill Line. What makes Jersey Maritime Museum so special and interesting is its eclectic collection of maritime memorabilia that link this tiny Isle to many distant parts of the old British Empire - including my place at Mangawhai, New Zealand. For example, the history of Jersey shipbuilding that includes beauties like the 847 ton Evening Star, one of the largest ships built at Jersey in her time and quite a luxurious vessel which, along with other locally built craft, spent a lot of their lives taking migrants to Australia and New Zealand. Salty characters like Howard Davis, a young local fisherman who survived a storm and being adrift in a small rowing boat over the Goodwin Sands for a week or so before being rescued. His nautical life included establishing the General Botha pre-sea and military college at Cape Town, setting up probably the first stevedoring company in East Africa, serving gallantly in the Royal Navy and being a top international yachtsman.
The museum was a veritable gold mine of information for me when I was researching my book The Last of a Salty Breed. It’s a touchy feely place, with interactive devices that indicate tidal movements, flashing lighthouses, large chunks of obsolete old ships gear (that many of us would love to have to decorate our houses and gardens) and ship models and pictures a plenty. Curiously, Auckland’s Voyager National Maritime Museum is somewhat similar in style with a salty bright and airy atmosphere and a collection of small craft. We now live in a ‘global village’ where maritime museums help explain who we are and how we got where we are today, so three cheers for the Jersey Maritime Museum!
21 Pearson Street, Mangawhai 0505
Kaipara, New Zealand