The Log Book of the Society of the Shiplovers of the City and Port of Bristol
Privately published at a Price of £5.00 including postage and available from Peter Stuckey, 8, Tweeney Lane, North Common, Warmley, Bristol, BS30 5JT
This is an unusually informative paperback book edited and compiled by two of our members, Peter and Sue Stuckey. The Bristol Shiplovers was formed in December 1931 and many of the speakers at their meetings left detailed notes of their talks, which were translated into longhand copies by the then secretary George Paton, continuing until 1947 - since when the practise has sadly been discontinued. Reading through this collection of some 39 articles one is reminded how important "South West Soundings" is recording details of our own meetings, and to commit these to print.
The book consists primarily of personal anecdotes and comments on trades and in vessels now largely forgotten, which have been painstakingly transcribed from the hand-written records. We look at the end of the barter trade on the West African coast and find it surprising that slavery was assisted as late as 1880, with natives unable to pay their debts 'sold' further down the coast; we look at the life of an engineer in the steamships of the 1880's, the transition period when many steamers still carried yards and sails and engine-rooms were lit using paraffin lamps; and from there to the Bristol Channel coastwise trade. We cover whaling out of California, a Custom's officers' memories, and items on the Bristol and Cardiff registered ships; the experiences of the sailor's wife etc. It really is the most broad-based compendium of interest covering Bristol Pilot Cutters to Woodes Rogers, the West Country licensed 'pirate'; and from fore and aft rig, through square rig to steamers. The majority of those who spoke and whose reminiscences are included here went to sea as long ago as the 1850's and therefore saw and experienced the transition from sail to steam power - and this is beautifully reflected in an extremely well- balance book. There are one or two minor errors which have crept in - generally resulting from transcription of handwriting to typescript, and anyone reading my writing would know how difficult that is! 'Callas' for example should read 'Callao'. But all are generally obvious errors, primarily of the spelling of ports and places. However these in no way detract from what is an eminently readable book that should be on every member's bookshelf, and with an interest far greater in spread than merely the South West Region and Wales. The amount of work that has gone into this is enormous and Peter and Sue Stuckey are to be congratulated and thanked for their valuable effort. This is a limited printing and my advice would be to "Get it Now - while it is available!"
Reviewed by David B. Clement
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