‘The Alexandra Shackleton’

The Alexandra Shackleton on the Southern OceanLong-serving members of the JCS will remember our 2013 Newsletter featuring the Epic Expedition which replicated the original trip of the James Caird across the Southern Ocean from Elephant Island to South Georgia using the same rudimentary equipment, period clothing and technology as Shackleton had nearly 100 years before. This 2013 expedition, led by Tim Jarvis, was the first authentic retracing of ‘the double’ (completion of the voyage as well as the crossing of mountains and glaciers).

The voyage itself took place in a replica lifeboat, named after our own President and of course Shackleton’s grand-daughter: Alexandra Shackleton.

The replica lifeboat has been passed on to the Christchurch Foundation where it will find a permanent home in Akaroa where the captain of Endurance, New Zealander Frank Worsley, originally learned to sail. The Churchill Foundation is now working to restore the Alexandra Shackleton to a seaworthy state – and to build her a worthy and permanent home.

Full details about this exciting project, which is fully supported by The Hon Alexandra Shackleton, can be found on the Churchill Foundation website.

An Albion in the Antarctic

A new publication is now available from St James Park Press which tells the fascinating story of Aurora Australis, the first book written, printed, illustrated and bound in Antarctica, during the Nimrod Expedition, 1907-9.

An Albion in the Antarctic was first published in 2019 using an Albion Press akin to the one originally taken to the Antarctic by Shackleton. This new high-end facsimile edition is limited to only 92 numbered copies and features a foreword written by Dr Jan Piggott, eminent Shackleton expert and James Caird Society member. It is printed on 140gsm Woodstock Bianco, Woodstock Azzurro and 180gsm Materica Aqua from the fine Italian papermaker, Fedrigoni.

This remarkable edition is the definitive account of Shackleton’s endeavour to produce the first letterpress printed book in Antarctica, despite the hostile environment fraught with difficulties and dangers. Using new research as well as contemporaneous records, this beautifully crafted work is a collector’s item.

Full details of An Albion in the Antarctic can be found on the St James Park Press website

Shackleton’s Final Quest

Shore visit South GeorgiaThe Ice Tracks expedition to commemorate the centenary of Shackleton’s death aboard Quest in 1922 set sail from Ushuaia on 31 December 2022, having been unavoidably delayed by Covid. The expedition party, comprising some 80 adventurers aboard the Island Sky, included JCS members (notably Chairman Rear Admiral Nick Lambert) as well as Patrick Bergel, the Boss’s great-grandson, and Dr Joseph Spence, Master of Dulwich College.

Many other Shackleton enthusiasts and Polar experts, as well as the extremely professional crew and staff of Polar Latitudes, ensured that the splendid 21-day voyage was as informative as it was enjoyable. The ice-ing on the cake was that an auction held on board raised some £8k for the South Georgia Heritage Trust. We are hoping to print a full report of the trip in the summer Newsletter: contributions would be very welcome. Please send pictures and words to

A good time was had by all!

Ann Savours Shirley

Ann Savours Shirley (1927 – 2022)

Members of the James Caird Society will be saddened to hear of the death of eminent Polar historian and writer, Ann Savours Shirley, at the age of 95. Ann’s contribution to the history of Polar exploration was phenomenal, and a full obituary will appear in the next issue of the JCS Newsletter. The Society would like to offer its condolences to Ann’s family. She will be much missed. Further details are available from C.W. Lyons and Son, Canterbury branch

Newsletter correction

We regret that in our Summer 2022 Newsletter there was an error in the piece about The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust’s Endurance22 Expedition. In it we wrongly described Mensun Bound as Leader of Expedition22. The Leader was in fact Dr John Shears, with Nico Vincent as his deputy. Mensun Bound was Director of Exploration. Full and correct details of the Endurance22 Expedition can be found on their website .

The Quest Chronicle

Quest Chronicle book cover

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new work by Jan Chojecki, grandson of John Quiller Rowett.

This is a limited edition hardback and is available to buy online.

It is the first book for almost a century which concentrates on the Quest (Shackleton-Rowett) Expedition, and contains much unpublished material.

For more information and to purchase this limited edition, please go to the website.

A date to remember

Wednesday 9 March 2022 turned out to be a highly significant day for the James Caird Society and indeed for all admirers of the feats of Sir Ernest Shackleton: not only was it the date of a special reception to mark the launch of Shackleton’s legacy and the power of early Antarctic photography, but it was also the day that the discovery of Endurance, not seen for 107 years, was announced. The former took place in the warm and comfortable surroundings of the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington, London; the latter, as all the world now knows, was in the Weddell Sea, 9,869 feet (3008 metres) beneath the surface where arguably the most famous ship in the world stood proud of the seabed in almost perfect condition, ‘a ship that looks like it sank yesterday.’ (Dan Snow)
More about both these events will appear in the JCS Newsletter this summer. In the meantime, you can find out more about the exhibition here and the discovery of Endurance here

Shackleton’s Final Quest Voyage

It has been decided – with heavy hearts – by all those involved in organising Shackleton’s Final Quest Voyage that the most prudent course would be to postpone. The situation of those vessels already operating in Antarctica made it increasingly clear that it would be impossible to guarantee that the trip would be as the passengers and organisers anticipated – safe, enjoyable, rewarding – and accomplished in accordance with its chief objective: to commemorate the centenary of Shackleton’s death in a fitting manner.

Ice Tracks Expeditions and Polar Latitudes, supported by The James Caird Society and associated industry experts, have therefore postponed the voyage until December 2022, starting with two nights in Ushuaia, followed by a New Year’s celebration in the Beagle Channel.  On 5 January 2023 a special on-board event will honour the day of Shackleton’s death exactly 101 years previously.  The following day the ship will sail the seldom-visited King Haakon Bay, weather conditions permitting.

All those who were booked on the original trip have already been informed of the changed itinerary. Newcomers who are interested in joining us will be very welcome. We will be sailing on MS Island Sky, leaving Ushuaia on 31 December and returning to London on 20 January 2023.  The historical extension to visit Montevideo is planned for 20/21/22 January, returning to London on 23 January.

Everyone who has been involved with the long and detailed planning of this once-in-a-lifetime trip very much regrets the necessity to pull out at this stage but, as The Boss himself said, “Difficulties are just things to be overcome, after all.” 

 The plans currently taking shape for the postponed event are proof that this particular difficulty is well on its way to being overcome.

If you would like further details about the brand new itinerary for Shackleton’s Final Quest voyage, please look here

A webinar meeting explaining the circumstances of the postponement took place on 21 January. If you missed it and would like to catch up, the recording is available here Shackleton’s Final Quest Webinars & Updates.




Centenary Updates

The ten-strong team of Kent Scouts who took part in ReQuest21 are now back in the UK after a successful expedition. After 20 days at sea taking an active part in sailing the Bark Europa tall ship – taking the helm, helping set sails, climbing rigging and doing lookout duty – they made their way back up the Beagle Channel to Ushuaia, Argentina.

During the trip the team twice crossed the infamous Drake Passage and  explored the waters and islands of the Antarctic Peninsula.

“We have successfully achieved all our objectives for the voyage including taking up a last-minute opportunity to visit Port Lockroy which was established by Scout Marr during Operation Tabarin in World War Two. There is just some work to do on our other project objectives now upon our return the UK – outreach to young people, developing the legacy fund and taking the commemorative plaque to Scotland.”

Full details of the Scouts’ magnificent achievements can be found here.

Closer to home, many members of the James Caird Society and other Antarctic aficionados attended a beautiful choral evensong at Westminster Abbey on 18 January. The service was dedicated to the memory of the Boss’s death in Grytviken in January 1922.

And finally – Shackleton’s Final Quest voyage has been postponed. Please watch this space for further details.

Centenary tributes

Wednesday 5 January 2022 marked the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s death aboard Quest in South Georgia. Many events and expeditions this year pay tribute to the centenary, including the ReQuest21 Expedition undertaken by the Kent Scouts and Shackleton’s Final Quest voyage, organised by IceTracks with the support of the James Caird Society.

Closer to home: Choral Evensong in Westminster Abbey on Tuesday 18 January 2022 will mark the anniversary with a Shackleton theme.