Shackleton in the news

On the 150th anniversary of his birth, Sir Ernest’s achievements were honoured in a very special celebration in Westminster Abbey.  

Unveiling of Shackleton Memorial

Unveiling of the Shackleton Memorial by The Princess Royal, Princess Anne

Following the traditional Choral Evensong on 15 February a private dedication ceremony was held in the Abbey’s South Cloister, close to a memorial to other pioneering sailors – Captain James Cook, Sir Francis Chichester and Sir Francis Drake.

This iconic new Shackleton memorial was created by sculptor Will Davies and incorporates stones including Connemara marble and Kilkenny limestone to reflect Shackleton’s Irish heritage. The event was attended by representatives of the James Caird Society, The Scott Polar Research Institute and the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, amongst others, and the memorial stone was dedicated by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle. HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of the UKAHT, unveiled the memorial.

Picture by kind permission of Dean and Chapter of Westminster/Picture Partnership



Please see Events for details of  a 150th Anniversary Conference to be held at the RGS from Friday 17 to Sunday 19 May


In other Shackleton-related news judging will soon be taking place to decide on this year’s  recipient of the annual Shackleton Medal for the Protection of the Polar Regions. The medal, now in its third year, comes with ten thousand GBP of prize money for the winner. The panel of judges, which includes JCS President Alexandra Shackleton, is looking for an individual who has demonstrated courage, determination against the odds and leadership in their work to promote understanding of and protection of the poles. Marine biologists, campaigning filmmakers, scientists and explorers are among the professions encouraged to apply.

Nominations will be open until April 5. More information is available here in this short film about the award.


Anniversary Memorial

On the 150th anniversary of his birth, Thursday 15 February 2024, a Memorial to ‘The Boss’ will be unveiled in Westminster Abbey. See details

Endurance drama in Italian

The show Endurance: Storia di un viaggio straordinario is an initiative of actress Stefania Mariani and photographer Michele Montalbetti from the company Stage Photography. They have been inspired by this century old adventure not just in terms of history but for the lessons that we all can learn from it today.

The stage play has now been adapted for radio and can be found here – in Italian!

The initiative has been fully supported by the James Caird Society and is to be applauded for the length of its run and by the number of people it has reached.


‘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