Shackleton’s Critic

Shackleton's criticAs the heroic age of exploration draws to a close, a new book tells the story of one of the heroes involved – one who is little known and scarcely recognised today.

Eric Marshall, under the leadership of Ernest Shackleton, staggered to within 97 miles of the South Pole on the 1907 – 1909 Nimrod Expedition.  When they ultimately headed for home, mission unaccomplished, it was Marshall’s heroics that prevented the journey from becoming a death march. He subsequently survived a harrowing expedition in Dutch New Guinea but fame and fortune eluded him. Increasingly embittered, he turned his resentment towards family, friends and above all Shackleton, becoming in time Sir Ernest’s fiercest critic.

This fascinating story of Marshall’s life, by Angie Butler and Beau Riffenburgh, brings a new insight into the trials these heroic Edwardians endured, and which affected them for ever.

Marshall’s nonagenarian daughter, Dawn Beal, has read the book: ‘I feel so privileged to be the first recipient. It’s a beautiful book. It brings me good and bad memories of my father’.

Shackleton’s Critic can be bought here.

Three celebrations of the Quest anniversary

As expected, the year has begun with a burst of activity as preparations gather pace to mark the centenary of Shackleton’s death aboard Quest in South Georgia on 5 January 1922.

Most recent news comes from JCS member Paul Hart, Expedition Leader of Antarctic Quest 21. This expedition is one of scientific research and will follow untrodden areas of the Antarctic, emulating the spirit of the original Quest expedition. Continuing the science and exploration programme, the team will travel along   the spine of the Antarctic Peninsula and will cross the Forbidden Plateau from Portal Point to Foyn Point. Here they will gather information on how the thickness of the ice covering the rock is changing. Further work will contribute to a scientific understanding of what is happening on the Peninsula in terms of climate change, meteorology, geology and glaciology – all things that have a direct impact on the future of our planet. Full details of the expedition can be found on their website

Kent Scouts – forthcoming project ReQuest21. After the success of last year’s Quest for the Silver Suitcase, Kent Scouts are repeating the hunt: for a once-off minimum donation of £5, participants will receive challenging cryptic clues daily throughout February 2021, taking them on a tour from the UK, throughout Europe, Australasia, Africa, America and Asia. The overall winner will receive a cash prize of 20% of takings. Find out more on the ReQuest21 website

And finally (for the time being) there’s an invitation to take part in Antarctica Now, a seven-day online festival featuring world-leading experts on all things Antarctica: wildlife; conservation, exploration, climate change and politics. It will run from 25 – 31 January 2021 and you can find out how to participate on the Shackletonlondon website.


Happy New Year

Very best wishes to all members of the James Caird Society and to anyone with an interest in the feats and exploits of Sir Ernest Shackleton. This year will see preparations continue for events to mark the centenary of Shackleton’s death aboard Quest in South Georgia on 5 January 1922. Updated information will be posted here and also in the summer Newsletter which goes to all our members.

And don’t forget – copies of the magnificent Shackleton Poster are still available to purchase. Full details can be found here.

Is that the Caird Christmas shopping?

J Caird in Sloane SquareVisitors to one of London’s trendiest shopping streets must have feared they had been overdoing the Christmas spirit when the world’s most famous lifeboat trundled past them on the King’s Road earlier this month.

What on earth was the James Caird doing in Sloane Square?! It turned out not to be the plucky 23-footer herself (the original is still safely berthed at Dulwich College) but a faithful replica created by Seb Coulthard, JCS member and veteran of the 2013 Epic Expedition.

Seb’s replica J. Caird, until recently a resident of his garden, has now taken pride of place in an Endurance-inspired shop, opened on 2 December by JCS President, The Hon Alexandra Shackleton.

Caird in shop windowThe shop, simply called ‘Shackleton’, is the brainchild of Ian Holdcroft and Martin Brooks, long-time admirers of Sir Ernest and his optimism and courage.

‘Shackleton’ sells a huge range of outdoor expedition-ready gear, as well as knitwear, sweaters, gloves, scarves and beanies – perfect Christmas presents for anyone planning a trip to the South Pole, or even no further than South Kensington.

You can find out more on the website. Or pop along and pay the Caird a Christmas visit.


Kent Scouts ReQuest2021 Antarctic Research Project

Shackleton’s Scouts Online Presentation

A fundraising talk for this expedition (which is being supported by the James Caird Society) will be held via zoom on Sunday 6 December 2020. Further details and how to buy tickets can be found here.


Shackleton poster: eye-catching and informative

We are delighted to announce that the Shackleton poster, as described in our 2020 Newsletter and shown here, is now available to order.


All proceeds from the sale of these posters will go towards our charitable work – which is to support projects, usually expeditions, which emulate the spirit of Shackleton, especially of the Endurance Expedition.

The poster is A2 size (24″ x 16″/ 610mm x 407mm) and is extremely informative, as well as being a wonderful work of art: either way it will make a perfect present this Christmas. It was created by American artist, designer and illustrator John Hyatt, an ardent admirer of Sir Ernest’s achievements. We are very grateful to John for allowing us to use his work in this way.

To order a poster, please contact Tony Parker at with your name and full postal address.

We are asking for a minimum donation of £15 please to cover production costs, plus Postage and Packaging of £5.00 (UK) or £9.00 (overseas).

Payment details

By cheque, made payable to ‘The James Caird Society’ and sent to

Mr A J Parker, 29 Pemberton Road, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9LG

Or by bank transfer to: Account Name: The James Caird Society,   Bank: BANK OF SCOTLAND,   Branch: London Chief Office,    Sort Code: 12 01 03    Account Number: 00447400   BIC: BOFSGB21254   IBAN: GB84 BOFS 1201 0300 4474 00

Please note: If paying by Bank Transfer, please use the reference ‘POSTER’ and ensure that your bank includes a reference that clearly identifies you as the transferor.

Gift Aid: If you are a UK taxpayer and have not completed a Gift Aid form, please download this from our website, complete and send it to Tony Parker at the above address.


Newsletter feedback

The 2020 Newsletter has now been distributed to all members, hard copies to UK addresses, digitally to overseas members. We hope you all enjoyed reading the somewhat shorter than usual issue, and were not too flummoxed by the crossword. We are always grateful for comments, suggestions and contributions; this issue inspired several!

Guy Story’s discovery of an ‘unknown’ photo of Shackleton in Stanley is questioned by Robert Burton: ‘About 20 years ago I obtained a scan of a print held by Geoff Selley. It is clearly not in such good condition but on the reverse is written: Photo taken of Sir Ernest Shackleton the day after he landed in the Falklands by Mr Johansen whose boots Sir E is wearing. There are several such photos to be found, most in an album held in the Jane Cameron National Archives in Stanley.’ More of this tale will undoubtedly appear in next summer’s Newsletter and we are indebted to Guy Story for starting the discussion.

The James Caird replica article also attracted attention, including from our President. Several members of the Endurance Expedition were not awarded Polar medals, not just McNeish. We will never know exactly why this decision was made.

We do know that there are several more JC replicas than those listed. Seb Coulthard (one of the members of Tim Jarvis’s Epic Expedition) has one in his garden, and James Norton has created a beautifully detailed Caird model complete with crates, supplies and sleeping bags. We hope all these replicas (and more?) will put in an appearance in summer 2021.

And finally (so far) Jim McAdam draws attention to an error in his piece on the Stanley Museum: ‘I said that James Clark Ross visited the Falklands in 1838. This is, of course, incorrect. His expedition and great voyage only departed from the UK for the Antarctic in  1839 and overwintered in Stanley in 1842. A historian friend has kindly (and gently) pointed out the error.’

Please keep up the correspondence.

November Dinner

Sadly, the traditional November dinner at Dulwich College has now been cancelled. This decision was driven by the government guidelines relating to Covid-19 and the events policy adopted by Dulwich College.  In a positive light, we plan to view this as a mere postponement – and intend to restart our activities in 2021. If gatherings like those hosted by JCS are permitted, our postponed May Dinner will take place on Friday 21 May, with Skip Novak as our guest speaker.

The formal 2020 AGM will be a virtual affair of some kind, details of which will be posted here when finalised. JCS members will be informed by email.

Athy Autumn School


20th Shackleton Autumn School – cancelled this year

The Athy Heritage Centre’s Shackleton Autumn School is the only Polar School in Ireland and was established to commemorate the explorer in the county of his birth. It provides a forum for discussion and debate on polar exploration and the presentation of artistic works relevant to Shackleton and his time.

May updates

News from one of the projects the JCS is sponsoring

Shackleton the Penguin, the team mascot for ReQuest2021, has something to celebrate: the scout team of eight from Kent and two from Scotland have recently hit the halfway point with fundraising for their Antarctic Research Project! The team would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has sponsored them so far along the way… Please click here more information

20th Shackleton Autumn School – cancelled this year

The Athy Heritage Centre’s Shackleton Autumn School is the only Polar School in Ireland and was established to commemorate the explorer in the county of his birth. It provides a forum for discussion and debate on polar exploration and the presentation of artistic works relevant to Shackleton and his time.