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Friday, August 13, 2010


While in Whitby (North Yorkshire) last month, my good friend Martin Evans noticed and bought a copy of Stephen Baines' recent book: The Yorkshire Mary Rose - the ship General Carleton of Whitby. (Blackthorn Press, Pickering, Yorkshire; 2010; ISBN 9781906259204).


The book is a very readable account of the history of this unremarkable Baltic trader, lost in a storm off the north coast of Poland in 1785. Unremarkable, except that the wreck was found in 1995 and carefully explored by Dr Ossowski and his team of Polish underwater archaeologists. Because her cargo included much tar, the wreck was found very well preserved and some extraordinary material has been recovered and conserved, including clothing and personal possessions.
The book was on sale in a number of places in Whitby, including the nice Captain Cook Memorial Museum on the harbour front. This museum's seasonal exhibition is on Captain Phipps and his 1773 expedition towards the North Pole with the Racehorse and the Carcass. The displays includes typical items of clothing worn by seamen in cold regions, including a remarkably well preserved woolly cap and stockings, recovered from the General Carleton and on loan from the Polish Maritime Museum at Gdansk.

The exhibition is on in Whitby until the end of October, when the Cook museum closes for the winter.
Stephen Baines' book is very extensively researched, and he has assembled a huge amount of information about the ship's owners, crew, trading voyages and general history. There is much about the Whitby ship-building yards and the supporting industries in the latter part of the eighteenth century, backed by a long bibliography. But the book is not aimed at academics: it is a very readable account of the people concerned and their lives. I really enjoyed it.

Read more about the content of this book.  Please note the owner of this 18th century ship was a woman!

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