SHACKLETON NEWS ARCHIVE
The National Maritime Museum in Cornwall, at which the James Caird was recently proudly exhibited, displayed many interesting and well annotated artefacts between February 2006 and January 2007. Not least, a boot.
As a useful exhibition document pointed out, 'In 1914 Sir Ernest Shackleton departed England on a voyage to Antarctica; his mission of exploration was simple, but proved ultimately unachievable. With his ship Endurance stranded and then smashed by the power of the ice, Shackleton and his crew struggled to survive against hunger and the elements for over a year: first, adrift on the ice, then on the uninhabited Elephant Island, before finally relying on six men, under Shackleton's command and with Worsley navigating, successfully sailing to South Georgia in the James Caird to find help.
'The survival of every member of the party was in no small part due to the extensive preparations undertaken by Shackleton, illustrated beautifully by this boot. Designed by Shackleton himself, they still look familiar to modern eyes and even after 92 years they retain a simple beauty and functionality. The leather might now have the patina of an age-old conker and be as tough as…well old boots, but they show just one of the ways Shackleton used his skills to adapt to the harsh polar conditions. Embedded into the sole are the rusting remains of three screws, possibly taken from Endurance or the James Caird. They provide a simple and effective way of gripping the treacherous ice.'