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This month's edition of the Heritage & Education Centre's (HEC) monthly newsletter includes the UK Maritime Conference, visits from MOLA and U3A as well as a fascinating enquiry from Canada!
UK Maritime Conference 2018
This month the Heritage and Education Centre attended the annual UK Maritime Conference which was held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
First held in 2008, the forum offers great opportunity to develop partnerships and to discover ongoing projects within maritime disciplines.
Highlights for this year’s conference included a fascinating look at National Maritime Museum’s Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre, useful talks regarding the role of volunteering and a chance to view the Museum’s new Endeavour galleries!
A big thank you to Sally and the Greenwich team for organising yet another successful conference.
In the summer, members of the Heritage and Education Centre team visited the Museum of London Archaeology's head office at Mortimer Wheeler House. We got to see behind the scenes there and explored the various objects and artefacts they have in their archives and stores! We were particularly interested in the coffin plates and boxes of skeletons from recent digs around London!
To return the favour, we invited members of the MOLA team to 71 Fenchurch Street to have a tour of the historic Collcutt building and to explore some of the unique objects and documents we have in our archives.
The visit was thoroughly enjoyed by the MOLA team and we're looking forward to working with them again in the future!
This month we also had the pleasure of hosting another U3A (University of the Third Age) group at 71 Fenchurch Street.
Digital Content Manager and Research Specialist Sean Clemenson led the tour around the historic Collcutt building and gave a talk on some of our unique objects from the archive. The visit was hugely successful with many saying that they will be back for future events!
If you have a group who would like to visit the Heritage and Education Centre, follow the link to our website where you will find out more about the visits we provide or if you would like to make an enquiry about a potential future visit please contact Charlotte Ward.
This month the Heritage & Education Centre assisted with a particularly large, but interesting enquiry from Michael Moir, the University Archivist and Head of Archives and Special Collections at York University, Toronto. Recently receiving funding for a research trip to the UK, Michael contacted us with a view to examining documents and records held by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation. His area of research concerns First World War vessels constructed in Canada for the Imperial Munitions Board (IMB). Formed in 1915 by the Ministry of Munitions, the IMB was responsible for purchasing and arranging the procurement of vital war materials in Canada for the British government. To offset the growing wartime losses in British and European shipping the IMB arranged building contracts with a number of Canadian shipyards, for both wooden and steel freighters. To meet the demands of the First World War, employment at these shipyards rose from around 3,000 in 1914 to over 23,000 in 1919. As these skilled trades were in short supply, large scale apprenticeship and employment programmes were created to provide these necessary skills as quickly as possible. Most of those newly appointed to the shipyards had little to no experience constructing vessels. With the vessels being manufactured very quickly for the war effort, Michael’s focus is in ascertaining and exploring the workmanship and quality of these builds.
The IMB called on the technical expertise of Lloyd’s Register to survey these newly built ships and so our archive houses records for many of these vessels. Preparing for Michael’s arrival we were able to pull together a list of Canadian built ships for the IMB for which we were able to locate around 46 numbering around 200 documents. These consisted of survey reports, plans, certificates and correspondence. In these survey reports, and in the minutes of the General Committee and Technical Sub-Committee Michael has been able to find comments on the craftsmanship and quality of the builds. What has been especially noteworthy is the longevity of these emergency ships, often serving into the Second World War and well beyond, perhaps the greatest testimony to their strength and durability. Requests like these offer a unique insight into the potential that our expansive archive has for fresh innovative research. At this stage we have only begun to scratch the surface.
If you have an enquiry about a ship or story relating to Lloyd's Register, please contact email@example.com or use our online form.
Every so often we get enquiries from members of staff that allow us to explore our archive for treasures we haven't seen for a long time! This month we were asked about the Classing Room ceiling and what happened to the painted panels that went around the top of the room.
The Classing Room, originally the members' luncheon room due to its close proximity to the General Committee room, had a series of nine panels painted by Edwin J Lambert that depicted the history of shipping at the time of Horatio Nelson.
In the 1960s, these features were partially destroyed when a false ceiling containing an air conditioning unit was installed. A small part of the ceiling we taken down and stored in our archives and, because of the enquiry, we were able to have another look at it! The part of the panel we have shows HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar.
October has been a busy busy month for Project Undaunted and the Foundation’s collection. For many months now the brunt of this work has been the tweaking and testing of our bespoke new Content Management System (CMS)! This has included examining issues relating to formatting and display, improving the speed and ease of cataloguing, and testing the limits of the CMS search functions (often to the point of destruction!). Thankfully our efforts are paying off, and the CMS testing appears to be drawing to a close. This testing has been conducted using the 17,500 documents imported from our First & Famous records, and our early Dutch & North East records. However, with the remainder of our 1.25 million strong collection still left to go we certainly have our work cut out for us!
CMS testing aside, the Project Undaunted team has also been hard at work tackling the mammoth job that is data cleaning. Currently we are engaged in cleaning and double checking the catalogued records for roughly 35,000 documents. These records relate to ports including Leith and London to Shanghai, Singapore and Quebec, to name but a few! Watch this space!
To keep up to date with the progress of Project Undaunted, as well as the weird and wonderful finds from the Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s collection search #ProjectUndaunted on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
Did You Know?
As it's Halloween this month, we have been exploring our archives in search of spooky stories!
“Nature seemed unable to destroy her but man was equally unable to rescue her.”
The SS Baychimo was a cargo steamer built in 1914 in Sweden and classed by Lloyd's Register. She was originally owned by Baltische Reederei GmbH of Hamburg and was used on trading routes between Sweden and Germany. After the First World War, she was transferred to the United Kingdom as part of Germany's reparations for shipping losses. She was used for trade as part of the Hudson Bay Company sailing along the North Coast of Canada on a treacherous 2000 mile round trip that pioneered trade with Eskimo settlements for fur.
At the end of one such trade run, the Baychimo became stuck in pack ice in 1931. When the ice cracked, she was pushed by it slowly towards the shore where it was believed that she would be crushed. After sending distress signals, the Hudson Bay Company sent aircraft to retrieve 22 members of the crew whilst the remaining 15 camped some distance away from the ship. A powerful blizzard soon struck and when the crew finally emerged, the Baychimo had disappeared. It was assumed that she had broken up and sunk during the storm but she was sighted a few days later 45 miles away. The crew tracked her down but thought she was unlikely to survive the winter and left her to her fate.
Surprisingly, nature did not sink her and she has been sighted numerous times since, eerily sailing without a crew. As well as sightings she has also been boarded several times including by a group of Alaskan natives in 1933, by a group of explorers in 1934 and by Captain Hugh Polson, who wanted to try and salvage her, in 1939. Captain Polson's boarding was the last one recorded and the Baychimo was last seen in 1969. The Alaskan government launched a project to solve the mystery of the "ghost ship of the Arctic" but have yet to find her.
Is the Baychimo still sailing around the Arctic unmanned or has nature finally won?
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