Amberley Publishing - Transport, Military, Local and General History

Tag Archives: Maritime

  • Dunkirk Little Ships by Nigel Sharp

    I was delighted to be asked by Amberley Publishing to write this book. I had already spent about three years researching and writing another book (Troubled Waters: Leisure Boating and the Second World War – also soon to be published by Amberley) and the story of the Dunkirk evacuation features, in a relatively minor way, in that.

    Dunkirk 1So I had met John Tough - the current Hon Archivist of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships and grandson of Teddington boatbuilder Doug Tough who in 1940 had assembled about 100 privately-owned motor boats and made them ready for the evacuation – and read enough about the operation to realise what a truly inspiring story it was. The number of troops successfully evacuated was well in excess of that initially predicted by the British government. This was partly because of a gallant rearguard action by Allied troops and some controversial decisions by the Germans which allowed more time; but it was also thanks to the extraordinary contribution made by the fleet 700-or-so non-military vessels which was assembled with enormous haste.

    Dunkirk 2Over a hundred Little Ships are known to have survived and there could be many more. In May forty-eight of them took part in the 75th anniversary Commemorative Return from Ramsgate to Dunkirk and I was lucky enough to be on one of them, Alan and Ann Jackson’s 57ft 6” motor yacht Riis I which was built in 1920. Half a dozen Dunkirk Veterans also took part but it is a sad inevitability of life that there will come a time when they will be no more. From then on the ongoing survival of the Little Ships themselves will hold even greater significance.

    Dunkirk - 9781445647500

    Nigel's book Dunkirk Little Ships is available for purchase now.

  • 'The Most Famous Ocean Liners in the World' by Sharon Poole

    Cunard's advertising boasts of having 'The Most Famous Ocean Liners in the World'. It is no idle claim since the company has given us some of the best-known and best-loved ships that ever sailed, their distinctive livery making them instantly recognisable and admired all over the world. As Cunard reaches the milestone of its 175th anniversary, the popularity of this most iconic of brands has not waned, indeed it has increased - quite an achievement in today's global economy. Much of this is the result of building what is the only modern ocean liner - the magnificent Queen Mary 2 - and continuing to operate the only scheduled transatlantic ocean crossing in the world. The three ships of the current fleet draw crowds wherever they are across the globe and the Cunard Lion looks set to roar well into the future.

    Liners - Sharon Poole - Cunard ship pic 2Advertising blurb? OK, I confess it is the information on the back of Andrew Sassoli-Walker’s and my latest book. We fell into writing books on maritime history by accident but five books later it is a subject we both still love and hope some of our infectious enthusiasm for the subject will rub off our readers.

    I have been writing books, mainly on local history, since 1987. When P&O Cruises announced their adult-only small ship, Artemis would leave the fleet in 2010, Andrew, who works in the Port of Southampton, contacted me and asked if I would like to collaborate on a small book to mark her passing. Andrew is a semi-professional photographer and has thousands of images of ships in the Hampshire port, while I would bring my experience of recording people’s memories and researching history to the partnership. As regular P&O Cruises’ passengers, we both had a love for the ship and I have been collecting liner memorabilia since my teens. With Amberley on board (no pun intended!), the idea snowballed and grew from being a small self-published memory book, to a full-colour 120 page volume that P&O Cruises were so pleased with, they purchased as a gift for everyone on the final voyage. This then led to them inviting us to pitch for a commission to write a book to mark 175 years of their heritage in 2012, a commission we won! It was a very proud moment to witness the Grand Event when all seven of their ships gathered in Southampton that year and to know we were a small part of the celebrations. In between we have produced books on the cruise ships Oriana and Aurora and a Year in the Life of the P&O Cruises Fleet.

    Liners - Sharon Poole - Cunard ship picWe knew 2015 marked the 175th anniversary of Cunard but accepted there would be many straightforward history books. For this reason we decided to mark the event, but follow the format of our Year in the Life of the P&O Fleet book. Our aim is to make the books eminently readable, but to give the reader information they may not know or even have thought about. We have both travelled with Cunard; highlights of our voyages include my being on the maiden voyage of the Queen Elizabeth and, for Andrew, being on board Queen Mary 2 en route to Hamburg with a large number of German passengers when they won the World Cup.

    The preparation time for all our books is around one year and during this period we collect potential images, contact officers and crew, both serving and retired, and invite passengers to send us their anecdotes and memories. Andrew was commissioned to take photographs by the Port of Southampton when Cunard celebrated HM the Queen's golden jubilee. He was afforded unprecedented access to get some very exclusive photos, some of which appear in the book.

    We were particularly lucky in that retired commodore of the fleet, Bernard Warner, was happy to assist us. One of my most abiding memories in writing the Artemis book was being invited onto the magnificent bridge of Queen Mary 2 to chat to Bernard, then her master, about his early days at sea on Royal Princess as Artemis was at that time. Another well-known and much respected contributor was Captain Ian McNaught, past master of the QE2 for many years and now working at Trinity House. Andrew had the opportunity to meet with Commodore Ron Warwick, Captain Robert Camby and architect of Queen Mary 2, Stephen Payne, who gave his valuable time in answering the many questions we had. I think a combination of their enthusiasm along with ours hopefully comes through to the reader. Many others have helped along the way and we are very grateful. Without their photos, memories and mementos the books would not have been so successful. It is a tough job to whittle down the material to fit within the format required and sadly we can’t include everything.Liners - Sharon Poole - Cunard event pic

    The book was released in April – just in time for the well-publicised Cunard Salute to Liverpool over the Whitsun bank holiday weekend. I was lucky enough to be on board Queen Victoria for this first time gathering of all three Cunard Queens in the River Mersey. It was an event that will last long in my memory, from the convoy up the river to Liverpool, the water ‘ballet’ performed by these huge ships with a finale of a flypast by the Red Arrows and last but not least, joining other authors, including Peter Snow, for a book signing on the last day.

    Now, what shall we write about next??

    Liners - 9781445646091

    A Year in the Life of the Cunard Fleet by Sharon Poole & Andrew Sassoli-Walker is available for purchase now.

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