Wivenhoe Bookshop Magazine & Newsletter | Tuesday 1 December 2015

January 2012 – Martin Knowles

The Seligman family aboard the 'Cap Pilar'

This month’s OTS Gallery exhibition is an homage to the vessel ‘Cap Pilar’, and includes rare newspaper clippings, letters, and a detailed model of the ship hand crafted by Martin Knowles.

Martin became a life-long fan of the Cap Pilar after reading Adrian Seligman’s book, ‘The Voyage of the Cap Pilar’, as a youngster.

The vessel, built in 1911 as a 295-tonne Newfoundland cod-fishing schooner, set sail on a 32,500-mile round-the-world voyage from London on September 31, 1936, bound for Brazil, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, the Panama Canal, New York and Nova Scotia.The three masted barquentine was the last square rigged ship to sail under the red ensign.

George Battersbury joined Adrian and Jane Seligman as Navigator, and his letters to Esme Wailes written during the voyage, her notebooks and the many original newspaper articles these contain form the basis of Knowles’s book ‘Round the World with the Cap Pilar’.

On return to the UK, the ship, which had no engine, eventually ended up in a mud berth at Wivenhoe. For many years she lay derelict until in 1966 she was floated into the Dry Dock, her hull set on fire and her remains buried there. A sad end for a fine ship.

Martin Knowles will also be giving a talk on the ‘Cap Pilar’, details below:


7.30pm 10th February

Nottage Institute

Wivenhoe Quay

Talk, followed by discussion led by Martin Knowles who recently edited and published the letters of George Batterbury, Navigator of the Cap Pilar during her voyage round the world in 1936-38, to his friend Esme Wailes.
Esme’s  transcribed George’s letters into her notebooks, and pasted many newpaper accounts of the voyage. These will be on display together with George’s photo album. Some additional material about the Cap Pilar collected by Martin together with the model he built of her will also be presented. It is hoped that people who remember Cap Pilar when she lay at Wivenhoe from 1938 to 1966 will contribute to the discussion.
There is no charge for entry and a glass of wine with which to toast this old ship will also be on offer. Copies of “Round the World with the Cap Pilar” will be available, price £12 payable to the Wivenhoe Bookshop.


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