‘From Cabin “Boys” to Captains: 250 years of Women at Sea’ book launch to mark Shieldhall’s first cruise of 2016

Steamship Shieldhall, Southampton’s hidden heritage asset, commences its sailing programme for 2016 on Saturday 4 June with a 2-hour morning cruise of the Southampton Docks, followed by an afternoon cruise down Southampton Water. As the cruises coincide with the Southampton Beer Festival, there will be a selection of real ales on board, courtesy of the Romsey Flack Manor Brewery.

In between the two cruises, Shieldhall will be welcoming author Dr Jo Stanley aboard, for a launch of her book ‘From Cabin “Boys” to Captains: 250 years of Women at Sea’. Tracing the progress that women have made in seafaring jobs through the centuries, Jo Stanley recounts the stories of dancers, purserettes, doctors, stewardesses, captains and conductresses, all of whom have taken to the waves on everything from floating palaces to battered windjammers. Their daring story is barely known, even by today’s seawomen. Many of those veteran pioneers will be on board to celebrate, meet interested people and enjoy the voyages with Clare.

In keeping with the theme of the day, the book launch will be attended by Southampton’s Admiral of the Port, the Mayor Councillor Cathie McEwing, whilst Shieldhall’s Captain for the two cruises will be Clare Holmes.

‘We are very much looking forward to welcoming Jo Stanley aboard and commencing our 2016 sailing programme’ said Shieldhall Marketing Director Nigel Philpott. ‘Jo’s book is a fascinating read; a lively compendium of stories and interviews with female pioneers in both the Merchant Navy and Royal Navy. Jo also has some interesting ideas for helping more women go to sea, some of which are controversial!

Jo says ‘I am really pleased that we are having this event on the Shieldhall, and that some people will even be able to sail with a woman captain. Clare Holmes is a great example of how seafaring women have made it to the top, despite the obstacles.’

My Liverpudlian great grandad, a ship’s barber, sailed out of Southampton (and lived for a while in Shirley), so this almost feels like home. And I’ve sailed into this berth on a tall ship recently.  Women climbing aloft could be best be understood by going up the mast myself, I thought.  So I did. No, I wasn’t scared but my knees certainly  showed me that it’s a young person’s job!’






Jo Stanley is available for interview. Contact Jo at or 01484 847 554.

Captain Clare Holmes of the Shieldhall is also available for interview – please contact Nigel Philpott initially on 023 8084 3310 /

‘From Cabin ‘Boys’ to Captains – 250 Years of Women at Sea’ is available from all good bookshops, direct sales on 01235 465500.

Tickets for Shieldhall cruises may be booked online at or by calling the Ticket Manager on 0844 357 2329 (Calls cost 7p per minute from a landline; costs by mobile may vary).

Shieldhall is likely to be sailing from Berth 48, Eastern Docks, Southampton (via Dock Gate 4) but keep an eye on the Shieldhall website for up-to-date berthing information

ATTACHED: Images of Jo Stanley with ‘From Cabin “Boys” to Captains:250 Years of Women at Sea’; Captain Clare Holmes on the Bridge of SS Shieldhall, steaming down Southampton Water; SS Shieldhall on Southampton Water

Press release issued by: Nigel Philpott, SS Shieldhall, e-mail: / tel: 023 8084 3310

Posted by Lewis Folland, Sat 16 Apr 2016