Round the Island Race viewing on SS Shieldhall!

On Saturday 7th July between 10am – 5pm Shieldhall is offering the opportunity to spend a leisurely day on the Solent, enjoying the spectacle of the Round the Island Yacht Race from what is a great viewing platform. The race regularly attracts over 1700 boats, making it one of the world's largest yacht races.

Graham Scott from Wessex Archaeology will be guest speaker on board, focusing on the SS Mendi, the subject of a play being staged at the Nuffield City Theatre, SS Mendi, Dancing The Death Drill. Graham notes:

‘I am delighted to have been asked to be guest lecturer on board the steamship Shieldhall's ‘Round the Island Race' cruise on 7th July. I used to live in Bournemouth and remember seeing the cloud of sail that is the race rounding the Needles on a beautiful blue day and wishing I was there. However, this iconic race and the chance to sail on one of Britain's most important historic ships are not the reason why I'll be there. 2018 will mark one hundred years since the Armistice that ended one of the world's most terrible conflicts, the First World War. The evidence of that war is all around us – not just in our cemeteries and on the walls of our churches, but on the seabed around our coast. The SS Mendi, whose wreck lies a few miles south of the Isle of Wight, is just one of hundreds of ships that were lost in the English Channel during the war. The many men who died of exposure and drowning on that cold, dark February night in 1917 were a few hundred of the many, many thousands of lives lost at sea.

During the 1914-18 Centenary I have been busy diving on and studying the legacy of the war off our coast. As a maritime archaeologist, I have always appreciated that the shipwrecks that I study embody heroism and tragedy at sea. However, the troop transport Mendi has always stood out for me as being something different, something unique. That is not because the Mendi was carrying troops, because it wasn't. It is because the ship was carrying vital non-combatant labourers of the South African Native Labour Corps, brought in as part of a foreign labour corps system without which we, the British, may have lost the war. Their story and the sad fate that befell the survivors in post-war South Africa inspired black South Africans to fight for their rights in their own homeland and still speaks to us today about social justice and equality. I know of no shipwreck story quite like it.

In my talk I will be telling the story of the Mendi and of some of the men on board it and how their legacy helped shape modern South Africa. The 1914-18 commemorations have also provided an opportunity to for us to better appreciate the contributions and sacrifices made by non-combatant men and women of many nations and I hope to give you an insight into the importance of the Labour Corps system. I'll also be telling you about the work of the archaeologists, the local divers and the men and women of the Royal Navy who have brought the story of the Mendi back to life for us in Britain.'


Adults 48.00, Children £10.00, Family £106

Click here to book "Round the Island Race"

The following day, Sunday 8th July, Shieldhall will embark on a 2hr cruise of Southampton Docks between 4pm – 6pm. Expect much tooting of whistles as Shieldhall passes the departing cruise ships Arcadia, Britannia and Ventura!

Adults £21.00, Children £5.00, Family £47.00

Click here to book "Southampton Docks Cruise"

Posted by Lewis Folland, Wed 4 Jul 2018