Castles Shipbreaking Company

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Figurehead from HMS Formidable

Any visitor to the museum will most likely remember the large, gold eagle in our lobby as it is eye-catching and right in the path of the entrance.  But close to the eagle are two other impressive figureheads, those from HMS Formidable and HMS Edinburgh.

These figureheads (and one carving) came from a place called Castles Shipbreaking Company in London (to learn about the history of the company go HERE).  This company was known for breaking up ships (as their name implies), but they also had a furniture business.  While many figureheads, and carvings, were taken off of the ships before they came to Castles, many others were left on the ships and taken off by Castles.

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General Slocum Medals

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Slocum Medal mail

I’ve talked a lot about General Slocum and the disaster that occurred June 15, 1904 when she caught fire and sank.  Many people became heroes that day, risking their own lives to try and rescue the passengers and crew.  Although the loss of life was high (well over 1000), it could have been much higher had people not reacted so quickly.  Most of these heroes are not remembered by history, but a few of them received honors and medals for their efforts.  Several of these were recently brought to our attention by Lt. Sere, who owns three such medals.

After doing a bit of searching on Captain Stephen McDermott I was able to find a news article about the presentation of the medal to him and two others.

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August One

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Hello readers!  August is almost here and the museum has a special campaign planned.  For the entire month of August museum admission will be $1 per person.  We are also planning to have two to three staff members in the galleries every day to interact with our visitors and give more in depth information on various artifacts or events exhibited in the museum.  Several of these will correspond to particular maritime events that occurred in August, starting with the Battle of the Nile on the 1st.  This will be a wonderful time to visit the museum and get to interact with the staff!

Way Back Wednesday

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Construction of figurehead gallery 1977

Construction of the Figurehead Gallery in 1977.  I particularly love the two dragons that guard the doorway.  One of them is currently on display in our A-Z exhibition.

Here we have a Sea Saturdays educational program from 1982.  Not sure if they’re learning about the whale or trying to piece him back together.  Now we have our Maritime Monday programs.

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America’s Cup Pieces on Display

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J-foil daggerboard, T-foil rudder, bow replacement piece & Slingsby's jersey on display
J-foil daggerboard, T-foil rudder, bow replacement piece & Slingsby’s jersey on display; photograph courtesy of museum photographer, Brock Switzer

Those who have been reading this blog for awhile now may remember that about two years ago we received a very exciting donation of materials from Oracle Team USA, the winners of the America’s Cup Regatta.  This donation included the J-foil daggerboard, T-foil rudder, bow replacement piece, and various crew gear.  I’m happy to say that several of these pieces are now on display in our International Small Craft Center!

The difficult part was getting the pieces, especially the J-foil into their mounts and into Small Craft.  As the picture shows, the J-foil is very tall and also heavy, weighing about 750lbs.  Thankfully we have a very skilled exhibit team.

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