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CCS in the UK 2017


I have to admit that I had not been too interested in Captain Cook, even though my husband Peter is directly related to Cook’s sister Margaret.  All that changed when we celebrated our Golden Wedding Anniversary in 2017 with a Polynesian Island cruise.  Having the extra mission of discovering the sites where Cook landed, and the waters through which he navigated, did instil a sense of admiration for his achievements.


Cruising amongst the Polynesian islands


Soon after our return from the cruise, the CCS Weekend Meeting took place in the UK.  Peter had not been to these meetings for many years, and for me it was a first, but, armed with photographs and facts, we motored up to the Blue Bell Lodge in Marton on the afternoon of Friday, 27 October.


My immediate impression of the Society was one of long established friendships amongst the welcoming committee.  After mild teasing for our long absence, but efficiently badged and welcomed, we went to our room.


Upon going down to the bar for a pre-dinner drink, I had a shock when the bartender appeared looking like he had smallpox with red spots all over his face.  Feelings of apprehension came over me, but when the next bartender appeared with a large spider over his face I realised it was an early Halloween celebration.  Thankfully I sat with friendly CCS members, and began to find out what it was all about.  We continued these discussions over dinner which, without there being a menu choice, I assumed would be fish and chips or pie.  I was right as it was the former on Friday and the latter on Saturday.  All were very tasty with large portions so I assumed CCS members must be a hungry group.  We sat near a couple from Canada, and at the adjoining table was a group from Germany—I was surprised that people travelled so far for this event.  Apparently, it is normal, which says a lot for the efforts put in by the group, and the fact that so many people have this deep interest in Cook.


The rest of the evening was spent finding out more about the Society members, looking at some of the items brought along and watching an educational video put on by Steve Ragnall.


After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast we motored the short distance to the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum in Stewart Park.  The weather was crisp and sunny so there were many locals taking advantage of the place with its varied facilities, including a Saturday market and animals to view.  We had things to do so we made our way to the Endeavour Room for the beginning of the day’s intensive programme.


Like speeches by all good Society officers, the welcome and update speeches made by Alwyn and Mike were brief and to the point.  I will mention now that I am a listener not a note taker so some of these summaries are very brief.


The first few minutes were devoted to an update on the museum by Gill Moore, who had recently taken it over from Phil Philo.  My impression of the museum was that it was obviously very modern, provided suitable meeting rooms with an adjoining exhibition area, had friendly staff, and included café facilities.  The reference library was extensive holding many interesting books to help members with their research, but with a finger biting filing cabinet system.


Then Vanessa Collingridge, who I have seen on television, gave a very detailed talk called “The Fabled Southern Continent”.  I was aware of the thought, at the time of Cook’s voyages, that there must be a large landmass in the southern oceans to balance that of the Northern regions, but I was interested to hear about the thought processes and discoveries, or lack of them, which accompanied this belief.  There was no land of milk and honey but plenty of ice.  Vanessa had obviously thorough­ly researched this subject, and she has an easy presentation manner.


Cliff Thornton followed with a talk on “Cook’s Missing Papers”. It started with the premise that there were some pages of his Second Voyage journals that were not accounted for but were turning up in various places.  Peter was able to chip in that his great grandfather, Robert Young Carter, had written in a letter to the “Northern Lore” maga­zine in 1850, that the family had several items that belonged to Cook including log pages.  Cliff was delighted with this information, and afterwards expressed his appreciation that Society members were so often able to add new information during their meetings. 


After lunch John Paul, who had built his own boat and sailed it around the world, showed an excellent model of Endeavour that he had made.  He explained the many corrections he had made to the original kit to make it totally accurate.  Steve Ragnall then gave a talk on King Kamehameha.  He appeared to be a powerful man who had conquered many of the Hawaiian islands by force, but who mellowed with age and authority to be a capable and respected ruler.


Peter at the Cook memorial, Point Venus, Tahiti


The final talk was given by Ian Stubbs entitled “Known and Unknown – Cook Statues and Memo­rials”.  I had no idea there were so many all around the world.  I had seen the plaque in Tahiti, where Cook landed to measure the Transit of Venus, and the seafront statue at Whitby, but so many others!!  Peter and our son Bruce had hacked their way down the cliff path on the island of Hawai`i in 1983 to see the underwater plaque that commemorates the point where Cook was killed.  Not a well-trodden path then.  During our Polynesian cruise we had met the Dawson-Browns who farm at Pickering.  They are Cook enthusiasts and men­tioned that Sophie Forgan would be at the CCS meeting; having seen the poor state of repair around the Cook landing site in Tonga they suggested we bring this to her attention.  We had in mind a proposal that the CCS could help in some way, but Sophie gave a brief talk about the state of disrepair of the Whitby statue that needed a considerable sum to renovate, so we thought it probably took precedence.


Alwyn wrapped up the meeting, which I felt had been much appreciated by all attendees.  I had previous forebodings that this could be a rather boring day for me but can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The evening auction was not for me, but was enjoyed by many.  Alwyn was seated close to us at the dinner table, and was heard to say several times “that’s a bargain” when the hammer fell.  He later entertained us with his repertoire of jokes, which I found very amusing.


On the Sunday morning at breakfast Ian Boreham sprung a surprise on me with his request that I submit a report of my impressions of the weekend.  Had he told me earlier I would have taken more notes!  Since the museum had closed on the previ­ous day at 4pm we decided to go back for a visit before it closed that day for the winter.  I am glad we did as the experience was memorable.  The quality of the exhibits, the chronological layout, the animations and sound effects were all to the highest standard and a credit to those involved.


I had come to the weekend with doubts that I would enjoy it, but left feeling it had been a very good experience.  In fact I will come back next time.  So for all of you who are in two minds about these events my advice is to come and experience the friendliness and sharing of knowledge that takes place.


Anne Carter

The Speakers: Vanessa Collingridge

The Speakers: Cliff Thornton

The Speakers: Steve Ragnall

 The Speakers: Ian Stubbs

Above are members listening to one of the talks


Below are members enjoying the evening together

Helmut Schwarzfischer

Michael and Teija Spiekien

Paul Covell

Wendy and Paul Wales

Jo and Chris North, Alwyn Peel, and Ian Boreham

Catherine Redfern, who set the evening quiz

Anke Meissner, who won the evening quiz


Below is John Paul and the model of Endeavour he built


Photos of the meeting and evening by Alwyn Peel, John Paul, Michael Spiekien and Ruth Boreham


Originally published in Cook's Log, page 6, volume 41, number 1 (2018). 


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