A collection newly acquired by the Society includes photographs and diary entries by one of the world’s first travel writers, Eric Newby, who set sail, aged just 18, from Belfast 80 years ago today for one of the last grain races to Australia.
‘Capstan work. Sending a royal aloft.' Photograph by Eric Newby, 1938
‘A few seconds later. Jumping for the life-line as a big sea comes aboard'. Photograph by Eric Newby, 1938
‘Eric Newby with one of the pigs', 1938
Images in our collection show scenes captured by Newby, most famous for his book A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, while on board the Moshulu which set sail from Belfast on 18 October 1938.
Newby had set his sights on sailing after hearing tales from a family friend called Mr Mountstewart. When the advertising agency he was working for lost a lucrative cereal contract, the young Newby seized the opportunity to see if there was space for him on the next voyage leaving Belfast.
He was successful, and embarked on the long journey via the Cape of Good Hope, enduring difficult weather – the Moshulu was struck by a tornado during the voyage – and dorms so plagued with bed bugs that the crew slept in hammocks on deck.
Newby’s photographs and letters to his family give insights in to what life on the ship was like, and the toll the voyage had on his fellow sailors.
Our Head of Enterprise and Resources, Alasdair MacLeod, said:
“Eric Newby was a fascinating figure with a diverse and adventurous life, and these images and archive material tell the story of his early enthusiasm for travel. We are delighted to share these images to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the Moshulu setting sail.”
Items from the Newby collection will be accessible to all through the Foyle Reading Room and online.
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