Those who enjoy the song ‘Lord Franklin’ can learn more about the circumstances in Michael Palin’s new book ‘Erebus’.
HMS Erebus was one of the great exploring ships, a veteran of groundbreaking expeditions to the ends of the Earth.
In 1848 captained by Sir John Franklin, it disappeared in the Arctic, its fate a mystery. In 2014, it was found.
Michael Palin – Monty Python star and television globetrotter – brings the remarkable Erebus back to life, following it from its launch in 1826 to the epic voyages of discovery that led to glory in the Antarctic and to ultimate catastrophe in the Arctic. An excellent and well researched book to add to the almost library sized works now written about Franklin and the infamous expedition.
Ulverston’s most famous landmark on the top of Hoad Hill is the John Barrow Monument. It commemorates Sir John Barrow who was born in Ulverston in 1764.
In 1804, Sir John Barrow became Second Secretary of the Admiralty, a post he held until 1845, and began a push by the Royal Navy to complete the Northwest Passage over the top of Canada and to navigate toward the North Pole. He held that sea water could not freeze and that open seas must therefore exist beyond north Canada. All sailors had to do was persevere. This was just one factor in the chain of events that would lead Sir John Franklin’s expedition to its icy doom.
In 1845 Franklin set off from Greenhithe in Kent with 129 men to find the Northwest Passage in two well-provided sail ships that had been fitted with steam-driven propellers to help them manoeuvre in pack ice. They were Erebus and Terror. Their holds were filled with a three-year supply of tinned provisions. Franklin’s two ships were observed, by whalers, sailing into Lancaster Sound in late July 1845. They were never seen again. After several years of mounting concern for Franklin and his men, Britain became obsessed with his disappearance and more than 40 expeditions were launched to find him. For each mission, his widow, Jane, wrote a letter to be handed to her husband on his rescue. Each time, it was returned unopened.
This is the first account that turns focus on the actual ship though and tells the well known disaster story from a different angle. Written also in Palin’s usual engaging and very easily readable style, the book is well worth a read if you are interested not only in the Franklin Expedition but also in British Maritime history. The book is available in hard back and on the Kindle.