Sea Shanty Town

Nautical Treasury

The Collection

Lost Keys

Lost Keys © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Photocopy, from the Ephemera collection. Shown here in context.

Sogb'o, The Specific Ocean

Sogb'o, The Specific Ocean © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Map produced by the Romford Maritime Commission in 1856 showing the location of Sogb'o island within the Specific Ocean. This ocean, in use until the early 20th century, is depicted here with both the grid reference and scale redacted, making it impossible to locate, or comprehend distances. Apocryphal narratives hold that Sogb'o took a full day to circumnavigate by mule. Scholars have since been using aerial photography in a hitherto unsuccessful effort to recognise the coast-line shown. The debate as to why the map has been censored continues.

Hadley's Bitter Nails

Hadley's Bitter Nails © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Hadley Droitwich was in love with petty officer Simon Justin Fisher R.B.A.J.D and snuck aboard a ship he was assigned to, SS Spigot in March 1900, destined for the South-Indies with a shipment of full-cream butter. On discovering the stowaway, whom he did not recognise, Fisher reported Droitwich to his superiors, who promptly placed them both under observation in the hold. In the semi-darkness, Droitwich proceeded to batter Fisher with a nearby butter-pat and swore the destruction of the ship, nail by nail until the love, proffered in the heat of wild abandon, was consumated. Unrequited, Droitwich then proceeded to pull out nails in the ship's hull as though they were teeth, but was stopped by the 3rd Mate twice removed after 16, the standard issue for a single plank, had been extracted. Droitwich was then, gently, nailed to the plank by the cuffs and towed behind the ship for the remainder of the journey, some 2 months.

Fashions: "Jellies" - Fin de siècle Jellyfish Hats

Jellyfish Hats © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Montage of people wearing jellyfish as hats 1888-1909.

Iceberg of the Dead

Skulberg © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Located off the north-western coast of Greenland, sailors routinely visit "Skulberg" to bury their dead - especially those who have died from hypothermia.

Günter Gwenhwyfar's Fishing Rod

Günter Gwenhwyfar's Fishing Rod © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Germano-Welsh navigator Günter Gwenhwyfar took early retirement at the age of 39 to work on a specialist fishing rod for catching mackerels. 30 years later, the long-delayed and somewhat over-engineered project was finally ready. This photo shows the huge crowds who gathered at the end of Mablethorne pier to see the "first fish". Günter then prepared the fish, lightly fried, with a little ginger and sring onions, on a bed of steaming rice. Having finished, he was met with great applause, declaring his meal to be "delicious".

Mermaid's Milk

Mermaid's Milk © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

The meaning of this 20th Century collector's postcard from the eastern seaboard of northern America is unclear.

Golden Estuary Hippopotamus

Golden Estuary Hippopotamus © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

The Golden Estuary Hippopotamus [H. aestuariumi] was hunted to extinction by the late 19th Century. These teeth in the Museum's collection were discovered on the Thames Foreshore over several years by Mudlarkers. While the trade in Hippo Gold has been regulated in Britain since antiquity, with strong capital penalties for smuggling, "crown-molars" of the kind presented here are unlikely to have been part of the black market trade. Instead, carbon testing reveals that they are in fact fossils, some 25 million years old, thus disproving McIlster {et al, 1965} who argued that hippos had occupied the Thames only since the last ice age.

Golden Estuary Hippopotamus © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Annual Squid Review (internal)

Annual Squid Review © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Photocopy of a photo from the Annual Squid Review (ASR) showing the team making an icicle formation inspection (IFI) inside one of the five gargantuan squids [A. giganticum] bred in captivity at the Cephlapod Sanctuary, Swindon, UK.

Haunted Sand

Haunted Sand © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

A sample of haunted sand from Inaccessible Island, in the south Atlantic. This was the only exposed plate found after the disappearance of explorer and exorcist, Austin Carthand, in or around 1907.

Mummified Toad, Corotas, Yemen

Mummified Toad, Corotas, Yemen © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

An example of a "dafade jafa", or "dry frog" collected on the island of Corotas (Yemen) in 1996. This mummified specimen was located adjacent to the معبد البرمائيات, the prehistoric (3800-2100 BCE) "Amphibian Temple", where in 1850 French Archeologist Mr Éric LaFromboise of the School of Carcassonne found over 300,000 mummified remains of salamanders, toads, newts and frogs in a hidden vault, perhaps as an offering to a hitherto unknown deity.

Giant's Toenail

Giant's Toenail © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Donated by Naval retiree, Commodore Brinkhead of Bangor, who picked it out of a crevice near the summit of Glyder Fawr in Snodownia in 2011. In his note to the museum Brinkhead stated "I'd taken a long walk, as I was trying to fathom the "Bruiser" - a notoriously fiendish knot required in the raising of a 18th century gibbet-gauge. It was such an unexpected object to find at that altitude, that I sent it on to you in the hope that you could shed some light on its origins." The museum sent it for DNA testing in 2012, with the initial assumption that it is a fragment of shell, but the test results identified it as human. On loan from the Pebble Museum collection.

Belinda The Giant Haddock

Belinda The Giant Haddock © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

The 12th Brigade performing popular fairground organ number "Belinda The Giant Haddock" written by Bernard Choisya of Medium (PA) in 1890, in flag semaphore for the benefit of the Deaf Veterans Association, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary, having been formed during the aftermath of the Cannonade of Midden's Fancy.

The Seas of the British Isles

Seas of the British Isles © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Title page of Juliette Bunsen's well known photo album "The Seas of the British Isles". Commissioned by the National Marine Survey in 1914, on the eve of the First World War, this document was distributed as an identification guide for the crews of fishing boats and is based on the areas listed in the Shipping Forecast. More observant readers will note that the Roman numeral X is missing from the date. It has long been held, but remains unproven, that this was Bunsen's effort at blowing the salty seafarers a kiss.

View whole album here.

How to dance with crabs

How to dance with crabs © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Title page of book five in Ishkakawa's well known Crustacean's and Movement series. 204pp. Published by Hassocks & Co. 1962.

Little island o' mine



A small cylinder mechanical instrument programmed with little known foc'sle number "Little island o' mine", written by First Officer Hilton Grately of the SS Batangor in 1928.


Little island o' mine by Hilton Grately

Pebble of the year 2006

Pebble of the year 2006 © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Photograph of David Stammers pebble "Perfection". Best in show, Pebble of the Year awards 2006. The judges noted "An excellent shingle pebble from Eastbourne. This pebble, measuring 43mm at its widest, fits perfectly into the hand. It is smooth and well rounded, with a dynamic surface, optimal sheen, well-balanced proportions and is pleasurable in the pocket. Moreover, it is somewhat evocative of an egg."

Wereld Kanaalnetwerk

Wereld Kanaalnetwerk © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Proposed by Reinaart v.d Boik in 1889, this map shows his ambitious, but unrealised plans for a transcontinental canal network.

Bournemouth Sea Fret

Bournemouth Sea Fret © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Fret (n.)
A heavy mist, arriving from nowhere, esp. from the sea. (Bruber)

Referred to as a fret because it makes people worried, this sea-fog was captured in Bournemouth in the 1950's by Amelia Grithithiths, whilst on holiday with her pet snake. A quick thinking citizen-scientist, Amelia tipped the contents of her bottle of oregano into a red and white striped paper bag, laid the bottle on its side over a rotting piece of wood as the fret slowly approached. Once inside the bottle, she quickly corked it to prevent its escape, placed it in a seagull's nest and shipped the whole thing to the Meterological Society based in Poole. When the Met Soc folded in 1995, our museum received many of their more interesting artefacts, including this one.

Cry Baby Abyss

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-CPkxht4wZM4/XcLpDUiWE5I/AAAAAAAAEwc/tYuhjeD1LY0zRcGeEzmL1VBl94sUFqQagCLcBGAsYHQ/s1600/Cry-Baby-Abyss.jpg © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Photo (at sea level) of Cry Baby Abyss {35.758399, -39.471492} Depth 22,800 ft. Based on Donaldson's Bathymetric Survey 2004.

Horatio's Soap

Napoleon's Cat's Soap © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Piece of soap once belonging to Napoléon Bonaparte's cat, Horatio (born ? - died 21 October 1805).

Fiske Holmes' Conservatory Ship

Fiske Holmes' Conservatory Ship © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Based on a set of engraved walrus tusks found on St Kilda, this lithograph depicts the legendary norse sailor and explorer Fiske Holmes' radical ship, complete with fully operational greenhouse and "crow's-cloche". Inside, the additional warmth and shelter from the harsh salt North Sea air, Holmes was able to grow limes and other essential tropical foods.

Big Catch

Big Catch © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Photo clipping of unknown origin, found behind broken backing board of taxidemied trout, discarded outside Prague station in 1998.

Elspeth and Montegue meet their Uncle

Elspeth and Montegue meet their Uncle © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Illustration from the 1912 "Elspeth and Montegue" adventure series. In this episode, the inimitable pair meet their sea-faring uncle, who among other things, teaches them how to smoke twisted-shag, introduces them to images of mermaids in various states of comliness, and recounts to them endless stories of personal hygiene.

Gilbert Reading's Shrunken Head

Gilbert Reading's Shrunken Head © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Gilbert Reading, a chartered accountant from Biggleswade, UK made a critical decision in the winter of 1889 when he chose to swim to a remote island in the Donesian Prumbostin Archipelago after the ship on which he had been held captive sank due to a clerical errer [sic]. Having reached ashore, he set about managing the local chieftain's accounts, only to be captured by another tribe who typically use the heads of civil servants as local currency. His head and business card was found in a box in the attic of Admiral David Stevens in April 1934 after he died from "Naval Crummets".

Rogerson's Bilge Hoard

Rogerson's Bilge Hoard © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

US Marine, Gunner Rogerson's unusual colour photograph of a hoard of dirty bottled bilge water, which he discovered stowed beneath the floorboards of the half-sunk SS Preamble during the Battle of Ite, South Pacific, 1944. Neither the owner of the bottles (who had presumably abandoned ship), nor the reason for their collection has been discovered, although many speculate that the ship's log's mention of an unending ration of shellfish may have caused rapid onset flasciphilia.

Rigger's Periwinkles

Rigger's Periwinkles © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Classifieds, Spigot Monthly issue 499 "The Beauty of Oil". This Aberdeenshire industry magazine folded before the 500th issue due to the owner, Brian Hofflinger being tarred and feathered on Peterhead pier for "treasonable acts involving a flume" before he could send it for publication.

The Hyperventilophone

The Hyperventilophone © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

The Hyperventilophone. Classifieds cutting from issue 200 of Cruisers Magazine UK (discontinued) 1921.

Thar She Blows

Thar She Blows © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Page 38, Bronson's Almanac, 1845 (reverse printed).

The tattered flag of Pucebeard

The tattered flag of Pucebeard © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Pucebeard, who led the infamous Mutiny of The SandBar, was known for several things, including his fetching deep-red beard. In this hand-tinted engraving, we can see the moment when Pucebeard defiantly waves the lifeboat's onboard white flag, the flag of surrender. However, unbeknownst to his fellow dissidents, many of whom were later given jobs in early call-centres, Pucebeard had secretly stained the flag with cochineal beetle, the symbol of blood. Naturally, this bold statement and refutation of rank and order, did not save Pucebeard from a life of teaching art classes to prisoners.

Iceberg 5c, Antarctica (Melted)

Iceberg 5c, Antarctica (Melted) © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Collected in 1918 by the crew of the stolen WW1 submarine, HMS Cockfoster, at 4018 sq miles, Iceberg 5c was renowned as the largest iceberg ever recorded. However, by the time it drifted to the equator it had reduced in size to approximately 200ml - enough to fit in a standard glass beaker. The ice had been collected to accompany the bosun's gin ration, but unfortunately the strong equatorial sun got to it first - to which this, the only photo of the iceberg discovered to date, gives mournful testament.

Horned Slug, Tierra del Fuego

Horned Slug, Tierra del Fuego © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Arion cornelius, endemic to Isla Hornos, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Horn-like protuberances measuring up to 20mm are presumed to have evolved to fend off the Horned Slug's primary predator, the Thin-skinned Gecko. First discovered by sailors in 1714, the Horned Slug's horns were prized as tooth picks.

Captain Harris' Granddaughter Etc.

Captain Harris' Granddaughter Etc. © Graeme Walker / The Pebble Museum 2019

Daguerreotype of the daughter in law of the great great grandson's nephew's step sister's maiden aunt's first born twice removed on the father's side of Captain Harris. Defaced in 1878 by Captain Harris.

Commander Johnson's Weevil Mill

Commander Johnson's Weevil Mill

Esablished in 1805, Commander Johnson of the 14th Whelp and Sabbaticals took his observations taken onboard The Crispin, a Welsh Brocat of 3 masts built in Reading in 1789, as it rounded the Sousaphone of Ivory, western Namibia. He noticed hungry sailors, wretched for bread, spent much of Sunday afternoon picking weevils from their bread, instead of polishing the forecourt. Taking the rotton bread to a gentleman in Wells, Johnson established the merits of weevil paste, which could be made by passing the entire sandwich through a press. Thus the Weevil Mill was born, providing much needed protein supplement for his majesty's fleet.

Weevil Mills were manufactured until 1951, but ceased production once the benefits of crushing the maggots found in rice were discovered.