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  • Nick Shillabeer

Well hello July!

Where has this year gone!

It has certainly been a very different time for all of us, learning to live with and be safe from, the COVID virus. We are pleased to report that some semblance of normality resumes in Dartmouth, with most shops and many pubs and restaurants open from last weekend. Although Jack Speak has always had a healthy customer base online, we definitely wanted to

re open our shop in Dartmouth, and did so as soon as we were able. The team are delighted at the many and varied visitors, 2 legged and 4 legged, we have had since then, so thank you!


Barney Savage modelling our doggy bandanas

Obviously during lockdown, we (well the HQ bods) had some time to think about a new T shirt design, and we were thrilled to launch our new Jack ‘o Spades T last week. The design, featuring a skeleton sailor drinking rum, was dreamt up as many card games have been played during lockdown, not just by us, but by the whole country we are sure. For sailors playing cards has always been an integral part of seafaring life and seen the success and the demise of many of them over the centuries. The sun is always and definitely over the yard arm somewhere in the world!


Jack Speak Jack o' Spades T

In addition to new designs, the team have quite unbelievably sourced a rather marvellous piece of history for our shop; a wooden writing desk, made out of timber from the shipwrecked Royal George, which was presented to a Benjamin R Roberts in 1872 by his father (we actually have the original proof of provenance on display too, from Father to son!).

Jack Speak's new writing desk, made from timber from the shipwrecked Royal George

So take note and digest some historical facts…

The Royal George was a first-rate ship of the line launched in 1756. The first, and largest warship of its time, to exceed 2,000 tons, the Royal George was commissioned at the start of the Seven Years' War with France and joined the Western Squadron in blockading the port of Brest and Quiberon Bay.

In August 1782, she was in Portsmouth loading provisions and ammunition for the relief of Gibraltar when the crew noticed a small leak, which necessitated heeling the ship to undertake repairs.

As the crew unloaded a considerable weight onto the store ship alongside, the rocking motion sent water slopping into the gunports, the covers of which had been left open. The ship went over and tragically nearly 900 people, including women and children on board, were drowned.

The loss of the Royal George by John Christian Schetky

Much of the ship wreck was lost, but some timbers survived and several of the salvaged bronze cannons were melted down to form part of Nelson's Column in London's Trafalgar Square. The Corinthian capital is made of bronze elements, cast at the Woolwich Arsenal foundry. The bronze pieces, some weighing as much as 900 pounds (410 kg) are fixed to the column by the means of three large belts of metal lying in grooves in the stone. True story. Interesting ‘ain’t it?

Today this lovely little writing desk, crafted out of the recovered timber, stands proud on our shop counter as our pay point. It makes the Jack Speak team feel very humble as well as super excited to have found it, every time they touch it. We hope you will pop in to admire just how lovely, and poignant it is, to have such a piece of naval history in our store.

The mouth of the River Dart and the entrance to beautiful Dartmouth

We are open Tues to Sunday 10am to 4pm, or online 24/7. See you soon!

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