Introducing Ernest Shackleton

"We must have that banjo. It is vital mental medicine" 
Sir Ernest Shackleton

In August 1914 the Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton embarked on his greatest ever adventure: the Endurance expedition. With the South Pole having already been reached almost two years earlier, first by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen and then by Captain Scott (Scott of The Antarctic), Shackleton intended to take polar exploration even further. His plan was to cross the Antarctic continent on foot and ski, with sledges and dogs, from one side to the other: a journey of 1800 miles across the ice which had never previously been attempted. Shackleton’s ship Endurance became trapped, then crushed and finally sunk, by pack ice in the Weddell Sea on the edge of the continent. 

Stuck on the ice floes, with three open wooden lifeboats but no ship, and knowing that he could not attain his original goal, Shackleton demonstrated his great leadership by changing his objective to that of bringing all of his men home alive, against all the odds.

Vital Mental Medicine

In their long sojourn in Antarctica, Shackleton’s men often told each other stories of what they would eat and drink if they ever managed to return, and maintained their spirits with songs and tunes on the expedition’s banjo, which Shackleton himself ordered rescued from the wreck of the Endurance. He left the gold and even the bible, but he rescued the banjo, describing it as " Vital Mental Medicine." The result was an epic adventure which included one of the greatest sea crossings in history (Shackleton and five men sailing 800 miles across the Southern Ocean in a wooden lifeboat), followed by the crossing of an uncharted 3,000ft mountain range on South Georgia. Five months after leaving his remaining 22 men camped under two upturned lifeboats (a construction they called The Snuggery) on the icy shores of Elephant Island, Shackleton managed to return to rescue them all.

Shackleton Instruments Ltd celebrates the vision of Shackleton and the heroism of his men, with superb quality, handmade musical instruments, made in our own workshop in Norwich, Norfolk.