Crow's nest from HMS Discovery (purchased 1874)

Crow's nest from HMS Discovery (purchased 1874), used on the British Arctic Expedition 1875-76. Constructed like a wooden barrel secured by iron hoops and fastened to part of the mast with an iron band. It has a canvas cover over the top and a trapdoor and rope ladder below.

At the bottom of barrel, just above the iron rim is a painted black shield with a gold painted border and gold writing that states 'Crows Nest For / Look out man. / Used on board / "H. M. S. Discovery" / Arctic Expedition / (Captain George S. Nares) / 1875-1876'.

Below this is a rectangular black sign with a gold border and lettering that states ' "There's a sweet little cherub / that sits aloft and looks out / for the life of poor Jack" / Dibden' This is mis-quote from 'Poor Jack'', a much longer poem by Charles Dibden (1745-1814). The actual quote is 'There’s a sweet little cherub that sits up aloft, To keep watch for the life of poor Jack!'.

The crow's nest was attached to the main mast and used as a look out to guide the ships Discovery and Alert were as they navigating through the ice-strewn channel between Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago, and Ellesmere Island.

The 'as fitted' plan of the sails for Discovery include an explanation of the crow's nest:
'The Nest is circular and is 5ft in length, 2ft 7ins in diameter at the middle and 2ft 3ins in at the ends. it is made of Yellow Pine 5/8 inch in thickness, and is bound together by 4 iron hoops, 2 inches in width, In the bottom of the Nest , a trap door is fitted, and is opened on the outside for entry into the nest, and shut after entry to form a platform to stand upon.
A hood 16 inches deep, made of canvas is fitted over the top of the nest, and is made to revolve on a spindle let into an iron rod on the top of the nest, and one half of the hood is made so as to be raised or lowered.
A seat 10 inches wide and 1 1/4 inch thick is fitted in the nest on the side opposite the mast, also two small steps one on each side of the seat, to stand upon and look over the side of the nest.
The nest is supported at the mast head by the bottom resting upon an iron rim plate bolted to the jack, and by two screw bolts passing through the plate and bottom of the nest and fastened with nuts on the inside. The upper part is secured by an iron hook fixed on one of the binding hoops (the second from the top) being let into tan eye fixed to a clasp round the mast.'

Object Details

ID: AAA4312
Collection: Polar Equipment and Relics
Type: Crow's Nest
Display location: Display - Polar Worlds Gallery
Events: Arctic Exploration: North Pole expedition, Nares, 1875-1876
Vessels: Discovery (1873)
Date made: 1874; 1875
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
Measurements: Overall: 1880 mm x 85 kg; Diameter: 660 mm; Weight: 79 kg
Parts: Crow's nest from HMS Discovery (purchased 1874)

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