Our latest blog features a review of one of our library treasures from a member, Dave Hill. He loved PAMIR – A Voyage To Rio In a Four-Masted Barque by Hilary Tunstall-Behrens, published in 1956.
Hilary was still young when he signed on to sail in the Pamir in 1951 although he had seen service in minesweepers in WWII and also been an instructor in the Outward Bound movement. His book gives a personal account of this, the first sail training voyage, along with a glossary of sailing terms for the less nautically minded. His companions on the voyage were young German and English cadets and a few skilled hands, many refugees. But all had to learn as they went along, each sailing ship was different, especially one as big as the Pamir.
The steel-hulled Pamir had been built in 1905, was 375’ long and one of the famous “P Liner” sailing ships. She had a chequered career in the nitrate trade with South America and then carrying grain from Australia, she had also been seized in both World Wars. Scheduled for the breakers yard she was bought along with her near sister ship the Passat by a German shipowner and both were refitted as sail training ships.
For the next 5 years the ships sailed as training and cargo ships to South America but by 1957 the Pamir was in need of extensive repairs and money for this was short in the financial climate of the time. On her last voyage back to Hamburg she was caught in hurricane Carrie and sank, of the 86 aboard (mostly German cadets) only 6 survived.
Hilary, a noted violinist himself, founded the International Musicians Seminars (IMS) with Hungarian violinist Sandor Vegh in 1972. These are still held at the family-owned, nearby Prussia Cove managed at the time by Hilary’s brother Michael (who played French Horn) and Michael’s artist wife Romi (another violinist). Since 1997 cellist Steven Isserlis has been the artistic director. In 2008 Hilary wrote a book about Sandor Vegh and the IMS.
In 2017 the IMS celebrated Hilary’s 90th birthday with a concert at the Wigmore Hall. London.
Thanks to our library member Dave Hill for his contribution. If you would like to review your favourite Morrab Library book for us, please get in touch!