3 Captains (and counting)

We love a Captain at the Clevedon Pier Archive and there are a few of them around in our collections which help bring the history and the heritage of the Pier to life. Here are three of our favourites…….enjoy!

Captain Clevedon

Captain Boyton

Captain Campbell

Captain Clevedon is the town’s very own comic hero and was heavily involved in saving the Pier back in the day. Thank you Captain Clevedon. The Archive is a proud possessor of one of the original comics thanks to the Captain’s creator, artist Kev F Sutherland. We won’t share the entire Captain Clevedon comic here online but here’s another page as a little teasing taster……

Kev F Sutherland Photo: North Somerset Times

And if you’d like to get your own copy, get in touch with artist Kev F Sutherland or follow Captain Clevedon on Facebook – just wing your way over to https://www.facebook.com/CaptainClevedon and find out all the news. Captain Clevedon is still busy!

One of favourite Captains is Captain Boyton a larger than life figure who invented the rubber life saving dress. This advertising bill comes from August 1875 when, the global phenomena known as, Captain Boyton demonstrated his rubber life saving dress off of Clevedon Pier. It is a favourite item in the archive’s collection of ephemera. The bill is printed on very thin newsprint by George Caple, Machine Printer, in the Clevedon Mercury and Courier newspaper offices and it is one of the few – perhaps only – surviving examples of this advertising bill many of which would have been printed and posted up and around the town of Clevedon.

The bill shows an image of Captain Boyton in his life saving ‘dress’ (sic) and text states that:

“Captain Boynton will exhibit off the Clevedon Pier the life saving vest in which he recently crossed the Channel from France to England.  Excursions will run. The gallant Captain will be in the water from Three to Four and from Seven to Eight pm”

In 1875, the pier was still owned by the Clevedon Pier Company and other records held in the Pier’s Business Archive show that Captain Boyton was charged £10 for the privilege of exhibiting his suit off Clevedon Pier, the equivalent in today’s terms of just over £1,000.

This video clip gives more on the history of the rubber lifesaving suit and Captain Boyton’s role in developing and proving its worth.

Captain Alexander Campbell was part of the successful Campbell family who built and sailed paddlesteamers up and down the British coast in the 19th and 20th centuries. What an extraordinarily well-loved paddlesteamer captain Alexander Campbell was. So much so that his grateful customers presented him with this beautiful, gilded citation at the end of 1891 season. When found it was in a parlous state and its safe resurrection and inclusion in the Pier Archive Collections is down to many people.

Here are just three. Above left, Archive Volunteer Digitiser, above centre, Archive Volunteer Conservator and above right the Captain’s very own descendant who funded the work to restore the citation.

You can find out much more about Captain Campbell and his citation on this link.

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