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Bilsby, Walter George

Bilsby, Walter George

Alias: None

Title: Mr

Dates: 1872-1930

Nationality: British

Awards: Polar Medal (bronze)

Born in Hull in 1872, Bilsby was a very well-known and skilful shipwright. As a carpenter, he could undertake repairs while at sea. His wood-working skills gained Bilsby a position on Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition in 1907 at the age of 36. Bilsby had previously gone south as part of Scott’s British National Antarctic Expedition 1901–04 (Discovery) as a carpenter, on board the relief ship Morning. Bilsby certainly understood what was expected of a carpenter in Antarctic waters and what problems might arise.

Bilsby was one of the few sailors on the Nimrod Expedition to take part in the whole journey from London to Antarctica and back again. During the voyage south, Bilsby would have been kept busy, as there was always lots of repair work on the ship. Bilsby's role once the expedition arrived at Cape Royds would have been crucial in ensuring that the expedition huts were erected rapidly.

After the Nimrod Expedition he never went back to the Antarctic, but he kept up his maritime carpentry skills, and his last trip took him to Bombay and Karachi. As well as continuing to sail, he also got a more settled job with Messrs Amos and Smith Ltd., a ship-building company in Hull. While Bilsby’s work took him all around the world, he still maintained a strong family life. He had a wife, Doris, and together they had two daughters, Ena and Elsie, and a son, George. Bilsby died in 1930 at the age of 58.


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