The Collections

Britain and South Africa: a Maritime and Scientific Relationship

Created: 06.07.11

For nearly four centuries, there have been strong maritime and scientific links between Britain and southern Africa. A variety of reasons – political, strategic and economic – connected the two places. Following the consolidation of British rule at the Cape, for example, the Royal Navy established a naval base at Simon’s Town, which was retained until 1957. Ships of the East India Company, rounding the Cape of Good Hope on their way to and from the lucrative markets of Asia frequently stopped to take on fresh supplies. Travellers, explorers and scientists bound for destinations in the Pacific, and often sailing in Royal Navy vessels, passed the Cape on their way. And British settlers and resident scientists made observations and did fieldwork in southern Africa itself. This selection of material from the collection of the National Maritime Museum illustrates just some of these maritime and scientific connections between Britain and southern Africa.

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