Fascinating new scrolls tell the ups and downs of Sir Alec Rose's round-the-world sail on Lively Lady

HANDWRITTEN scrolls telling the adventures of a Southsea greengrocer who was knighted after sailing around the world on a second-hand boat have been unveiled for the first time.

Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 12:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 12:00 pm

The two texts, which pay tribute to the late Sir Alec Rose, are each longer than a bowling alley and give a fascinating insight into his life.

One begins with a News extract from July 4, 1968 that tells of the ‘deafening’ cheers as he returned to the city after circumnavigating the globe.

Other sections address famous rumours and lay bare the 59-year-old’s emotional battles as he made the journey alone on Lively Lady.

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Alan Priddy, the custodian of Sir Alec Rose's round-the-world yacht, Lively Lady, with one of the incredible scrolls that tell stories of Sir Alec's journeys. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Sir Alec’s family passed the scrolls on to the 36ft boat’s modern custodian, ocean sailor Alan Priddy, but their author remains a mystery.

Mr Priddy said: ‘These are massively, mind-blowingly impressive.

‘Everything is here – from him meeting the lunarnauts from the first moon landing, to his wishes for what would happen to the boat and all the memorabilia, to his upsets, his disappointments and his depression.

‘There’s always been a rumour that when he was hit by a boat in 1966 and aborted his first circumnavigation, he only aborted because the late Sir Francis Chichester said “if I was you old chap, I wouldn’t carry on”. But it’s actually written in here. It actually happened.

Some of the detail of the Sir Alec Rose scrolls. Picture: Habibur Rahman.

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‘In a paragraph afterwards, Alec says “it may not have been a wise decision – I was allowed to be forgotten and Sir Francis took all the glory."’

Mr Priddy added: ‘This artefact is the pinnacle and in many ways I think this is equally as important as the boat.’

Another amusing extract explains how Madame Tussauds refused to make and install wax figures of Sir Alec and his wife, Dorothy.

Around and Around volunteer Mark Greenwood, the charity's boss, Alan Priddy and volunteer, Steve Mason, who helped restore Lively lady, with the Sir Alec Rose scrolls. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The scrolls will be digitised by the University of Portsmouth in the new year, with hopes they could create revenue to secure Sir Alec’s legacy.

A stage show, wallpaper for yacht clubs and a mammoth display ‘like the Bayeux Tapestry’ are all ideas bosses are considering.

Dr Catherine McNamara, who heads the university’s School of Art, Design and Performance, is one of three academics involved in the project.

After being shown the scroll on December 2, she said: ‘Human stories are the ones I love working with every time. The potential here is huge.

British sailor Alec Rose (1908 - 1991), formerly of the Royal Navy, on board his yacht Lively Lady on August 25, 1966. Picture: Wood/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

‘We’re at a point where we’re asking ourselves exactly how we’re going to get this started, because at this point all things are possible.

‘Digitising it is a really practical next step to protect this precious scroll, then we can look at something more robust that people can access.’

Lively Lady was restored by volunteers at Mr Priddy’s charity, Around and Around, before an emulation of Sir Alec’s homecoming last year.

Mr Priddy has launched a rallying call for help to identify the author of the calligraphic scrolls, which he estimates would take four hours to read.

‘For such a magnificent artefact, there is no reference on it whatsoever,’ he said.

‘I want the world to see these and that’s why it’s important we find out who did it. Somebody must’ve spent thousands of hours doing this.’

Around and Around went to court over Lively Lady in 2018, after a failed restoration at Portsmouth International Boatbuilding Training College.

Mr Priddy said: ‘There has been a financial agreement – it wasn’t the best, but it’s history.’

Do you know who wrote the Sir Alec Rose scrolls? Contact Byron Melton by emailing [email protected]