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Images capture a life before the mast

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 11, 2013

A new exhibition opening at the National Maritime Museum features striking black and white photographs taken by sailor, author and photographer Alan Villiers

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Perched on the end of the yardarm of a magnificent tall ship, three young sailors gaze across sparkling waters.

In another photograph under billowing sails deckhands work together to keep the capstan rotating.

These black and white images were taken more than 80 years ago to capture life onboard a four-masted barque called Parma.

The collection is part of a new exhibition opening at the National Maritime Museum, Falmouth, on February 13.

Alan Villiers, sailor author and photographer took the striking pictures between 1928 and 1933 featuring in the "Last of the Tall Ships" exhibition.

The photographs record early 20th century maritime history, when merchant sailing vessels were in rapid decline and provide a vivid and often intimate snapshot of life and work on board these romantic vessels.

Villiers' photographs are regarded as a unique and comprehensive record of life on merchant sailing ships.

Ben Lumby, exhibitions manager at the museum, said: "We are delighted to be able to bring to Cornwall this touring exhibition from Royal Museums Greenwich.

"As well as the stunning black and white photography, we have been fortunate enough to be able to enrich this exhibition with personal objects and archive film footage on loan from the Villiers family. These include cameras used by Villiers, a letter to his mother and film footage from a number of his square-rigged voyages.

"We are extremely grateful to the Villiers family for loaning us these objects which bring another dimension to his spellbinding images."

The exhibition runs until July 8.

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