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The James Caird

The two words that perhaps best sum up both the College and its boys are ‘adventure’ and ‘integrity’. Integrity is the principal value that underpins everything that we do. It means honesty, courtesy, fair-play, responsibility and mutual respect. All of these qualities are evident in the boys, old and new. The Adventure comes from our founder, a man of the theatre at one of the most innovative periods in English literary history. Dulwich boys have always welcomed adventure and challenge be it academic, sporting or in the arts. It is one of the reasons why Old Alleynians have excelled in every walk of life.

Adventure and Integrity are surely demonstrated most vividly by one of our most famous Old Alleynians, Sir Ernest Shackleton. It was in the James Caird, a 23 foot whaler, that he and five companions made the epic open boat voyage of 800 miles (1,300 km) from Elephant Island, 500 miles (800 km) south of Cape Horn, to South Georgia during the Antarctic winter of 1916. It is fitting that the James Caird now rests in the College as a permanent celebration of one our most illustrious alumni and of the values for which we stand.

5 January 2022 marked one hundred years since Ernest Shackleton died following a heart attack aged 47.  At the time of his death he was on board his ship Quest, anchored off Grytviken in South Georgia in the Southern Ocean. The College is marking the centenary with the Shackleton 100 series of events and exhibitions.

Shackleton and the James Caird

The College have produced a new film to celebrate the extraordinary life of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his exploits with the James Caird. Originally intended to support primary school learning (KS2) during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hoped to be of use to all interested parties.

Schools can also download a workbook for pupils and a resource pack for teachers (we recommend printing them as booklets)

Workbook for students

Teacher's Book

The James Caird Society

The James Caird Society, a registered charity, was established in 1994 to preserve the memory and honour the remarkable feats and leadership of Shackleton.

Lord Shackleton, son of the explorer, was the Society's Life President until his death in 1994. His daughter, the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, has been President since l995. It was founded by Harding Dunnett and the current Chairman is Rear Admiral Nick Lambert, former commander of the Antarctic ice patrol ship HMS ENDURANCE, and current Chairman of the Committee of the Friends of The Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) in Cambridge.

The Society now has a membership of over 600 worldwide, including over 120 in North America and others in Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Zambia.

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Visiting the James Caird

Public visits to the James Caird are offered at 11.30am on Fridays.

Book a tour

School visits to see the James Caird are offered on Tuesday & Thursday mornings. To book, please contact

A pupil workbook and teacher resource pack can also be downloaded from this page.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy watching our new film, Shackleton & the James Caird.