Barry Pickthall, MD at UK based photo library PPL Photo Agency, told PhotoArchiveNews.com this week, “We have discovered 3,000 ‘lost’ photographs taken at the start and finish of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s first solo non-stop round the world circumnavigation in 1968/9.”
The pictures cover Knox-Johnston’s entry in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in1968/9 when Robin was one of nine starters attempting to become the first to sail alone non stop around the world. The event was billed as one of the last great challenges left to man. For the other eight, it was a challenge too far, for Robin was the only finisher, completing the 27,000 mile circumnavigation aboard his self-built 32ft ketch Suhaili in 312 days.
The valuable archive had been gathering dust in the library of the Sunday Mirror newspaper which had published Robin’s stories during the voyage. The negatives were about to be dumped in a skip when the London newspaper moved from Fleet Street to Canary Wharf, but by pure chance, Bill Rowntree, the Mirror photographer who had covered Knox-Johnston’s departure and return to Falmouth, happened to be in the newspaper the day of the big clear out.
Bill, recalls, “The picture library manager poked his head round the door and asked me if I had any use for them.” Rowntree put the box under his arm and took it home, and there the negatives may have lain, had it not been for a particular picture request from Henri-Lloyd, which had supplied Knox-Johnston’s original oilskins, to mark their 60th anniversary celebrations this year.
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