New blue plaque in Felpham celebrates courage of Antarctic explorer

A blue plaque commemorating the exciting life of an Antarctic explorer who went on expeditions with Captain Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton was unveiled in Felpham last week.

Monday, 16th August 2021, 11:57 am

Captain Ernest Joyce, an Antarctic explorer who took part in expeditions alongside Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton was memorialised in the village of his birth on Thursday (August 12) after a blue plaque memorial stone was erected in the Fisherman’s Gardens, Felpham.

Joyce was born in one of the 15 coastguard cottages in Admirality Road, Felpham in 1875 and went on to become a decorated explorer, winning the Albert Medal for his bravery during the Trans-Atlantic expedition. He was also awarded the Polar Medal with 4 bars by the Royal Geographical Society, something achieved by only one other man.

He joined the Navy at just 15 and found himself part of Captain Scott’s discovery expedition- the first official foray by British explorers into the Antarctic region- in 1901. Six years later, Ernest Shackleton recruited him to join the Nimrod Discovery Expedition. After that, in 1914, he joined the ill-fated Ross Sea Party, where a number of crew members died in tragic and challenging circumstances.

The blue plaque was unveiled on August 12

Despite the trials, tribulations and public successes of his earlier life, Joyce died alone and impoverished in 1940.

The blue plaque memorial stone, which was erected not far from where Joyce was born is intended to immortalise his intrepid spirit and undaunted courage, even in death.

Felpham Parish Council chairman Dave Smart said: “Ernest Joyce is a true son of Felpham, and it is only right that his achievements are recognised in the village where he was born and where his family lived so people will never forgethis contribution to sone of the worlds most famous, and heroic, explorations.

Kevin Watson, an amateur historian and Parish Councillor, added: “I wanted to make sure he was properly recognised as part of Felpham’s heritage.”

Mr Watson started researching Joyce’s life after hearing that the students of Felpham Community College had named their new activity centre after him. He said he was impressed by the explorer’s bravery: “Once I started to research Ernest Joyce, I realised what an incredibly courageous man he was.”