Trail to launch commemorating Spilsby’s Sir John Franklin

A Trail will be launched in Spilsby as part of the Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival, to celebrate the life and achievements of the arctic explorer, Sir John Franklin.

Franklin was born in Spilsby in 1786 and was raised in the town, later being educated at Louth Grammar School, but by the age of 14 he had joined the Royal Navy as a ‘first class volunteer’. Over the coming years he was involved in expeditions to Australia and was present at the first battle of Copenhagen and later the battle of Trafalgar.

During the 1800’s arctic exploration became an obsession for Royal Naval officers and in 1819 Franklin lead an expedition to map the north coast of Canada. The expedition would prove to be a disaster, with most of Franklin’s men perishing. However, when they returned to Britain three years later the survivors were met with great acclaim, and Franklin became feted as ‘the man who ate his boots’.

Sir John Franklin is one of East Lindsey’s most famous Ancestors and this trail and the leaflet we’ve helped to create is a great way to learn about his life and adventures.Councillor Adam Grist, East Lindsey District Council

A second arctic expedition in 1825 proved much more successful and upon their return, Franklin and his men were greeted as heroes and two years later Franklin was knighted by King George IV. In 1836 Franklin accepted Lieutenant-Governorship of Van Dieman’s Land (later renamed Tasmania). Prior to his departure from the United Kingdom he undertook a tour of Lincolnshire and was presented with a piece of silver plate by the Town of Spilsby.

Following his removal from office of Lord Governor, Franklin set off on what would prove to be his final expedition in 1845, leading a party with the aim of surveying the North West Passage. Little is known about what befell the party but it is believed that after two years, they set off overland and eventually all perished. Neither Franklin’s grave nor his body have ever been found, however interest in the expedition was revived after the wreck of one of the expedition’s ships, HMS Erebus, was discovered in Terror Bay, Canada. Two years later the wreck of another of the expedition’s ships, HMS Terror, was also found. Relics from the ships have been displayed at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and the Canadian Museum of History.

Alongside the trail East Lindsey District Council has produced an informational leaflet in conjunction with Spilsby and Hundleby Walkers are Welcome. The ‘On the Trail of Sir John Franklin’ leaflet is the latest in the Council’s History Matters leaflets, which focus on some of the District’s most famous Ancestors, including Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Sir Joseph Banks and Captain John Smith.

Portfolio Holder for Market Towns and the Rural Economy, Councillor Adam Grist, said: “Sir John Franklin is one of East Lindsey’s most famous Ancestors and this trail and the leaflet we’ve helped to create is a great way to learn about his life and adventures. This is our latest in the series of History Matters leaflets – hopefully it will build on the work we’ve been doing to encourage people to come and visit our wonderful market towns and the Lincolnshire Wolds.”

The ‘On the Trail of Sir John Franklin’ walk takes place in Spilsby on Tuesday, 29 May at 10:30am and 4:00pm and will feature a treasure trail for children.

Full details of the walk can be found on The ‘On the Trail of Sir John Franklin’ leaflet will be available to view online at following the launch and at Tourist Information Centres.

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