Kendall’s Longitude
By John Bendall
The Times and Voyages of: K2 The Bounty Watch. The People, Places & Politics

What a fascinating book this is! Almost every chapter recalls a different thrilling adventure. This wonderful time piece has touched the lives of so many famous people throughout its long history.

Larcum Kendall, who made K2 for £200 between 1770 and 1772, was a highly skilled and inventive craftsman. His watch was cared for, and treasured by each of its owners, and we get to know them through the pages of John Bendall’s book. It is not a stuffy book by any means, it is a fascinating read and has much about “our” subject of Pitcairn and the mutiny on the Bounty. John also includes the question, in an Epilogue to the book, which has always fascinated me: did Fletcher Christian leave Pitcairn Island? I will not give away his thoughts here, you will have to read the book for yourself, but I have to say that I agree with his feelings. And we will probably never know for certain.

Here is a brief extract from page 77 to give you a little flavour of the book:
Up to this 4th voyage, K2 had seemed to be a lucky charm. The ship that took it to the Arctic would have been crushed by ice and perhaps all souls would have been lost but for a timely wind change. The two later ships operating in North America at different times, survived fire and powder ships, gunfire, a submarine, floating mines and kidnapping plots. K2 survived the African equatorial climate on this voyage, but its luck ran out with the death of the Commander.

However, already another naval captain who had experience of K1 and K3 sailing with Cook in the Pacific was being offered K2 by the Admiralty. The next voyage would just involve sailing to a beautiful South Pacific island where the officers only had to rub noses with some nice Polynesian chiefs and the crew only had to behave. It just involved digging up a few plants and transporting them to another beautiful island – in the Caribbean. Easy. Surely, nothing could go wrong?

This book is not history, or even herstory, it is K2’s story, and what a fabulous life K2 has led! Now sitting in its comfortable retirement home at Greenwich, the tales of this 250 year old watch will enthrall you. K2 was an incredible piece of British craftsmanship and a wonderful work of art.

I recommend the book totally. Do buy it for yourself as a late Christmas present! I would like to congratulate John Bendall on his book, and welcome him as a new member of the Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands Society.

David Ransom

Review first published in “The Bounty”, January 2021

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Kendall’s Longitude
By John Bendall
Paperback, rrp £9.99: ISBN: 9781788239417
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