Cumbernauld author Robert unveils first book

Author Robert Grogans with his history book
Author Robert Grogans with his history book

LOCAL writer Robert Grogans has just published his first book.

Robert, from Abronhill, has released ‘To Auckland by the Ganges’, compiled from the journal of David Buchanan, a 19th-century Scottish journalist who emigrated to the fledgling colony of New Zealand with his family. Originally serialised in the Herald, Robert has taken David’s account of the four-month voyage from London aboard the sailing ship Ganges and presented it in a format accessible to modern readers, along with authentic period illustrations.

“I was in the Mitchell Library doing research for a project on the Dixon family who set up Dixon’s Ironworks when I found this journal on microfiched editions of the Herald and knew I had to do something with it,” said Robert, who has had articles published in a number of periodicals, but had never tackled something of this scale before.

“David wrote very detailed accounts of shipboard life,” said Robert. “You get to know the personalities of the crew and passengers and get a feel for what they went through while at sea. I also included a glossary of nautical terms for anyone unfamiliar with the language.”

Robert has a deep-seated love of all things nautical. In the early 1960s he trained as an electrician, and learned about shipboard electrical systems. This led to a job in the Merchant Navy.

“I was only a sailor for about a year, but I saw a fair bit of the world in a fairly brief time,” said Robert. “I would surely have made a career out of it, but had to leave when my father’s health deteriorated.”

However, while his career as a sailor was abruptly terminated, Robert enjoyed reading about those who spent their lives at sea and soon began researching and writing his own material.

“I started writing articles in the early 1970s and have been doing so ever since,” said the 66-year-old. “I’m hoping the book be of interest, not just to maritime enthusiats but also New Zealanders researching their family history,” said Robert, who has included a full passenger manifest.

For your chance to win one of two copies of To Auckland by the Ganges, simply answer the following question:

The ship Ganges was named after a river in which country?

Send your answers, with your name, address and daytime telephone number, to: To Auckland by the Ganges competition, Cumbernauld News, 10-12 Tay Walk, Cumbernauld G67 1BU. Usual rules apply and the editor’s decision is final. Competition closes Tuesday, May 22.