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Tristan : Rockhopper Copper set to Hit Bookshelves
Submitted by Tristan Times (Juanita Brock) 14.03.2005 (Article Archived on 09.05.2005)

In 2006 it will be 500 years since the Portuguese explorer Tristao da Cunha discovered what is now the most remote inhabited island on Earth -- the mountainous volcano summit towering out of the South Atlantic, 1,500 miles from Cape Town, 1,300 miles from St Helena, home now to just 300 people:

Photo(c) Beau Rowlands - Conrad at a recent Tristan da Cunha Association meeting.




Conrad Glass


The life and times of the people of the planet’s most remote inhabited island:




from the notebook of their Policeman and Conservation Officer, CONRAD GLASS


Published by Orphans Press in conjunction with Conrad J. Glass at £10.

 ISBN 1 903360 10 2



In 2006 it will be 500 years since the Portuguese explorer Tristao da Cunha discovered what is now the most remote inhabited island on Earth -- the mountainous volcano summit towering out of the South Atlantic, 1,500 miles from Cape Town, 1,300 miles from St Helena, home now to just 300 people:

Tristan da Cunha.


No aircraft fly over this tiny speck on the map just 37 miles square and none can land. Few ships pass this way and this most remote of British Territories earns its living from farming, fishing, handicrafts and the sale of colourful postage stamps.


Now the island’s Inspector of Police and Conservation Officer, Conrad Glass has become the first islander to write about everyday life on Tristan da Cunha and its history and legends.


In ROCKHOPPER COPPER, Glass (a direct descendent of first settler and governor William Glass, who was part of a garrison landed in 1816 to thwart any French bid to free Napoleon from exile on St Helena) tells stories of rescue from wild Atlantic islands; volcanic eruptions; the protection of seals, penguins and albatross; of chase by a whale; escape from violent hurricanes and the keeping of the peace in this remotest of police beats.


There’s a glimpse too of the island’s past – of hidden pirate treasure, a shipwrecked lion, of ghostly apparitions, of slave ships and abduction.


His work is as much about penguins as people: “The Rockhopper Penguin is a most disagreeable bird and was always ready to have a go at his neighbour, the world and myself in general. Almost all…could be held on charge for Breach of the Peace” he writes in his report on his census of Rockhopper Penguins on his beat on the uninhabited Gough Island, part of the Tristan group.



“I feel very elated and satisfied now that the book is completed” he says. “I started to write it because of the questions passengers from cruise ships asked about Tristan even though they had visited the island. I also wanted to promote Tristan to the world and to leave an account of my life”.


He started work on ROCKHOPPER COPPER in January 2003 speaking to Tristan people and his family about local facts and researching the history of the island in its reference library. Chapters on conservation of wildlife and search and rescue were taken from his police notebooks and other stories came from personal experiences and tales told by his grandparents and uncles.


Glass explains: “The title indicates the nature of the book – 80% of my conservation work covers working with penguins. How many coppers in this world spend just as much time policing penguins as people?


“For all their macho behaviour, the penguins are vulnerable to long line fishing and trawling, not to mention oil pumped from ships cleaning out their bilges. The penguins live and breed on Tristan and the neighbouring islands of Nightingale, Inaccessible and Gough. In fact 47% of our land on Tristan is given over to the protection of wildlife and conservation.”


Glass suspects that few people in the UK have heard of Tristan, even though the spectacular volcanic eruption of August 12, 1961, which forced all inhabitants to flee and take refuge thousands of miles away in an old Army camp near Southampton, is remembered by many.


“I hope ROCKHOPPER COPPER will give the world an insight into our unique lifestyle, in which a man can always rely on his neighbour for help, no questions asked; where our doors are not locked; our women and children go safely wherever they choose and all men are equal, regardless of rank, status or the colour of their skin” says Glass.


He hopes the book will introduce the outside world to the islands’ wildlife which has no fear of man and lives in an environment in which they have no natural predators. “It is important that young Tristanians can show visitors that man can share this environment with other species. After all, they were here long before we arrived.


“If you want an adventure, visit Tristan. It is an experience you will remember all your life. The journey is not for the faint hearted – one must plan carefully and permission must be obtained from Administrator’s Department on Tristan.


“There is no airport. It takes six days by ship from Cape Town to reach Tristan. One can either stay in a private guest house or rent rooms with an island family for £20 per person full board.”







Glass, his wife Sharon and son Leon are now travelling back to their island home to resume work. During a year in England he worked at Alton Towers Theme Park in Staffordshire controlling the monorail which takes guests from the car park. At the close of the summer season the family moved to Bristol to stay with relations and Glass took a job with Group 4 security working at Lloyds TSB headquarters, using spare time to complete the book and arrange its publication. Once he has resumed his post as Tristan’s Police Inspector and Conservation Officer, Glass plans a further book on the island, encouraged by the enthusiastic response to ROCKHOPPER COPPER.


The book is priced at £10 and is also available by post at £13 post-paid worldwide from:


The Orphans Press

Hereford Road


Herefordshire HR6 8JT


Tel 01568 612460


Copies can also be obtained from cruise liners calling at Tristan da Cunha and by post from the island (delivery may take up to three months). An undated cheque for £13 should be sent to:


Conrad Glass

4 Thompson Street

Edinburgh of the Seven Seas

Tristan da Cunha

South Atlantic Ocean

TDCU 1ZZ and the Tristan da Cunha website:


Issued March 2005.  Ends



Conrad Glass can be contacted via e-mail at He can be contacted by phone in Cape Town until approx. 20 March on 00272 1461 2116 or 00272 1461 3591 ; thereafter (subject to sailing times etc) Conrad’s phone on Tristan da Cunha is 00871 6820 87158 or 00871 7634 21817.  His brother in law Brian Rogers, who recently visited the island, can be contacted in Bristol on 0117 957 3823.


Further information and a selection of photographs from ROCKHOPPER COPPER can be obtained from the book’s editor, Chris Bates on 0121 472 6739 or e-mail:


Information about the Tristan da Cunha Association can be obtained from its Hon. Secretary, Michael Swales, c/o Denstone College, Uttoxeter on 01538 703322.


This article is the Property and Copyright of Tristan Times.

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