Centenary Of Antarctic Mission To be Marked At Museum

An exhibition on Scilly’s connection with Captain Scott’s Antarctic mission is being planned for the Isles of Scilly museum.

In 1913, Scott’s ship, the Terra Nova, called into Scilly on its return to the UK.

The expedition was high-profile at the time and generated much press coverage. Captain Scott and his expedition party died on the return journey to the ship from the South Pole, having been beaten to the site by the Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen.

The sixty-five men who formed the ship and shore parties of the Terra Nova expedition were chosen from 8,000 applicants.

Mary Cleveland, who’s organising the exhibition, says it’s not just about marking the centenary of Scott’s ill-fated voyage, but highlighting the many links that Scilly has with the early Antarctic explorers.

Mary herself is descended from Charles Roydes who was First Lieutenant on the RRS Discovery during Scott’s first expedition to Antarctica in 1901 -1904.

There are numerous other links, such as Dr Alexander Macklin, who was the surgeon on all of Ernest Shackleton’s expeditions. He spent his boyhood years on the islands, as his father was the local GP for a time.

The late John Hamilton was also a founder member of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.

Mary says the Terra Nova spent two days in Scilly being cleaned and painted in preparation for her expected reception in Cardiff. She thinks several locals helped with this, and the ship was opened to islanders to go on board.

And it was here that Lieutenant Pennell handed over command to Commander Evans for the onward passage up the Bristol Channel to Cardiff.

But museum curator, Amanda Martin, said there was a report in the Scillonian Magazine, written by F Macfarland, that the crew knew they’d be subject to media attention when they reached the mainland, and picked up items to sell as souvenirs. She says they gathered items like shells from the beaches, which she says they intended to pass off as genuine to gullible people on the mainland.

The crew also gave items to locals such as husky dog chains and cutlery, some of which are now part of the museum’s collection.

Mary said she’d be grateful for the loan any artefacts or photos from the Terra Nova visit, as well as photos and comments from anyone who’s visited Antarctica. In particular, there is thought to be some china with the British Antarctic Expedition stamp on it which the museum would like to track down.

The museum hopes to start work on the display in the winter in time for next season.