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Polar Bytes - No. 10, December 1998

Polar Bytes - No. 10, December 1998

A Word from the Chairman, Philippa Foster Back

What a wonderful celebration we had at the opening of the Shackleton Memorial Library. I am only sorry that not all members of the Friends were able to join in the happy day. The Library itself is magnificent, in particular the doors with the roundel etchings of Sir Ernest and Lord Shackleton, which were donated by the Friends. Again I would like to thank everyone for their support. The Institute has kindly designated the entry room into the Library as the Friends' Room.

There was a full attendance at our AGM and I was pleased to report that financially we had a good year and our reserves, as at the end of July 1998, were £29,000, an increase of £5,000 over the previous year.

At the end of the AGM the Friends gave presents of thanks to John and Peggy Heap and Capt Joe and Mary Wubbold, all of whom have asked me to pass on their thanks to the Friends. A copy of the Constitution which was adopted is enclosed together with a list of current Committee Members.

Numbers for the Antarctic tour are increasing and I would ask all those who are interested to ensure that they contact me before Christmas.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the Friends a Happy Christmas and New Year and to thank you for your continued support, but would still encourage each and everyone of you to find a friend to become a Friend!

The Museum by Bob Headland, Curator and Archivist

We are very pleased to announce that the Museum, which had to be the first division of the Institute to be closed,and the last to re-open, is now open again normally. Friends and others interested in polar regions are welcome to visit between 1430 - 1600 Mon to Sat (although we are closed on some days during the holiday period - please telephone beforehand). The exhibits have all been re-labelled in a larger script. A number of new, or previously rarely seen items, are included (such as Amundsen's black flag collected by Edward Wilson at the South Pole in 1912) The special exhibition is a display of the recent gift of George Marston paintings, with some of his other works. Until the end of the year, the items previously for sale by Christie's, but then subsequently withdrawn, are displayed in the Museum. They have been given to the Antarctic Heritage Trust and will be on view here at the Institute until they are returned to New Zealand and the Historic Huts.

Polar Paraphernalia, by Anne Millar, Friends Secretary

Shop sales have been very successful. On the Saturday of the opening sales were in excess of £1750. This is great news and our thanks go to all who have supported the shop to make it so profitable. The shop is open during Museum opening hours and at evening lectures during term. Please remember we now accept credit card payments either personally, by post or telephone. Please remember for your Christmas presents, the 1999 Friends calendar at £5 is available. Also the Shackleton Commemorative mugs at £7.99 and the Penguins at £5.99.

Any Friends who would like to help serve coffee at evening lectures next term, please drop me a note at SPRI.

I would like to thank Shirley Sawtell, who is the Library Assistant here at the Institute, who kindly donated an Inuit jacket which was raffled at the Friends Supper on the 21st November and raised a splendid £100 for the funds.

A date for your diary

The 1999 Friends Lunch will be held on Saturday 5th June at Girton College. Further details and ticket applications will be sent in the next mailing.

Membership Matters, Jennifer Dale, Friends Membership Secretary

I would like to welcome all new members to the Friends. I did process a lot of applications just around the opening of the Shackleton Memorial Library on the 20th November! We now have 435 members about 60 more than last year. It was also lovely to meet so many of you, some for the first time. I have heard from the Committee that Life Membership is now £250 and if you would like to become a Life Member then do contact me. I am available 9am - noon Monday to Friday on 01223 336562.

From the Librarian, William Mills

The Friends Room

Friends who were unable to attend the recent opening may be unaware that the Shackleton Memorial Library includes a room "dedicated to friends who have generously supported the Institute in many different ways." This room provides a general social area within the Library and, in addition to computer terminals and reference books, houses the Endurance spar, several paintings, a pair of snowshoes, and two exhibitions (a Photographic History of the Institute and the Wilfred White Polar Library ). Jennifer Dale, the Membership Secretary will be happy to arrange visits for Friends who contact her.

Recent Donations

Mrs R Cave has presented four blackboards with chalk drawings by R F Scott (1904). E H Shackleton (1909), F Nansen (1892) and S Hedin (1909). The drawings were made at public lectures given at Owens College, Manchester (the forerunner of the University of Manchester). Those by Scott and Shackleton depict penguins, Scott's being the more ornithological, Shackleton's the more humorous. Nansen's drawing shows the Fram in cross-section and Hedin drew a Mongolian warrior. The blackboards were rescued from disposal by Mrs Cave's husband in the 1950's. The drawings are in surprisingly good condition and we hope to display them in the Lecture Theatre following restoration.

Wilfred White joined the Friends in 1948 and was for many years the Institute's longest serving Friend. Wilfred built up an exceptionally fine collection which he bequeathed to the Institute on his death in 1997. There is a small exhibition of books from his collection on display in the Friends Room for the next few months.

From Sheila Bransfield, Friend of the Institute

Edward Bransfield is mainly known today from the British Antarctic Survey ship named after him. When I first saw my ancestor's grave where he rests with his wife in a Brighton cemetery I was incensed to see its condition. I have now successfully raised funds to renovate it. The incription has become illegible so the surface of the stone will be ground down and the inscription recut. There will be additional text to acknowledge that he was one of the earliest men to see the Antarctica continent in January 1820. In January '99, on the anniversary of this event, I shall raise a flag on King George Island as I retrace Edward's steps in the Antarctic. My very grateful thanks go to all those who contributed to the grave's renovation: the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust, Trinity House and two private individuals, as well as the kind intervention of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.