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Polar Bytes - No. 11, March 1999

Polar Bytes - No. 11, March 1999

A word from the Chairman, Philippa Foster Back

On January 15th the Friends hosted a Discussion Forum at the SPRI when fourteen organisations came together to share thoughts on how the Centenaries of the Heroic Age will be celebrated. It was a very successful day, culminating in the formation of ANTARCTICA 100, of which the Friends are a member - have a look at the website - ANTARCTICA 100.

The trip to Antarctica on the Kapitan Khlebnikov is now booked for eleven intrepid Friends to journey "In the footsteps of Scott and Shackleton," as our tour in January 2000 is called.

Finally, it is with great sadness that I record the recent death of Mary Swithinbank, who was such an enthusiastic supporter of the Friends and the Institute. Our thoughts are with Charles.

Polar Paraphernalia

As from November 1998 the Committee is constituted as follows:

Chairman, Philippa Foster Back (retires 2000)
Mr Tony Billinghurst (1999)
Mr Peter Speak (1999)
Dr Derek Fordham (2000)
Dr Pamela Davis (2002)
Dr Charles Swithinbank (2002)
Dr John A Heap (2003)
Dr David Powell (2003)
Dr David Walton (2001): (co-opted)

Professor Keith Richards (Director SPRI)
Mr William Mills (Librarian and Keeper)
Mr Robert Headland (Curator and Archivist)
Anne Millar, (Secretary).

As we have now come to the end of the current lecture series I would like to thank both Sally Stonehouse and Anne Todd for their assistance organising the refreshments which I am sure you have all enjoyed.

A date for your diary

The Summer Lunch will be held on Saturday, 5 June 1999 at Girton College. Girton is situated off the A14 (the Huntingdon Road) set in beautiful grounds with excellent on-site parking for all guests. After lunch there will be a presentation by Christopher Warren, BBC Producer and Director on the SPRI Oral History Project which has been in existence on and ad hoc basis since 1992. Included in this presentation will be videoed interviews with Sir Vivian Fuchs, Terence Armstrong and Evelyn Forbes. Enclosed is an application form for tickets together with the details of the location for the Lunch. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on the day. These are limited to approximately 50 people.

Friendly News

We have been asked to bring to your attention a trip of circumnavigation of South Georgia during November and December 2000. If anyone is interested please contact Michael Gilkes, 42 The Green, Southwick, West Sussex BN42 4FR. Tel: 01273 593233.

Membership Matters, by Jennifer Dale, Membership Secretary

Welcome to all new members of the Friends now totalling 454! If you have any queries then contact me 9am - 12noon Monday to Friday on my direct line +44 (0)1223 336562 or e-mail Subscriptions can paid by debit/credit card by giving your full name, card number issue number and expiry date or pay by banker's order or by a Deed of Covenant If you are a British taxpayer, the value of your donation can be increased at no extra cost to you. By agreeing to give the same amount for a minimum of four years we can claim back the tax you have already paid. Don't forget that Life Membership is now £250.00.

Friends Funds

Thank you also for supporting the Friends by purchasing tickets for "The Worst Journey in the World". These were kindly donated by the RGS for their December performance, as a boost to our funds around the time of our official opening of the Shackleton Memorial Library extension.

The Friends generously support the Library by providing money for the purchase of maps and out-of-print books, and for the repair of books with loose pages and covers. The Library doesn't actually possess any other money to purchase maps, so this grant is particularly important. With regard to out-of-print books, although our collections are very comprehensive, we do still discover titles not held by the Library. Over the ten years that I have been Librarian, I have noted a decline in the numbers of these as gaps are filled, but still find that our collections are less good for certain categories of material than I should like. The major current lacunae are: polar fiction, Alaska, and books published in Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Antarctic books published in Latin American countries are also less well-presented than they should be, and these can be especially difficult to locate. All offers of help will be appreciated!

The SPRI Picture Library is grateful to the Friends for two donations which have enabled them to purchase a generous amount of archival polyester sleeves for the preservation of photographs and to embark on the conservation of two photograph albums in the collection. The first of these to receive attention is the album of prints taken on Shackleton's Endurance expedition (1914-16) which was owned by Frank Hurley and brought back by him. These images are currently very much in demand with the huge interest in Shackleton that is sweeping the US in particular. The album, which is annotated by Hurley and contains signatures of all members of the expedition is unique and a major asset of the Institute. A conservator has begun work on this already. The other album is that of the Ponting photographs, taken on Scott's Terra Nova (1910-13) expedition. This is a huge volume of about 800 prints and again conservation work is required to maintain the quality of the prints. It is hoped that it will eventually be possible to store all our prints in these sleeves.

The Museum has already spent some money on the materials which allowed a full and uniform re-labelling of exhibits in the museum. All the case labels are now of uniform text, 14 point size, which the curator finds easier to read without his spectacles!

Shackleton Scholarship Fund

The Hon Alexandra Shackleton has asked if we would like to support this fund. Sir Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic Expeditions and his incredible feats of endurance, leadership and seamanship are enjoying a remarkable revival of interest. His story was re-told in an illustrated lecture held at the RGS, 1 Kensington Gore, London, on the 12 May 1999 at 7.00 pm. Our archivist, Mr Robert Headland is gave a lecture entitled "A Century Ago: Shackleton and the 'Heroic Age' of Antarctica".