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Polar Bytes - No. 24, October 2002

A few words from the Chairman, Philippa Foster Back

You will read below of the Institute’s successes at the Christies Sale. At the recent Committee Meeting it was decided that the Friends of the Institute should make available a proportion of the reserves to underwrite the purchases that the Institute had identified it wished to purchase. As no matched funds were available this time round our funds were used – in total £9,752.

A further item was also purchased with the help of members of the Debenham family, which was Lot 344: Frank Debenham’s original sledging notes in his Diary of the Western Journey, January to March 1911 and his stay at Hut Point 14th March to 13th April 1911. The latter being new material as the diaries had been written up by him and expanded after his return.

I am happy to report that the shop is being restocked just now, following a successful opening during the visit of Friends of Antarctica, members of the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust. The new Shop Manager is Francesca Franco who has quickly picked up the reins from Ruth who left in August. News about Saturday opening will follow in due course.

The summer is now behind us and as winter draws do remember the Saturday evening lectures begin on October 19th with Bob Headland speaking on South Georgia.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the AGM in November, which will be my last in the Chair.

A few words from The Librarian and Keeper of Collections, from William Mills:

Christies’ Polar Sale

Friends will be pleased to hear that the Institute was successful in acquiring four lots at the major auction held on 25 September. This was only possible thanks to generous grants from the Friends and the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust. Thank you all very much. Prices were lower than in previous years, perhaps marking the end of the great speculative boom in polar memorabilia.

The following lots were acquired:

128: Alfred Cheetham; ms. journal from Shackleton's Nimrod expedition.

Cheetham was third officer and boatswain of Nimrod. He had previously served as Morning's boatswain, 1902-04, and was afterwards to return to Antarctica as boatswain in Terra Nova, 1910-13, and third officer in Endurance, 1914-16. As his record suggests, Cheetham was a significant figure in his own right and the Institute has otherwise only two of his letters. This journal complements our extensive collection for Shackleton's first expedition. As a member of the Ship rather than the Shore party, it presents a seaman's perspective of the expedition, and will be most informative for Nimrod's voyages. The journal consists of about 95 pages and covers the period 1 January to 8 March 1908 and 1 December to 17 January 1909.

174: Robert Scott; ms. instructions to Cecil Meares.

It is particularly pleasing to report the acquisition of this 3-page letter. Much has been written, not all of it well-informed, concerning Scott's use of dogs on his second expedition. This letter contains detailed instructions as to how he wished the dogs to be employed. It is a particularly good example of his planning for the South Pole journey.

244: Leonard Hussey; ms. of proposed book about Shackleton's Quest expedition.

When Shackleton died, Hussey was delegated responsibility for making arrangements for the return of his body to England, and then burial at South Georgia, when this was requested by Lady Shackleton. Hussey wrote six chapters for inclusion in Frank Wild's official account of the expedition, but they remained unpublished

presumably for lack of space. This text complements two major acquisitions to the Institute's Archives last year: the Quest's official archive, including Shackleton's death certificate and Dr Macklin's account of his death; and the Shackleton Family Archive.

316: Sidney Riches; ms. fair copy of journal from Shackleton's Nimrod expedition.

Riches served in Nimrod as an able seaman, this being the only Antarctic expedition in which he participated. At 309 numbered pages, this is longer than most accounts, covering the period 1 January to 8 March 1908 and 1 December 1908 to 30 August 1909. This is a very useful addition to our collections for Shackleton's first expedition, and is quite probably uniquely informative in its extended coverage of Nimrod's voyage home, when she searched for several islands now known not to exist.

Friends' AGM

In the knowledge that for many Friends the AGM is the one opportunity to make use of the Library, it will be open on Saturday 16 November from 10.00 am to 4.30 pm. Anyone wishing to make use of it, should first contact William Mills for arrangements. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to allow access to any materials in the Archives.

A few words from the Secretary, Ann Bean:

I will start with a few words of thanks! Thank you to all the Friends who went out and found a new Friend – please keep up the good work.

And secondly, a very big thank you to David Wilson and Judy Skelton for donating a signed and boxed copy of their recent book “Discovery Illustrated: Pictures from Captain Scott’s First Antarctic Expedition”, to be raffled at the AGM. So - if you would like to take part in the raffle but cannot get to any of the events on the 16th November - ask your Friends to buy your tickets for you, as tickets will only be on sale on the day.

Christmas will soon be here! If you are looking for ideas for presents why not try the SPRI shop – catalogue can be accessed via the recently redesigned website or if you do not have the technology a printed copy can be obtained from the SPRI office. There have been several new additions to the catalogue including a CD “The Songs of the ‘MORNING’: a Musical Sketch” – music and poems from the Heroic Age.

Forthcoming Events:

The Tom Crean Society in conjunction with the Kerry County Museum are organising a series of events in October and December – Thursday 31st October Aidan Dooley will perform his one man show on Tom Crean at the South Pole Inn, Annascaul and on Thursday 12th December the Tom Crean Society will be holding its first Gala Dinner – for full details of these and all other events contact Eileen Percival on 066-9157388.

To coincide with these events two seven day Special Tom Crean Walking Tours have been arranged (25th October – 1st November and 7th-15th December) – for further details contact Walking Boots Tours 066 9157382.