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A slightly smaller sledge this time

Sunday, July 10th, 2011


Y: 2010/62 – sledge (Photo F. Cahill)

As regular readers of this blog will know, I like boxes. Nine times out of ten they will hold a pleasant surprise and this box was no exception. Unlike the sledge Peter helped me with, this is of the much smaller variety.

Close-up of sledge with equipment

Close-up of sledge with equipment (Photo F. Cahill)

The model was originally lent to the Institute for an exhibition in 1987 by Eustace Balfour. The provenance files tell how the model was given to Eustace Balfour’s mother by Edward (Teddy) Evans . However the model is attributed to Petty Officer Edgar Evans, and was made during the Terra Nova expedition 1910-13.

It really is a wonderful object as the sledge is loaded with a variety of equipment including fuel cans, sledging boxes, sleeping bags and tent … the only part missing is the cooker. However the strapping for the cooker is still intact.

The sledge will go on display in our temporary gallery at the end of the year in an exhibition, so it needed some conservation.

I popped it on a cake stand as this is a really useful way of taking images of smaller objects by rotating the stand rather than handling the objects too much. I started to dismantle the sledge and again took lots of images so I would know how to put it back together again.

Sledge dismantled for conservation

Sledge dismantled for conservation (Photo: F. Cahill)

The sledge and equipment were generally in good condition, but on the whole dusty and dirty. Some of the metal objects had rusted and I removed the corrosion mechanically with a scalpel under the microscope. The strapping for the cooker was torn and I repaired this with some Japanese tissue adhered to the back as a support.

Sleeping bag pre-conservation Sleeping bag post-conservation
Sleeping bag pre-conservation Sleeping bag post-conservation

Sometimes I will replace missing parts on an object if it makes the whole visually more coherent. One of the sleeping bags was missing its ‘strapping’. By examining the bag I could see the impression in the leather where the strapping used to be. I sourced a linen thread of the same colour and thickness and tied it around the bag.

Once I had finished conserving the sledge I reassembled it using the photos I had taken earlier. It is amazing to think that this object was probably made from ‘scrap’ materials found in and around the hut at Cape Evans.

Edgar Evans

Portrait of Edgar Evans standing next to a laden sledge (Photo: H. Ponting © SPRI)

Although you can’t see the whole of the sledge behind Edgar Evans it is possible to identify objects both on this sledge and the model, in particular the tent poles and sleeping bags.

Don’t forget to visit The Polar Museum in December when this object will be on display in our ‘These Rough Notes’ exhibition.

(Images © SPRI/Fiona Cahill)