Capt Scott’s Antarctic Legacy in Cardiff

There was a public auction today, of memorabilia and documents from the British Antarctic Expedition 1907–09, also known as the Nimrod Expedition.

A ‘hat-tip’ to former colleague, Matthew Teller, for spotting it and posting it on Twitter.

The Lots 1-6 being sold off in Golding Young & Mawer Grantham’s Collective Sale, include several autographed menus from celebratory dinners help for Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team members on the British Antarctic Expedition 1907-1909¹.

It reminded me of similar items on display in Cardiff.

The Royal Hotel in Cardiff² was the setting for a formal farewell dinner held on 13 June 1910 in honour of Capt Robert Falcon Scott and the Officers of the Terra Nova who were leaving two days later on the British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913.

An annotated hand-written letter displayed behind reflective glass
The Williamson letter
A typed sheet behind glass
Transcript of Williamson letter

The display cases in the Scott Room have various bits of memorabilia including autographed menu cards – clearly a ‘thing’ in those days – newspaper clippings and a rather poignant letter written by one of the team who found the frozen bodies of Scott and his team. Some of these items are photocopies.

Apologies for the quality of the photos. I took them over 2 years ago, before this site was launched, as simple reference images for written copy.

 

Speaking of interesting auction lots, this one was pretty special but nobody seemed to make much of a fuss at the time, and they certainly didn’t recognise its value!

 

¹ There were four pioneering British Antarctic Expeditions in 1898, 1901, 1907 (Shackleton) and 1910 (Scott).

² The Royal Hotel is a splendid hotel, well worth a visit. In addition to the Scott cabinets in the breakfast room, you should ask to see the bees on the roof. Any hotel that keeps beehives (I’m looking at you The Chesterfield, St Ermin’s and The Ritz, in London!) is ok in my book!

 

4 Comments

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  1. Dear Alistair, I am going through my deceased mom’s treasured possessions (born 1917) and have found a piece of memorabilia which might be of interest to you. Its a steel moulding with a penguin on the front and Scott on the back. Looks as though it might have been part of a ship. I can’t find your email anywhere, but if you let me have it, I could take a photograph and email it to you and you could assess it’s authenticity. I look forward to hearing from you.. By the way, my mom used to work for the Port of London Authority, so could possibly have some connections there. Liz Cotton, Cape Town, South Africa

    Liz COTTON / Reply
  2. Hi Liz, How interesting. I’m not sure I’m competent to make any judgement on it, but I’d like to see it. 🙂

    Sorry, yes the email is a bit elusive. It’s cunningly disguised on the About page: alastair (with three a’s) at mechtraveller dot com.

    I’m away on a busy trip this week, so i might not get back straight away

    Alastair / Reply
  3. Is there anywhere a list of the businessmen who contributed to the dinner and the expedition. My grandfather was Charles Stuart Christie, my great Grandfather was Stephen Medhurst and my family is connected to the Duncans, all who were shipowners or business men in Cardiff in 1910 and I wondered whether any were involved.

    k Rowlandson / Reply
    • Good question. I didn’t notice a list in the display. All it says on the Music Programme and the Toast List is that the dinner was: “Given by members of the commercial community of Cardiff”. So I’d be surprised if your relatives weren’t involved!

      Sorry I can’t help beyond that. The hotel’s curator might know if there are any more documents in ‘storage’ elsewhere. Or you may find the answer coming from the other direction; in your family papers…?

      Alastair / Reply (in reply to k Rowlandson)

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