From Coal to Pole: Wales and Antarctica
On 15 June 1910, a large, excited and noisy Cardiff crowd cheered a heavily laden ship as she left Bute Dock. SS Terra Nova was headed south - to Antarctica.
Terra Nova had arrived in Cardiff five days earlier for her final preparations for the voyage south and to take on fuel. 300 tons of Crown Patent Fuel and 100 tons of steam coal were provided free by Welsh coal companies, as were 500 gallons of engine and lamp oil.
All of the expedition’s cooking utensils were given by the Welsh Tin Plate Company of Llanelli and even Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s sleeping bag was bought with funds raised by the County School in Cardigan. In addition to support in kind, a further £2,500 was raised in Cardiff, more than from any other city.
Without Cardiff-based sponsors such as ship-owners Daniel Radcliffe and William Tatem (later Lord Glanely) and the help of William Davies - editor of the Western Mail, Captain Scott would not have left in time to reach the Pole in 1912.
Such was the support in Wales for the expedition that Cardiff was designated the home port of the Terra Nova. It was to Bute Dock that she was to return at the close of the expedition on 14 June 1913.
100 years after departure, the figurehead of Terra Nova is the centrepiece of From Coal to Pole: Wales and Antarctica - the first Antarctic exhibition at the Museum since 1914.
In addition to a pair of skis worn by one of the expedition’s geologists Raymond Priestley, a sailor’s hat band, penguins, shells and rocks collected and even a biscuit from the expedition, a welsh flag provided by James Howell of Howells Department Store also forms part of the exhibition.
Perhaps the most poignant objects are a handful of rocks, part of a load of 35lbs of geological specimens found on Scott’s sledge when the bodies of Scott and his companions were discovered. These are on loan from the Natural History Museum in London.
The story will also be told through a series of images of the Terra Nova, autographs and letters. The exhibition also explores other Welsh links with Antarctica – a geologist from St Fagans, a stowaway from Newport and the Antarctic work of a zoologist from St Brides Major who later became Director of the National Museum.