Author: Jane Hamill, Antarctic Heritage Trust NZ Winter Conservator
The Antarctic Heritage Trust‘s winter conservation team has been working on conserving the first bicycle in Antarctica as part of the Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project. The bicycle originally belonged to the mechanic Bernard Day. It came to Antarctica on Scott’s Terra Nova expedition (1910 – 1913) but was first used by the geologist Thomas Griffith Taylor on the 8th of October 1911. Scott granted Taylor permission to cycle from Cape Evans out to Turk’s Head, although he actually cycled as far as the Erebus Glacier Tongue. Taylor carried out a rough survey of the area and then, exhausted, began the return journey to Cape Evans carrying the bicycle over his head. It seems that it was never used again.
The bicycle was stored on the roof of the garage at Cape Evans after Taylor’s little expedition and was probably moved indoors in the 1960s during work on the hut. We began conservation work on the bicycle last year and are now finishing it up. The metal is very heavily corroded and the bicycle is in many pieces but we are hoping to put it back on display in the stables this summer. For more information on our conservation work and life on the Ice, take a look at our blog which is hosted on the Natural History Museum’s website.
Read another guest blog from the Antarctic Heritage Trust.