Goodwill to all

Henry Bowers' handmade Christmas tree, Cape Evans 1911.  Courtesy of the Scott Polar Research Institute.

Henry Bowers’ handmade Christmas tree, Cape Evans 1911.  Courtesy of the Scott Polar Research Institute.

As the year crawls to its inevitable end and we turn our thoughts to Christmas, it is important to keep things in perspective as the trials of the season also begin to appear. Usually, these occur doing the early stages of Christmas travel. The trips we so eagerly planned mid-year start becoming a reality as we hit the waterways, roads and airways for the ‘break’ we have been anticipating. Somehow in our planning, we conveniently forget the crowded Pacific Highway or the moorings that are hard to secure in our favourite ‘secret’ bay. The airport queues seem longer this year and we are again surprised that so many other people seem to have had the same idea as us. No matter what tales of Christmas travel woe you’ve endured this season, rest assured, someone has had it worse than you. In fact in 1911 a journey was undertaken that became known as ‘The Worst Journey in the World’.

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Pulley blocks from Cape Evans – Guest blog from the Antarctic Heritage Trust 3/3

Author: John Kemister, Antarctic Heritage Trust NZ Conservator

These two interesting objects from Scott’s Terra Nova base at Cape Evans have been conserved at the Antarctic Heritage Trust’s conservation lab at New Zealand’s Scott Base ready for return to the hut in the summer.

The first is a well made double sheave pulley block that could have been utilised either on the ship Terra Nova, or in other situations where additional lifting or pulling force was required. The assembly consists of two galvanized pulley wheels mounted in a wooden block. A spliced steel wire bridle, wrapped with tarred rope, supports the block and connects it via a steel thimble to the hook. This bridle is held tightly around the block and thimble with tarred choker wrapping.

Double sheave pulley block

Double sheave pulley block. Photo: John/

The second object is a remnant from an identical block, consisting only of the wrapped steel wire bridle, a distorted thimble and the remains of a fractured hook.

Damaged pulley block remnants

Damaged pulley block remnants. Photo: John/

While working on conserving these it was interesting to conjecture (and unless historic records provide a clue it will only be conjecture) what task Scott’s men were performing when this damage occurred.

If only it could talk. 

About John
John is Australian and is currently working as a Conservator over summer for the Antarctic Heritage Trust. To follow what he and the rest of the team are working on to conserve Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s heroic era base at Cape Evans, and to experience a slice of life on the Ice, visit the conservators’ permanent blog on the Natural History Museum website.

Read more guest blog posts from the Antarctic Heritage Trust:
Conservation in Antarctica
Antarctica’s first bicycle

The Australian National Maritime Museum thanks Antarctic Heritage Trust NZ and Natural History Museum London for their recent guest blog posts in celebration of Scott’s Last Expedition, here at the museum until 16 October 2011.