Talk on Captain Scott for Probus

Introduced by President Duncan Brown, the guest speaker at Kirriemuir Probus Club’s latest meeting was Brian Kelly, community and education officer with Dundee Heritage Trust.

Brian’s talk, ‘Captain Scott of the Antarctic’ began with details of the building of the Discovery in Dundee in 1901, a vessel designed and built to withstand the Antarctic ice and funded by The Royal Geographical Society.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott, a Royal Navy officer, was chosen to command what was the first big scientific expedition to Antarctica, lasting two years, with Dr Edward Wilson and Ernest Shackleton also in the team chosen.

Brian illustrated his talk with photographs taken at the time and some superb watercolours by Edward Wilson, a talented artist and scientist, showing the dramatic beauty and the wildlife encountered.

As a result of the expedition a vast amount of scientific information was eventually published and Scott became a national hero.

Scott’s second and ill-fated, expedition used a refitted whaling ship the Terra Nova, as the Discovery had been sold to the Hudsons Bay Company and much of the planning for this expedition was done at Burnside House in Glen Prosen, where Dr Wilson, a Government scientist, was studying grouse disease.

As the Terra Nova was unable to withstand a winter trapped in the ice, the men had to build a hut for living quarters and scientific work and various journeys were undertaken, some for research and some to leave supplies at depots for a South Pole attempt.

In early 1912, a reduced party of five made their final push to the Pole, only to find Amundson’s flag and tent there.

The return journey in worsening weather took its toll and weakened by scurvy and injury Captain Scott and his men perished in the severe blizzards and intense cold.

Brian pointed out that Scott had always concentrated on the scientific and research side of the expedition, refusing to alter his plans, whereas Amundson had treated it as a race to be first to the Pole. He remarked on the huge interest in Scott’s story and that of the ’Discovery’ one hundred years on.

A vote of thanks to Brian for an extremely well-presented talk was proposed by Dave Sim. The next meeting of Kirriemuir Probus Club is tonight (Wednesday, May 1) when Rev. Mike Fucella will talk on his ‘Thailand Visit’.