Great explorers

Read about the daring exploits of some of history's bravest explorers. From the well-known endeavours of Scott, Shackleton, Columbus and Drake, to the lesser-known adventures of men like Magellan, Flinders and Cabot, we take you on a voyage of discovery.

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Henry Hudson was a well-known English explorer and navigator in the 17th century. He was the third explorer to search for the North-West Passage.

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There are currently 811 relics including souvenirs made from ship timbers and metal; parts of ships or items associated with ships, corporate bodies or buildings. The antiquities collection contains a further 975 items relating to general material culture and social history rather than to a named person or ship. (Polar relics are in a separate collection).

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Captain James Cook came out of retirement to look for the North-West Passage in 1776. It was to be his last expedition and he never returned home.

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How to access source material on famous explorers, navigators and hydrographers including polar explorers.

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After a failed attempt in 1818, John Ross returned to the Arctic to search for the North-West Passage with his nephew James Clark Ross in 1829.

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Explorer Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) is famed for his 1492 ‘discovery’ of the New World of the Americas on board his ship Santa Maria.

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Sir John Franklin made three attempts to find the North-West Passage. His final voyage in 1845 in HMS Erebus and HMS Terror ended in tragedy for him and all his men, becoming the worst disaster in the history of British polar exploration. 

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Who was Sir Francis Drake? Discover the life of the Tudor sailor and privateer, famous for sailing around the world and fighting the Spanish Armada.

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In 1818 John Ross was sent to search for the North-West Passage. He turned back, mistakenly believing there was no passage through Lancaster Sound. 

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Italian explorer, John Cabot, is famed for discovering Newfoundland and kick-starting transatlantic trade between England and the Americas.

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