The North-West Passage

The North-West Passage is the route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Many explorers have risked and lost their lives in searching for this passage, which would be a trade route between Europe and Asia. 

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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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In 1741, Anglo-Irish MP Albert Dobbs commissioned William Moor to search for the North-West Passage, in a bid to strengthen Britain’s trade routes.

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In 1715 James Knight was the first person to go in search of the North-West Passage in over 80 years, but his efforts were to end in tragedy.

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Archaeologists exploring the shipwrecks of HMS Erebus and Terror have recovered over 350 objects from the lost Franklin expedition. Senior Exhibitions Curator Dr Claire Warrior examines the vital new discoveries.

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Jens Munk was a captain in the Danish navy in the 17th century. He unsuccessfully went in search of the North-West Passage in 1619.

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John Davis was the second explorer to look for the North-West Passage, in 1585. He also invented the Davis quadrant, enabling sailors to find their latitude.

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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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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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Explorer Luke Foxe led an expedition to search for the North-West Passage in 1631. He set out at the same time as rival explorer Thomas James.

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In 1576 Martin Frobisher was the first English explorer to search for the North-West Passage – the seaway linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

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