Polar exploration

Wrap up warm and take a journey to the icy ends of the earth. From the countless attempts to find the fabled North-West Passage in the Arctic Circle, to the race to reach the South Pole, read about the triumphs and the tragedies of history's polar explorers.

Ernest Shackleton.jpg

In 1907, Ernest Shackleton embarked on an expedition to the South Pole aboard his ship Nimrod. He was almost successful, falling just 97 miles short.

Ernest Shackleton 2.jpg

In the early 20th century the race was on to reach the South Pole. Robert Falcon Scott led the first British expedition.

'Endurance' (1912) in the ice

Follow the timeline of discovering Antarctica and the 'race' to the South Pole, from first sighting through to Scott, Amundsen, Shackleton and more.

captain-scott-south-pole.jpg

In 1911, British explorer Robert Falcon Scott and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen both aimed to be the first to reach the South Pole.

Terra-Nova-PW2173_detail.jpg

The Terra Nova was built in 1884 as a whaling ship but became better known for her role in Polar exploration and her association with Captain Scott. 

Snow goggles from Franklin's last expedition_slider.JPG

A relic of Sir John Franklin's tragic expedition 1845-48.

1895, William Smith, They forged the last links with their lives.jpg

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. 

BHC2981_1224x800.jpg

James Clark Ross was one of the great polar explorers, a star of his day who used the Pole Star to discover the North Pole. 

Foxe.map_.jpg

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.

Aurora-Australis-frontispie.jpg

'Aurora Australis' was the "first book ever written, printed, illustrated and bound in the Antarctic".

Pages