The crow’s nest from Sir Ernest Shackleton’s final ship has returned to London following poignant international events organised by the Dundee-based South Georgia Heritage Trust.
HRH The Princess Royal welcomed home the iconic lookout barrel to the UK following its journey around the world from Athy in Ireland to South Georgia and back.
The lookout barrel from his fourth and final voyage on expedition ship Quest is one of the last vestiges from the Shackleton-Rowett Antarctic Expedition, also known as The Quest Expedition, on which Shackleton died in 1922.
What was Sir Ernest Shackleton’s crow’s nest doing back in South Georgia?
It arrived back at All Hallows by the Tower church in London, having been the centrepiece of the South Georgia Museum’s ‘Shackleton’s Last Quest’ exhibition in Grytviken for the past year and a half, its first return to South Georgia since the Quest Expedition in 1922.
It formed part of a special event on September 7 marking the achievements of the intrepid explorer and renowned leader Sir Ernest Shackleton, organised by Dundee-based charity the South Georgia Heritage Trust and attended by the trust’s patron HRH The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.
What was special about Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Quest expedition?
The Quest Expedition was Shackleton’s last journey.
After arriving at the quiet waters of King Edward Cove in South Georgia on January 4 1922, Shackleton unexpectedly died of a heart attack in the early hours the next morning.
His untimely death saw an outpouring of grief across the world and came to be seen as the end of the heroic era of polar exploration.
Shackleton was buried on March 5 1922 in the small cemetery at the whaling station at Grytviken, South Georgia.
What was the tie in with the recent discovery of Shackleton’s Endurance?
The event at All Hallows provided not only an opportunity to celebrate the return of the crow’s nest, but also brought together modern-day polar explorers including Dr John Shears, the leader of the Endurance22 expedition who spoke to The Courier in March, funded by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, which discovered the resting place of Shackleton’s famous ship Endurance on the seafloor beneath the ice in the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea.
Following the event at All Hallows, Dr Shears spoke at a special dinner attended by HRH The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.
As part of his talk, Dr Shears showed a short film about the Stromness villa narrated by TV presenter and historian Dan Snow, and also a fellow Endurance22 team member.
The film showed never-before seen footage of the Stromness villa as it is now and the degradation that the ravages of the South Georgia climate have caused over the years.
The dinner aims to raise vital funds to conserve Shackleton’s heritage on South Georgia.
This includes the famous manager’s villa at Stromness where Shackleton, Captain Frank Worsley and Tom Crean sought help after their epic trek across the island after Endurance was crushed and sunk in the ice.
What’s the role of the Dundee-based South Georgia Heritage Trust?
Alison Neil, CEO of the South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) said: “The trust has worked tirelessly to conserve the island’s iconic wildlife and now we are delighted to be able to help conserve some of South Georgia’s most iconic cultural heritage.
“Shackleton’s links with South Georgia make the island special for so many visitors, so it’s only right that we ensure key parts of his story, like the Stromness villa, are preserved too.
“Alongside the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands and the Friends of South Georgia Island, we are exploring how this villa – which was the site of such an emblematic moment in the golden age of polar exploration – can be saved from further disrepair to be cherished by generations to come.”
Dr John Shears said: “Finding Endurance was a once in a lifetime moment for me and the Endurance22 expedition team.
“I am delighted that as part of this event celebrating the return of the Quest crow’s nest, we are also looking to preserve Shackleton’s historic legacy on South Georgia and how we might conserve the magical manager’s villa at Stromness, both physically and digitally, for the future.”