British photographic history

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Photo Library Acquisition: Captain Scott and the Heritage Lottery Fund

Further to this earlier blog, this remarkable collection of 109 Antarctic photographs as seen through the eyes of Captain Scott as he documented the first part of his epic journey to the South Pole will now be saved for the nation by the Scott Polar Institute thanks to the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund which enabled their acquisition - exactly 100 years to the day since his expedition reached the South Pole!

The photographs themselves were printed in the Antarctic by members of Scott's team as they waited for his return from the Pole, and for most of the past 70 years were considered lost.  Many pictures of the expedition were taken by the official photographer Herbert Ponting but these are the only photographs in existence taken by Scott himself. The pictures have been owned by a private enthusiast in America for ten years before being saved by the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), at Cambridge University, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). They are being unveiled today to mark the 100th anniversary of the expedition reaching the pole.

Thanks to a previous HLF award, the original 1,700 glass-plate negatives of Herbert Ponting's photographs were bought by SPRI in 2004. The acquisition of Scott's own photographs brings the two collections together for the first time, making this the largest photographic record of the British Antarctic Expedition 1910 – 1912.

The purchase of the photographs by SPRI will allow the images to be reunited with Scott's camera, which was given to the Institute by the late Lady Philippa Scott in 2008. Once they have been fully conserved, the photographs will be digitised and made available online.

You can read the original HLF press release here and SPRI's here, and a news article here, with exhibition details here.

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