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I'm taking a picture, it may be some time... After a 99-year wait, rarely-seen images of the ill-fated expedition to the South Pole are revealed thanks to digital enhancement.

Byline: Steffan Rhys

NEARLY 100 years after Captain Robert Falcon Scott left Cardiff on his mission to the South Pole, rarely-seen pictures of his ill-fated quest are to be made available online.

Around 1,700 images taken by Herbert Ponting, the British Antarctic Expedition's photographer, have been digitised in extraordinary detail as part of a new exhibition.

They shed light on everyday tasks such as scientifically examining fish and repairing sleeping bags, and show Scott keeping the diary which recorded iconic lines like the last words of Captain Lawrence Oates: "I am just going outside and may be some time".

The pictures come a year before Cardiff's Captain Scott Society hopes to stage centenary celebrations of one of the most famous expeditions in history.

On June 13, 1910, members of the city's business community entertained Captain Scott, his officers and scientists in the Royal Hotel on St Mary Street.

Two days later, Scott's expedition left the city's docks aboard the ship Terra Nova, the name later adopted by a popular bar in Mermaid Quay.

Scott stayed on in Cardiff to fundraise for a few more days, before joining the ship at Madeira.

"They are excellent photographs, especially considering the equipment Ponting had," said Julian Salisbury, the society's chairman, from Cyncoed.

"Unfortunately, it's one of Cardiff's best kept secrets. We give talks on it but it doesn't get the attention it deserves.

"Without Cardiff, there would have been no expedition. The financial input was enormous - from members of the public, from Daniel Radcliffe, a prominent businessman, and from the docks community where a lot of work on the expedition was done.

"It was a large event. A flotilla accompanied the TerraNova out of Cardiff and large crowds waved them off. It attracted a lot of attention."

In 2010, the society hopes to mirror the events that took place in the city over a five-day period 100 years ago, including a reception at City Hall and the dinner at the Royal Hotel.

The society annually commemorates the anniversary with a dinner that recreates, as far as possible, the original occasion as documented in a surviving menu card.

Captain Scott was beaten by a matter of days in his attempt to be the first man to reach the South Pole by Norwegian Roald Amundsen. Having battled temperatures as low as -60F (-51C), his body was found in November 1912, eight months after his last diary entry, in a tent with two fellow explorers.

Both seemed to have died peacefully in their sleep, but Scott was lying half out of his bag with one arm stretched towards one of his men.

Among his final diary entries was: "I may not have proved a great explorer but we have done the greatest march ever made and come very near to great success".

The pictures of Scott'sexpedition are among 1,700 taken by Ponting and held at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. The collection is part of an archive of 100,000 pictures held by the institute covering expeditions from 1845 to 1982. The first 20,000 will be available online from March 4 at


FAMOUS MEMOIRS: Capt Scott writing his journal in the Winterquarters Hut; FROM CARDIFF TO THE SOUTH POLE: Above, Petty Officer Evans and Crean mending sleeping bags, and right, a flotilla of ships accompany the Terra Nova as she leaves Cardiff in 1910; ICE AHEAD! The Terra Nova and an iceberg, and, below, Alfred Stephenson receives a time signal outside the camp; EXTREME CONDITIONS: The thousands of pictures taken by Herbert Ponting shed light on life during the expedition
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 20, 2009
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