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About Brian Goodison-Blanks
Brian Goodison-Blanks is the Head of the Maritime and Sporting Department at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood. He is based at Honiton in Devon.
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The material published in this web log is for general purposes only. It does not constitute nor is it intended to represent professional advice. You should always seek specific professional advice in relation to particular issues. The information in this web log is provided "as is" with no warranties and confers no rights. The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions.

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Review Entries for Day Tuesday, July 30, 2019

After his experiences sledging during the British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913, and the loss of Captain Scott and his Polar Party on their return from the South Pole, Francis Davies spent a considerable amount of time designing his own version of a polar sledge (MA19/2) Many previous expeditions to Antarctica and even the North Pole had used variations of a ‘Nansesn’ pattern sledge (MA19/27). Designed by Fridjof Nansen in 1888 when he undertook his crossing of Greenland, the sledge was designed to be light but strong enough hold all of the equipment needed and be hauled by six men.

a 'nansen' pattern polar sledge similar to those used on the british antarctic expedition 1910-1913

A 'Nansen' pattern polar sledge similar to those used on the British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913. 

Francis Davies had experienced first-hand the extreme environment of the Antarctic and also of the sheer effort of hauling a polar sledge in such conditions. In a letter to Dr Atkinson written by Francis Davies aboard HMS Sandhurst in 1920 he outlined his design for a covered polar sledge stating ‘I have been trying to evolve a type of sledge that would protect the human element from the biting winds whilst on the march’.   He goes on to say that he had considered many mechanical ideas but they failed due to excessive weight. In Francis Davies opinion ‘ … the only reliable means on travel in the Antarctic is by man hauled sledge.’

 a letter from francis davies to dr atkinson in regard to his polar sledge design.

A letter from Francis Davies to Dr Atkinson in regard to his Polar sledge design.

 francis davies design for a covered polar sledge dated 1920.

Francis Davies design for a covered polar sledge dated 1920.

Certainly Francis Davies training as a Royal Naval Carpenter and his draughtsmanship are clearly shown in his excellent design for a covered polar sledge. The four man team is covered and the polar sledge is propelled along by the men walking on an endless track within a well inside the sledge. What response Francis Davies received from the Admiralty on his design is not known, but as someone who had experienced the harsh biting winds of Antarctica you can imagine he had thoughts of his departed colleagues in mind as he drew up his design.
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Tuesday, July 30, 2019 3:09:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Wednesday, July 24, 2019

As part of the Discovery II Expeditions to the South Seas and Antarctic regions the RRS Discovery II and RSS William Scoresby travelled to the Falkland Islands to undertake a survey of penguins. Francis Davies travelled aboard the RSS William Scoresby and collected a number of photographs and mementos along the way. Induced in the Francis Davies Polar Archive is an interesting version of the Falkland Island flag.

the 1865-1925 version of the falkland island flag collected by francis davies during the discovery ii expeditions

The 1865-1925 version of the Falkland Island flag collected by Francis Davies during the Discovery II Expeditions

The system for British Colonial flags was established in 1865 when the practice of the defacement of the blue ensign with the ‘seal’ or ‘badge’ of the colony was introduced. The Falkland Islands seal was approved in 1865 depicting a bullock on the shore and a sailing ship in the distance. This ‘Bullock Triumphant’ version was the official seal from 1865 to 1925 but was probably in use up until the 1940s when it was altered to the sheep above ship version. A little tattered and torn from the cold winds of the South Seas, it is a nice memento within the Francis Davies Polar archive of his numerous journeys to the Antarctic regions

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019 3:11:25 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Tuesday, July 23, 2019

In September 1921 Francis Davies was accepted as Fourth Officer aboard RRS Discovery II in service of the voyages of the Discovery Expeditions to the Falkland Islands and Antarctica. Initially he joined the crew of RRS William Scoresby and took part in the Second Wilkins-Hearst Expeditions to Deception Island of the coat of Antarctica.

rrs william scoresby pitching during heavy seas on route form south africa to south georgia 1929

RRS William Scoresby pitching during heavy seas on route form South Africa to South Georgia 1929

a photograph by francis davies aboard a rolling rrs william scoresby on route to antarctica 1929

A photograph by Francis Davies aboard a rolling RRS William Scoresby on route to Antarctica 1929 

No doubt Francis Davies earlier experience of travelling to Antarctica aboard RYS Terra Nova served him well as the conditions on the journey from South Africa to South Georgia aboard RRS William Scoresby were not the easiest as they encountered rough weather between South Africa and South Georgia. Francis Davies own photographs taken aboard a heavily pitching RRS William Scoresby show how far the ship rolled in heavy seas, yet if you look closely you’ll be astonished to see that Francis Davies managed to try and persuade a shipmate to pose on deck, though only a single arm hanging on for dear life can be seen to one side of the photograph! 

a photograph by francis davies aboard rrs william scoresby with unidentified but brave crew member hanging onto the deck, 1929

A photograph by Francis Davies aboard RRS William Scoresby with unidentified but brave crew member hanging onto the deck, 1929

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019 3:52:43 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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As a globe maker Nathaniel Hill (fl,1746-1748) had impeccable credentials, which is why he is perhaps one of the most sought-after makers of the 18th century. Nathaniel Hill was apprenticed to the map maker, surveyor, publisher and globe maker Richard Cushee (1696-c1734) who worked at the sign of the Globe & Sun between Chancery Lane and St Dunstan’s Church, London.


nathaniel hill (fl.1746-1748) a 2 inch pocket globe:, signed 'a new terrestrial globe by nath hill 1754'

Nathaniel Hill (fl.1746-1748) a 2 inch pocket globe:, signed 'A New Terrestrial Globe by Nath Hill 1754'

Nathaniel Hill originally worked as a surveyor on the Fens in Yorkshire and also around London. In 1731 Richard Cushee took Nathaniel Hill on as an apprentice and from there he established himself as one of the finest globe makers of the 18th century. It is interesting to note that the globe displays California as a Peninsula and the North-West Atlantic Coast is titled ‘Unknown parts’. It would not be until over a century later that the ‘Northwest Passage’ would finally be known and not until 1906 when Roald Amundsen finally travelled the complete passage.
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Tuesday, July 23, 2019 3:17:32 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Friday, July 12, 2019

 After taking part as a crew member of the British Antarctic ‘Terra Nova’ Expedition 1910-1913, Francis Davies remained in contact with several fellow crew members and scientists throughout his lifetime.

One of Francis Davies strongest friendships was that with the Terra Nova’s captain Harry Pennell (1882-1916) in fact Francis Davies even gave his son ‘Pennell’ as his middle name. The strength of this bond is seen within Francis Davies Polar Collection in a letter from Harry Pennell written aboard HMS Queen Mary during World War One. Harry Pennell was Commander of HMS Queen Mary at the time and writes to Francis Davies of his concerns regarding Sir Ernest Shackleton during his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917 of which Pennell writes ‘Undoubtedly and Expedition will have to be sent to the Weddell Sea this next season to try and relieve Sir Ernest’.

 a letter from harry pennell to francis davies on his concern for sir ernest shackleton.

 A letter from Harry Pennell to Francis Davies on his concern for Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Harry Pennell goes on to write about other expedition members Williams and Nelson and their wartime situations, in particular the fact that Nelson was now the only original officer of his regiment surviving the war. The letter is a glimpse into the relationship of two men who understood the perils of Polar Exploration and of war. It is even more pertinent when one considers the date on which Harry Pennell writes to Francis Davies, the 11th May 1916. Harry Pennell was to be killed on the 31st May 1916 aboard HMS Queen Mary when she was sunk during the Battle of Jutland
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Friday, July 12, 2019 4:37:33 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Thursday, July 11, 2019

As a young boy Francis Edward ‘Frank’ Davies (1885-1952) was inspired after reading ‘Farthest North‘ an account of Fridtjof Nansen’s Polar Exploration aboard the ‘Fram’, to one day travel the world on an adventure and explore unknown regions. On the 4th July Francis Davies reported to the Royal Naval barracks Devonport and signed on as a shipwright for twelve years, beginning his own lifetime of adventure and exploration.   In 1910 Francis Davies was selected as the ships carpenter aboard the Terra-Nova for Captain Scott’s British Antarctic Expedition of 1910-1913, where he proved himself invaluable by keeping the aged ship afloat, even spending nights asleep beside the Terra Nova’s ever troublesome main pump. Francis Davies was instrumental in the preparations and construction of the expedition’s winter quarters of ‘Scott’s Hut’ at Cape Evans on Ross Island, Antarctica and after hearing the news of the loss of Scott and his party on the return journey from the South Pole, Francis Davies constructed the Terra Nova memorial cross erected on Observation hill. Both structures still stand today and are designated Antarctic Historic Monuments.


rrs discovery ii leaving london, december 1929

RRS Discovery II leaving London, December 1929 


The friendships established on the Terra Nova Expedition were to last throughout Francis Davies lifetime, through both World Wars and further participation in Polar Expeditions aboard RRS Discovery II and RRS William Scoresby in the late 1920s.   A selection of Francis Davies Polar archive from his later expeditions along with a collection of correspondence are to be included in Bearnes Hampton & Littlewoods Maritime Auction of the 14th August 2019. 


rrs william scoresby with plane aboard for the second wilkins-hearst polar expedition

RRS William Scoresby with plane aboard for the Second Wilkins-Hearst Polar Expedition


Among Francis Davies Polar Archive is a photograph album of the Second Wilkins-Hearst Polar Expedition of 1929-1930 with some wonderful images of both the RRS Discovery II and RRS William Scoresby. Also included in this Polar archive are a number of images of the planes used during the Wilkins-Hearst Expedition and the conditions that he men faced in Antarctica. 

rrs william scoresby with float plane in antarctica 1929-1930

RRS William Scoresby with float plane in Antarctica 1929-1930

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Thursday, July 11, 2019 3:18:11 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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