On 24th September 1921, ss “Quest” sailed from Millbay Dock Plymouth to the South Atlantic carrying Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew of explorers of the “Shackleton-Rowett Expedition”. This proved to be Shackleton's final voyage as he died at Grytvikken on 5 January 1922.
Exactly one hundred years later, the Devon & Cornwall Polar Society commemorated this departure with a day of talks, exhibits and film at the Duke of Cornwall Hotel, Plymouth. Some 55 people gathered to hear presentations by a number of distinguished speakers. Polar enthusiasts from across the UK attended with some coming from Ireland and one from the Falkland Islands.
Firstly, Dr Jan Chojecki, the grandson of John Q Rowett, the philanthropist who financed the venture, addressed the gathering and spoke of his grandfather and the “Quest”. He was followed by Kevin Kenny, a board member of the Athy Shackleton Museum who talked of the efforts to recover from Norway and the on-going restoration of Shackleton`s “Quest” cabin in Ireland.
Over lunch, a blue commemorative plaque was unveiled by Hon Alexandra Shackleton and Dr Jan Chojecki. This will be installed shortly at Millbay Dock, Plymouth and will join a similar plaque unveiled in 2014 to commemorate the departure of “Endurance” from the port. A film was then shown entitled “Southward with the Quest”, containing original cine film from the expedition, recently restored by the British Film Institute.
During the afternoon, we listened to two speakers, each of whom are planning separate Antarctic expeditions later this centenary year, both inspired by “Quest” – representing the future. The first was Alan Noake who will be leading “ReQuest2021”, an expedition to Antarctica by Scouts from the county of Kent. His talk was entitled “Shackleton`s Scouts” and he spoke of the two Scouts, James Marr and Norman Mooney, who accompanied Shackleton on “Quest” and of the planning and expectations for the forthcoming expedition.
Finally, we were addressed by Dr Antony Jinman, deputy leader of “Antarctic Quest 21”, who with Paul Hart will be leading their expedition to Antarctica to carry out scientific research, inspired by Shackleton.
The event was closed at 1630 hrs by Dr David Wilson a patron of DCPS
Thanks to Alex Gibson, PCAD for most of the conference photographs