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Letters from Derby meteorologist on Captain’s Scott’s Antarctic Expedition uncovered

Posted on 08/06/2021 in Press Coverage

Letters penned by a Derby weather expert during Captain Scott's ill-fated Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition in 1910-1913 have been discovered.

Sir George Simpson (1878-1965), a former Derby School pupil, was meteorologist on the trip. He constructed one of the continent’s first weather stations to aid the famous British explorer.

Simpson conducting balloon experiments to test the atmosphere and determine how altitude affects temperature and his letters, one on a Derby letterhead, refer to balloons used on the trip.


Left, Sir George Simpson in 1911, British meteorologist, member of Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic expedition of 1910-1913, the Terra Nova Expedition. Wikipedia image. Right, a letter written by Simpson for sale at Hansons.

He recorded temperature and wind observations at Cape Evans base camp. He also held command of this station for several months when Scott and his party left to journey to the South Pole in November 1911. Scott died in Antarctica in 1912.

Contained in a scrapbook compiled by electrical engineer W P Granville, one of the letters, on British Antarctic Expedition Terra Nova letterhead and dated November 27, 1910, reads: 'Dear Mr Granville, the small case of balloons reached us safely in Christchurch … We are now really on our way south ... We have had a splendid passage so far and we are a real happy party. Everyone has the highest hopes of a successful expedition…’

The second letter, on 68 Wilson Street, Derby, letterhead, dated June 7, 1912, reads, 'Dear Mr Granville, I expect to be in London at the beginning of next week and intend to call on you to thank you for the balloons and to tell you about the work done with them’.

The letters from Simpson, president of the Royal Meteorological Society in 1940/41, along with other material, are in Hansons’ June 15 Library Auction, £1,000-£2,000, lot 117.

To find out more, email [email protected]. Catalogue: www.hansonslive.co.uk