Heinz beans and Fry's chocolate in Scott's Last Expedition at the National Library of Scotland

By Culture24 Reporter | 12 January 2012
A photo of an illustration of a group of Arctic explorers along with a message promoting a chocolate brand
Exhibition: Scott’s Last Expedition, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, until March 25 2012

Confectionary and baked beans are a little-known facet of the story behind the centenary of Captain Scott's arrival at the South Pole next week (January 17).

Scott and his Terra Nova team struggled to raise money for their life-risking jaunt, persuading Fry's chocolate, Heinz beans and biscuit business Huntly and Palmer to offer sponsorship.

An image of a black and white poster of the high seas made in tribute to Antarctic heroes
Public tributes to the Terra Nova team feature in the display
Promotional posters showing their string of partnerships give an uplifting feel to this celebratory show, which also features photos of the expedition, letters, newspaper cuttings and diary entries, as well as memorial postcards of the dead explorers testifying to a nation in grief following their fateful return journey.

They may have been pipped to the pole by a month – they were met by a Norwegian flag, triumphantly planted by Roald Amunden's rival team – but their legend lives on.

"The teams led by Amundsen and Scott ventured beyond the edge of the known world to get to the South Pole," says curator Paula Williams.

"This is one of the great stories of human endeavour and endurance, triumph and tragedy.

"Our display celebrates their achievement and, we hope, provides an insight into how it was planned and conducted and how it has been viewed both by people at the time and in succeeding decades."

The display also reveals how breaching the icebergs became a global obsession after the Sixth International Geographic Congress in 1895, where exploring the Antarctic regions was declared "the greatest piece of geographical exploration still to be undertaken."
  • Open 9.30am-8.30pm (10am-8.30pm Wednesday, 9.30am-1pm Saturday, closed Sunday). Admission free.
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