Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery
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Captain Robert Falcon Scott, the Antarctic explorer is one of Plymouth’s most celebrated citizens and the museum is fortunate to hold several items relating to his life, including a set of skis. Manufactured by L H Hagen and Co, of Christiania (now Oslo, Norway) they were used by Scott during his second attempt to reach the South Pole between 1910 and 1912. In 1945 the skis were kindly donated to Plymouth Museum by PO Patrick Keohane, Royal Navy, who had accompanied Scott on the arduous trek.
Patrick Keohane became an important and well thought of member of the Expedition team. At one time he shared a tent with Scott and Oates, and he was a member of the shore party who, under the command of Commander Atkinson, found Scott’s body.
It is widely recorded that, that unlike the Norwegian Admundsen who beat Scott to the pole, the British contingent did not favour the use of skis preferring the idea that the party would be better on foot. However, the team did use skis during the depot laying runs and during that time Scott presented his skis to Keohane stating they were a better fit for the Irish man. In this way the skis made it safely back to Plymouth accompanied by the poles which are made of bamboo with leather accessories.
It has not been possible to discover what made Scott choose these particular skis in the first instance but his diary entry of 11 December 1910 records “I’m much pleased with the ski and ski boots – both are very well adapted to our purposes”. Whilst in Christiania Scott was introduced to ski expert Tryggve Gran who subsequently joined the expedition. It is possible that Gran was instrumental in sourcing the skis from Hagen’s who were a leading manufacturer of the time.
Having been in storage for some years, the skis underwent conservation treatment in 2008 and now feature, along with other Scott and Antarctic collections, in our 'Plymouth, Port and Place' gallery.
Please click on the thumbnail images below, to see an enlarged version.
Images Scott's Skis before conservation. From left to right:
- The skis are made of wood, probably Hickory - the ski sticks are bamboo
- 'K' for Keohane - Scott gave his skis to expedition member Patrick Keohane
- Ski stick basket or roundel - before conservation repairs
- Part of a foot binding strap - the tow straps are missing and the leather requires treating
- Maker's Mark - Christiania in Norway was renamed Oslo in the 1920s