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Topical Budget 95-1: The Terra Nova Returns Home (1913)


Main image of Topical Budget 95-1: The Terra Nova Returns Home (1913)
35mm, black and white, 50 feet, silent
Production CompanyTopical Film Company

The British Antactic Expedition's ship, the Terra Nova, drawing up to the quay at Bute docks, Cardiff, in 1913, on her return to Britain.

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The Terra Nova was an old whaler built in Dundee in 1884. She was 28 years old at this time but she had a good track record in the ice, having twice rescued polar parties - in the South in 1903, when she rescued the crew of the Discovery, including Scott himself, and in the following year in the North, rescuing Anthony Fiala and his expedition after the sinking of their ship the America had left them stranded for two Polar winters.

The Terra Nova's reputation alone would be enough to make the vessel of interest to the Topical Budget cameramen, but the story was magnified by the outpouring of national grief at the fate of Captain Scott and his companions, as borne out by the large crowds that gathered in Cardiff to see the ship in.

The item starts with an intertitle declaring that that Lady Scott (the title seems to have been an invention of the title writers - Scott's widow was not actually entitled to call herself 'Lady') was there to see the ship dock with her son Peter. The footage of them on the quay is missing, although they are almost certainly in the third shot of the ship, in which the captain is shown addressing a party of ladies and civilian gentlemen. In this shot, taken from the quayside, we can just see a young boy - Peter? - perched on the gunwale, then jumping down on to the deck.

The surviving nitrate print of the film is badly damaged, with considerable surface abrasions visible throughout.

Bryony Dixon

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Video Clips
Complete item (0:47)
Great White Silence, The (1924)
Pathé's Animated Gazette: Memorial Service to the Antarctic Heroes (1913)
Pathé's Animated Gazette: The Ship 'Terra Nova' (1910)
Scott of the Antarctic (1948)