Earlier this week I was in Dundee, with an hour or so to kill. Just across the road from the station is the ship Discovery, the ship used by Captain Scott on his voyage to the South Pole.
If you find your self in a similar situation; it’s well worth a visit. There is a visitor centre that explains about the trip and the ship, but being short on time I cut through these fairly quickly to get to the main event…
Most UK citizens will be at least vaguely aware of Captain Scott and the Antarctic voyage, if only for the quote: “I’m just going outside and may be some time” – attributed to Captain Lawrence Oates, who accompanied Scott on one of the voyages.
The Discovery was built for the Antarctic expedition at a cost of £41,000 – about £4 million a today’s rates, expensive even then; but it had to withstand the considerable forces of the Antarctic weather and ice.
Being double hulled (to withstand the ice) there are no windows in the main body of the ship (about 2′ thick). Natural light and some ventilation is via these mushrooms on the deck, which channel light down to the crew and officer quarters.
Perhaps the most surprising thing to me are the dates around this ship and its expeditions: first journey 1901, 110 years ago in a ship that looked like this, with masts and sails… This was just 57 years before I was born (I’m 53 now to save you working it out).
To put even more focus on this time-frame: next Tuesday 12th April 2011 will be the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight (Yuri Gagarin). So, sixty years after we were travelling in masted wooden sailing ships we were putting a man in space; time flies…