DCS: Local Heritage Event:
A Day with the North and South Poles

Saturday 20th November 2010 Return to Alumni Events

Alumni have always been quite lucky with the weather for the outdoor D.C.S. events but normally the weather has little effect on those tha are indoors, however for this event, the pre-talk conversation over hot drinks and biscuits was whether it would snow and make the roads dangerous before the end of our day. Ultimately those living south of Cambridge just got back in time whilst those to the north had plenty of leeway. However the bitterly cold weather was quickly banished by the hot drinks and warmth of the meeting room in 1 Newnham Terrace, then despite the subject of frozen wastes, completely forgotten as we were educated by our speaker. Robert Culshaw is the Deputy Director of the British Antarctic Survey and we were lucky to have him as the arranged speaker was called away to the Antarctic within the last few days prior to the talk.


Renuka talking whilst Robert takes a well-earned rest

Robert started by stating that he was not a scientist and that he would not be able to answer any deep scientific questions and then proceeded to open our eyes to the history including the political aspects right through to the present day, the Antartic Treaty with it's unique terms agreed by so many of the world's nations, the comparison between Artic and Antartic both in terms of it's geography and political status and the bases which the British Antartic Survey maintain. He continued with the research projects which were operational and he explained the results and/or the hopes of the scientific teams involved, he gave us glimpses of the wildlife and it's distribution or perhaps more accurately it's limitations. He talked at length on how people were moved to the interior and their training to help them survive and the logistics of being and staying there.


Finally we were shown the new buildings designed to last much longer on the glaciers. These relatively huge buildings were on skis so they could be moved to counter the seaward flow of the glacier and on legs which could be extended or retracted to counter the way everything were slowly buried there. It really was fascinating and if the number of favourable comments had any weight, the thirty-plus alumni found it hugely enjoyable and just as eye-opening as myself.

Robert took questions during his talk and they continued for some time, before we moved for the Darwin College meal, which is a good point to give thanks must go to Paul, our butler, and his team who laid out tables out beautifully and allowed us a little more time.


Soon it was time to leave the meal, wine, coffe or tea to walk to the Scott-Polar Institute for Bryan Lintott, who had joined us earlier, to introduce our visit in a quiet "staff-only" room. Bryan led us through the history of the buildings and the institute, the people who were celebrated in the displays in the public part of the building and the stories behind the history which was particularly nice. Bryan has been responsible for part of the display so he also talked about that. Then it was time to go into the museum including the recently opened and advertised Scott Exhibition. Although this had been expected to be popular, the extent of the popularity had taken everyone by surprise. It was packed! As a result Bryan and our own Renuka Badhe were not really able to guide us around but instead had to let us find our own way and hover to answer any of our questions. Nevertheless it was an exhibition well worth seeing even with the crowds.

Bryan Lintott

Bryan Lintott introducing the Scott Polar Institute

Ultimately closing time arrived at 4p.m. and we all wended our way homewards full of a most interesting day and before the snow arrived! Our thanks go to Robert Culshaw, Bryan Lintott and Renuka Badhe, who made it all worthwhile.


(Click on the pictures for larger versions) Return to Alumni Events


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