One journey never taken by Captain Scott by Wilma Blom - Wednesday, 27 August 2014 It is the smallest of collection items, yet this scrap of paper is a profound reminder of the transitory nature of our lives. For years this unclipped rail ticket was overlooked in the vast collection of ephemera at Auckland Museum. The discovery was made by curator marine invertebrates Wilma Blom while she was looking through a scrapbook that once belonged to shipping magnet Sir Joseph Kinsey. It's a New Zealand Railways' first-class rail ticket from Lyttelton to Christchurch, and the conditions of the journey are precise: It had to be used by 30 April 1912 and was 'Not Transferable'. It was issued to Captain R.F Scott. Of course, he never made the first-class journey to the city of Christchurch. Instead Captain Robert Scott perished in bitterly cold temperatures of -44 degrees Celsius in Antarctica. As Still Life: Inside the huts of Scott and Shackleton opens at Auckland Museum, Wilma Blom explains the history behind the rail ticket and the epic journey never completed. It's more than a century since the world first heard about the deaths of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and the men in his polar party, Henry Robertson Bowers, Edgar Evans, Lawrence Edward Grace Oates, and Edward Adrian Wilson. The exhibition Still Life currently showing at Auckland Museum gives a rare insight into their lives on ice, and the rail ticket is featured alongside many other hut essentials. Captain Scott's unused ticket.© Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira The epic journey begins Captain Scott and his party left Lyttelton for Antarctica on 29 November 1910 aboard the Terra Nova, a former whaling ship which also gave its name to Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition. Apart from attempting to become the first men to reach the South Pole, they aimed to carry out a large amount of scientific work.Based on Scott’s, and also Shackleton’s, earlier Antarctic experiences the Terra Nova Expedition was always planned to be a multi-season venture. Scientific bases would be established and depots would be laid during the first season with the actual polar journey not beginning until the following spring (late1911). "The ticket I found was pinned together with a number of others. Some were first class tickets and some were second class."© Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira After staying for most of the Antarctic summer, the Terra Nova sailed for New Zealand in February 1911. It would not return until the beginning of February 1912. This was to resupply the bases, but judging by the dates on the rail ticket, it was also to bring back the men to New Zealand if the conquest of the South Pole was successful. However, as we now know things did not go to plan. I won’t repeat the details of what happened as the excellent Antarctic Heritage Trust website, amongst others, do a terrific job. It is enough to say that Scott, and many of the other expedition members were not on the Terra Nova when it again sailed for New Zealand. A scrapbook discovery The ticket I found was pinned together with a number of others. Some were first class tickets and some were second class. They were between two folded blue pages, one headed ‘Captain, Officers & Scientific Staff of R.S.Y. “Terra Nova”, the other ‘Crew of R.S.Y. “Terra Nova”. The first page contains the list of those to whom first class rail passes had been issued; the other page lists those who were consigned to second class travel. Those members of the Terra Nova Expedition who returned in early 1912 have a tick against their names; those who did not, have been crossed off. And as we now know the latter were those who died – Scott, Oates, Wilson, Bowers and Evans – as well as those who were trapped for a further winter. The tickets came to Auckland Museum as part of the scrapbook of Sir Joseph James Kinsey, donated by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1962. Born in 1852 in Kent, England, Sir Joseph was educated at the Royal Naval School, Greenwich. After nine years as Master at Dulwich College, he emigrated to New Zealand where, apart from becoming Consul for Belgium in Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough and Westland, he established the shipping firm Kinsey, Barns & Co and gained a knighthood in 1919. Sir Joseph had a great interest in Antarctic exploration and his firm became the New Zealand headquarters for expeditions to that continent – especially the 1901-1904 Discovery expedition and 1910-1913 Terra Nova expedition of Captain Scott and the 1907-1909 Nimrod expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton. "Those members of the Terra Nova Expedition who returned in early 1912 have a tick against their names; those who did not, have been crossed off."© Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira It was presumably Kinsey, or more likely, an underling from his firm, who arranged the rail tickets in expectation of the return of the Terra Nova after its second voyage to the ice. On December 14, 1912 the Terra Nova went back to the Antarctic and great secrecy surrounded her third and final return from the ice. She was not expected until sometime in March 1913, and when she arrived off Oamaru on 10 February she was at first mistaken for another vessel. She would not identify herself and nor would the two men who rowed ashore, and who later travelled by rail to Lyttelton. Speculation was rife that it was “supposed to be Captain Scott and one of his officers”. News of the Terra Nova's return as reported by the Press Association. However, they were Dr Edward Atkinson and Lieutenant Harry Pennell who were sworn to secrecy until the news of the tragedy had first been telegraphed to Joseph Kinsey and thence to London. The rail tickets and Kinsey’s scrapbook are held in the manuscript collection in Auckland Museum’s library. As well as photographs of the 1910-1912 British Antarctic Expedition given to Kinsey there are other memorabilia such as sponsors’ letters. Please contact a librarian if you would like more information. See the Still Life exhibition You can see the rail ticket as well as the photography of Jane Ussher in our exhibition, Still Life: Inside the huts of Scott and Shackleton, which is open until 5 October 2014. Further reading Oamaru and the organised events that will commemorate the arrival there of the Terra Nova 100 years ago. The story of the Terra Nova’s arrival at Oamaru The first report in column 7 on p.7 of The Press of 11 February, 1913, still speculating on the return of Captain Scott. One of the first reports, after the news of Scott’s death was out, in the evening broadsheet Auckland Star of 11 February, 1913. Post by: Wilma Blom Wilma is the Curator Marine Invertebrates at Auckland Museum. She also looks after palaeontology and geology. Collections Still Life Discuss this article Join the discussion about this article by posting your reponse on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using the hashtag #amdiscuss.