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A Dinner aboard Discovery

by Michael Smith

Discovery, the 100 year old ship which represents one of the most tangible links to the great era of Polar exploration, was the venue for a special Antarctic Evening held in Dundee, Scotland earlier this year. The ship was the perfect setting for a unique dinner attended by descendants of the pioneering explorers, modern day Polar travellers, collectors of Antarctic memorabilia and writers. It was a memorable occasion built around a long languid dinner in the splendid Ward Room of Discovery accompanied by toasts, stories, anecdotes, informed discussion and general discursions about early Polar exploration and the role of Discovery.

The event began with drinks in the cramped but atmospheric Pig & Whistle bar situated below decks on Discovery where guests were introduced to each other and then taken for a brief guided tour of the famous ship. At around 8pm the 14 enthusiasts sat down in the ornate mahogany-lined Ward Room for a splendid dinner of locally-caught Scottish salmon and medallions of Aberdeen Angus beef in Scotch whisky. This was followed by a selection of Scottish cheeses and washed down by suitably named Discovery port.

As the conversation and drinks flowed back and forth it was easy to imagine the setting 100 years earlier when Scott, Wilson, Shackleton, Royds, Skelton and the other officers were gathered around the same table discussing their hopes and anxieties about their expedition. The neat, individual cabins, which flank the Ward Room, still display the names of the famous men who embarked on the largest Polar expedition ever sent from Britain.

For us the spirits in the Ward Room that night seemed stronger than the whisky and brandy passing freely around the table.

The event was organised by Robert B. Stephenson, the Antarctic collector and traveller who runs the Antarctic Circle website and it was Rob who produced a delightful 40-page booklet which all those present will treasure as a lasting keepsake of an enchanting and memorable evening.

Those present onboard Discovery on Saturday, May 5, 2001 were:

  • Anthony Bowring (Member of the Trans-Globe Expedition; the Bowring family once owned Scott's Terra Nova)
  • Jill Bowring (Member of the Trans-Globe Expedition)
  • Robert Burton (Antarctic traveller, historian and former director of South Georgia Whaling Museum)
  • Mary Royds Cleveland (Cousin of Charles Royds, First Lieutenant Discovery
  • Cathy Cooper (Antarctic traveller and collector)
  • Ian Cumming (Antarctic traveller; dentist on South Georgia)
  • Wendy Driver (Antarctic traveller and collector; journalist)
  • Sandy Macklin (Son of Dr Alexander Macklin, Endurance 1914-16 and Quest 1921-22 expeditions)
  • Falcon Scott (Grandson of Captain Robert Falcon Scott)
  • Judy Skelton (Granddaughter of Reginald Skelton, Chief Engineer, Discovery)
  • Michael Smith (Author of Unsung Hero - Tom Crean Antarctic Survivor; journalist and collector)
  • Robert B. Stephenson (Antarctic traveller and collector; coordinator of Antarctic Circle website)
  • David M. Wilson (Grandnephew of Dr Edward A. Wilson, Discovery and Terra Nova expeditions)
  • David Yelverton (Antarctic historian; author of Antarctic Unveiled: Scott's First Expedition).



  • Left to right: Anthony Bowring; Michael Smith; Bob Burton; Sandy Macklin;
    Discovery Guide (name unknown); Cathy Cooper; Jill Bowring; Wendy Driver;
    Falcon Scott; David Wilson; Judy Skelton; Mary Royds Cleveland; Ian Cumming.






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