Skip to main content

The North Bay, Cape Evans, 1911 [British Antarctic Expedition]

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y301a9A

Scope and Contents

595 x 428 mm. A view from the west showing the North Beach, the base camp at Cape Evans and Mount Erebus in the distance (not smoking at this time). Scott's party arrived at Cape Evans at the beginning of January 1911, this camp being in fact their second choice, Scott preferring the Cape Crozier side of Ross Island on the very edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. It proved impossible, however, to land the stores safely at this spot, and Cape Evans was chosen instead. This photograph was taken on March 7th, about two months after the party had landed; the expedition partly lived in the large hut near the shore (insulated with double boarding stuffed with quilted seaweed), and behind and to the sides of the hut can be seen the piles of provisions for the Antarctic winter, most prominent being the bales of hay for the ponies. Scott described the camp in glowing terms on January 11 1911:

‘The hut is becoming the most comfortable dwelling place imaginable. We have made unto ourselves a truly seductive home, within the walls of which peace, quiet and comfort reign supreme… the word ‘hut’ is misleading. Our residence is really a house of considerable size, in every respect the finest that has ever been erected in the Polar regions; 50 feet long by 25 feet wide and 9 feet to the eaves. If you can picture our house nestling below this small hill on a long stretch of black sand, with many tons of provision cases ranged in neat blocks in front of it and the sea lapping the icefoot below, you will have some idea of our immediate vicinity. Cape Evans is one of the many spurs of Erebus and the one that stands closest under the mountain, so that always towering above us we have the grand snowy peak with its smoking summit’.


  • Creation: 1911-03-07


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Herbert George Ponting was born in 1870, the eldest son of Francis Ponting, a banker. He attended Carlisle and Preston Grammar Schools and Wellington House College, Leyland and began a career in banking in 1888. However, after four years it was apparent that banking did not suit him and he shortly set out for the West Coast of America. In America he purchased a fruit farm at Auburn, California and married Mary Biddle Elliott in 1895. The ranch got into financial difficulties in 1898 and Ponting and his family returned to England.

After a brief period in London, the family returned to California. Ponting took up photography seriously in 1900 and in that year won a competition organised by Bausch and Lomb and also had a photograph featured in the centre of the Kodak exhibit in the World's Fair at St. Louis. He also submitted images to companies making pictures for the stereoscope. He spent the next decade travelling the world, including visits to Japan, Korea, Manchuria, China, India, Switzerland, France, Spain, Portugal, Russia, France, Java (also known as Jawa) and Burma (now Myanmar).

Ponting accompanied Robert Scott on his second Antarctic Expedition in 1910, leaving McMurdo Sound in mid-March 1912 for New Zealand. He spent the following years lecturing and promoting his work, and died on February 7th 1935.


1 item(s) (1 image)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Good condition, apart from some discolouring.


Scott’s description of the camp is found in: Saviours, Ann, ed., (1974),‘Scott’s last voyage: through the Antarctic camera of Herbert Ponting’, London: Sidgwick and Jackson.


This collection level description was entered by WS using information from the original typescript catalogue.


Ponting, Herbert George, 1870-1935, antarctic explorer, photographer and author

Includes index.
2006-12-04 12:12:28+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom