George Lowe, part of Edmund Hillary’s team that conquered Mount Everest in 1953, died on Wednesday at the age of 89. Obituaries can be read online – The Guardian‘s is here. There are now no living members of that pioneering expedition. Fortunately, their written accounts, the Conquest of Everest documentary, and various newsreels survive for future generations to enjoy. British Pathé sadly has no footage of the expedition itself (though there is material from earlier Everest expeditions), but we do have films celebrating the team members upon their return. You can view a selection here.
On the 3rd April, it will be the 80th anniversary of the First Flight over Everest. In 1933, a British team set off for the pioneering mission. Footage of the team can be found via this link.
The British Pathé archive also contains coverage of the 1924 expedition, the 1952 Swiss expedition, and the American expedition in the 1960s. All the Everest films can be found in this collection.
On Sunday, 10th February 2013, it will have been 100 years since Robert Falcon Scott and his colleagues Henry Bowers and Edward Wilson were discovered dead in their tent in the Antarctic, having failed to reach the South Pole nearly a year before. There’s some really interesting footage in the archive of Scott and the expedition, but much of it is contained within longer retrospectives. Here’s a brief summary of the material to help you locate it:
Film of the Terra Nova, the ship which took Scott to the Antarctic and returned without him, was some of the earliest footage that British Pathé released in cinemas. There is a clip of the ship leaving for the Antarctic in 1910 and one of it returning to Cardiff in 1913.
The classic series Time To Remember, produced by British Pathé in the late 1950s and early 1960s, contains some additional footage that can’t be found elsewhere in the archive. The material appears at the end of Reel 1 and the beginning of Reel 2. You can view the relevant portions of those reels here. Included is a nice close up of Scott himself and some remarkable film of the expedition.
“Here’s to the Memory” also has footage apparently filmed in the Antarctic. It features the men huddled on the ground for dinner and trekking through the barren landscape towards their goal. It appears towards the beginning of this section of the documentary.
The expedition material was shot by Herbert Ponting, who accompanied Scott to the Antarctic with his camera. He survived and later produced the 1924 documentary, The Great White Silence.