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Cambridge buys Scott Antarctic negatives

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Cambridge buys Scott Antarctic negatives AP Photo courtesy: Robert Falcon Scott, Scott Polar Research Institute

LONDON Cambridge University has purchased a photographic record of one of Britain's great heroic failures Capt. Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition.

The university's Scott Polar Research Institute said Monday it had raised 275,000 pounds ($458,000) to buy 113 photographic negatives from the journey, which were at risk of being sold abroad.

Scott, an icon of the heroic age of polar exploration, reached the South Pole in January 1912, only to discover that he'd been beaten by Norway's Roald Amundsen. Scott and four companions died of hunger and exhaustion on the trek back to base camp. The discovery of their bodies, alongside letters and diaries recording their stoicism in the face of doom, turned them into national heroes.

The negatives, taken by Scott, show the expedition members and their ponies camping and hauling sleds laden with provisions as they made their way toward the Pole in 1911.

The negatives were believed lost until they were discovered in 2012 in a private collection. The owner offered Cambridge the first chance to buy them, but said they would be sold at auction if the money could not be found.

The Scott institute said it had raised the money through a 233,000 pound grant from the government-funded National Heritage Memorial Fund, as well as private donations.

Explorer Ranulph Fiennes, who had backed the campaign to keep the pictures for the public, said the images 'speak so powerfully to us of the courage and sacrifice of those on the British Antarctic Expedition.'

The museum said it intended to put the negatives on public display, alongside prints of some of the images and the camera on which they were taken.


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