Friday, 29 August 2014

Discovery Dundee..but no crocodiles!

Familiarise Friday with a difference.
My blog post today will, hopefully, familiarise you with a ship rather than with a person.

As part of my recent jaunt around and about earlier this week, I visited the Discovery Centre at Dundee, Scotland, with my husband and almost 3 year old granddaughter.

I’ve been on the ship before but not for some years. We needed to take a break during what was a long journey for a little one and the Discovery Centre was much better than a fast food stop - the 'baked tattie' from the cafe more tasty and nutricious than I've had at many other food outlets. If the museum entry fee was included, the stop was maybe a little more expensive for us but well worth it!  

If you’ve never been on the ship, here’s a little potted version of what the visitor attraction is about. Skip back to 1901, when the world was a much smaller place and daring adventures were being made by our intrepid discoverers to parts hitherto almost unknown – like the polar regions of the globe.

Polar Research ship - RSS Discovery- was built in 1901 by Dundee Shipbuilders’ Company.

The visitor attraction and museum tells the story of this famous tall ship and of its crew led by Robert Falcon Scott. The RSS Discovery was the first ship to be built specifically for research purposes, the aim of its journeys to be used for scientific research, and as such, it was never the objective for it to be the first vessel to reach the South Pole in a ‘race’ situation. It was the first Official British Scientific Exploration of the polar regions though not the first British ship to explore the area. (For more details reaad about the voyages of James Clark Ross)

The RSS Discovery was also one of the last three-masted wooden vessels to be built in Scotland. Though famous for the research expedition of 1901-1904, the Discovery went on to have a long and fascinating career. 

Read more of this at this site:

Some of the design aspects were a challenge. Since magnetic surveys were an important part of the expedition, the design of the ship had to incorporate an exclusion zone around the Magnetic Observatory. No iron or steel was used for some 30 metres around it to ensure greater accuracy of the data.   

Sir Clements Markham, President of the Royal Geographical Society, had the vision and the expertise to raise the funds for the design and the building of the vessel. Once those details were organised he went in search of a man to lead the expedition to the South Pole. His criteria included the person being a naval officer of some experience – though Markham also wanted the man to still be relatively young and fit for such a hazardous journey. Robert Falcon Scott, born in Devon, was appointed as Commander at the age of 33.

I’ve been to many visitor attractions and the Discovery Centre is attractive and informative. It has static displays of the equipment used on the ship with sufficiently detailed explanations for the average visitor. For a 3 year old, there’s plenty of interesting things to encounter. Wandering around the extremely well preserved and well set out ship, it's amazing how compact it must have been for such a large crew, many of them functioning on a daily basis as scientists rather than as seamen.

imagining ice blindness!

I hadn't any plans to include the building of the RSS Discovery in my writing, before my visit, but now I can just see something sneaking into my family saga which, happens to have some references to Dundee.(*inserting a smiley face here*)

Visiting centres like this one always leaves with the urge to learn more. Someday maybe? When my priorities are different? Seeing as this was only intended as a break in our journey to Kenmore, Loch Tay, Perthshire – the location of The Scottish Crannog Centre - that someday might be a while in coming.

Look out for my blogs tomorrow on crannogs!  


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