On 9th February 1917, the Scott Statue was unveiled in the Scott Reserve – the south west corner of Worcester Street and Oxford Terrace. The ceremony was led by New Zealand Governor Arthur Foljambe, the 2nd Earl of Liverpool.
It hadn’t even been a week after the news of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s death in Antarctica – after a failed attempt to be the first party to reach the South Pole – that talk was started on a memorial for them in Christchurch. Scott’s wife, Kathleen, was a world famous sculptor so she was approached about the project. She was asked for a replica of a bronze statue of her husband that stood on Waterloo Road in London. Kathleen accepted.
As the world was well into the WWI and metal was hard to come by, marble was chosen as the ‘blank canvas’. Kathleen travelled to Carrara, Italy to work on her commission. Upon its arrival in Christchurch, the statue was incomplete; the details of Scott’s gloves unfinished. Kathleen had planned to do the finishing touches before the unveiling but this never came to pass.
On the statue’s pedestal are the names of the four other explorers and scientists who lost their lives with Scott on the ice; Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers, Lawrence Oates and Edgar Evans. There is also an entry from Scott’s journal:
‘I do not regret this journey, which shows that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another, and meet death with a great fortitude as ever in the past’.
Worldwide, there are seven other memorials to Scott made by his widower, Kathleen.
*Image of Scott Statue courtesy of the Canterbury Public Library – http://christchurchcitylibraries.com – File Reference CCL Photo CD 16, IMG0069 *