Friday, 21 September 2007

Simon Daglish: the Numis Polar Challenge

On 14 January 2006, Simon Daglish was part of a four man team that reached the South Pole, after a 170-mile trek across the Antartic. In the Numis Polar Challenge, the team re-anacted the final stage of Captain Scott's 1912 expedition - with the aim of raising £1,000,000 for charities.

The 17-day journey was completed using the same methods and kit as used by Scott. Heavy wooden sledges lashed together with flax, gut and leather carried their reindeer-skin sleeping bags and canvas tent. Skis were made of birch and hickory and they steered by traditional theodolite and sextant navigation. In their kit, the team made an unusual sights and Simon reported on their arrival:

We were greeted by two Swedish scientists from the American Amundsen-Scott base who skied enthusiastically up to us and radioed back to the South Pole calling out: “The Brits are here!”.

We marched on, chatting to the first signs of human life we had seen for 17 days – it was wonderful. As we approached the Pole, scientists, technicians and workers from the Scientific Centre poured out, all with cameras to take photos of a sight which hasn’t been seen since Captain Scott and his team approached the Pole on 17th January 1912. For me, the approach to the Pole, having hauled almost 200 miles across the most inhospitable land in the world, was full of emotion – hard to summarise but my goggles filled up with emotion and I couldn’t see.

Simon’s team mates were friends James Daly, Ed Farquhar and Roger Weatherby. They were accompanied by polar guide Geoff Somers. Unfortunately the million pound target was missed – but just under £900,000 was raised; a remarkable achievement. Upon their return, the team gave a series of lectures around the country including the Royal Georgraphical Society in London.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott set sail for the Antartic in 1910 with the aim of being the first person to reach the South Pole, and to plant the British flag on Earth’s last great wilderness. The expedition developed into a “Race to the Pole” with Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who had a head start. After delays, Scott and his team reached the Pole on January 17, 1912 (see picture below) – but found they had been beaten by the Norwegian. On the journey back, Scott and his team succumbed to starvation and extreme cold.

Simon’s primary motivation for the Polar journey was to raise money from the charity Tommy’s. His youngest son was born more than three months early and suffers from cerebral palsy. Whilst his son was under treatment in intensive care, Simon was struck by how many premature babies die and wanted to raise money for research into the causes of premature births and their prevention. Simon also had a keen interest in Scott. He was bought up believing Scott was a hero – but in recent years some books and commentary suggested ineptitude and even a lack of bravery in Scott. Simon felt this was unfair and probably inaccurate.

Simon’s team mates were friends James Daly, Ed Farquhar and Roger Weatherby. They were accompanied by polar guide Geoff Somers. Unfortunately the million pound target was missed – but just under £900,000 was raised; a remarkable achievement. Upon their return, the team gave a series of lectures around the country including the Royal Georgraphical Society in London.

This has not been Simon’s only adventure. In 2003 he rowed a boat across the Irish Sea, also to raise money for Tommy’s, and has ridden a bicycle across the Stony Desert in Australia. He plans to lead an expedition to the North Pole in 2009.

** UPDATE **
Simon is involved with the Walking With The Wounded Arctic Expedition 2011.

Friday, 14 September 2007

The Tower Hill Memorial, London

The Tower Hill Memorial in London commemorates Merchant seamen from the two World Wars who have no known grave, apart from the sea. The memorial is located opposite the Tower of London and in front of Trinity House.

The 1914-18 monement was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and consists of a vaulted corridor with 12 bronze plaques engraved with 12,000 names. The World War II memorial was designed by Sir Edward Maufe in a semi-circular sunken garden with 24,000 names. All names are arranged in alphabetical order under the names of the ships that they were lost on.

There are two Daglish names on the memorial.

Chief Engineer Officer Edward Daglish died on 16 May 1943, aged 51, on the S.S. Aymeric (Glasgow). The Aymeric was torpedoed and sunk by U.657.
Edward was the son of Joseph Daglish and Frances Elizabeth Green, and he married Hilda Crumpton in 1919. The couple had four children. Edward was a Member of the Institution of Marine Engineers.

Steward James Daglish died on 11 August 1940, aged 20, on the S.S. Kirnwood (Middlesbrough). James was the son of James Daglish and Elizabeth Horn Garvock of South Shields.

The main inscription on the monument reads:

The Twenty-Four Thousand of The Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets whose names are honoured on the walls of this garden gave their lives for their country and have no grave but the sea.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Trip to the North East

I spent the last few days this week in the North East – enjoying some wonderful, sunny weather and the opportunity to meet some Daglishes.

The main reason for the trip was to be at Gibside, the National Trust property, which has been open for free this weekend as part of the Heritage Open Day scheme, under the theme “Your History Matters”. I was there trying to help others who are interested in starting family history search and want to know where to begin. There was a steady flow of visitors all day – some of whom were already experienced researchers with their “brick walls” that they wanted solved!
The highlight of the day for me was meeting Mr & Mrs Bill Daglish, who came to meet me after their son saw details of the event on the blog – an unexpected pleasure!

I also had the pleasure of meeting Louise and her husband Nigel, and Vera and her husband Allen. Louise has been researching her Daglish line for over 20 years, and has got back as far as 1583 in Whickham. Louise told me about her dismay when she found that one of her family headstones in a local cemetery had been flattened – apparently done to making mowing easier.

This started some thoughts about how gravestones and headstones are in danger of being either flattened, damaged or even removed, and I thought it might be useful to create an archive of photos of Daglish graves and other memorials.

With this in mind I went out to look for some. One in Newcastle Cathedral is for John Daglish (1793-1837), a chemist and druggist. He is recorded as being the son of William Daglish of Gateshead and whose mother was a descendent of Henry Maddison, sixth of the ten sons whose effigies are on the extraordinary Maddison Monument, also in Newcastle Cathedral.

John Daglish is reported to have been "of a philanthropic and benevolent disposition, a promoter of infant and Sunday schools, and a warm hearted friend of the young, the helpless and the suffering. " He was twice married, first to Catherine Wilson (who is buried with him) and later to Mary Wilkinson. One of his sons William Stephen Daglish (1832-1911) became a prominent solicitor in Newcastle, whilst another John Wilkinson Daglish (1828-1906) was a mining engineer and Justice of the Peace.

The only danger to this stone is probably from the hundreds of pairs of feet that must walk over it every day, most without taking time to read the inscription.

If anyone has their own photos of headstones or memorials connected to the Daglish name that they would be willing to let me have copies of I would be very grateful. Also it would be very useful to know the locations of any Daglish graves or memorials - much easier than finding them by chance! Living as I do in the south of England, it was a thrill to be able to go into a churchyard or cemetery and find a Daglish grave.

I have posted some other photos that I took on this trip on a flickr site (a way of sharing photos).

I also visited another National Trust property, Wallington, to try to locate the Daglish clock that my wife and I remembered seeing there some 15 years ago. My wife remembered that it used to be in the upstairs restaurant – but it’s no longer there. I spoke to a lady who worked in the restaurant at that time, who confirmed that the clock was indeed there at the time but she thought it was now held as part of the private collection. The person who would know was not there on the day I visited – but I left details and hope to hear from Wallington soon.

My thanks to Louise and Nigel, and to Vera and Allen, for their kind and generous hospitality.