Reginald Skelton collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904 (leader Robert Falcon Scott) including the building of the expedition ship Discovery, Skelton's work on motor sledges for use in polar regions and correspondence including letters regarding the British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913 (leader Robert Falcon Scott).

Administrative / Biographical History

Reginald William Skelton was born in Lincolnshire in 1872. He was a senior engineer in the Royal Navy, serving on board HMS Majestic with Robert Falcon Scott, when he joined the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904 (led by Scott), as the ship's chief engineer. He supervised the fitting-out of the expedition ship Discovery and took part in several sledge journeys during the expedition, discovering the first known breeding place of emperor penguins while sledging to Cape Crozier. He also became an accomplished photographer.

In the First World War, Skelton was in charge of dockyard facilities and installations at Archangel, Russia. He took part in the Battle of Jutland, for which he won the DSO. In 1928, he was appointed Engineer Vice-Admiral and Engineer-in-Chief of the Fleet. He was created KCB in 1931 and retired from the Navy in 1932, becoming a director of John I. Thornycroft and Co., shipbuilders and engineers. He died at Adlingbourne on 5 September 1956.


The collection is split into three sub-fonds comprising of expedition material for the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904, Skelton's work on motor sledges and correspondence respectively.

Access Information

By appointment.

Some materials deposited at the Institute are NOT owned by the Institute. In such cases the archivist will advise about any requirements imposed by the owner. These may include seeking permission to read, extended closure, or other specific conditions.


Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they note the entire MS reference and the name of the originator.

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the author signs the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to The Polar Record, (January 1957) volume 8 number 55 p378-379 and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002), ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (7) and Scott of the Antarctic by Elspeth Huxley, Weidenfield and Nicholson, London (1977) SPEI Library Shelf 92[Scott] and Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN 0521309034

Other Finding Aids

Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue, Garland Publishing New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.

Additional finding aids are available at the Institute.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying material by photography, electrostat, or scanning device by readers is prohibited. The Institute may be able to provide copies of some documents on request for lodgement in publicly available repositories. This is subject to conservation requirements, copyright law, and payment of fees.

Copyright restrictions apply to most material. The copyright may lie outside the Institute and, if so, it is necessary for the reader to seek appropriate permission to consult, copy, or publish any such material. (The Institute does not seek this permission on behalf of readers). Written permission to publish material subject to the Institute's copyright must be obtained from the Director. Details of conditions and fees may be had from the Archivist.


Further accessions possible.