Arctic Adventures - The Search for the North-West Passage
 Just as with the African expeditions, there is no neat way to sum up the great number and ever-increasing chaos of the Artic expeditions sent out by Barrow. Although he wrote a couple of books specifically about them, he avoids much mention of them in the Autobiography, Once again you'll have to read all about them in Barrow's Boys. But all this derring-do became a favourite subject for early-victorian painters, so there's lots of pictorial material. I have tried to choose the work of people who were actually there. The very best is the drawings of George Lyon - the same desert explorer - be sure to click the link below.

This is I think The EREBUS and of one of the Antarctic expeditions. However it gives the flavour of
nightmarish struggle and hardship that such wee jaunts entailed.
Detail below: Men doing drastic things with barrels, probably containing the drinking-water supplies.
Or possibly the beer - a much safer drink than water in those days.



Another scarey vision of frozen hell. 

Detial - men hauling boats across the ice.

One reads a lot about "cutting a passage through the ice". This is how it was done. Afterwards
came the entertainments. Captain Parry was a fantastic fiddle-player, and I do believe George Lyon was a banjo-ista. Then there were theatricals- and a newspaper to write , hunting parties, cricket matches and leapfrog contests - endless jolly good fun and no slacking!. To get everyone through 11 months of being frozen solid into the ice , 7 of which would have been spent in the pitch dark. The ships were however well-heated with giant coal stoves - the decks were tented over with canvas - and let's face it people were just really tough in those days.

I drew this in the British Library from an engraving
in the Illustrated London News.

This is fascinating - it is an engraving from a drawing by "Sackheouse", a mysterious Inuit character who was an interpreter to Capt. Ross.
The small figure far right being towed by three dogs looks like he's having a good laugh - full-dress naval uniforms indeed!
The pointy mountains / icebergs and all the rigging are beautifully done.
Another of Capt. Parry's delightful sketches.

This charming picture, obviously from life, is by Capt. William Parry himself.
The Inuits are drawing a map.
Note the bookshelf, and the bunk-beds.
Just one of G. F. Lyon's wonderful drawings of Inuit people. There are lots more - albeit too
tiny to work from - on the Scott Polar Research Institut'e's website here


This is Capt. Ross
This is Capt. James Clark Ross.
The best picture I've found to give an idea of the dramatic and terrifying scale of the task faced by the navigators.


Ship's biscuits! Yum!

It's a weeeeevil!
Just one of the many designs of hat worn by naval officers.
This pocket-sized flag (not much bigger than a postage stamp and mounted on a tiny knitting-needle) has been embroidered by some sailor's sweetheart .


These crudely-made snow goggles,( leather, wire, scratchy bits )- are from the
Franklin expedition. Below are some Inuit snow-goggles. The difference in workmanship is
quite striking.



This is a tin found among the Franklin remains. Besides the food not having any vitamins, it was also probably made poisonous by the tins.

Oddly no-one had got round to inventing a tin-opener yet so a small axe had to be used.



A canvas over-suit to be worn on top of naval uniforms. The canvas supposedly stopped the snow from sticking to the woollen cloth - and the shiny buttons and epaulettes ...
This is a design for a "boat Cloak". The idea is you take it off and blow it up like a balloon when you need to cross open water. Presumably the footpump and folding paddles would be stored in a pocket .....
Now then - a contemporary cartoon, (1819) by Cruikshank, basically saying what's the point? To read all the captions go to a bigger version here