Tuesday, January 26, 1999 Published at 15:47 GMT
Scott's artefacts back on ice
Made it: Scott (holding Union Jack) party at the South Pole
A collection of artefacts from Captain Robert Scott's ill-fated bid to become the first man to reach the South Pole have been returned to Antarctica 40 years after they were removed.
Late last year, the artefacts were offered for sale by the auction house Christies, but the UK Government worked to get them back.
"It's very sad that individual took them, and I'm very glad we managed to forestall the sale before it took place," Mr Meacher said.
Some of the items had been left behind by Earnst Shackleton's marooned Ross Sea Party who used the hut for a time a couple of years after Scott.
Mr Meacher handed the items to the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, the organisation which takes care of Scott's hut as well as other historical sites in the region.
The hut, which was home to the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910-13, remains well-preserved aided by the continent's extreme low temperatures and dry climate.
"It was the atmosphere of a cathedral about ensuring that one's boots were clean that there was no pollution being brought in and there was no damage to any of the items," Mr Meacher said.
Dr John Heap, Chairman of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, said he was relieved that Christies and the collector agreed to withdraw from the September sale.
He said he could understand how the items came to be removed in the first place.
"In around 1957, the people who then saw the famous Scott and Shackleton huts were the first to see them for about 40 years - they were filled with ice and snow and they looked like thorough wrecks. At that time it seemed almost to be doing the right thing to be taking them away," he said.
The New Zealand Antarctic Policy Unit said over the years "hundreds if not thousands of items" had been taken from the preserved expedition huts.
A spokesman said a "trickle" of them were now being returned.