Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Antarctic Scott's images on web

Scott expedition team members

Rarely-seen photographs from Captain Robert F Scott's ill-fated expedition to the South Pole can be seen in an online exhibition from 4 March.

These and other shots from 150 years of Arctic and Antarctic explorations have been painstakingly digitised by Cambridge University from its archive.

Capt Scott set out for the Antarctic from Cardiff in June 1910.

But he and his team died on their way back from the pole after failing to become the first people to reach it.

They were beaten to the South Pole by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen.

The 1,700 glass plate negatives produced by photographer Herbert Ponting during the expedition, which ran from 1910 to 13, are now so fragile they will never be publically displayed.

However the university's Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) are making these images and extracts from diaries, expedition reports, letters and personal papers available on a special website.

The Scott photos are the most vivid records of that ill-fated expedition
Heather Lane, Scott Polar Research Institute

The images provide a vivid account of the living conditions and scientific efforts of the men involved.

Images from 25 separate expeditions, including those led by Sir John Franklin, Sir Ernest Shackleton and more recently Sir Ranulph Fiennes, will also be available as part of the Freeze Frame project.

Heather Lane, librarian and keeper of the archives at SPRI said: "The Scott photos are the most vivid records of that ill-fated expedition.

"As the national memorial to Scott and his companions, the institute feels that it's vitally important the public can share that heritage.

"The archive presents all of the negatives we hold from twenty-five separate expeditions. There are many more in our collections still to be made accessible and many photographic prints which we would also love to digitise.

"We hope people from around the world will visit Freeze Frame, either for research or for general interest, and will enjoy the richness of this visual archive of polar photography."

Some of the photos and plates in the collection were so badly damaged or cracked that they had to be digitally restored and enhanced using state-of-the-art equipment.

Funding for the work came from the Joint Information Systems Committee.

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