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Bagshawe, Thomas Wyatt (1901-1976)

Born on 18 April 1901 in Dunstable. He went to Rugby school and read geology at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, but abandoned his studies to join the British Expedition to Graham Land, 1920 - 1922 (leader John Lachlan Cope). Bagshawe and his companion, Maxime Charles Lester, travelled south in a whaling ship to Deception Island ahead of the leader John Cope and second-in-command George Hubert Wilkins. The party transferred to Andvord Bay, on the Danco Coast of Graham Land where they intended to set up a base. However, insufficient finance curtailed the expedition, and Cope and Wilkins withdrew. Bagshawe and Lester decided to remain, setting up a base at Waterboat Point on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula between January 1921 and January 1922. Though ill-equipped and with few comforts, they recorded meteorological, tidal and zoological observations, including a study of the breeding biology of the neighbouring gentoo penguins.

Their base was actually a discarded water boat, flat bottomed, 27ft 6ins in length by 10ft 6ins in beam, and with an internal height of just over 3ft. Initially they lived in the hull of the boat, but deciding they required more space they built an extension¬†out of packing cases. This allowed them to expand their accommodation to include a “Lounge” above deck and a “Kitchen” and “Outer hut” to one side of the hull.

On his return to Britain, Bagshawe joined the family engineering business in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. From 1924 to 1947, he was honorary curator, and later honorary director of the Luton Museum, and was also honorary curator of the Cambridge Folk Museum from 1940 to 1946. He became involved in local affairs, researching into the early trades and crafts of Bedfordshire and in 1949 was appointed High Sheriff of Bedfordshire. He was married to Grace Geering with whom he had two sons.

He died in Worthing on 28 January 1976 aged 74.

Published Work

Bagshawe, T.W. (1939) Two men in the Antarctic. An expedition to Graham Land, 1920-22. Cambridge: University Press Cambridge.

Further Information

Matthews, D. (1976) Obituary in The Polar Record Vol.18 no.113 May 1976 p191-192.

Stonehouse, B. Ed (2002) Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.