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Shackleton’s Quest at South Georgia with Jan Chojecki – 29 March 2022

Shackleton’s Quest at South Georgia with Jan Chojecki

29 March 2022

Presented by Dr Jan Chojecki

Exploring Sir Ernest Shackleton’s final journey to South Georgia. Presented by Dr Jan Chojecki, grandson of John Quiller Rowett, the sponsor of Shackleton’s Quest Expedition.

The talk features rarely seen photographs from the Quest Expedition, including some of the earliest ever colour photographs of South Georgia. Jan explores the circumstances and events of the expedition that occurred on South Georgia. He tells some of the lesser-known stories of the Quest Expedition, including the activities of the scientific advance party to the island, and their achievements over the course of the expedition.

After the presentation, South Georgia Museum Curator Jayne Pierce discussed with Jan about the Quest Expedition at South Georgia and presented questions from the audience. Jan has kindly written these answers to questions:


Shackleton’s Quest at South Georgia – Jan Chojecki, 29 March 2022 Q&A  

Question from Joe, Ireland: In your slide featuring “Jamaica Rum”, you mention “Rowett Leakey & Co Ltd”. Is this the same “Leakey” of Walsall, West Midlands fame, leather goods manufacture, who supplied the harnesses for Capt Scott’s ponies in his 1912 “Terra Nova” Expedition?

JC: (As answered in the Q&A) – Not as far as I am aware. Basil Leakey was JQR’s business partner and part-time magician/entertainer “Alan Adair”. He may have had connections to the leather Leakey, but I have no information on that. Something to look into.

Question from Sylvia: Can I assume that Rowett Island at Elephant Island is named after your Grandfather? JC:  Yes. (As mentioned in the Q&A). Also Mount Rowett on Gough Island. Question from Steve: Could the second mountain picture be the “Three brothers”?

JC:  I have another Wilkins picture of the Three Brothers and they do not look quite that same.  But I will take advice from anyone who knows South Georgia better than I do!

Question from Ingrid: It is said that the expedition drained the finances of Mr. Rowett … Is that accurate?

JC:  It certainly did not help, but he suffered much greater losses later on other business. I will discuss a bit further in the book.

Question…also from Ingrid: Also, Jan intimated there is a question of who wrote Wild’s account of the Quest Expedition. What is the alternate story there?

JC: Watch this space – I will deal with this in the book.

Question from Rocky: The picture of the outcropping on the Shackleton Trail is between the word ‘Transverse” and “Range” on the map showing the trail.  I recognized the area from a hike on the trail in 2017.

JC: Thanks Rocky – that fits exactly my hypothesis. Did you take any snaps?  

Question from Allen: Does your family still have the “James Caird”?

JC: No. When Shackleton died in 1922, Dulwich College – the school attended by both Shackleton and my grandfather – launched an appeal for funds for a Shackleton memorial.  My grandfather donated the James Caird and it has served as a memorial to Shackleton at the school to this day. Question from Samuel: 

A question about the “James Caird”. In the photo you shared it seems to have a l ot of McNeish’s work absent.

JC: Correct. By the time it had been brought to England and then been used in advertising Shackleton’s lecture series – in such places as the Middlesex Hospital, the Royal Albert Hall and the roof of Selfridges – it had been largely stripped of the McNish additions.

Question from schernpowmac: Why did the Canadians pull their funding?

JC: Good question. I will deal with this in the book. Partly austerity, partly politics.

Question from Thomas: I have a little information on one of your first slides. The woman is my Grandmother Margareth Binnie, the wife of the Magistrate, with her two daughters, Elsa and Sonja, whom was born at King Edward Point. The photo is taken on Sonja’s babtise day in 1926.

JC: That’s very cool – so it’s them with Leganger Hansen?  I guess the photo was taken by Binnie who was apparently quite handy with the camera.


In 2022 Jan will publish a book about the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition.

You can read more about the Quest Expedition and how Sir Ernest Shackleton still inspires people today in the South Georgia Museum online exhibitions on the museum website: