The 2019 Collingwood Lecture: ‘Science, Cannibalism and the Franklin Expedition’

Thursday 7th March 2019:  7.30pm at the Miller Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School, Jesmond.  

Professor Andrew Lambert, Laughton Professor of Naval History in the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London returns to deliver the 2019 Collingwood Lecture. 

Professor Lambert is a respected and highly knowledgeable naval historian, a widely published author, regular contributor to television documentaries and an accomplished speaker.  He is an authority on the Franklin Expedition.   

In 1845, Sir John Franklin set off with two ships, HMS EREBUS and HMS TERROR to discover the fabled ‘North West Passage’.  He never returned.  Nearly forty expeditions were subsequently despatched to determine his fate and that of the 128 men with him.   The basic outcome was fairly quickly ascertained, but along with rather gruesome details of the final days.  Orkney explorer and surgeon John Rae, whose expedition went out in 1854, brought back the first conclusive evidence, but its nature was not popular with Victorian Society, driven by the efforts of Sir John’s widow, who was determined to glorify her husband’s memory.   Subsequent expeditions added more to the wider story, perhaps most significantly with some well-covered exhumations and post mortems in the 1980’s.  However, the Canadians have now discovered the wrecks of both ships, well preserved in the icy waters of course.  Science has, and still will, add to this fascinating story.

As a small bonus, we expect to have at least one Polar Medal from the era there on the night. 

Free admission to Society members, school staff and pupils, £3 admission to visitors.  Tea, coffee and bar available beforehand. The Royal Grammar School is located on Eskdale Terrace, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4DX. There is free on-site car parking. The school is also within easy walking distance of Jesmond Metro station.  Doors open 7pm.     

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