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Spitzbergen: Oxford University Arctic Expedition 1924

An ambitious second expedition to the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago led by George Binney, student, artic explorer and seaplane pioneer, 7 July – 5 September 1924.

Amateur film 1924 202 mins Silent


Binney’s expedition to North East Land in Spitsbergen was probably the first Arctic expedition to use aircraft for reconnaissance. The Avro-Lynx seaplane was built by A.V. Roe and Company – one of the world’s early aircraft manufacturers – based at Brownsfield Mill, Manchester. The plane is seen loading on board ship on the Tyne in sections and was re-built on the tundra.

Two expedition ships, the Polarbjørn and the Oïland carried the men and equipment, including three dog-sledge parties, to undertake scientific fieldwork and document wildlife, including the rare Sabine gull. The dogs were managed by Helmer Hanssen, the Norwegian who had been with Roald Amundsen when he first reached the South Pole in December 1911. Others included included: Charles Elton (ecologist), F. A. Montague (zoologist), K. S. Sandford (geologist), A. N. T. Rankin (bird photographer), E. Relf (physicist), (Sir) Howard Florey (medical officer), and R. A. Frazer, H. Baker, J. E. Tennant, and J. R. T. Aldous (surveyors). Others included H. M. Clutterbuck, W. B. Carslake; the seaplane was piloted by A. G, B. Ellis, with F. Tymms as photographer and film-maker.