Raymond E. Priestley - Geologist
(1886 - 1974) - Biographical notes

Geologist Nimrod 1907-09
Geologist Terra Nova 1910-13


Edgar Evans

Born in Tewkesbury, England the son of a grammar school headmaster, Priestley studied Geology at Bristol University.

Priestley joined Shackleton's Antarctic Nimrod Expedition (1907-09) where he worked closely with renowned geologists, Philip Brocklehurst and and Edgeworth David, . He collected mineral and biological samples and was part of supply depot laying teams for Shackleton's attempt on the South Pole. In November 1908 he spent three days in a blizzard sleeping outside the tents in his sleeping bag due to a lack of space inside. As the blizzard progressed, he gradually slipped down the glacier nearly falling off the end to his death.

Priestley was recruited by Scott for the Terra Nova expedition when the ship called at Sydney on the way south.

He was part of what was intended to be an Eastern Party of 6 men led by Campbell to carry out scientific work, failing to find a landing site, they returned westward again coincidentally meeting Roald Amundsen on the Fram in the Bay of Whales. Unable to find a suitable eastern landing, Campbell's party became the Northern Party, building a hut and wintering at Cape Adare in 1911.

The following summer they were transferred 250 miles south by the Terra Nova to Evans Cove with enough sledging rations for 6 weeks and the intention of staying 2 weeks before being picked up again. Sea ice conditions meant that the ship could not reach them and they had to over-winter again. An ice cave was excavated on Inexpressible Island and a miserable winter ensued, rations being extended with the occasional seal or penguin that could be killed. They left at the end of winter on the 30th of September 1912, heading for Cape Evans, crossing 200 miles of sea ice to arrive on the 7th of November when they were informed of the deaths of Scott and the South Polar party.

Priestly served in WW1 with distinction being awarded the Military Cross, he remained in the army until 1920 when he was awarded a BA at Cambridge for his work and writings on glaciers. In this same year he co-founded the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge with fellow Terra Nova expedition member Frank Debenham. He had a long administrative university career holding many academic and government posts in Australia and England. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, later the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham (1938-52) he was knighted in 1949. Despite retiring in 1952, he served variously as Chairman of the Royal Commission on the Civil Service, deputy Director of the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (later called the British Antarctic Survey), and president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1956). He returned to Antarctica in 1956 and 1959.

20 July 1886 - 24 June 1974


Campbell - right, with Priestley
Campbell - right, with Priestley
Campbell and Priestley afloat on pancake ice

Campbell and Priestley afloat on pancake ice

Landmarks named after Raymond E. Priestley

Feature Name: Priestley Peak
Type: summit
Latitude: 67°12‚00´S
Longitude: 050°23‚00´E
Description: Peak between Mount Pardoe and Mount Tod on the S side of Amundsen Bay in Enderby Land. Sighted on Jan. 14, 1930, by British Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) under Mawson.

Feature Name: Mount Priestley
Type: summit
Latitude: 75°11‚00´S
Longitude: 161°53‚00´E
Description: A mountain, 1,100 m, rising at the N side of David Glacier, 5 mi SW of Mount Bellingshausen, in the Prince Albert Mountains of Victoria Land. First mapped by the British Antarctic Expedition (BrAE), 1907-09,.

Feature Name: Priestley Glacier
Type: glacier
Latitude: 74°20‚00´S
Longitude: 163°22‚00´E
Description: A major valley glacier, about 60 mi long, originating at the edge of the polar plateau of Victoria Land and draining SE between Deep Freeze Range and Eisenhower Range to enter the N end of the Nansen Ice Sheet. First explored by the Northern Party of the British Antarctic Expedition (BrAE), 1910-13.

Feature Name: Priestley Neve
Type: summit
Latitude: 73°35‚00´S
Longitude: 160°20‚00´E
Description: The neve at the head of Priestley Glacier in Victoria Land. Named by the New Zealand Antarctic Place-Names Committee (NZ-APC) in about 1966 in association with Priestley Glacier.


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