The Scott Memorial

The Scott Memorial, which is also known as the Lighthouse and the Clock Tower, was built in 1914 and 1915.

The Scott Memorial August 2018

The Scott Memorial August 2018

The wooden figurehead from Scott's ship, the Terra Nova, was presented to the City of Cardiff by the ship owner, Mr. Frederick.Charles Bowring of Liverpool, at a ceremony which took place at the southern end of Roath Park Lake on December 8th 1913.[1] The figurehead is further described in the Promenade section of this website. During his presentation speech Mr Bowring announced that he would donate a clock tower as a permanent memorial to Scott and the British Antartic Expedition (1910). It was decided to erect this in the form of a lighthouse in Roath Park Lake,[2] about 25 feet from the Promenade, and roughly opposite the site of the Terra Nova figurehead. John Smith Clockmakers of Derby produced a clock for the tower, the design of which was agreed by the City's Parks and Open Spaces Committee in March 1914.[3]

The lake was emptied in 1914 in order to build foundations for the tower.[4] A photograph of the tower, which was said to be "rapidly nearing completion", appeared in a report of a YMCA carnival at the lake in July 1914.[5] The work was completed in early 1915 at a total cost of £159.6s.8d,[6][7] but it was not until October 14th 1918 that the clock tower was officially presented to the City by Mr. Bowring.[8][9]

There is a plaque on the side of the Memorial facing the Promenade, which states that it is dedicated to the memory of Captain Scott and the members of the crew of S.S Terra Nova who sailed from Cardiff in 1910 and died in the Antarctic in 1912. The plaque reads:-

To the memory of
Captain R. F. Scott C.V.O. D.S.O. , R.N.
and his faithful companions
Captain L. E. G. Oates, Lieut. H. R. Bowers R.I.M.,
Dr. E. A. Wilson and Petty Officer Edgar Evans R.N.
who sailed in the S,S. Terra Nova from the Port of Cardiff
June 15th 1910, to locate the South Pole; and, in pursuit of
that great and successful scientific task, laid down their
lives in the Antarctic Regions. March 1912.
"Britons all, and very galant gentlemen".
Erected and presented to the City of Cardiff by
F. C. Bowring Esq., J.P.

A postcard collected quite by chance suggests that H. D. Evans made the pattern and cast the bronze plate. On October 15th 1918, the Western Mail reported:-

A picturesque ceremony was witnessed at Roath Park Lake, Cardiff, on Monday when Mr F. C. Bowring formally handed over to the City the clock-tower, at the promenade end of the lake, erected to the memory of the late Capt. R. F. Scott, C.V.O., D.S.O.,R.N. and his faithful companions Capt. Oates, Lieut. Bowers, Dr. E.A. Wilson, and Petty Officer Evans, who sailed in the Terra Nova from Cardiff on June 15th 1910, to the South Pole."

The clock tower has three levels including ground, with a small concrete landing separating the two upper levels. Originally wooden ladders went between these levels but these have been replaced by metal ones. On the top of the tower is a wind vane in the form of model ship, thought to be a replica of one Scott's ships, though there is some uncertainty about which ship. A newspaper item in 1928 about Frederick Bowring receiving a knighthood stated that the vane was an "actual scale model of the Terra Nova"..[10] Another source indicates that the vane depicts Discovery, the ship for Scott's earlier Antarctic expedition in 1901-1904.[11]

The model ship wind vane after restoration

The model ship wind vane after restoration
©Cardiff Parks Department collection

The clock faces are believed to be original. The original clock mechanism was wound from the third level landing. The clock needed to be wound weekly, usually by Cliff Lloyd who worked at the boat stage in the 1980s /1990s. The winder was a handle that was placed on a square shaft which when turned raised the weights that ran down the centre of the clock tower enclosed in a wooden tube. Winding the clock was time consuming. From the third level there was very awkward and tight access to the outer veranda of the clock tower through a set of small double doors which were approximately 2 foot 6 inches wide and 2 feet high.[11]

In the late 1970s a new movement for the clock was required, partly financed by a contribution from the Lord Pontypridd bequest fund totalling £4,534. The work included installation of an electricity cable from the promenade and flood lighting of the clock faces.[12]

In the autumn of 2020 the Scott Memorial was repainted, the cost met by a donation from a local resident.[13]

Sources of Information

  1. Western Mail 9th December 1913
  2. Special Meeting of the Parks and Open Spaces Committee 12th March 1914
  3. Meeting of the Parks and Open Spaces Committee 12th March 1914
  4. Meeting of the Parks Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 7th May 1914
  5. Western Mail 16th July 1914 page 8
  6. Anthony M Johnson, Scott of the Antarctic and Cardiff, University College Cardiff Press, 2nd revised impression, 1990, page 63
  7. Meeting of the Parks Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 4th February 1915
  8. Western Mail 15th October 1918
  9. Meeting of the Parks Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 4th December 1918
  10. Honours for Wales. Friend of Scott. Western Mail 2nd January 1928 page 7
  11. Geograph: Scott Memorial, Roath Park Lake
  12. Personal communication (DHo & TD)
  13. Meeting of the Leisure and Amenities Committee 8th January 1979
  14. Roath Park's Scott Memorial to be re-painted