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Sept 2022

Object Title:  The Quest Crow’s Nest

This is the crow’s nest (lookout barrel) which was removed from the mast of Shackleton’s last expedition ship Quest.  Excitingly the crow’s nest arrives at the South Georgia museum this month.
It is on loan to the museum to form part of the current ‘Shackleton’s Last Quest’ exhibition marking the centenary of the Shackleton-Rowett Antarctic Expedition. Shackleton died aboard his vessel shortly after it arrived at Grytviken and was buried in the cemetery there, only a few hundred metres from the museum.

On loan from All Hallows by the Tower


Quest was built as a sealer in Norway in 1917 and was refitted for the Quest Expedition with some of the newest technology of the time. This included electric heating in the crow’s nest in an attempt to keep the occupant a little more comfortable as they stood in it at the top of the mast perhaps seeking a way through ice fields in freezing temperatures.

Drawing showing the crow’s nest at the top of Quest’s mast. You can just make out the canvas sheet to further shield the barrel occupant. The canvas was supported by the metal and rope structure at the top of the crow’s nest.


The Quest Expedition continued after the loss of its leader, but now under the leadership of Shackleton’s old comrade Frank Wild. After science and investigations in the Weddell Sea they turned north calling at several remote island en route. On 16 September 1922, almost exactly a year after having set out, the expedition arrived back in England, making landfall at Plymouth.

After the expedition the vessel was refitted as a sealing vessel again. The deckhouse and crow’s nest were removed, and following the sinking of the vessel in 1962 are the only remaining parts of Shackleton’s last ship.

The crow’s nest was carefully packed in a special wooden shipping crate for its long voyage south. Here it is seen en route as it made transit through the Falkland Islands.

The crow’s nest is usually displayed in the Crypt Museum under the church of All Hallows by the Tower in London, UK. It has been on quite a journey to reach the South Georgia Museum, including a side trip to the Shackleton Museum in Athy Ireland (Shackleton’s birthplace) where it was on display for a year before undergoing some conservation work by conservator Sven Habermann and being sent on its way south.
We have been tracking its journey and adventures en route. You can follow the travels of the crow’s nest on the map feature on the SG Museum website:

If you want a closer look, there is an interactive 3D model at the link below

Our thanks to All Hallows by the Tower for the loan of this significant historic object.