By Elise Warwick, great-granddaughter of Alfred Gregory
My role as a Collections Unpacking Assistant at the Science Museum Groups National Collections Centre (NCC), involves caring for and safely storing numerous and varied items from throughout history. On joining the team at NCC I was both surprised and fascinated to find that the museum cares for a number of objects relating to various Everest Expeditions, including some which I have a very personal family connection to as my great grandfather, Alfred Gregory, was a climber and photographer for the 1953 expedition.
As we move into the future, the expedition photographs help to offer valuable understanding into such an iconic moment in history as a permanent record of the climb’s events.
Apart from photographs, objects from the expedition can hold similarly important insight as items physically present at the time.
It was the radio transmitter in the museum collection that instantly caught my attention as I remember seeing it in photos at my grandmother’s house. To think of this object providing key tele-communication on the expedition between the team is pretty amazing.
The innovation and groundbreaking achievements through the combination of climbing skills and technology is inspiring. It will continue to be remembered and understood through the documented memory, photos and objects we conserve.
70 years on we celebrate the anniversary of the first ascent of Everest and along with my uncle, Reuben Thurnhill (grandson of Alfred), I’m both privileged and proud to represent my great grandfather at the RGS event, a joint enterprise between the Himalayan Trust UK and the Mount Everest Foundation.
We can continue to celebrate the relationships this achievement has fostered with the mountain communities of Nepal decades on through the work of the Himalayan Trust. Happy 70th Anniversary!
Alfred Gregory became an internationally respected professional photographer as a result of the images he took as an amateur on Everest. He later ran a successful travel business, leading treks to Nepal and giving lectures on the international circuit.
A firm believer in film, he reluctantly agreed to have thousands of his mountaineering slides converted to digital images. In 1993 he emigrated to Australia where he died in 2010 aged 96.