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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

 Web Page 1150
25th May 2013

Top Picture: Sir Peter Scott

Bottom Picture: Another naturalist George Cansdale
Peter Scott

It would be really hard to imagine the early days of television without in input of Sir Peter Markham Scott, CBE, DSC and Bar, MID, FRS, FZS an ornithologist, conservationist, painter, naval officer and sportsman.

He was born in London, the only child of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott and sculptor Kathleen Bruce. He was only two years old when his father died. Robert Scott, in a last letter to his wife, advised her to "make the boy interested in natural history if you can; it is better than games." He was named after Sir Clements Markham, mentor of his father’s polar expeditions, and his godfather was J. M. Barrie, creator of Peter Pan.

He was educated at Oundle School and Trinity College, Cambridge, initially reading Natural Sciences but graduating in the History of Art in 1931.

Like his mother, he displayed a strong artistic talent and had his first exhibition in London in 1933. His wealthy background allowed him to follow his interests in art, wildlife and sports, including sailing and ice skating; in fact he represented Great Britain at sailing in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, winning a bronze medal in the O-Jolle class dinghy.

During World War II, he served in the Royal Navy, emulating his father. He served in destroyers in the North Atlantic but later moved to commanding the First (and only) Squadron of  Steam Gun Boats against German E-boats in the English Channel. It was here he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery.

He is credited with designing the "Western Approaches" ship camouflage scheme, which disguised the look of ship superstructure. In July 1940, he managed to get the destroyer HMS Broke experimentally camouflaged, differently on the two sides. To starboard, the ship was painted blue-grey all over, but with white in naturally shadowed areas as countershading, following the ideas from the First World War. To port, the ship was painted in "bright pale colours" to combine some disruption of shape with the ability to fade out during the night, again with shadowed areas painted white. He later wrote that compromise was fatal to camouflage, and that invisibility at night (by painting ships in white or other pale colours) had to be the sole objective. By May 1941, all ships in the "Western Approaches" were ordered to be painted in Scott's camouflage scheme. The scheme was said to be so effective that several British ships including HMS Broke collided with each other. The effectiveness of Scott's ideas was demonstrated experimentally by the Leamington Camouflage Centre in 1941. Under a cloudy overcast sky, the tests showed that a white ship could approach six miles closer than a black-painted ship before being seen.

He stood as a Conservative candidate unsuccessfully in the 1945 general election and in 1948, he founded the organisation with which he was for ever closely associated, the Severn Wildfowl Trust (now the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) with its headquarters at Slimbridge . In the years that followed, he led ornithological expeditions worldwide, and it is here he became a television personality, popularising the study of wildfowl and  wetlands. His BBC natural history series, Look, ran from 1955 to 1981 and made him a household name. It included the first BBC natural history film to be shown in colour, The Private Life of the Kingfisher (1968). He wrote and illustrated several books on the subject, including his autobiography, The Eye of the Wind (1961). In the 1950s, he appeared regularly on  radio's Children's Hour, in the series, "Nature Parliament".

He took up gliding in 1956 and became a British champion in 1963 and was chairman of the British Gliding Association (BGA) for two years from 1968 and was president of the Bristol & Gloucestershire Gliding Club. He was responsible for involving Prince Philip in gliding; the Prince is still patron of the BGA. From 1973 to 1983, he was Chancellor of the University of Birmingham. In 1992, he was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) from the University of Bath. He was the founder President of the Society of Wildlife Artists and President of the Nature in Art Trust. He continued with his love of sailing, skippering the 12 metre yacht Sovereign in the 1964 challenge for the America's Cup . Sovereign suffered a whitewash 4-0 defeat. From 1955 - 1969 he was the president of the International Sailing Federation.

He designed the WWF panda logo and also contributed greatly to the shift in policy of the International Whaling Commission  the latter inspired by his visit to his father's base on Ross Islandin Antarctica.

One other thing he is remembered for is giving the scientific name of Nessiteras rhombopteryx (based on a blurred underwater photograph of a supposed fin) to the Loch Ness Monster so that it could be registered as an endangered species. The name was based on the Ancient Greek for "the monster of Ness with the diamond shaped fin", but it was later pointed out to be an anagram of Monster hoax by Sir Peter S. In 1962, he co-founded the Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau. He was a long-time Vice-President of the British Naturalists' Association, whose Peter Scott Memorial Award was instituted after his death, to commemorate his achievements.

In 2006 he became the subject of a BBC Four documentary called "Peter Scott - A Passion for Nature"Scott's life was also produced in 2006 by Available Light Productions, Bristol.  

 Peter Scott married the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard in 1942. They had a daughter, Nicola, who was born a year later. The marriage was dissolved in 1951. In 1951, he married an assistant, Philippa Talbot-Ponsonby, while on an expedition to Iceland in search of the breeding grounds of the Pink-footed Goose. A daughter, Dafila, was born later in the same year. (Dafila is the old scientific name for a pintail). She, too, became an artist, painting birds. A son, Falcon was born in 1954.

During his lifetime Peter Scott received many honours and decorations. On 8th July 1941, he was Mentioned in Dispatches "for good services in rescuing survivors from a burning Vessel" while serving on HMS Broke On 2nd October 1942, he was further Mentioned in Dispatches "for gallantry, daring and skill in the combined attack on Dieppe". On 1st June 1943, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross "for skill and gallantry in in action with enemy light forces". He was appointed an MBE in the  1942 King's Birthday Honours, promoted to CBE in the 1953 Coronation Honours and in the 1987 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) for services to conservation.
He was knighted by at Buckingham Palace on 27th February 1973 for his contribution to the conservation of wild animals.

He died of a heart attack on 29 August 1989 in Bristol, just 2 weeks' before  his 80th birthday      


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Peter Writes:

I left school at the end of the 5th year in 1958.  It was the last year at Court lane when it moved to Manor Court.  We were only about the second or third 5th year, as up to then everyone left at the end of the 4th year.  Our form master was Norman Folland.  I distinctly remember our last day with him making us all sandpaper our desks to get rid of all the graffiti and woodcarving that we had put on them in the last Year.

News and Views:

Judith Durham, lead singer of the Seekers, suffered a brain hemorrhage Tuesday (May 14) while the group was on tour in Melbourne, Australia. She was hospitalized, but was described as "lucid and comfortable" as she undergoes further tests. The group's 50th anniversary tour has now been scrapped.

On this day 25th May 1960-1965

On 25/05/1960 the number one single was Cathy's Clown - Everly Brothers and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Wagon Train (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 25/05/1961 the number one single was You're Driving Me Crazy - The Temperance Seven and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 25/05/1962 the number one single was Good Luck Charm - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was Panic on Wall Street.

On 25/05/1963 the number one single was From Me To You - The Beatles and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Conservative Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 25/05/1964 the number one single was Juliet - Four Pennies and the number one album was Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 25/05/1965 the number one single was Where Are You Now (My Love) - Jackie Trent and the number one album was Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.






























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