Plans for a Scottish south polar expedition started in 1899 when William Speirs Bruce first looked for funding. He needed £36,405 and was gifted most of it from the Coats family of Paisley; they contributed £31,000.
He first purchased a Norwegian whaler called Hekla and had it taken to Ailsa Shipyard in Troon for re-fitting. Re-named Scotia then left Troon on 25th October 1902. Scotia was captained by Thomas Robertson and carried 6 scientists, 5 officers and 26 crewmen. They sailed down through the North and South Atlantic to the Falkland Islands reaching Port Stanley on 6th January 1903.
After provisioning the Expedition set off on 26th January to survey the South Orkneys and then the Waddell Sea. They managed to reach 71°21' S before returning to the South Orkneys for the winter.
Once the Scotia was free of ice they sailed to the Falklands on 27th November 1903. They left for the second exploration of the Waddell Sea on 9th February 1904 this time making as far south as 74°01' S.
After being trapped in ice they started north on 14th March. Surveying the Ross Deep, Mid Atlantic Ridge and Gough Island they then made of South Africa. The Scotia set sail for Scotland from Cape Town on 21st May 1904 and reached the Clyde on 21st July.
The Scotia was met by the Marine Station's yacht Mermaid, the Coats' Triton and Gleniffer and the steamer Marchioness of Lorne and escorted to Millport. Bruce, Robertson and their scientists took to the Scotia's launch and landed at the Marine Station's slip.
They were met by Sir John Murray, Lieutenant Shackleton, Dr Sommerville, David Robertson, Mr J G Bartholomew, Mr Henry Coates, Mrs W S Bruce, Mrs Robertson and others. Bruce received the Gold Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, Robertson the Silver and the other scientists Bronze. During the proceedings a telegram from King Edward was received congratulating Bruce.
After lunch, purveyed by Messrs White and Smith, Gordon Street, Glasgow, the Scotia set off at six o'clock for Gourock, her final destination.
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