Bellot Street, SE10

Place Name

Joseph René Bellot (March 18, 1826 – August 18, 1853), the French sailor and Arctic explorer who disappeared in the Wellington Channel, and has a memorial in Greenwich. Born and educated in Paris, at the age of 15, he entered the French naval academy at Brest. He took part in Anglo-French expeditions, first in 1845 to Madagascar, for which he received the cross of the Legion of Honour for distinguished conduct, and later the blockade of the Río de la Plata, in South America, which opened it to commerce. In 1851, he voluntarily joined Captain William Kennedy’s private expedition to search for the missing Arctic explorer and naval officer Sir John Franklin whose ship had disappeared in waters along the coast of North America six years earlier. He is said to have prepared himself for the harsh winters by sleeping on a thin mattress on bare boards with just one blanket. In February 1852, Bellot and Kennedy set out from Batty Bay, where they had wintered, on an epic round trip of 1,800 kilometres to Ommanney Bay, and while finding no sign of the missing Franklin, they did discover what was named the Bellot Strait. Bellot’s narrative of the expedition was published posthumously in 1854. In 1853, having made lieutenant by now, he returned to the Artic, this time as supernumerary on board the supply ship Phoenix. However he wasn’t to complete his mission. Having volunteered to carry dispatches north up Wellington Channel to Captain Sir Edward Belcher who was in that vicinity, he fell into a crack in the ice near Cape Bowden and drowned. A memorial grave was built on nearby Beechey Island. Bellot was widely mourned, and a pension was granted to his family by the emperor Napoleon III. The street appears on maps dating from 1895. 

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