Below are a selection of FAQs written by Sandra Noel. Most are the result of many of your questions that have been sent in so please read before writing as the answers to your questions may be contained in the FAQs below:

Q. Is it possible to view

A. Yes, by prior arrangement, at the British Film Institute in London -


Q. How many images do you have in your collection?

A. I have not yet finished cataloguing the collection, but there are many hundreds - hand-painted glass plates, untinted glass plates, and both glass and celluloid negatives.


Q. Are most of the images of Mount Everest?

A. Approximately half. In 1922, my father was particularly keen to record the people of Tibet, their customs, clothes, monasteries, etc, whereas in 1924, he concentrated more, perhaps, on filming the attempts on the mountain. After all, he had invested a quite considerable sum in acquiring the film and still rights, so he was hoping to recoup his financial outlay by making a film which would attract publicity and be essential viewing. In addition, at the time, it was very unfashionable to take close-up images of the team members; the Mount Everest Committee was anxious that there should be no hint of commercialisation, so Noel tried never to intrude with the camera into the private moments of his fellow climbers.


Q. Do you still have the cameras?

A. My father donated the cine camera to the Science Museum, and it has since been relocated to the Museum of Photography Film and Television in Bradford. I have a plate camera, one of the number he took with him on the expeditions.


Q. Do you have any other items of equipment or clothing?

A. Yes, his camp boots.


Q. Do you have any other memorabilia?

A. There is a 78 recording of the lamas which Noel brought to Europe to accompany the film; this was made in Berlin, and the original wax version has the signatures of all the participants, chanting Tibetan music. Also, Somervell was an accomplished musician, and he transcribed some Tibetan tunes for orchestral use, which Noel intended to use at the opening of the film, and I have some of his original work.

In 1924, Noel engaged an artist to accompany the expedition as far as Phari (the Tibetans were not keen to allow many foreigners into the country, for fear that their sacred mountain would be desecrated). Francis Helps was a portrait painter of renown, and he sketched many of the local people, and expedition members; some of these original pencil drawings have survived.


Q. Are there diaries or other writings from the time of the expedition?

A. My father did not keep a daily journal, unfortunately. Of course, a record of his journey to Tibet in disguise in 1913 was recorded in the Royal Geographical Society Journal at the time when Noel read a paper to the Society in 1919; he also wrote 2 accounts of his journey, previously unpublished, which I have used in the book; ‘Everest Pioneer; the photographs of Captain John Noel,’ published in September, 2003 by Sutton Publishing Ltd. His book, ’Through Tibet to Everest’ was published in 1927, and republished in 1989 (the American version is entitled ‘The Story of Everest’)


Q. Is there technical information available on the cameras?

A. Much has appeared in various books written on the subject, and also on the Cooke lens; Kodak has data on the Vest pocket camera.


Q. What will happen if a camera from the expedition is found?

A. Obviously, the small cine camera specially commissioned by my father, and given to each of the climbers in the assault parties belongs to me. As my father acquired all the photographic rights to the expedition, any film in any camera would be my property.

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