Blue plaque marks the Bedford home of polar explorer who joined the doomed Shackleton expedition

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An unassuming Bedford house, which was home to an Antarctic explorer, has been honoured with a Blue Heritage Plaque.

It was from the semi-detached in Beverley Crescent, adventurer Aeneas Mackintosh waved goodbye to his two-year-old daughter and pregnant wife, and set off to join Ernest Shackleton on his planned expedition to the South Pole in 1914, never to return.

His granddaughter Anne Phillips was joined by other family members and representatives of the Scott Polar Museum, in Cambridge, to unveil the plaque on the house where her mother was born.

Mackintosh moved to Bedford with his mother, Annie Mackintosh, and five siblings from India in 1891. He attended Bedford Modern School and joined the Merchant Navy (P&O) in 1894.

While working for P&O he was given permission to become Second Officer on Shackleton’s 1907 Nimrod Expedition to the South Pole. While in the Antarctic, he lost his right eye in an accident while loading the ship.

He arrived back in England in 1909, and was discharged from the Merchant Navy. After an unsuccessful gold prospecting trip to the Cocos Islands, he took a desk job.

He married Gladys Campbell in Trinity Church, Bromham Road, in 1912, and moved to Liverpool, where his first daughter Pamela was born.

However, he was keen to get exploring again and the family moved to Beverley Crescent so Gladys was near her family while he was away.

He headed south as leader of Shackleton’s Ross Sea Advance Party. His job was to build supply depots along the expedition route but there was confusion over the timing and direction of the intended march. To add to his problems, Mackintosh’s ship, Aurora, was blown from its winter moorings, leaving ten men stranded on the ice for up to two years.

After being rescued, he and a companion decided to return to the base camp on foot, crossing unstable ice. They were never seen again. It was assumed they fell through the ice in May 1916.

The whole venture was to prove totally worthless however as the planned Trans Antarctic March never in fact took place due to Shackleton’s ship the Endurance being crushed in the ice.

Mackintosh’s widow remained at Beverley Crescent until 1918 when she moved in with her siblings. In 1923 she married Captain Joseph Russell Stenhouse, who had been Mackintosh’s Second in Command on the Aurora.

After the plaque was unveiled on Friday, April 10, the current owners of the house hosted a small reception for the Mackintosh family.

Pictured are Mackintosh’s grandchildren Anne Phillips and Mark Venning with current owners of the house Jill Gilmour and Bernadette Isturis, and Bedford Association of Tour Guides chairman Trevor Stewart.