NONESUCH EXPEDITIONS   FOUNDED IN 1962
 

 

Tony and Marion Morrison

 

Tony and Marion met in La Paz, Bolivia 1963

Tony was making films for BBC TV with his university colleague and Nonesuch business partner Mark Howell. An old school friend of Tony's, Allan Reditt was the location manager. Marion Davies from the University College, Aberystwyth, was a Graduate Volunteer for the National Union of Students in London and working in Bolivia with a UN Andean project.

By chance Marion was based close to Lake Titicaca at Pillapi a UN centre set in an old Spanish Colonial farm near the ancient ruins of Tiwanaku. Tony and Mark had visited Pillapi a year earlier (see Around the World 1960-61 Projects).

 

Marion and another NUS volunteer, Jackie Chester, joined Tony and the film-makers on two of their expedition journeys. The films: Children of the Lake - the Aymara people around Lake Titicaca and Treasures of Chuquisaca - the Spanish Colonial wealth of southern Bolivia.

Some of the story of Treasures of Chuquisaca is on this site - The Last Supper of San Antonio

In the following two years Tony continued to make films with Mark while Marion worked for the NUS Graduate Service based in London but travelling extensively in West Africa and South America. Marion represented Graduate Volunteers on the Council For Volunteers Overseas chaired by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. She and Tony married in 1965.

 

 

From 1967 - 1970

They travelled the Andes range from end to end in a Land Rover, covering some parts many times.

Once more they were making films for BBC TV and on this journey for Anglia Survival, a British Independent TV; mostly the films were documentaries about the peoples, places and wildlife.

Tony who had studied Zoology at Bristol wrote about Andean natural history and the environment for the book publisher Andre Deutsch, and various wildlife magazines, while Marion wrote occasionally for the Economist, London, the Guardian and the Observer.

Later they were in the Falkland islands / Malvinas for two successive summer seasons to cover wildlife and the salvage of the SS Great Britain for BBC TV and the Observer.

 

 

Tony and Marion continued their lives with South American and later Latin American and Mexican themed features, films, books and research. Tony has held several modest positions on Anglo-Latin American societies in London and two Trusteeships. For two years he was on a Flamingo Committee with the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP),centred at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington and the Worlds first true conservation organisation. Since 1994 ICBP has been BirdLife International based in Cambridge, UK. Tony's reports contained observations on climate variations in the southern Andes as he noticed an upset in the distribution of rare flamingos.

A book The Andes for TimeLife International 1975 came from their early Andean work. Here in the picture on the right Marion is at about 5.500m on the slopes of Ubinas volcano in southwestern Peru ....taken from one of the chapters for the book when we made the climb with an old friend Dr Peter Francis, a geologist. Peter later became Professor of Volcanology at the Open University in England. He died suddenly in 1999.

Highlights

The Manú National Park 1969

Among the highlights of their early years in South America, they ventured into untrodden tropical forest to make the first television film in Peru's now famous Manú National Park. A Park in Peru BBC TV.

The chance came when Major Ian Grimwood, a noted wildlife conservationist and adviser to the Peruvian Government wrote to Tony with the news that he had been shown an area of pristine natural beauty with virtually untouched wildlife. This area extended from the snowcaps of the Andes to the forests of the Amazon basin.

In the late 1960s such an El Dorado of animals was rare as hundreds of thousands of skins or live animals were being exported from Peru - not all were being taken from Peruvian forests as the trade was not troubled by borders. At the same time the fringes of the immense Amazon rainforests were being penetrated by roads and loggers. It was the beginning of the great colonisation stretching from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

 

Here Tony and Marion are in one of the steep and very narrow valleys of the eastern Andean valleys while searching for a nesting Cock of the Rock Rupicola peruviana- the Peruvian national bird and a sequence at the end of the film.

To get just a few shots took over month, travelling, camping climbing waterfalls and searching.

 

Photo note - mostly the film was Kodachrome but a few rolls were on Ektachrome which have suffered extra fading. Nikon F

 

 

Figures were not available for 1969 but Ian Grimwood had data for 1964 when 26,266 of these tiny Squirrel Monkeys Saimiri sciureus were exported from Iquitos, Peru. In the same year 247,956 animal skins - various were also exported, largely by air to Miami, Florida Picture in Iquitos in 1969

From Park in Peru for BBCTV

For help with this story we must thank David Lorimer who was working in Iquitos and who has remained a great friend and supporter. Also Sir Berkeley Gage, one-time British Ambassador to Peru, and Sr Felipe Benavides OBE, a controversial but fanatical protector of Peruavian wildlife, particularly of the then rare vicuña.

The television film was broadcast at 7.25 PM - a prime time in those years and received some wonderful comments

The Times, London (sic) - quoted Edward Lear

.....There was an Old Man of Peru Who never knew What he Should Do.....There are some people in that vast South American hothouse who know exactly what they should do. They must protect the animals, the birds and the human beings threatened by the bulldozers...

.... Huge bales of skins bore witness to the destruction of wildlife and at the packing station monkeys penned in their hundreds waited for the export flight....

The New Scientist, London commented on the political effort to stamp out the trade - to make matters worse comes the shocking news that in European Conservation Year an Italian fashion designer is emphasising in advertisments his use of vicuña wool in his latest collection.... The BBC and Marion Morrison are to be congratulated on their outstanding Sunday night film.

The Manû National Park as a WWF Project was presented to the world at the Second International Congress of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in London in November 1970. The film Park in Peru was shown and Tony and Marion had a display of pictures. Their panel was placed between one from Prince Philip Duke Of Edinburgh - Birds from Britannia and a set from NASA with the Moon landing.

 

The SS Great Britain - 1970

The salvage of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's iron steamship the Great Britain in the Falkland Islands/Malvinas - a BBC TV film, The Observer and other magazine feature stories, and a unique book (2012). This story combined adventure, a unique maritime salvage and a return to Bristol with all flags flying.

Land Above the Clouds 1974

This book was commissioned as a joint venture between Anglia Television and the London publisher Andre Deutsch to accomany the award winning .television wild life series Survival. Tony began the writing in 1968 and completed the book in 1973 by which time the span included material from two BBC Natural History Unit documentaries - one in Peru about the Manu National Park and another in the Falkland Islands - Malvinas.

The book was distributed in the USA as a similar edition

 

 

The Andes - for Time-Life Books 1974 - published 1975

In the early 1970s the giant American publisher took on the traditional book publishing world with the concept of large format, full colour and academically supported books sold by mail order subscription. The books were published in English and as similar editions in five or six other languages worldwide.

Tony was asked to write The Andes title in the World's Wild Places series. Marion contributed all the photographs in a picture essay for the featured Nature Walk into the cloud-soaked montane forest on the eastern slopes of the mountains in Bolivia.

The assignment took them on a two month journey from the Andes ovelooking the Caribbean to the icy cold of the glaciers in the far south of Argentina

 

South American Pictures -1975

Marion's creation of the South American Pictures archive in 1975 with clients worldwide. The library began in a small way with requests for publication rights to pictures taken by Tony from his earliest days of travel in the 1960s including the Middle East and South America. By the 1980s the library had moved from being a few files in a filing cabinet to tens of thousands of images. The first catalogue was on paper but with the advent of the IBM PC the archive became a resource specialising in Latin America to be known worldwide.

 

The Nasca Lines 1963-1968-1978-2004

Tony's work on the centuries old markings on the Peruvian desert with three films for BBC TV, Bayerisher Rundfunk and Netherlands TV, two books and lectures to the Royal Geographical Society, London. The 1963 black and white TV film was the first to introduce Maria Reiche 'the lady of the lines' to a worldwide audience. A German schoolteacher who went to Peru in the 1930s and after World War II, she lived almost permanently on the desert in Nasca while trying to find a solution to the puzzle of the lines and drawings. She died in 1998.

Here on the right, Tony is working from a ladder much as Maria Reiche in Nasca did in the early days.

 

The Royal Geographical Society, 150th Anniversary, London May 1980

Tony was one of a panel of six specialists to address the Society in an evening devoted to Deserts and Savannas. The meeting was chaired by Lord Hunt the Presisdent of the Society. Other speakers - Dr.Claudio Vita Finzi, Dr Eidon Edwards, Geoffrey Moorhouse, Tom Sheppard and Wilfrid Thesiger

 

 

 

 

Lizzie, for BBC Books 1980-85

Lizzie stands out as one of the most unusual projects and adventures because the background was absolutely truthful historically.

The story, told in a series of 19th century letters, was uncovered by Ann Brown a relative who was helped by Anne Rose, a friend. The letters were passed to the Royal Geographical Society in London and reached Tony via Dr John Hemming who at the time was the RGS Director and Secretary.

Lizzie was from a middle-class Victorian family in London and had made an extraordinary Amazon journey in 1896 at the time of the Rubber Boom. Tony succeeded in following the route to the place where Lizzie died and he rates it a highlight because the research took him to some rarely covered parts of Amazonia. BBC TV film and a book

The Isthmus of Fitzcarrald in Peru was just one of the places so extraordinary to visit today and yet crossed by Lizzie on mule-back. By real chance, Carlos Fermin Fitzcarrald played by Klaus Kinsky was the central theme of the Werner Herzog movie Fitzcarraldo being produced at about the same time.

 

Margaret Mee 1988 The book In Search of Flowers of the Amazon Forests with Margaret Mee, together with the film of Margaret's painting of the Moonflower at night in the forest. The book published by Nonesuch Expeditions was described by the Sunday Times, London as '..quite simply one of the great nature books of the century....'

This book became the focus of a movement to save Margaret Mee's collection of Amazon Flowers for preservation in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The story is recorded in The Margaret Mee Amazon Trust on this website

 

 

Marion's fifty educational books. All of them were profusely illustrated accounts of the land, people, history, culture and natural history of the Latin American countries, Mexico and Cuba. Some included details of the economy and politics- often contoversial subjects to cover.

The books were written mostly for publishers in Britain including Macmillan, Heinemann and Wayland, and US publisher Scholastic / Children's Press. Marion began writing the books in the late 1980s and continued into the early 2000s.

 

 

 

India 2000

A short break with Latin America came when Tony and Marion were invited to Pusegaon a village in the Deccan India.

Tony had been in Pusegaon with the University of Bristol Trans-Continental Expedition in 1960, and with two of the original team and their wives made the return journey. All were given the Freedom of Pusegaon.

On the right - Roger Tutt and Gwen, Tony Morrison and Marion, Peter Krinks [with beard] and Vera at the first of many receptions.

For more details of the Return to Puseagon - see A village in India 1960

Roger Tutt [rear left] died in January 2016

 

The New Amazonia 2007 and more with long bus journeys across and around the Amazon basin to see the changes since we first travelled there.

 

2008-2009 2010 + 2011 More Amazon bus journeys.

 

2011 Saving the Great Britain

We took a break to write Saving The Great Britain Mid 2010 marked forty years since the salvage of the Great Britain and at the various reunions in Bristol we were urged to write about the historic achievement.

In our collection we had photographs, tape recording of daily reports made in the Falkland Islands [Islas Malvinas] and many notes.

We were given modest funding by the William Brake Charitable Trust and our project took much of the year to complete. Our aim was to produce a soft cover book of the same dimensions as the SS Great Britain Guide published by the SS Great Britain Trust.

We completed the book in six months and once the first print run was made and checked for production the entire digital file together with the publishing rights were given to the SS Great Britain Trust so publishing in perpetuity will raise funds for the upkeep of the old ship.

Marion was editor, I wrote the text , Ray Sutcliffe was consultant and my old friend from Taunton, David Elkington Cole was responsible for the design READ

At the time of writing this - 2016 the book is still on sale at the Ship's bookstore

 

Trans-Amazonica Highway 2012

Tony and Marion made a special trip to see the state of the Trans-Amazonica highway, the first major road, and part of a master plan by the Brazilian government of 1970, to cross the Amazon east to west. Subsequent roads coming in from the south proved more economically successful and over time much of the Trans Amazonica highway fell into disuse.

They travelled from the Tapajos River, crossed the River Xingu at Altamira close to the Belo Monte dam site - currently under construction and very controversial - and reached the Tocantins River at Maraba.

Seriously - for most of the way it's still a dry season journey only. Here is the route soon after Rurópolis about three hours from Itaituba and only eight hours to Altamira. Towards the end of the journey, the road is being improved...Ummm...and the final stretch was tarmac, a welcome relief after 13 hours on the road.

 

Collections 2012 saw the total revision of this website to include all the major Press records of the University of Bristol Trans-Continental Expedition 1960-61 together with a set of Nonesuch Special Collections. The Collections including photos, film, tape recordings, diaries and research gathered over the years from South America, India, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

 

And now for something completely different

 

2013 We returned to South America for the 50th anninversary of our meeting in La Paz and said goodbye to the very few friends remaining from our 1963 filming expeditions or even from later days.

A bold decision

Then came a big decision and for the next two years we changed course to Eastwards. The Bristol University Trans-Continental Expedition had received a big lift-off with an spread in the Union paper - Eastward to the Andes in bold headlines. That story is in the University Expedition pages under Press READ

2014 We made a short visit to Romania to see the Danube where I had travelled in 1966. On my journey upriver I filmed the begining of a huge dam between Romania and Yugoslavia [this part of the Danube flows through an immense gorge and now has Serbia on the west bank ]

The dam took another five years to complete and in 1971 several towns were submerged. We visited the gorge to see the changes especially those made to the town of Orsova and the historic island of Ada Kaleh, now covered by still water [See the 1966 Danube story in Features on this site. READ

2015

We made a similar 'return to' journey, this time to the Silk Road cities of Central Asia. I had been that way in 1962 film-kaking for the BBC TV Adventure series. Back then I was on the Silk Road in Iran but could not continue into Uzbek teritory as it was part of the USSR where filming was very controlled.

So getting to the wonderful cities of Bukhara and Samarkand was extraordinary experience after so many years of waiting. There was so much 'catching up' and drawing from the recesses of memory some of the regional customs, aromas of spices, the arts and crafts - It was altogether a re-run of the life I had absorbed during a nine month journey in the Middle East.

And Marion? Indeed it was totally new for her but her love of history - she studied at the University of Wales -so with her fascination for the adventures of the early travellers our year was packed with a search for detail.

On the left is the Chor Minor mosque in Bukhara - completed in 1807 and on the right, the walls of the Ark [Arg] also in Bokhara - first built in about 500 AD

 

 

The Ark has been heavily restored and this picture was taken just before sunset so the light enhances the unusual form - photographically - the picture was taken on film using a Leica M6 and a Leitz 35mm Summicron lens. On the journey I used film much as I had done in 1962

 

A Special 'Thank You'

Over the years not all our productions have run smoothly, a few have been near disasters and some decidely hard work - life is like that and maybe there will be a place for these later. Putting the archive in order will be time consuming job but some of our Collections including the oldest are now listed on this site. As you can imagine an enormous production by two enthusiasts is not possible without enormous help. And in the more than fifty years since Nonesuch was created, literally hundreds of people have given time and energy to assist. We thank all of you and especially Evelyn Whitfield who has been with us, helping with the collections for over 25 years.

 

And - sometimes the Family Came Too

The first journey when the children visited South America was in 1976. Kimball was just starting school and Rebecca was in a cot. Tony was working on a year long project for a film and book about the extraordinary spiritual background to the Peruvian desert markings - by then known as the Nasca Lines.

The research spanned deserts in Peru and the arid highlands of Bolivia. Marion, Kimball and Rebecca joined him for four months. In Bolivia the family stayed with old friends from the 1960s and Kimball went to school in the city. But in Peru it was desert camping with occasional hotel nights for a shower.

Food was plentiful - bread - tinned Peruvian tuna - Peruvian strawberry jam [delicious] - bananas and porage, local Gloria evaporated milk plus baby food carried from home for Rebecca. All water was boiled and fruit was peeled. No ill health throughout.

Here Tony and the family are on the Nasca desert taking measurements and compass bearings. Kimball also joined Tony on photographic flights in small aircraft over the Nasca desert and the nearby spectacular Paracas peninsula, its cliffs home to millions of seabirds.

 

The family made other short trips together and the penultimate was in 1990 for an extensive journey with a Toyota 4 x 4 around Bolivia. The date was significant as it was twenty-five years since Tony and Marion married.

They had to move quickly as Tony was preparing for another film and book. Tony and Marion knew the Salar of Uyuni well from journeys in the 1960s. It is a magnificent dried bed of a salt lake and is the world's largest extending for approximately 10.500sq kms at an altitude of 3,656m.

We crossed from near the town of Uyuni in the southeast to another smaller saline lake, Poopo in the north close to an old route used by Spanish waggons in the 17th century. The Salar, a desolate place, was empty apart from a few hardy locals cutting salt - the great age of Adventure tours had not begun.

Rebecca is holding a flag with the Nasca bird design.

 

From the salar a track led us via the ancient settlement of Quillacas where Marion and I had spent days in 1968 looking for signs of early inhabitants. The area is an arid sparsley populated wilderness and we camped, sleeping in down sleeping bags under the stars. But even in temperatures dropping to well below Zero C at night we found small scorpions - fortunately very torpid until the sun was well over the horizon. Food? Porage and Argentinian corned beef sandwiches with sweet milky coffee and a luxury - Bolivian 'merengada' biscuits. Argentinian chocolate bars were a standby.

Now for the future

In 2016 Tony clocked his 80th year and decided it was time to work closer to home ' I have always felt that I need to produce something to justify getting on a flight to anywhere. Travelling just for the sake of it has never been an option. So as a starting point for a new project I have chosen the Quantock Hills in Somerset close to where I grew up' See Return to the Quantocks

 

 

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