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Helen Annan, Base Leader at Base ‘A’ raises the flag to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Operation Tabarin which started British presence at Port Lockroy, Antarctica on 11 February 1944.
In World War II the British Government was concerned about increased foreign activity in the Southern Ocean and as a result the Government established bases in Antarctica. But not all saw merit in the operation - Churchill when he learnt about it asked ‘What is the reason for sending an expedition of perfectly good fighting men to the South Pole?’.
Base ‘A’, as Port Lockroy was designated, would now be permanently manned (with the exception of three winters) becoming the first geophysics study base until 1962 when this scientific work was moved and expanded to a more modern site.
For over thirty years the buildings at Port Lockroy lay unoccupied until 1996 when the British Antarctic Survey restored them to their original 1962 condition. The British Antarctic Survey continues that legacy of research and pioneering exploration with cutting edge science in the Antarctic to this day. The United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) took over responsibility of Port Lockroy and the buildings in 2006.
Base ‘A’, at Port Lockroy is now open to visitors during the Antarctic summer. Base leader, Helen who ran a youth hostel in the Lake Distinct before going to Antarctica, is part of a four person team recruited each season by the UKAHT to work at Port Lockroy promoting the legacy of British scientists’ early work to visitors. The application process to work at Base ‘A’ is rigorous: selection is based on the individual’s practical skills and personal attributes as well as their ability to live in a harsh and remote environment with basic facilities. However just like the original members of Operation Tabarin they find the reward of living at Port Lockroy is the opportunity of a lifetime. You can apply now to work at Port Lockroy - see our jobs page
Today Port Lockroy is not only an important natural and historic site but also the number one Antarctic destination for visitors from all over the world. The same could not be said in 1944 when two small ships HMS William Scoresby and SS Fitzroy sailed into Port Lockroy on 11 February 1944.
The UKAHT opens Base ‘A’ every year giving visitors a glimpse into Operation Tabarin and early scientific work in Antarctica. This UK based trust also runs the post office at Port Lockroy on behalf of the Government of the British Antarctic Territory with around 70,000 post cards being sent each year.
UKAHT Trustee Meredith Hooper and leading writer on Antarctica is honoured during the 100th anniversary of Australasian Antarctic Expedition.
Award-winning writer, lecturer, historian and world expert on Antarctica, Meredith Hooper, has added another accolade to her collection - Australian of the Year in the UK 2014 presented by the Australia Day Foundation for her passion and dedication to educating the world about Antarctica.
Meredith said: “We Australians in the UK inhabit two hemispheres. It's our good fortune, and our opportunity. We can gain, and we can give. This honour is a most happy acknowledging of my two selves. I am truly delighted.”
For a full copy of the press release click here
We are delighted that Philippa Foster Back, UKAHT Chairman from 2006 to 2013, has been appointed a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2014 New Year's Honours List for her services to Antarctic Heritage.
Philippa stepped up as Chairman of the Trust at a critical time and took the activities of the Trust to a new level. She oversaw the successful fund-raising campaign to secure the future of the Ross Sea Huts as well as steering the Trust in taking on the management of Port Lockroy and other Antarctic Peninsula sites. Her passion and commitment together with the success of Port Lockroy means the Trust now sits as one of the world premier Antarctic heritage organisations. Philippa continues as chairman of the UK Antarctic Place-Names Committee.
Philippa said 'I feel honoured to have been singled out but this is for everyone at the Trust and those involved in Antarctic heritage.'
Photographic negatives left a century ago in Captain Scott’s last expedition base at Cape Evans have been discovered and conserved by New Zealand’s Antarctic Heritage Trust.
The negatives were found in expedition photographer Herbert Ponting’s darkroom and have been painstakingly conserved revealing never before seen Antarctic images.The Trust’s conservation specialists discovered the clumped together cellulose nitrate negatives in a small box as part of the Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project which has seen more than 10,000 objects conserved at Scott’s Cape Evans hut.
The negatives were removed from Antarctica by the Trust earlier this year. Detailed conservation treatment back in New Zealand separating the negatives has revealed twenty-two images. The photographs are from Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Ross Sea Party, which spent time living in Scott’s hut after being stranded on Ross Island when their ship blew out to sea. One of the most striking images is of Ross Sea Party member Alexander Stevens, Shackleton’s Chief Scientist, standing on-board the Aurora.
Although many of the images are damaged, the Antarctic Heritage Trust was able to recognise landmarks around McMurdo Sound, although the identity of the photographer remains unknown.
“It’s an exciting find and we are delighted to see them exposed after a century. It’s testament to the dedication and precision of our conservation teams’ efforts to save Scott’s Cape Evans hut,” said Nigel Watson, Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Executive Director.
In 2010 the Antarctic Heritage Trust (NZ) discovered three crates of whisky and two crates of brandy under Ernest Shackleton’s 1908 base during conservation work.
The images are available online at www.nzaht.org.
The Trust is delighted to be one of 45 participants chosen to represent the launch of Google Open Gallery. Anna Malaos, Antarctic Operations Manager, has produced a fantastic collection of photographs, covering four main topics: ‘Landscape and scenery’, ‘A living museum’, ‘Wildlife at Port Lockroy’ and ‘Conservation at British Antarctic Peninsula huts’. To view our collections, see our Cultural Spot website.
For the past few years, Google Cultural Institute worked with museums around the world to make their collections available on web. Now, they’ve opened up the technologies behind this project so that anyone with cultural content can publish it, creating exhibitions that tell engaging stories using Google Open Gallery’s free tool.
The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (which now has an office within BAS) held a Base ‘W’ Detaille Island reunion on Thursday 3 October in the conference room.
Detaille Island was open between 1956 and 1959 for only three winters. It was established as a British science base primarily for survey, geology and meteorology and to contribute to the IGY in 1957. It closed in March 1959 when solid sea ice prevented relief by ship. The men secured the buildings for winter and sledged over 25 miles across the sea ice in order to reach the ship, taking with them only the minimum of their belongings and scientific records. In 2009 it was listed as a historic site, reflecting its significance as a relatively unaltered base from the late 1950s, and through a special arrangement the Trust looks after the base for BAS.
Of the 24 winterers, almost half of those still living were able to come. Six of the seven brought their wives and there were other guests who had and continue to have a specific interest in Detaille.
Rachel Morgan (Director of the Trust) opened the reunion. Adrian Fox provided a fascinating talk in the MAGIC office – which for one guest was extremely interesting. John Rothera (after whom Rothera research station was named) saw an aerial map of Rothera as it is now – the landscape not quite resembling the land from when John surveyed the area in 1957.
And Jo Rae from archives put on a special display of Detaille material including Hedley Wright’s geological field note book. Having not seen it for over fifty years, he said it was a while before he recognised that it was his own writing.
Anna Malaos gave a talk to the group on the recent restoration works that she, Tudor Morgan, Michael Powell, Liesl Schernthanner and Dave Burkitt had carried out for the Trust over a couple of seasons. The winterers remembered how they had left the station, but seeing photos of the condition that Anna and the team found it in was still shocking, but they were delighted that the long-johns had survived and were still proudly displayed hanging over the stove!
A full article on the reunion will be published in the UKAHT’s Antarctic Times April 2014 edition and work is currently underway for a booklet to be published by UKAHT about Base W.
It doesn’t feel so long ago since last year’s team went south! Four new recruits have been put through the challenges of selection and then a week of training, all in readiness for the summer season to the most southerly public post office at Port Lockroy, Antarctica.
Kit has been issued (huge thanks to Tog24 and Dickies for free kit and Jellyegg for their discounted Crocs and Eat Natural for free cereal bars), operation manual thoroughly read, flights booked, cargo packed and on its way to Antarctica and cabins on ships secured through generous support from IAATO operators – just a few more weeks until the team set off.
The team have been fully briefed on living conditions, how to run a post office, counting penguins, history of Port Lockroy, risk assessments and health & safety issues and everything else that’s involved in running the museum operation at Port Lockroy each year.
Although looking slightly overwhelmed by all the information, there is no hiding the smiles on each of their faces in eager anticipation of what lies ahead.
We can’t wait to receive their first blog from Antarctica. You can follow the team’s progress on the UKAHT website, facebook or twitter pages!
Good Luck Helen, Sarah, Jane & Kristy - have a fantastic time!
Following our recruitment campaign, out of 180 applicants, seven very competent candidates were asked to attend a rigorous two day selection process. Three were ultimately selected to work as Port Lockroy Assistants for the 2013/14 season. The new recruits will complete four days of training in September, in readiness for departure to Port Lockroy in November.
Helen Annan, Port Lockroy Base Leader, will lead the team. Helen has already completed a season for UKAHT at Port Lockroy in 2007/8 and is keen to visit again to see many of the developments since she was last there. The Nissen hut has been reconstructed and now provides fit for purpose accommodation for the staff.
A special thank you to Tog24, our continued and long standing sponsor, for supplying t-shirts and waterproof jackets for both staff and candidates for the selection process.
Our thanks extend to Beryl Hole, Kristine Hannon and her colleagues who have once again raised funds for the Trust through their successful 'Deep South' exhibition held in Norfolk during March and April.
Former British Ambassador Donald Lamont is to become the new Chairman of the Trust replacing Philippa Foster Back OBE who retires having served as Trustee since 2000 and Chairman for the past seven years.
Donald Lamont has extensive knowledge of British Antarctic affairs, having served as Governor of the Falkland Islands and Commissioner for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands from 1999-2002. He has been a Trustee of the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust since 2008.
Born in Aberdeen, Donald attended Aberdeen Grammar School and in 1970 graduated MA (Hons Russian Studies) from Aberdeen University. After four years in the motor industry, Donald was appointed to HM Diplomatic Service in 1974, serving in Vienna, Moscow, Berlin (through the fall of the Wall) and Sarajevo (with the Office of the High Representative). He served as Ambassador to Uruguay from 1991-1994 and as Ambassador to Venezuela from 2003-2006. After retirement from the Diplomatic Service he was Chief Executive of Wilton Park from 2007-2009.
Donald’s other current activities include: Founding Board Member of ‘Sistema Scotland’ (applying in Scotland the Venezuelan system of teaching classical orchestral music to children from deprived areas); Trustee of ‘Enable Me’ (a disability awareness charity based in Sussex); Deputy Chairman of the British Uruguayan Society; Chairman of Friends of the Falkland Islands Museum and the Jane Cameron National Archive; Governor of Steyning Grammar School; Member of the Shadow Board of Sussex Arts Academy. Donald lives in Sussex with his wife Lynda and they have two children – Louise and Ian.
Philippa Foster Back, whose grandfather Professor Frank Debenham was a geologist on Captain Scott’s expedition to Antarctica in 1910, and Founder Director in 1920 of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, says “It has been an enormous privilege to serve as Chair of the UKAHT. The Trust operates at the forefront of Antarctic affairs and carries out vital work to safeguard historic buildings in Antarctica for future generations. Antarctica is now a continent of increasing global interest and importance and there has never been a better time to tell the story of Britain’s long and distinguished Antarctic endeavour”.
Donald Lamont said “I am honoured to follow Philippa as Chairman of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust. Following in the footsteps of her distinguished predecessors, Philippa has guided the Trust through a period of exciting growth and diversification in its activities. I feel privileged to serve as Chairman of a Trust that enjoys such a strong reputation within the Antarctic community in the UK and overseas”.
Rachel Morgan, Director of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, says “We are delighted to welcome Donald as Chairman and look forward to his leadership over the coming years, in particular as we prepare for the centenary of Ernest Shackleton’s heroic expedition of 1914-17 – an important milestone in British Antarctic history. Donald has a strong understanding of the Antarctic community and its needs and brings with him a wealth of international experience which will benefit the Trust as we seek to expand our outreach activity abroad”.
The Trust is thrilled to announce that Capital Group has awarded the British Antarctic Oral History Project a further £4000 this year. We also wish to thank the British Antarctic Survey Club (BASC) for their £1400 donation and the South Georgia Association who will fund one interview. Thanks also go to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Archives Service who catalogue and store the interviews and offer expert advice. Volunteers are an essential part of the project and without them our work would be greatly diminished.
The project preserves the memories of those extraordinary, dedicated and often heroic individuals involved in British endeavour in Antarctica. The recollections offer us a unique, often entertaining insight into personal, social, political and scientific interactions and varied perspectives on the challenges and eccentricities of living in one of the world’s most hostile environments. This is a public collection that will inspire people for generations to come.
Our long term goal is to make the interviews easily accessible to everyone (it is possible to listen to them through the BAS Archives Service on request). In 2013/2014 we will be exploring the best ways to do this online. A selection of extracts can be listened to on the project’s webpage http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/oralhistory.
The project is a collaboration between the UKAHT, BAS, BAS Club, the Scott Polar Research Institute and the British Museum.