Port Lockroy Diaries week Five

As our team are conserving Base A on Goudier Island we will be updating diary entries from the team. #PortLockroyDiaries will keep you up to date with what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen with this remarkable base. 

18 November 2018
Sledging through history

We awoke to a howling wind, and spindrift swirling. The snow which has been rapidly melting was now starting to pile up and threatening to bury the dog sleds. In the afternoon we reviewed our work programme; maintenance on the sleds is still to be completed. The sleds are a reminder of the times when dog teams were commonly used in Antarctica. Michael, who ran dogs in the 1980s, and stayed at Damoy Hut when it was operational, has lived the history. His stories of life on base are glimpse into the past, and his conservation work a link to the present and the future.

19 November 2018
Unmasking the past

To conserve an historic base you have to know how it was constructed and have an understanding of the materials used. This enables future conservation work to be sympathetic to the original fabric. Often the roof space of a building can be the most informative. In the roof of Bransfield House this afternoon, Geoff saw evidence of the original 1944 construction and modifications that were made over time. The wood samples he collected will be used to determine timber species, allowing future conservation repairs to be made using the historically correct material.

20 November 2018
Safety first

Part of our conservation surveying work is to identify and report on potential hazardous substances in the buildings; today we focused on asbestos. At one time it was a wonder product, thought to be ideal for Antarctic bases because of its insulating and fire-retardant properties. It’s common to find asbestos in historic huts. Our work builds upon the survey of Base A completed by BAS in the 1990's, and will ensure the building is safe for visitors and meets health & safety standards.

21 November 2018
Déja vu

Diary entry for 18-23 November, 1952, “Geoff managed to get the roof scraped ready for painting before the bad weather set in.” Such an uncanny coincidence, as our Geoff was doing exactly the same task today! Now we’re hoping for a rare window of dry, sunny weather to start the painting.

22 November 2018
Peeling back history

Part of the conservation investigation is to work out the changes in the building’s paint schemes over time. Reading the historic reports reveals a common theme across each new team; the men liked to redecorate almost every year. Perhaps this gave them a greater sense of connection and ownership of their temporary home.

Adele has been taking samples of the painted surfaces in each of Bransfield’s 14 rooms. So far she’s taken 120 samples and still has four small rooms to complete. Back in the UK, each sample will be set in a block of resin which will then be ground down and put under a microscope to reveal every individual layer of colour. Even without a microscope it is amazing to see the variety and vibrancy of colours the men chose.

23 November 2018
In transit

Even from a distance, Damoy Hut has a welcoming aura. When we stepped across the threshold this afternoon, the hut felt instantly comforting. Even members of the team visiting for the first time said that the place felt homely, with the familiar aroma of a humble mountain hut: a warm, cosy, nice place to be. A former BAS transit station, Damoy ceased operating 25 years ago. Michael worked there in the 1980s and has seen the hut’s transition from a working site into a historic site.

24 November 2018
Farewell Adele

Today has been a sad day for the Conservation Team - we had to say goodbye to Adele, our friend and Field Assistant who left Port Lockroy on the National Geographic Explorer to return to New Zealand.

She has been a crucial member of the team responsible for our health and safety and communications as well as keeping the field camp ship shape and helping with the conservation work.

We will miss her for many reasons including her hard work, passion for Port Lockroy as well as her sense of humour. Today marks the beginning of the end of this year’s conservation programme with only 9 days left until the rest of the Conservation Team depart. Hopefully, we will get some fine weather before then to complete the painting of Base A.

Read next week's blog

Read what the team got up to in week six

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