2022: Blog | Finding the forgotten
A normal season at Port Lockroy is extremely busy and the day is always full. This is by no means a normal season! That’s not to say we aren’t busy, we haven’t been sitting with our feet up drinking tea and eating biscuits the whole time, but this year we find we have brief moments that allow us to appreciate some of the things on the island or in the museum that we have missed in the past. Some of these are small, discrete and intimate, while others make you scratch your head and ask “Has that always been there? How could I possibly miss that?”. Usually, only to be followed by a quizzical look saying “Yes ... how did you?”.
At various locations on the island and the surrounding area, there are numerous markings and graffiti giving an insight into Port Lockroy’s rich past. From the moment you step onto the island, below the imposing whalers chains, you can see ‘1921’ carved into the rock dating back to when the processing of whales at Goudier Island would have been a common sight. This is in contrast to the less seen Solstreif graffiti, commemorating the first floating factory for processing whales at Port Lockroy, located at the South Western end of the island, usually hidden from view by snow for most of the year. In a similar area to both of these signs of the whaling era, we have found previously unrecorded engravings on a nearby rock. So as to better understand them, we have taken and sent images to our offices in Cambridge for use in photogrammetry. This will allow these illegible markings to be ‘cleaned’ and ‘highlighted’, enabling them to be read. In an area so frequented it makes us question how many times have we walked past these unnoticed and how many others have done the same.
Pictured: Two of the painted ladies within Bransfield House
Rediscovering forgotten treasures is not a new thing at Port Lockroy. One of the most notable finds in recent years was that of the Painted Ladies. Painted throughout Bransfield House by Evan Watson, the diesel mechanic, they feature famous women of the time such as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Mansfield. However sometime during the 1980’s they were painted over, still unknown as to who did this, only to be rediscovered in 2010/11 during conservation work. These seven artworks are one of the highlights of the museum. However we do know that there were originally more! As you wander into the Nissen Hut, past the neatly arranged selection of tinned foods, pinned to the wall is a photograph taken in 1964, two years after the base was closed. It shows a window boarded up with what looks like one of the missing cupboard doors from the bunkroom, featuring a painting of an unknown lady. The second missing door also appears in the photo, on the ground perhaps also used as a shutter but fallen down, with a similar painting. These observations are supported by our Trusts Conservation Management Plan, a document that records the wealth of history at Port Lockroy as it has metamorphosed over the past 80 years. These are just a couple of examples of pieces of the puzzle that are continually being discovered, that help give a glimpse into the vibrant history of life at Lockroy. I am sure that there are still many secrets that Bransfield House and Goudier Island aren’t ready to give up yet.
Kit Adams, Port Lockroy General Assistant 2021 - 2022
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