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A monument dedicated to Britons who lost their lives in the service of science in Antarctica will be unveiled on the waterfront at Stanley, Falkland Islands on 25 February 2015. It is the Southern part of a unique two-part sculpture; the Northern part of the sculpture is sited 8000 miles away in the grounds of the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), Cambridge University.
Since 1948, a total of 28 men and one woman have died in the British Antarctic Territory, one of the most extreme, inhospitable and uncharted places on Earth. All those who died travelled through Stanley on their way South and it is fitting that their contribution should be recognised in the Falkland Islands – the gateway to Antarctica. Many Falkland Islanders have worked in the Antarctic for the British Antarctic Survey, and its predecessor the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey, since Britain first set up a permanent base at Port Lockroy in 1944.
The Northern sculpture of the Antarctic Monument is constructed of two three-metre high pillars carved from British oak with a needle-like negative space created between them. This sculpture represents the mould from which the Southern sculpture, a highly polished stainless steel needle has been cast. The mirror finish reflects the water and clouds around the historic Dockyard Point on which it is situated representing both the human intrusion into the environment and the need for study and understanding.
Together the two sculptures symbolise the scientific link between Britain and the Antarctic, whilst at the same time reflect upon the emotional and physical separation experienced by explorers and their families left behind in Britain.
The bronze plinth of the Southern sculpture is inscribed on two faces with the names of the men and woman who died. Another face of the plinth has a map of the Northern and Southern hemispheres and the latitude and longitude of the two parts of the monument with the statement: “Together in distance and time.” The main inscription is on another face: “For those who lost their lives in Antarctica in pursuit of science to benefit us all.” This is the same inscription which is incised in stainless steel on the base of the Northern sculpture. It is also carved in Welsh slate on the Antarctic Memorial in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral, dedicated in May 2011.
The two-part sculpture was designed by the distinguished sculptor Oliver Barratt who has been responsible for a number of public sculptures including the Everest Memorial to those killed on the mountain. The plinth was designed by Graeme Wilson. The stainless steel needle and the bronze plinth were made by the art foundry Pangolin Editions, Chalford, Gloucestershire using advanced 3D printing to create the precision for the maps and lettering on the plinth.
The Southern part of the monument will be dedicated on 25 February 2015 at 17.00 by Bishop of the Falklands, The Rt. Rev. Nigel Stock in the presence of The Governor of the Falkland Islands, HE Colin Roberts, The Hon Jan Cheek, Member of the Legislative Assembly, Roderick Rhys Jones Chairman of the Trustees, and Brian Dorsett-Bailey representative of the bereaved families and a Trustee.
The Trust has invited all those in the Falklands who have served with the British Antarctic Survey on the bases, in the Stanley office or on BAS ships. In addition there will be 85 people who are travelling on board MV Ushuaia, amongst them are colleagues of those who did not return as well as many FIDS who have served in the Antarctic and others who are supporters of the Trust including Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders, Australians, Finns, and French. Following the dedication, the MV Ushuaia sails for South Georgia, Signy Island and the bases of the Antarctic Peninsula where the party will be visiting the graves and memorials of those who did not return.
The work of men and women in the British Antarctic Territory has contributed to our understanding of many vital phenomena including: the way continents drift apart; how communications are affected by solar flares; the formation of polar ozone holes; global links between weather systems; climate change reflected in ice cores; and the effect of fishing on marine ecosystems.
The British Antarctic Monument Trust is a registered charity set up to promote good citizenship by honouring those explorers and scientists who have carried out hazardous duties in the pursuit of scientific knowledge in the British Antarctic Territory particularly ‘those who did not return’. It is advancing education by increasing the understanding of how their exploration and scientific work has contributed to our knowledge of the natural environment, such as our climate and the movement of continents.
Brian Dorsett-Bailey, Trustee, who lost his brother Jeremy in 1965 in a crevasse accident says, “Jeremy was a pioneer of ice-depth radar, a technique used for plotting the profile of the Antarctic terrain thousands of feet below the surface of the ice. His loss was devastating. His body, like so many others, was never recovered. The work of the Trust to commemorate and recognise those who never returned has helped families to come to terms with their loss and assist in providing some closure. ”
Roderick Rhys Jones, chairman of the BAMT, who is spearheading the project says, “I was a surveyor on an expedition from the BAS’s Research Station Halley Bay in 1965, when three of my colleagues, including Jeremy Bailey, were killed when their tractor fell into a crevasse. I have never forgotten them and wanted to create a lasting monument to them and the others who lost their lives in the pursuit of science in Antarctica. The response has been overwhelming from families, friends and colleagues of those who died.”
With the current Antarctic season due to end in mid-March, thoughts are already turning to next season and beginning the long process of preparing for it. Applications for the job of Port Lockroy Assistant next season opened on Monday 16th February 2015, and will stay open for ten days. More about the job can be seen here.
Interest in the Port Lockroy job has been significant, with many national papers picking up the story as well as international radio and TV stations. Links to some of these stories can be found below.
Cambridge Network: 'Antarctica - have you got what it takes?'
News.com.au: 'Antarctic post office now hiring'
Newstalk 106-108FM: 'A position is available at the world's most remote post office'
BBC WM 95.6: Lisa in interviewed on The Paul Franks Show (at 38mins)
BBC World Service: Jane Cooper, who worked at Port Lockroy in the 2013/14 season, is interviewed at 1pm
Downtown Radio, Belfast: Lisa (UK Operations) interviewed on the Siobhan McGarry show at 11.15am
Monacle Radio: Lisa is interviewed on The Briefing (18/02/15 12.54)
ABC Radio, Australia: Lisa interviewed on their drivetime programme
Spin Radio, Dublin: Lisa interviewed on Spin Talk
BBC Look East: Lisa interviewed (approx 22 mins)
The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust has announced that it has completed its conservation of the three historic huts used by Captain Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton at Cape Evans, Hut Point and Cape Royds. The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust is proud to have been a major supporter of this conservation project, having helped generate £3.5 million for the Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project and more recently given £100,000 (part of which was donated from the Barbara Debenham legacy) for the conservation of Scott’s Discovery Hut and Carsten Borchgrevink’s hut at Cape Adare.
Sixty-two specialists from eleven countries contributed to the conservation of these buildings and their related artefacts over the life of the project, and uncovered previously undiscovered artefacts such as the famous crates of Scotch whisky and brandy at Shackleton’s historic base, and the photographs and notebook recovered from Scott’s hut at Cape Evans.
Maintenance of the three bases and their artefacts will be ongoing, but the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust now plans to begin conservation work at Borchgrevink’s hut at Cape Adare and Hillary’s Hut at Scott Base. To read more about the work of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust and watch the video 'Saving Scott's and Shackleton's Huts', visit https://www.nzaht.org/
To read the full press release click here.
The popular documentary Penguin Post Office will be broadcast in the US on PBS on Wednesday January 28 at 7/8c (check local listings).
Set on the tiny Goudier Island in Antarctica, the documentary follows the breeding cycle of the gentoo penguins who return here each year to find their mate and raise their chicks, whilst in the background tourists visit the restored World War II British Base 'A', which is now run as a museum, Post Office and shop by four members of staff from the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust. An introductory film to Port Lockroy can be seen here.
Having been broadcast and positively received in the UK in July 2014, we are very excited that the Penguin Post Office documentary will now become available to an American audience to watch. The documentary was filmed during the 2013-14 Antarctic season by AGB films for Thirteen's Nature and BBC Natural World last season. Read more about the filming of Penguin Post Office here.
Penguin Post Office is set on Goudier Island, a tiny island located in Port Lockroy in the Antarctic Peninsula. Goudier Island is also home to Base 'A', a British Base established in 1944 initially for territorial reasons but that quickly became a science base until it was abandoned in 1962. Base 'A' was restored in 1996 back to its 1962 condition, and has been run as a living museum ever since. Every austral summer, the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust send four members of staff down to Port Lockroy to open the museum, Post Office and shop and welcome visitors to the site. Read more about Port Lockroy and its restoration, as well as the current Port Lockroy team blogs.
The gentoo penguins established their colony at Port Lockroy at some point in the mid-1980s. There are now an estimated 3000 penguins that return to Goudier Island each year to breed. The impact of tourism at Port Lockroy on the gentoo penguins is monitored yearly both by the UKAHT team and outside agencies. To date the results show no negative impact on the breeding cycle of the gentoo penguins.
The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust sells a range of Antarctic and penguin-branded clothing and souvenirs both at Port Lockroy and online. All proceeds from our shops go towards the conservation of Base 'A' and the other sites in Antarctica that we manage, as well as our work promoting Antarctic heritage. To read more about these other sites in Antarctica click here. A link to our online shop can be found here.
The work of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust is also supported by our 'Friends of Antarctica', who receive early access to our twice-yearly newsletter and exclusive invites to 'Friends of Antarctica' events. To become a 'Friend of Antarctica' and support the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust click here.
The Penguin Post Office – Bransfield House (Base ‘A’) is a little bit of Britain in the heart of Antarctica. Inside the British Base ‘A’, run by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT), the Post Office has everything you’d expect: a postbox, stamps, postcards and four dedicated UKAHT staff. Outside, things are a little bit different, living alongside the Post Office are 2,000 gentoo penguins. They’re here for one reason, to raise a family, but their lives are far from picture postcard - adultery and robbery are rife, as the program makes clear.
A new film made by AGB Films for THIRTEEN’s ‘Nature’ to be broadcast on January, 28 2015 chronicles life at Antarctica’s Penguin Post Office and follows the lives of the UKAHT staff and a colony of gentoo penguins as they survive around Bransfield House, a British Antarctic Territory Post Office in the heart of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Every summer the gentoo penguins return to the location of the world’s most southerly public Post Office, and it is here viewers find out that as the penguins nest, they share their home with four newly arrived UKAHT staff, who run the Post Office for visiting tourists, proudly flying the Union flag and cleaning up the penguin mess around the base. We soon learn, however, that there is more to these adorable little penguins than comical waddling. We also take a look around the Post Office and learn about its history in the 1940’s and 50’s. We meet Base Leader Helen Annan, and Post Mistresses Kristy Leissle and Jane Cooper, who live alongside the penguins for the austral summer. They, and some of the visitors to the Island, share their thoughts on their experience of Antarctica, these special animals and what they are writing on their postcards home.
“We were drawn to Penguin Post Office because of its unique story,” said Nature Executive Producer Fred Kaufman, “and were intrigued by the incongruous juxtaposition of a penguin rookery and a working post office in the middle of the Antarctic.”
Nature is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. Penguin Post Office is a production of AGB Films for THIRTEEN Productions LLC and BBC for WNET. The program airs Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). After broadcast, the episode will be available in U.S. & territories for online streaming at pbs.org/nature.
To read the full press release click here