This is the page for archive news items and the Antarctic Times. Latest news is on our home page.
UKAHT were delighted to host a special screening of the BBC’s Natural World film, Penguin Post Office and an exclusive advance preview of CBBC’s ‘my life’ programme on Friday 10 October at the Arnolfini in Bristol.
The audience were treated to watching the film (originally broadcast on the BBC) on a large screen, which enhanced the spectacular scenery photography at Port Lockroy and also the antics of the resident gentoo penguins.
Port Lockroy and the UKAHT featured throughout the BBC film and it was a delight to see and hear the small team, who are based at Port Lockroy over the austral summer months, meeting and greeting the visiting tourists. The visitors’ clear delight at being able to mail a post card from the world’s most southerly public post office, purchase souvenirs, visit a museum and stand so close to photograph the small, noisy, smelly and characterful penguins was brilliantly captured.
The CBBC production featured film director and cameraman Andrew Graham-Brown’s children, Amy and Daisy, spending a ‘day in the life’ of their father and also being given the opportunity of working in the Post Office. The whole family celebrated Christmas on board the yacht Palegic, a once in a lifetime experience. If there had been any children in the audience, no doubt there would be some interesting and tricky questions with parents as to why they couldn’t easily go there for their holidays as well!
Ruth Peacey, assistant producer, Doug Allen, underwater cameraman, Rachel Morgan, Director UKAHT, and Jane Cooper who was part of the Port Lockroy team that season, took questions from the audience following the film. People were interested in how the idea to film penguins at Port Lockroy was first conceived, as well as the actual experiences the team faced trying to film in such adverse conditions.
Ruth said, “The original idea came from Matt Fletcher from the BBC’s Natural History Unit, who had heard about a colony of penguins in Antarctica that lived alongside a British Post Office. The idea evolved as we spoke with Tudor Morgan and the UKAHT.
“That was a few years ago now and it's hard to believe that this amazing journey with the UKAHT has nearly come to an end. We've still got to see the children's programme through to transmission in the New Year though!"
Tudor expressed, “It still brings a tear to my eye watching Penguin Post Office. It has just been the most amazing experience, which has seen the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust thrust into the public domain, offering an insight to not only the wildlife on the tiny island, but an understanding that Base ‘A’ is an important part of our British heritage.
“This is only the tip of the iceberg. It is still hoped that the Penguin Post Office will be broadcast again over the Christmas period, prior to being released by PBS in the USA. The American version is scheduled for broadcast early in the New Year. BBC Worldwide are also selling Penguin Post Office worldwide, so when you’re on your travels and get stuck in a hotel room, you might be lucky enough to see Penguin Post Office again.”
The evening came to a close with the guests mingling with amateur film makers, past and future Port Lockroy team members, friends of Antarctica and the UKAHT team over tea and coffee. Everyone agreed that the film was fantastic!
Whilst all the filming was taking place, Tudor, Doug, Andrew and Ruth recorded a five part series for Radio 4, which was broadcast early September. To listen to the five programmes, click here.
The legacy of the BBC Natural Worldwide programme Penguin Post Office is set to continue for years to come.
The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust is pleased to announce the appointment of Camilla Nichol as its new Chief Executive. The appointment follows the decision of the Director, Rachel Morgan, to step down after fourteen years with the Trust.
Camilla Nichol joins the Trust from Leeds Museums and Galleries, where she has been Head of Collections since 2008. In Leeds she was responsible for the care, conservation and development of the 1.3 million-strong collections across nine museum sites. Leading on the strategic development of the service she secured in excess of £13m of external funding, including achieving Arts Council England Major Partner Museum status for Leeds. She also was responsible for the award-winning community engagement programme, an innovative digital media department, an active research strategy, as well as strategic partnership development.
Camilla studied Geology at the University of Edinburgh followed by Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. Previously she led the science team at York Museums Trust and worked at the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University, during which time the first rocks collected on the Antarctic mainland by Carsten Borchgrevink were uncovered in the collection.
“I am delighted to be joining the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust at such an exciting time. Port Lockroy has never been so popular with visitors, plus we are in the middle of the centenary of the heroic age which has inspired so many. I am looking forward to sharing my passion for the Antarctic with a wider public” said Camilla.
“I'm looking forward to working with the Trustees and the team in Cambridge in continuing the Trust’s excellent work in preserving this important heritage, as well as developing new and innovative ways for us to reach new audiences with our Antarctic story.”
“The Trustees are delighted that Camilla has accepted the role of Chief Executive of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust,” said UKAHT Chairman, Donald Lamont. “Rachel Morgan leaves a unique legacy of achievement: our operation at Port Lockroy is the most visited location in Antarctica and has become known to a wider public through the outstanding “Penguin Post Office” programme on TV. This forms a platform of excellence on which Camilla and our team in Cambridge can now build”.
The UKAHT is very lucky to have several incredibly generous sponsors who support our work both in the UK and the Antarctic. Welch's Transport Ltd continue to offer us free warehouse space to store our merchandise throughout the year, as well as allowing us to take over a section of the warehouse for a few months every year as we receive, re-pack and palletise all our goods to go south.
Despite being incredibly busy they are always helpful and friendly, and even take time out to help us move the larger pallets and pack our container. We can honestly say that despite it being hard work, we really enjoy our 'packing season', not least because we feel so welcome at the Welch's warehouse. At the end of this year Welch's will be moving to a new site but have already confirmed that they will continue to provide storage and packing space for us.
The UKAHT would like to reiterate just how grateful we are to Welch's for this continued support, and we are already looking forward to next year's packing season!
Port Lockroy - another year and a new team! The 2014/15 Port Lockroy is looking forward to another season south. They will be operating Port Lockroy: welcoming visitors from expedition vessels, carrying out maintenance and running the world’s most southerly public post office.
Sarah Auffret, returning for a second year and this season’s Base Leader, Stephen Skinner and Amy Kincaid all took part in the training at Girton College in Cambridge this September. Team member Phoebe Boag had to withdraw from the season ahead due to a health issue and we wish her all the best in her recovery. We are extremely fortunate that Liesl Schernthanner was available and ready to join this year’s team at short notice and cover Phoebe’s place. Liesl has worked for the Trust in previous seasons as part of the conservation team and is very much looking forward to returning to Port Lockroy.
Following three long days of fact-packed intensive training the team are now fully briefed and prepared. Having studied the Antarctic Operations Manual, discussed maintenance tasks, running the shop and post office, penguin counting, risk assessments, island & team living and everything else that is involved in running Port Lockroy the team is finally ready for the Antarctic season. Armed with all this information there is no doubting the excitement and anticipation you can see on each of their faces for what lies ahead.
Flights are now booked, cargo is packed and on its way to Antarctica and cabins on ships secured through generous support from IAATO operators – only a few more weeks until they set off.
Once again, Tog24 and Dickies provided free kit for the team and Jellyegg supplied discounted Crocs. We are very grateful to our generous sponsors and again a huge ‘thank you’.
You can expect to read the first blog from the team in Antarctica by the middle of November. Don’t forget to follow their progress on the UKAHT website, Facebook and Twitter pages!
(L-R: Sarah Auffret, Liesl Schernthanner, Amy Kincaid, Stephen Skinner)
We are pleased to announce that the container of seasonal cargo has now been packed and begun its journey to Port Lockroy. For the last few months the UK team has been purchasing merchandise for the shop at Port Lockroy, as well as supplies for the team and the maintenance work they will undertake, before waterproofing and reboxing much of it in preparation for it to be shipped. As you can imagine we were pleased and relieved to get the container packed and sent off, especially as we managed it in record time. The container will now make its way to the Falkland Islands where both the Hurtigruten ship Fram, as well as the National Geographic Explorer, will for another year very generously deliver our cargo to Port Lockroy.
We are immensely grateful to Welch's Transport, who for another year gave us space to work in their warehouse and took the time to pack the container with us despite their busy workload. We would also like to thank Jelly Egg, Dickies and Tog 24, all of whom have provided sponsorship and equipment for the upcoming season.
With the packing now complete we are all looking forward to getting back to the office and concentrating on the Port Lockroy team training next week, as well as on the publication of the next edition of The Antarctic Times and the upcoming members' screening of Penguin Post Office in October.
100 years ago today Shackleton's Endurance sailed from Plymouth. Congratulations to the Devon and Cornwall Polar Society for organising a great two days of talks and discussion at the lovely Duke of Cornwall Hotel where Shackleton stayed on the preceding night. The ship Phoenix re-enacts the Endurance's departure from Millbay Dock.
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, neighbouring 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 BBC program makes clear
In October 2013 BBC Natural World with the help of the UKAHT set out to film at Port Lockroy. The program they made, narrated by Juliet Stevenson and filmed and produced by Andrew Graham-Brown, 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 the viewers find out that as the penguins nest, they share their home with four newly recruited 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 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 this year’s Base Leader, Helen Annan, and Post Mistresses, Kristy Leissle and Jane Cooper, who were living alongside the penguins for the austral summer. They, and some of the visitors to the island, share their thoughts direct to camera on these special animals and what they are writing on their postcards home.
As Helen Annan Base Leader said “it’s a dream job and like the penguins I would like to come back here ever year”.
THE UKAHT POST OFFICE WORKERS
Base Leader - Helen Annan
Helen was Base-Leader at Port Lockroy in the 2013/14 season. She travelled down ahead of the other Post Office workers, with the Penguin Post Office film crew to get everything set up and organised. Helen spent a season working at Port Lockroy in 2007/8 and loved it so much she returned again! Helen is from the UK and, until last year, worked in the youth hostel industry. She is currently living in Perthshire.
Sarah originates from France, has spent a few years living and teaching in Japan and regularly works the summer season in Tromsø, Norway, as a tour guide. This was her first season in the Antarctic, but she is already set to return next year to do another season as Base Leader in Port Lockroy.
Jane is from Stroud, UK. She trained and worked as a lawyer before deciding to change career. Prior to the 2013/14 season at Port Lockroy, she worked for Mencap as a trainer. Her hobbies include climbing and travelling. This was her first time to the Antarctic.
Kristy is from New York, USA, but currently lives in Seattle, where she works as a Professor at the University of Washington. She travelled to the Antarctic as a passenger on a cruise ship and actually visited Port Lockroy in a previous season, deciding then that she wanted to work there. She is also known as the Doctor of Chocolate, having completed a PhD about the cocoa industry in Ghana and the global trade of cocoa and chocolate.
2015 Special edition 'Penguin Post Office' calendar featuring photographs of gentoo penguins taken at Port Lockroy by UKAHT and printed in the UK
70th Anniversary of Operation Tabarin reception and exhibition at the House of Commons, 16 June 2014
UKAHT marked the 70th anniversary of Operation Tabarin, which laid the foundations for one of the most important and enduring government sponsored programmes of scientific research in the Polar Regions, with a special exhibition and reception in the Terrace Pavilion at the House of Commons on Monday 16 June 2014.
The event was organised by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and sponsored by David TC Davies MP and with 200 invited guests in attendance, it proved to be an exciting and informative occasion.
To see photos click here
To read the press release click here
200 invited guests attended a reception and exhibition in the Terrace Pavilion at the House of Commons on Monday 16 June 2014 organised by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and sponsored by David TC Davies MP.
George James, one of two surviving members of Operation Tabarin with The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science. The Minister spoke of the Government's commitment for ensuring the continuation of Operation Tabarin's legacy.
L-R: David T C Davies MP, sponsor and host of the exhibition and reception; Jane Rumble, Head of the Polar regions Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Jane is only the fourth head in its 70 year history; Rachel Morgan, Director of the Trust.
Donald Lamont and Rachel Morgan, Chairman and Director of the Trust.
Alan Carroll, Base Leader at Port Lockroy 1955-6 and author of the book 'Operation Tabarin'.
Father, son, and grandson: Jonathan and Finn Walton are son and grandson of Kevin Walton who was on of the first members of the Falklands Islands Dependencies Survey which replaced Operation Tabarin. All three have worked in Antarctica. Jonathan brought for display his father's mukluks as well as a 1/6 scale Nansen sledge and pyramid tent.
Seasoned ice captain 'Captain Jack' with Trust Operations Manager, Anna Malaos.
Members of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) without whose help, the Trust could not operate on the Antarctic Peninsula - L-R - Dave Fletcher, Hapag-Lloyd; Karin Strand, Hurtigruten; Lisa Kelley, Lindblad Expeditions; Amanda Lynnes, IAATO; Skip Novak, Pelagic Expeditions; Rachel Morgan, Trust Director; Ulrike Schultzen, Hapag Lloyd.
Ruth Peacey, assistant producer for the BBC Natural World 'Penguin Post Office' film, to be broadcast later this year.
Professor Jane Francis, Director of the British Antarctic Survey with Tudor Morgan, Special Project Manager for the Trust.
Three quarters of next season's Port Lockroy team: Stephen Skinner, Phoebe Boag, and base leader, Sarah Auffret.
A charity working to raise awareness of British Antarctic heritage celebrated a landmark anniversary at Westminster this week.
The United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) marked the 70th anniversary of Operation Tabarin, which laid the foundations for one of the most important and enduring government sponsored programmes of scientific research in the Polar Regions, with a special exhibition and reception at the House of Commons.
UKAHT conserves early British scientific bases and artefacts in Antarctica and promotes and encourages public interest in Antarctic heritage both at home and abroad.
UKAHT now works to ensure that the legacy from this heroic age of exploration and scientific endeavour remains to inspire current and future generations.
Supporters and MPs from across the UK gathered in the Terrace Pavilion at the House of Commons on Monday afternoon (16th June) for a special reception to help UKAHT commemorate 70 years of continuous British presence in Antarctica.
Monmouth MP David TC Davies hosted the event and was joined by the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science in officially opening the reception.
Mr Davies said: “I’m especially pleased that Wales has such a strong connection with Antarctica and extremely proud of the fact the Trust Director is based here in Monmouthshire.
“Wales has a very important Antarctic story to tell and this remarkable charity is keeping it alive today.”
Included within the guests was George James one of the last survivors of Operation Tarbarin. George was a wireless operator on a support vessel, HMS William Scoresby. Now 90 years of age, George attended with his two sons and grandson.
The reception also introduced the forthcoming BBC Natural World documentary ‘Penguin Post Office’ filmed on the Antarctic Peninsula earlier this year. UKAHT runs the world’s most southerly public post office on behalf of the Government of the British Antarctic Territory at Port Lockroy. Around 70,000 cards are posted each year from the post office by visitors to over 100 countries.
Donald Lamont , Chair of UKAHT, added: “We are proud to celebrate what has been achieved through the restoration of Port Lockroy, one of the stations built during ‘Operation Tabarin’, instigated by the political decision taken in 1943 to open three stations in the Antarctic Peninsula. It is now the most visited sites in Antarctica, and will reach an even wider audience through the filming that was carried out this season for broadcast later this year.
For further information, visit www.ukaht.org
We are pleased to report that the new Port Lockroy team has now been picked. Congratulations to Phoebe, Amy and Stephen who will be joining Sarah (who worked at Port Lockroy last season) for the upcoming 2014-15 season at Port Lockroy.
Selection took place over two days in May at the Mepal Outdoor Centre in Ely. The eight candidates were put through their paces by staff, with activities ranging from the high ropes and raft building (kindly run by the Mepal Outdoor Centre), to plug rewiring and pallet building. This was broken up with the candidates’ formal interviews, as well as some more informal and fun team games.
Using the Centre’s facilities and activities was a new experience for the Trust, and we are grateful to Mepal Outdoor Centre for enabling the smooth and successful running of the selection process with both their excellent facilities and activities (not to mention the food…definitely a high point for everyone!!). We, the staff, all agreed that we’d had a very enjoyable as well as successful two days. We certainly hope to return next year!
Congratulations again to our new 2014/15 team, and well done to all eight candidates who took part in the selection and made it such an enjoyable event. Finally, many thanks go to Jim Oakley, our external facilitator, Richard Hanson, our interviewer, and Sarah Auffret, our previous (and current) Port Lockroy team member.