Wordie House

Wordie House A brief history

Base F, Wordie House, is located at 65°15′S, 64°16′W on Winter Island, in the Argentine Islands, Wilhelm Archipelago, off the west coast of Graham Land. First established in 1935, the first hut was destroyed by a suspected tsunami in 1946. The present-day structure was re-established in 1947 and used until 1954. Wordie was briefly re-occupied in the winter of 1960 when personnel bound for Adelaide Island failed to reach the station and had to winter there. In 1995, Wordie was designated Historic Site and Monument no. 62 and has been managed by UKAHT since 2014.

What’s in a name?

Wordie House hut is named after Scottish polar explorer James Wordie who was the chief scientist and geologist on Shackleton's Endurance expedition of 1914-17. The present-day structure stands on the foundations of a building used by the British Graham Land Expedition from 1935-36. James Wordie also went on to be a member of the Operation Tabarin Advisory Committee (1943-45) and the FID Scientific Committee (1948) as well as President of the Royal Geographical Society from 1951 to 1954.

Make do and build

Originally established in 1935, the initial structure was lost in a suspected tsunami in 1946. The base was then rebuilt using a diverse array of repurposed materials, from corrugated tin and timber to old packing crates, in a manner that epitomises the “use what you’ve got” approach of the time.

Emergency refuge

One of our smaller huts, Wordie was retained as the emergency refuge for Faraday Station once new buildings were constructed in 1954. A stove and food from the time can still be found in the open-plan kitchen and living room. The building also houses a workshop, dark room and base leader’s office.

Continuous climate record

The site was an important base for geophysics, meteorology and ionospheric research. It is the site of the only continuous climate record since the 1940s – a record which is continued today by the staff at the Ukrainian Vernandsky station on Galindez Island, who also support us with the preservation of Wordie House.

The site today

Wordie is UKAHT’s least-frequented site but can receive as many as 2,000-plus visitors a year. The approach by Zodiac is spectacular, with icebergs, sunbathing leopard seals, colonies of penguins and nesting skuas all calling the bay home. For adventurers, the site can also be reached by climbing over the glacier, affording breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, although anyone doing so will need to be accompanied by an experienced mountaineer.

Photography credits: UKAHT/Anna Malaos (2015); BAS Archives; Terry Tallis (1963-64); public domain; UKAHT; UKAHT/R Atkinson.