Antarctic Penguin Post Office

We recently welcomed back past pupil Laura Martin who left the school in 2001. Laura graduated in 2013 with a first class Hons in Geography and has since led a student expedition to South Africa, worked as an English teacher in Hong Kong and in the Scottish Highlands as a Trainee Outdoor Instructor. Following a lifelong interest she has recently returned from Port Lockroy in Antarctica, where she worked for the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and Laura retruned to the school to explain all about her experience to Year 6 and Year 8 leavers. The Trust works to preserves, enhance and promote British Antarctic heritage to engage, inform and inspire a global audience whilst actively managing a sustainable conservation programme.

Laura’s presentation included information about the history of Port Lockroy and the work that the team were involved in during their four month stay. About 15,000 tourists visit Port Lockroy accessing the base via yacht or cruise ships. The team maintained the museum, ran the gift shop and ‘Penguin Post Office’ for the tourists. They also monitored the local population of penguins.

Laura explained about the difficulties of having to adjust to 24 hours of daylight and the lack of facilities. They had a monthly plunge challenge, diving into the waters around the island as they could only rely on using the showers on the passing ships. She is now moving to a school in Switzerland for a few months working as their expedition leader.

Pupils were heard leaving the presentation discussing how much they would like to visit Antarctica.

You can find out more about the work of the UKAHT at :www.ukaht.org or read the snapshot below.

 

Port Lockroy: A Brief History

For more than a century Port Lockroy has been a home for explorers, whalers, scientists, and sailors who have made vital contributions to Antarctic history and the harbour has become the most popular visitor destination in Antarctica today. Port Lockroy is a sheltered harbour off the coast of Wiencke Island at the meeting point of three seaways which offer some of the most dramatic mountain and glacier scenery on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Base A

Base A which stands on Goudier Island (64º49’S, 63º30’W) in the east of the harbour was the first permanent British base to be established on the Antarctic Peninsula (and so given the first letter of the alphabet). It was built in February 1944 as part of a wartime mission code-named Operation Tabarin. After the Second World War it continued as a science base operated by the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS) the predecessor to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). It became the first of many British science bases around Antarctica. Base A continued to contribute to science until 1962 when it closed permanently when research began to move to larger and more modern bases.

 

1994: Historical Recognition

Following a comprehensive conservation survey in 1994, Port Lockroy was recognised for its historical importance and designated as Historic Site and Monument No. 61 under the Antarctic Treaty. In 1996 we supported the British Antarctic Survey and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to restore the base to its working condition.

Post 2006

In 2006 the responsibility of managing Port Lockroy was passed to the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust. Since then, we have been opening it each summer season as a living museum welcoming visitors from around the world. Using the proceeds from the gift shop and post office we are able to continue the operation of Port Lockroy as well as safeguarding other British historic sites on the continent.

 

Port Lockroy Team

Each year we recruit a team of four people to work at Port Lockroy for the summer season to promote the legacy of British scientists and explorers. It is a varied and challenging job suited only to a select few. Our Port Lockroy team carry out important maintenance work on the historic huts, operate a successful gift shop, and a British Antarctic Territory post office. They carry out important artefact conservation, audit work, wildlife monitoring and data collection on behalf of BAS. As well as this they give lectures on ships and work to ensure that all visitors adhere to strict Antarctic Treaty guidelines.

 

 

 
 
 

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