Antonia, Wednesday 22 July 2009
Weather on day of visit: -28°C; wind 10 Knots: clear sky & full moon
With the end of the Antarctic winter drawing near we recently had to undertake an inspection trip to Discovery Hut to see how it is holding up to the wind and weather.
Discovery Hut was originally designed to be the expedition base for Commander Robert Falcon Scott’s National Antarctic Expedition (1901 – 04). But in the end the team decided to stay on the ship as the hut was too difficult to heat.
We chose a beautifully still, moonlit day for our visit and it gave us a great idea of what the building would have felt like for those who stayed in it during those long cold winters early last century. Now I can quite see why they chose to stay on the ship, as the temperature in the hut during our visit was only 2°C warmer than that outside!
Because the hut was so cold it was only used by the expeditions for scientific observations, drying equipment, repairs and as an entertainment venue.
Discovery Hut is often seen as the poor relation to Captain Scott’s second base at Cape Evans (associated with his 1910 expedition) and Sir Ernest Shackleton’s base at Cape Royds (associated with his 1907 expedition) as it holds so many fewer artefacts, but historically speaking it is probably the most significant of the 3.
While spurned by Scott’s first expedition it was later found to be a very welcome refuge by both Scott and Shackleton’s subsequent expeditions when the sea ice conditions kept them from returning to their main bases.
It is a privilege to be, in some small part, responsible for the maintenance of such a historically important structure and its contents.