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Antarctic conservation

5 Posts tagged with the discovery_hut tag
1

Dog biscuits

Posted by Conservators Mar 6, 2014

Auhtor: Megan Absolon

Date: 07/03/14

 

 

I’ve been very fortunate since arriving on the Ice to be working in the on-site conservation laboratory at Hut Point, which is situated directly behind Scott’s Discovery Hut (1901-04). Stefanie and I have been conserving food boxes from an internal wall made from stacked supply boxes. This wall was built during Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition (1907-09) when they used Discovery Hut as a staging point for depot laying. The Hut is described by various expeditioners as a dark and cold place to spend time and Shackleton’s men wished to enclose a cosy space around the stove to make the quarters more habitable. The supply boxes used were predominately Special Cabin Biscuits and Special Dog Biscuits made by Spratts Patent Limited of London, who also supplied the army and navy.

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Meg documenting the supply box wall

 

Every time we walk into the Hut we get the chance to imagine the many stories and desperate situations the men who passed through Discovery Hut experienced.  It’s incredibly exciting conserving the boxes that make up the internal wall in the Hut as we discover new and different details every day.

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Special Dog Biscuit Box

 

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Box with paw print

 

Dogs are also part of the amazing history of the Hut, with Scott taking 23 dogs for hauling sledges on his National Antarctic Expedition. In 1908, during Shackleton’s Expedition, three puppies ended up at Hut Point. It was decided to leave the puppies in the Hut for nearly a month while depots were laid for Shackleton’s push to the Pole. Dr Eric Marshal recorded that 24lbs of mutton was chopped up for the puppies as well as dog biscuits and snow left for their survival. The men returned to find the puppies had eaten all the mutton but not the biscuits.

 

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Tom Crean, with a litter of sledge dog puppies

 

The highlight of my week was discovering two puppy paw prints inside one of the boxes. The prints were made from seal blubber which was throughout the Hut at the time as it was used as fuel for cooking and warmth. Dogs are no longer allowed in Antarctica but we’d still love to have one to play with.

0

Top memories

Posted by Conservators Feb 27, 2014

Author: Aline Leclercq

Date: 28/02/14

 

This is my first time in Antarctica, and since I have been here, each day is more surprising than the day before. After two weeks of getting to know the new lifestyle and the objectives of the paper conservation work, I went last week for an evening walk. Two friends from Scott Base working for Antarctica New Zealand came with me. We were enjoying the sun and the weather, still warm at the end of the summer (already -15 ⁰C). Walking here means being well covered especially because of the wind and the temperature, but the landscape and the silence around are very special.

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The cross at the top of Observation Hill last Friday

 

We went up Observation Hill, between Scott Base and McMurdo Station, where a cross was erected in 1913 in memory of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his party who died on their return from the South Pole the previous year. Because of the difficulty of the path to the top, and the surrounding landscape, reaching the top and arriving at the cross was a very moving experience for me … I realised the danger and the exceptional lives of these men, who came to Antarctica more than a century ago.

 

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My bench at work with artefacts in conservation treatment

 

After having spent my first week on the conservation of artefacts that represent their quotidian life in the Antarctic in Scott's Discovery Hut—their food, their tools, their clothes, etc.—and getting to the cross, I had a completely different feeling about these artefacts and realised in a very concrete manner the exceptional qualities of these men. Top view, top memories …

1

The meat packing district

Posted by Conservators Aug 12, 2013

Author: Stefan

Date: 12 August 2013

Temperature: -20C

Wind speed: 11 knots

Temp with wind chill: -32C

Sunrise: N/A

Sunset: N/A

 

Working as a team to conserve and restore Bower's Annex, is extremely challenging. Making sense of the mass of wood and its brooding contents often has us scratching our heads. Recently Jaime arrived at the door to my cage (working area) and 'gifted' me a piece of timber. Neither from a Venesta nor a Coleman's solid timber box, the section of wood, would now become an object, and my responsibility to conserve. Jaime had noticed it had some semi-legible bleached print on the surface, where the original paint had eroded away.

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Piece of loose timber, suspected to be from a mutton packing crate © AHT/Stefan

 

After perusing the print again and again, the "From Tho#,  Bor###### & Sons" led me to see if a company called Thomas Borthwick & Son's was registered at the time. By a stroke of luck one of my searches led to a brilliant history of frozen meat suppliers in Australia and New Zealand.

 

http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Cyc06Cycl-t1-body1-d2-d23-d20.html

 

It appears most likely the section of wood came from a packing crate containing frozen mutton. There are many accounts in the mens’ diaries as they set sail from Christchurch on the Terra Nova of mutton dinners and the gifted carcasses from the Lyttleton community that hung from the rigging.

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Mutton carcass in Discovery Hut's store room © AHT/Stefan

 

There is still 2 freeze dried sides of mutton that reside in a store room at Discovery hut: although butchery styles and size/maturity of mutton will be similar the world over, it's spooky the similarity between the carcass at Discovery hut, and those hung in the Tomoana Freezer Works in Napier, New Zealand.

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Tomoana Freezer works, Napier, New Zealand

 

Thomas Borthwick & Sons are still trading today in Mackay, Queensland, Australia, and are still very much in the meat business.  Sadly however, both then and now, there is no spring Welsh lamb in Antarctica, a far superior beast, especially on the plate.

0

Discovery Hut, Hut Point

Posted by Conservators Jan 17, 2013

Author: Karen    

Date: 13 December 2012

Temperature: -3C

Wind speed: 15 knots

Sunrise: N/A

Sunset: N/A

 

 

 

While back at Scott Base there is some work to do at Discovery Hut, Hut Point, McMurdo Sound. Discovery Hut was built in 1902 by Captain Scott's party.  It was designed by Professor Gregory and prefabricated by James Moore before being brought south by ship.  It's almost square with a veranda running around three sides.  Unfortunately, although the walls were insulated with felt, it was still very cold and very difficult to keep warm.  This led to the ship, (Discovery) moored approx. one kilometre away being used for the first year as living quarters and the hut being used predominately as a large store room.  During the second year, occasionally a party would sleep inside, but no bunks or permanent sleeping quarters were ever erected.

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   Discovery Hut, Hut Point © AHT/Karen

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    Vince's Cross, Hut Point © AHT/Karen

 

On the hill behind Discovery Hut, a cross was erected in 1904 to the memory of George Vince who returning to the hut in a blizzard in 1902, slipped over an ice precipice to his death.

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Martin surveying the internal windows © AHT/Karen  

                                            

The Trust is planning to start conservation work on Discovery Hut during the Antarctic summer of 2013/14.  This season, one of the tasks on the work list, was for Martin and I to survey the external and internal windows in order for them to be conserved next season.  Conserving these windows will help stop snow from entering the building and causing further damage. It only takes one small crack somewhere in the hut to allow snow to enter, and very quickly you have a huge pile of snow.  There is a lot of work to be completed before the hut is secure and weather tight.  

0

Discovery Hut Survey

Posted by Cricket and Diana Aug 25, 2010

Posted by Diana

 

Date:             25 August 2010
Temperature:  -23 C (-9 F)
Wind Speed:  15 knots, NE
Temp with wind chill: -45 C (-49 F)
Sunrise:        10:37
Sunset:        15:16

 

Discovery Hut at Hut Point was erected by Robert Falcon Scott and members of his British Antarctic (Discovery) Expedition in February/March of 1902. Cricket and I accompanied the winter conservators Nicola, Melinda, Jane and Georgina to Discovery Hut to conduct a survey of how the building weathered the winter. Snow build up around the hut is being monitored in order to assist with preservation.

 

 

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Discovery Hut, Hut Point © AHT/D Komejan

 

Discovery Hut, because of its proximity to McMurdo (you can see part of the base in the left corner of the image), has had the most visitation over the years. The building was designed and pre-fabricated in Australia then erected at Hut Point.  Because of its large open design, it was difficult to keep warm and has actually only ever been inhabited for short periods of time.  Scott’s 1902 party used it as a depot.  It then was used by members of the British Antarctic (Nimrod) Expedition 1907-09 lead by Ernest Shackleton, then by British Antarctic (Terra Nova) Expedition 1910-13 led by R. F. Scott, and finally by the Ross Sea Party members of the Imperial  Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1914-17 under Sir Ernest Shackleton’s leadership.

 

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Winter 2010 Conservators at the Cross on Observation Hill © AHT/D Komejan

 

It was wonderful for Cricket and I to have our first visit to one of the huts. After taking photos and notes we had a little light left for a walk up the hill to the cross erected in memory of George Vince, the first recorded person to die in Antarctica when he fell over a cliff during a blizzard. It has a wonderful view over the McMurdo Sound and of McMurdo Base.