Date: 12 August 2013
Wind speed: 11 knots
Temp with wind chill: -32C
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.