Port Lockroy is a natural harbour on the Antarctic Peninsula of the British Antarctic Territory. Originally discovered in 1903 by a French Antarctic expedition, the port was named ‘Port LaCroix’ after Edouard LaCroix who helped finance the expedition. Over the years Port Lockroy found use as an anchorage by whalers and in 1944 became ‘British Base A’, the first of the more than 20 eventual British bases established in Antarctica.
After the close of World War II it functioned as a civilian research outpost and was eventually shut down in 1962. It sat abandoned until a British team renovated the historical site and opened it as a monument and museum in 1996. This base is now restored as a historic site which has a gift shop and the only public post office on the Antarctic peninsula. The Port Lockroy museum and post office is operated by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust and proceeds from the small souvenir shop fund the upkeep of the site and other historic sites and monuments in Antarctica.
The base is now manned by four women, who all share one small room, each with a corner bunk. There is no running water at all on the base, so the residents have to rely on the kindness of visiting vessels for some of their basic needs. While they’re not showering or drinking water regularly, they’re also “womanning” the gift shop.
I wanted to spend a couple minutes with the ladies to ask them about their daily routines. For the most part, it sounded extremely boring … no Internet, not much phone contact and the always pervasive smell of Penguin poop. Penguins look cute and cuddly, but after a while, smelling all that poop and hearing them screech all the time would drive a regular person insane. They also spend a lot of time keeping the museum looking great. The main building is filled with many old relics, from the original bedding, to different canned goods and research equipment. There wasn’t a single thing out of place in the kitchen … although based on all the product cans there … it couldn’t have been good eating over there.
In addition to all the time that is spent manning the station, there are also volunteers who have been there refurbishing the equipment.
The most interesting part was looking at the uncovered paintings/drawings of the ladies. I guess in the darkness of the Antarctic winter, there were many a cold night with some cold men. How else to warm up those nights, than by looking at some racy drawings of ladies 😀
Some of the images have been blurred for your protection 😀 Who needs the internet, when you can draw whatever you need in old school style! I can imagine when this was a secret British base monitoring German naval movements during World War Two. Back then, a team of 10 men would live here for two and a half years at a time as part of Operation Tabarin. While watching for enemy ships, the Tabarin team also monitored territory-grabbing attempts by foreign governments. Both the Argentinians and Chileans staked claims by dropping legal documents in canisters from the sky, while the Germans scattered steel markers bearing swastika symbols. How else to pass the time than by watching lovely lady drawings.