Halley Bay, 1961

Renewal of Living Quarters and the missing bolts!

John Skilling

GA/ Carpenter


Along with Ernie Docchar and Dave Edwards I received a telegram (only the elderly will remember such things and only then if memory continues to work) on 10:11:1960 from the Crown Agents that we were required to visit the hut manufacturers in London on Monday, 14:11:1960 and on Tuesday the Dental Clinic. The hut manufacturers were Boulton & Paul who proudly advise that they built huts for a Scott expedition. The Kista Dan was expected to sail on 2:12:1960 but in the event due to weather went a day later.

We arrived at Halley Bay on 29;1;1961 and completed unloading following a bad weather break by 3:2:1961 and started preparing the hut base next day. On 9:2:1961 we were at the stage of searching for the bolts and our search had been hampered by snow accumulation following a "blow". After a diligent search it became clear that some bolts were missing and, at the suggestion of the Base Leader, Colin Johnson, to check the manifest, they had not been sent. The answer to problems arising from drift and snow accumulation was seen at that time for a structure to be built as the base for an eventual 3 storey building. According to plans the structure base required 1620 bolts, about 2"X ", for the fishplate joints of the lateral RSJs and angle struts, we had 420.

It was appreciated that should we proceed with the building it would not fulfil its purpose and there could not be an opportunity to insert bolts at any future ime. We could winter in the existing building some 30 feet below the surface and leave the building for another year. It was a decision for Sec Fids and we were authorised to proceed on 18:2:1961 but at the same time advised that there were other bolts missing. The fishplates required 8 bolts they were served with 2 and work went on. When attempting to seal the joints of the insulated roof panel it was found that the supplied mastic could not be used in the low temperatures. We did what we could with some Bostick and plywood strips. I'd suppose that by now the sea has covered any problems.

[04 Sep 2017]


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