Port Lockroy is most commonly associated with the former British base built here in 1944. A scenic bay on Goudier Island, Port Lockroy lies southwest of Wiencke Island, on the Antarctic Peninsula. French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot discovered the bay during his 1903―1905 expedition, and named the bay after the politician who helped him finance his expedition. Port Lockroy is one of the most visited sites in all of Antarctica.
The Many Faces of Port Lockroy
At the boom of the Antarctic whaling industry, factory ships moored in Port Lockroy while the whalers pressed farther out to sea, searching for whales. Evidence of their livelihood is littered all over the port: rusted-brown mooring chains lashed around the rocks, and long links of whale bones bleaching on the beach of Jougla Point.
World War II witnessed the British Forces building several secret military bases in Antarctica to keep out enemy forces. Port Lockroy’s Base A was one of these. After the war the base became a scientific research station. It was continuously manned until 1962, with anywhere from four to nine men occupying it and a typical tour of duty lasting two and a half years. Their fields of research were many, but primarily the crews studied the physics of the upper atmosphere. After 1962 the base fell into disrepair, and it was not until 1996 that it was restored to its original state.
Port Lockroy’s Military Base-Turned-Museum
The United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust was responsible for Base A renovations. Since 1996 teams have lived at the station during the austral summer, working hard to make it look as it did in the 50s and 60s. The base now functions only as a museum and post office. Whether you’re sending a postcard or buying a souvenir, all profits go to the base itself as well as the Antarctic Heritage Trust. Base A is designated a historic site and Antarctic monument under the Antarctic Treaty.