Three weary travellers arrived at the door of the Manager’s Villa in Stromness to find rescue for the shipwrecked crew of the Endurance. It was 20 May 1916 and the first time they had contact with any human outside of the ship’s crew since setting out from Grytviken 19 months earlier.
Since that day, the Manager’s Villa has become the focus for millions around the world inspired by the heroic story of the Endurance Expedition (Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition). This historic and iconic building still stands, but as one of the oldest buildings at Stromness it is now urgently in need of conservation works to preserve it for future generations.
SGHT aims to work with partners FOSGI and the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands to remove environmental contaminants and hazards from the abandoned Stromness whaling station, making the site less hazardous to the wildlife that proliferates there. As part of this project, SGHT will undertake stabilisation work on the Stromness Manager’s Villa and will make it, and the stories it conveys, digitally accessible to people around the world.
The story of the Endurance Expedition is one of the great tales of polar history. It is an inspiring story of great leadership and survival against the odds and is central to the history of the island of South Georgia. The intention of the expedition was to cross the Antarctic continent on foot, but the ship became trapped in ice and eventually sank. The crew camped on the ice, and when it started to break up, took to three lifeboats and managed to reach the relative safety of Elephant Island. Six men then sailed in the James Caird to South Georgia in what is now recognised as one of the world’s most extraordinary small boat journeys.
Having landed on the southern coast of the island, three men, Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley and Tom Crean, then crossed the unmapped mountainous and icy interior to reach rescue at Stromness. They met a man at the wharf…
“Who are you?” he asked.
“We have lost our ship and come over the island,” I replied.
“You have come over the island?” he said in a tone of entire disbelief….
Mr. Sorlle came out to the door and said, “Well?”
“Don’t you know me?” I said.
“I know your voice,” he replied doubtfully…
“My name is Shackleton,” I said.
Immediately he put out his hand and said, “Come in. Come in.”
Except from ‘South’ by Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Shackleton returned to South Georgia in 1922 on his last Antarctic expedition. The Quest Expedition (Shackleton-Rowett Antarctic Expedition) called in to Grytviken en route to the south. That night Shackleton died in his cabin aboard the vessel. He was later buried in the cemetery at Grytviken.
Learn about the Quest Expedition on the South Georgia Museum website here.
The South Georgia Museum holds within its collection a number of significant objects linked to Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Book available from our online shop: Shackleton at South Georgia centenary edition by Robert Burton