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Shackleton’s Hut

Google Streetview has put its cameras down on the ice at the bottom of the world. You can even explore inside Shackleton’s Hut, the base for the 1908 polar expedition.

My great grandad Felix, mentioned on this blog many times, helped build that hut. (He was Fireman on the ship that went down, the Nimrod.) Here’s a later entry from his account that makes mention of the build:

February 22nd [1908]
We now steamed up to near the Hut and put ashore Shackleton, Dr. Marshall, Lieut. Adams, and other members of the Shore Party, in the boat. When the boat returned we hove it up, said good-bye, hoisted our flag, and off we went for Lyttelton.
On leaving, looking back at Cape Royds I think of the time we helped to dig the foundations of the Hut. The big penguin rookery, where if you had the time you could be amused watching them; like the monkeys in the zoo they could always produce some new antics; you see them diving into the sea off an ice shelf, just like men, and then they would pop up out of the sea like a jack-in-the-box, or salmon jumping the weirs on their way up stream; they would then stand upright, looking round as if to say, “What do you thnk of that?” The fierce Skua gulls, swooping down over your head if you were too near their nests, getting closer each time until you had to duck or fend them off. While above, looking down on it all is snow-clad Erebus, smoking away. Or I think of those days int he tropics when I climbed into the foretop to get a cooler, looking down on the deck of our little ship; monarch of all I surveyed; or in the moonlight, sitting on the fo’castle head, looking back and up at the square sails billowing in Cynthia’s beam; and the phosphoresecent foam breaking away from the ship’s stem as she cut through the oily tropical swell. Those carefree, happy days!

(Like all my Felix documents, this was collected and annotated by Felix’s youngest daughter, Mary, sister of my grandmother Felice. She notes that this account was written in 1960; the typescript itself is undated but gives the address where it was written, which is directly over the road from where we live now.)

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Marie | July 19, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    This is pure gold! Thank you for sharing! I could see him on the ship, looking out and appreciating all he saw…