Were it not for its location, the Damoy Hut might appear to be no more than a glorified bunkhouse. Yet for a quarter of a century, this large shed served as the world’s most remote waiting room and the gateway to Antarctica.
More than a decade after it was saved from demolition, a team of conservation carpenters will head for the ice-clad continent to save the hut and restore it to its former bright orange glory.
The wooden building sits on the western edge of Wiencke Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula, and served as a waiting room for researchers who had flown south until the weather cleared up enough for them to head deeper into the continent.
“It’s a box with two rooms, 15 bunk beds in there and a tiny little kitchen with one big stove, and that’s about it. So people called it sometimes ‘the prison’, because they could have been stuck there for several weeks,” said Sven Habermann, one of the carpenters.
Flights to Damoy would use a glacier as a “ski-way”, landing uphill before turning around and using the downward slope of the glacier for take-off, hoping to take flight before smashing into the pebble beach.
“It was real Indiana Jones stuff,” said Mr Habermann
He will head to Antarctica alongside Martin Herrmann, a fellow conservation carpenter, on New Year’s Day, or the day after, for a six week project to save the hut.
“The season is quite short, but luckily we have 24 hours of light, so our working days will be very long and seven days a week. So the two of us will hopefully, weather allowing, be able to do a lot of work.”
The trip follows 18 months of painstaking preparation by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, including a special “paint cross-section analysis” to determine the authentic shade of orange