Halley Bay 3     The Base

The Research base station I was stationed was Halley Bay III. The previous bases had been crushed by the ice and eventually broken of into iceberg
Halley III was built  on top of the snow in in 1973. It was constructed with wooden huts within an Armco corrugated steel tube. The base was then covered with snow to insulated it from the harsh antarctic weather.
Each year the 4 feet snow accumulate in the winter and never thawing. The effect was that the station sank further beneath the surface. By the time I arrive in 1979 the base was 40 feet  (~13m) below the surface.
Labled Base


1. Generator Shed

The generator shed housed 2 70 kW singe phase diesel generators which were run on aviation fuel (at cold temperatures diesel waxes and will not flow).
One of the problems with the generators was that because they were 40 foot below the surface the exhaust pipes were very long leading to high back pressures.
The generators were a one week duty cycle, one unit providing the base power whilst the other unit was maintained.

2. Workshops

There were two workshops, one for electrical and a carpentry.
Yes that's me in the electrical and Jack & Pat in the carpentry workshops.
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Next to the workshops is the Honey Pots (toilets).
With the Honey Pots at -12 deg.C water would freeze . So each week we would cut the lids off two 45 gallon drums, leaving a couple of gallon of aviation fuel in the bottom and then sticking a wooden seat on top.

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3 Dormitory & Doctor Surgery

the quiet end of the base is the dormitory and the surgery.
The dormitory is slightly warmed 0deg.C and the surgery warmed to about 15 deg.C
The dormitory is divided into twin rooms with bunk beds. The rooms are not very big but they are only used for sleeping.
The surgery was quit well kitted out to dill with any emergency as for 9 months of the year there was no possibility of any outside help.

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4. Living Quarter

The Living quarters include the galley(kitchen) scradge palace (dinning room), lounge and radio room.

Meal times were very important with good food though the ingredients was limited to dry, frozen or tinned after the first month. Fr the main meal we would all eat together in the Scradge palace. In the evening we would retire to the lounge. The lounge had a well stocked library  including books and records a lot of the records were old BBC radio shows like The Goon show, Doctor Finlay's Case Book.

We also had a film project show films twice a week. With one film 'Fiddler on the Roof' the last real was missing and we had to wait a whole year until the boat came in to see the end of the film.

At the end of the lounge was the Verge Inn bar.

The Radio room kept use in communication with the world. This was limited each f us could send out 100 words a month and receive 200 words.

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5. Science Block

The science block was where all the experimental data was collected and processed.


6. Garage

The garage was for the maintenance of the snow mobiles and ski-doos. The Garage was access to the surface by the garage ramp. In winter it was impossible to keep the ramp open, so any maintenance of the vehicles in the winter had be done outside.
The garage was still utilized in winter partly as a gym, sledge workshop and at midwinter the Scalextric Grand Prix

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With only one boat a year enough supplies have to be kept to last not only one year but two in case the boat does not succeed in getting through the ice one year.
Every available space was used to store our supplies. This included the roof spaces the interlinking corridors and if that was not enough we dug ice caves.

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Above the Base

On the surface there is little sign of the base below there are a few protruding wooden shafts, aerial masts, meteorology station, scientific huts and snow vehicles.

Routes to the huts and shafts are marked out with hand-lines so we could find our way in whiteouts and during a Blow. (A white out is when there is zero contrast you cannot even see where you are placing your feet, a blow is a blizzard).

The Base is also enclosed with a perimeter drum line, it was hoped that if you got lost in a blow you would find the perimeter drum line before you got lost on the Bondu. (Bondu: the vast ice sheet).

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