Peers call on UK Government to Preserve
Scott's and Shackleton's Antarctic Huts

NZ and UK Antarctic Heritage Trust


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On Monday, 11 October 2004, in a Parliamentary Question in the House of Lords, Baroness Hooper asked the government what action it was taking to ensure the conservation in Antarctica of the historic huts of the British explorers Scott and Shackleton. She added that the huts and the celebrated explorers who used them are of both national and international importance.

In a supplementary question Lord Moran recalled the late Lord Shackleton who used to sit on the Labour front bench, and commented that he would have put the case for saving the huts with unique authority. He said the huts, built by distinguished British explorers, and their remarkable contents, are a notable part of UK heritage. The huts have miraculously survived 100 years of extreme Antarctic weather, but are now in real danger of being lost unless they are conserved as a matter of urgency. He said the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust had produced a first rate conservation plan, and asked the Minister to accept that the British people ought to help preserve these memorials of British enterprise, and the British government should take a lead.

In another supplementary question, Lord Forsyth of Drumlean commented that the explorers are national heroes and the artefacts and relics are very important. He called on the government to make it a priority and find money to support the conservation, estimated at £10 million, of these important sites in Antarctica.

In reply, the Foreign and Commonwealth Minister, Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, agreed that the huts commemorate national heroes of the United Kingdom, and that it would be desirable if they could be saved. She pointed to the money, amounting to over £100,000, being contributed by the British Antarctic Territory to the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust and the huts conservation project. She gave no pledge of financial support from the UK government, saying that £10 million is a lot of money, and the National Heritage Memorial Fund had been unable to finance the conservation of one of the huts because of limited resources. However, she said the Chairman of English Heritage, Sir Neil Cossons, would be meeting the Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund (who also chairs the National Heritage Memorial Fund), and the UKAHT to explore other potential avenues of funding.

Background notes

1. The NZAHT, which is based Christchurch New Zealand, is a New Zealand charity. It has the primary responsibility under the Antarctic Treaty system for conservation work on the historic huts in the Ross Sea area of Antarctica.

2. The NZAHT has drawn up conservation plans, internationally peer reviewed to the highest agreed standards, for Scott's Discovery hut at Hut Point on Ross Island, Shackleton's Nimrod hut at Cape Royds on Ross Island, Scott's Terra Nova hut at Cape Evans, Ross Island, and Borchgrevink's hut at Cape Adare, all in Antarctica.

3. The UKAHT is a UK-registered charity, whose objectives include conserving Scott's and Shackleton's bases by helping NZAHT. In February 2004, UKAHT applied to the National Heritage Memorial Fund for £2.4 million for work at Shackleton's hut under the NZAHT conservation plan, plus funding to develop an IT-based remote access and education programme on the hut. In July 2004 the Fund's Trustees turned down the application. They agreed on the historical importance of the hut, and praised the high standard of the conservation plan, but said they had taken a policy decision not to support projects outside the United Kingdom.


For information about the Antarctic Heritage Trusts, go to their website



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