Since 1948, 28 men and one woman have died in the British Antarctic Territory. Each one would have passed through Stanley on the way to the Polar South.
The fatalities are not confined to distant history.
‘Kirsty Brown lost her life at Rothera in 2003, while Miles Mosley, John Anderson, Robert Atkinson, Ambrose Morgan, Kevin Ockleton and John Coll were lost in three separate incidents in the 1980s,’ says Felicity Aston, an ambassador for the British Antarctic Monument Trust (BAMT), which honours those who did not return from the South.
‘The majority of personnel working in the British Antarctic Territory are young, which makes the losses even more tragic. It also means that there are many remaining relatives,’ says Aston.
The monument has a counterpart 8,000 miles away at the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University.
The Stanley monument’s mirror finish reflects the water and clouds around the historic Dockyard Point to represent both the human intrusion into the environment and the need for study and understanding.
‘A main aim of the monument is to generate awareness,’ says Aston. ‘Today many cruise ships visiting Antarctica travel via the Falklands, so many more visitors will be able to see the monument in Stanley than if it was located in a remote part of Antarctica,’ she adds.
Oliver Barratt designed both sculptures while Graeme Wilson designed the plinth. He has previously been involved in constructing a monument to those killed on Everest. Wilson designed the plinth using 3D printing to create accurate maps and lettering for the monument.
The Cambridge sculpture consists of two oak pillars to create a long needle shape from which the stainless steel needle in the Falklands was taken.
‘I was a surveyor on an expedition from the British Antarctic Survey’s Research Station Halley Bay in 1965, when three of my colleagues, including Jeremy Bailey, were killed when their tractor fell into a crevasse,’ says Roderick Rhys Jones, chairman of the BAMT.
‘I have never forgotten them and wanted to create a lasting monument to them and the others who lost their lives in the pursuit of science in Antarctica.’