Conservation of the Damoy Hut, next to the “Glacial Trail”, Historic Site and Monument in Antarctica
Damoy, a small wooden hut on a rocky outcrop in Antarctica, will take center stage in the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust’s conservation efforts this coming season. The Dorian Bay hut, together with the Damoy Point glacial “ski slope”, formed the “Damoy Point Air Transit Facility”, operated by BAS from 1975 to 1993. It provided shelter for operators and scientists traveling to and from from Rothera (Station R) and other BAS sites, especially when ice prevented access by sea.
Proposed for demolition in 2007, the hut was saved and designated as Historic Site and Monument No. 84 under the Antarctic Treaty System in 2009. It has been in our care since October 2009.
This special cabin is the only protected historic ski run and airway, providing shelter and safe passage for early climatologists en route to making vital discoveries about our planet’s warming. Damoy has been home to human stories and artifacts for many years that provide insight into the fascinating, often hidden history of how science was supported by logistics in Antarctica.
What are our plans for Damoy?
Placing the future protection of the site and its role in Antarctic history at the heart of the work of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, we plan to restore the hut to its original bright orange (S1050-Y50R) over the course of the season. 2022-23. This will involve stripping the existing teal paint scheme, repainting with a primer and a paint specially formulated to withstand low temperatures.
We believe the original orange on the exterior of the hut was likely chosen for its visibility, so pilots landing on the ski slope adjacent to Damoy Point could easily identify the building. Although no written records have been found to confirm this, this is consistent with other attempts to make buildings visible against the snow from the air.
Restoring the hut to its original color scheme will enhance the readability of the hut’s historic function as an air transit facility and provide a key hook for better interpretation of the site as a whole.
As with all our conservation work in Antarctica, the protection of the historic site and its surroundings is always a priority. With this in mind, our team will make sure to collect paint scrapings according to a methodology specially designed to avoid contamination of the environment.
We have an excellent team heading south to manage this exciting conservation project: a small field team consisting of a field guide and two conservation professionals experienced in decorating historic buildings. Alongside this main project, the team will also carry out minor repairs and cataloging tasks – perfect for days when the weather does not permit painting and during dry periods.
Following the interruption of operations due to Covid-19, this is the first opportunity we have had to restore the cabin to its original color. The decision to embark on this important conservation project follows a period of analysis and research that began with paint sampling undertaken by the conservation team in 2018, and was subsequently sent to a paint conservator. specialist for analysis.
In 2019 a historic paint report was produced by Phillipa McDonnell of Lincoln Conservation which revealed that there were four main decorative phases between 1975 and 2018, with the first phase, between 1975 and 1989, being bright orange. This painting report corroborated photographic and written evidence from the BAS archives, as well as anecdotal evidence.
With our research and analysis answering key questions to inform project planning, the upcoming season is the right time for us to restore Damoy to its former orange glory.
Do you have a memory of Damoy?
We are currently collecting stories, photos and memorabilia on the site. We’d especially like to hear from you if you’ve been through Damoy, were a member of a former maintenance crew, or had a hand in painting the shack orange in the past. Please contact us at [email protected] to share your memories. Ruth Mullett, Head of Buildings and Conservation