Place-name of the Month – Nov/Dec 2014

StromnessStromness map

Stromness (54° 09′ 34″ S, 36° 42′ 40″ W) is the site of the shore whaling station at the head of Stromness Harbour, Stromness Bay (see map). The name stems from usage by sealers and whalers; strømness means stream point. It was first leased to Sandefjord Whaling Company by the Falkland Islands Government in 1908 and was initially a harbour for a moored floating factory; the shore station was built in 1912. Sandefjord Whaling Company, the Southern Whaling and Sealing Company and Vestfold Whaling Comapany operated the station until 1931. It then became a ship repair yard having been purchased by the South Georgia Company of Leith.

A century ago, on 5th December 1914, Ernest Shackleton set sail from Stromness on HMS Endurance to begin the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Eighteen months later he arrived back at the whaling station, with an epic tale to tell.  The station manager, Petter Sørlle, had assumed him and his companions long dead. From here he was able to lead rescue missions to collect his men from King Haakon Bay and Elephant Island.