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A Flying Visit to Antarctica by Coral Rutterford

Photo – Joe Mastroianni, National Science Foundation – From Antarctic Photo Library

After last week’s post about the Terra Nova and Captain Scott’s expedition, I was contacted by regular contributor Coral Rutterford who I was fortunate to meet last year when I visited Coral’s hometown Auckland. Coral has lived in New Zealand since the 1960s, however her early life was spent in Poplar and Shadwell.

Captain Scott and the Terra Nova visited New Zealand before moving onto Antarctica, in the decades after the failed Scott expedition, very few people other than scientists and explorers visited the icy wastes of Antarctica.

Remarkably, Coral in the late 1970s had a rare opportunity to fly over Antarctica with one of the most famous mountaineers in the world. Coral takes up the story which begins with a strange request from her husband.

In 1979 my husband asked me to withdraw NZ$380 ​about 190 pounds from the bank and told me to not ask why he needed it, a strange request, but I did as he requested and over time I had forgotten about it.

Then later, on November 13th. after arriving home from work he said we are going out for a meal tonight, this was unexpected and off we went to an Auckland city hotel. After the meal he gave me an envelope and said “open it”, it was an Air New Zealand ticket, with my eyes watering I couldn’t read it properly. It was a ticket to go on a flight over Antarctic on the following morning November 14. I had often said I would love to do that, it was only in November when weather conditions allowed. Four flights were planned over the month.

Sir Edmund Hillary – 1970s

I then attended a pre flight briefing at the hotel presented by Sir Edmund Hillary, a New Zealander who was the first man to climb to the summit of Mt Everest with Tenzing Norgay. Sir Edmund spent a lot of time in Antarctica and gave a presentation and commentary on what to expect to see and saw film of him on the ice driving Ferguson tractors etc.

Air New Zealand McDonnell Douglas DC-10 1977

My husband drove me over to Auckland International Airport next morning Nov 14th where I boarded flight 901 on an Air New Zealand DC10. There was some 275 or so passengers including a group of Japanese visitors. One lady in their group had a birthday and a cake was produced and we all had a piece and sang “Happy Birthday to you” I doubt she understood a word but she bowed and put her hands together as a thank you gesture.

We flew over the South Island and Stewart Island of New Zealand and on towards the ice. As we flew on we encountered a lot of cloud and were told to expect this and indeed when arriving at NZ/Scott Base and U.S/McMurdo Base the cloud may well be there too and not see anything, what a disappointment that would be but we hoped all will be good. A champagne breakfast was served, a nice way to start the day. Hopefully other good things would present themselves.

Scott base – Photograph by Andrew Mandemaker

As we arrived over the ice the cloud disappeared and the sun shone. What a breath-taking sight to behold. As we flew over Scott Base we saw the flight ground path for the Starlifter, a giant plane that delivers personnel and equipment and other supplies to both the NZ and McMurdo base which has USA personnel. A huge X-shaped polished area on the ice was clearly seen, the cross formation is to accommodate plane take off and landings based on the wind patterns of the day.

Starlifter and penguins by SMSgt Bob Pederson – Wikipedia

Ahead of us was Mt Erebus, at 13,200 ft high, covered in snow, the sun glistening and a white plume of steam escaping at its top. What a beautiful sight, we flew lower and saw the volcano closely. We had a closer look at the two sites of Scott Base and Mc Murdo. All supplies to these bases are flown out of Christchurch in our South Island.

Mt Erebus, Antarctica

Delicious lunch was served as we approached and the desert was a meringue with a juice spilling from its top to resemble the active volcano. and was called Peach Erebus. We flew around this area for just over a half hour and we were advised of the times and points of interest as the flight progressed. At this point we made our return flight back to Auckland, ending our 13 hour adventure.


The Ross Sea, Antarctica. Photograph 3 News, New Zealand

How could we not forget the sheer beauty of this ice and snow-covered wilderness. The Ross Sea with chunks of ice floating in the water looking like soap flakes from above but would be so much bigger in close up view with aquamarine coloured ice walls beside it.

As we flew over the tall ice mountains we noticed these towering walls were deep mauve or green with craters of water on their tops of mauve, turquoise and green that looked like jewels in a ring setting.

Some have remarked why go there just to see snow, it is surprising just how much colour there is. It was a happy flight. We were allowed to leave our seats and look out of windows all around the cabin, Sir Edmund posed with passengers for photo shoots. He was such a big friendly man and a great sense of humour. He quite happily posed with passengers as cameras clicked.

How much I enjoyed my surprise gift of this flight. There were 4 flights planned during the month of November, one a week and I was on week 2. November 14 1979.

The following week 3, the flight of the month took place and had as its commentator and a mountaineer and close friend of Sir Edmund was Peter Mulgrew. That evening as we watched television, breaking news of the worst kind interrupted the programme to announce that flight was missing and no contact had been made.

Initially Peter Mulgrew was to be on flight 2 and would have been our commentator but was unable to be available that day and he swapped places with Edmund Hillary who was booked on flight 3. Most fortunate for Edmund but so deadly unfortunate for Peter.

Flight 3 as it arrived over the area, in thick cloud cover, had smashed into Mt Erebus, all lives were lost. The pilot Capt. Simpson on my flight had noticed the co-ordinates were incorrect and had the mountain location directly in front of the planes path. This was reported to the authorities but the co-ordinates were never corrected for the next flight. Pilot error was decided the cause but years later he was exonerated. No further flights from New Zealand have been made.

I am sure when Coral was growing up in the backstreets of Poplar and Shadwell, she would not have believed that she would see Antarctica with Edmund Hillary but life often sends us on adventures. Although Coral left these shores many years ago she remains fascinated by the ever-changing landscape of her birthplace and we thank her for her contributions.

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The Isle of Dogs Remembers


Photo – Eric Pemberton

Last week I wrote about the Remembrance trail in Canary Wharf, this week there are a number of Remembrance events on the Island.

There is a joint exhibition which is being run by Friends of Island History Trust and Christ Church, between 11am and 3pm on Thursday 8th November at Christ Church Manchester Road, London E14

Photo – Friends of Island History Trust

The exhibition remembers the many civilians as well as service men, women and animals who were affected by the war and guests and attendees are invited to bring along any photos, memorabilia or artifact relating to WWI and the volunteers on the day will invite visitors to sign a white triangle with a dedication or thought during the exhibition, which will then be joined together as bunting and displayed at the Church.

Christ Church, consecrated in 1857 was used as a place of shelter during the First World War and is one of the most recognisable landmarks on the Island.

Photo – Eric Pemberton

The annual Remembrance  event at Island Gardens organised by the Friends of Island Gardens will take place on the 9th November  with children from four local schools  joining members from the community from 10.30 to reflect all wars, and a bugler will play the last post and two minutes silence to be observed from 10.58 at the memorial plaque at the Eastern End of the Gardens.

St Luke’s Church in Alpha Grove will be holding an exhibition at the newly built church on Saturday 10th November, it will include actors, artifacts from war, Craft and Live music and afternoon tea between 2pm and 4.30pm and a special service, wreath laying and 2 minutes silence on the 11th starting at 10.55am and there will also be a Service of Remembrance at Christ Church and St Edmunds Church, West Ferry Road on Sunday.

Many Thanks to Debbie Levett, Secretary for Friends of Island History Trust for the information.

Remembrance Art Trail at Canary Wharf – 29th October to 11th November 2018

In the run up to Remembrance Sunday, Canary Wharf presents the 2018 Remembrance Art Trail which is an exhibition of works by artist Mark Humphrey.

The artist has created 11 pieces of art that will be displayed across the estate to commemorate 100 years since the end of World War One. Six of the artworks displayed in 2016 are on display alongside 5 new pieces including Every One Remembered, courtesy of the Royal British Legion who commissioned the work in 2014.

The works illustrate the way our perception of World War One has changed over the years, they display the sacrifice and human costs rather than the glory of the conflict. The works are inspired by the artist’s own family upbringing and explores the nature of service, sacrifice and remembrance.

Exhibits:

1. Lost Armies, Jubilee Park – a piece remembering the fallen and those who made sacrifices for countries who have fought for the British Armed Forces.

2. Lost Soldiers, Montgomery Square – a work examining healing, remembering and forgiveness.

3. Jutland Capsule, Art Window Gallery, Canada Place – the poppy capsule floats on water, sinking beneath the waves over the shipwreck of HMS Invincible. The copper and brass memorial, full of heartfelt supporter messages, commemorates all sailors who fell at the Battle of Jutland, in the largest naval WW1 conflict.

4. Life Blossoms Again, Design Window Gallery, Canada Place – every time we see a poppy grow, we shall be reminded of an individual who made the ultimate sacrifice.

5. Brothers in Arms, Crossrail Place Roof Garden – an exhibit demonstrating human sacrifice, comradeship and remembrance for all military conflicts.

6. ANA (Army, Navy & Airforce) Triptych, Adams Plaza – using parts of military transport vehicles from the British Armed Forces, this work displays poppies in an abstract form.

7. Fallen Soldier, Cabot Square – this work remembers our servicemen and women from all conflicts.

8. Nick Beighton Part 1 (Trauma To Champion: Windows Of The Soul) Hepatych, 2017-2018, lobby, One Canada Square – a work about life’s trauma and triumphs, the resolve for resolution, searching deep into the soul, that death is not an option in the pursuit of illumination.

9. Nick Beighton Part 2 (Tragedy To Triumph: Metamorphosis Of Life) Pentatych, 2017-2018, lobbby, One Canada Square – a work demonstrating the strength overcoming disaster, finding the power to heal, rebuild and stand strong. The ability to grow, develop and emerge into something beautiful.

10. Every One Remembered, Jubilee Plaza – thousands of poppies dedicated by the public throughout the UK flutter around the soldier, paying tribute to each and every one for their sacrifices made.

11. Point of Everyman’s Land, West Wintergarden – this piece delves into war in time and space, alongside moments of battle.

Whilst the art trail is open, there will be charity pop-ups where you can make talk about their work and give donations. Charities involved include The Royal British Legion, Combat Stress, 68 Squadron and The Poppy Factory. There is also a series of Walking Tours around the Remembrance Art Trail.

The artworks provide a reminder to the many thousands who work in and visit Canary Wharf that although the First World War is a distant memory, the nation has not forgot the sacrifices made and over the next two weeks a series of events will take place in London including one on the Isle of Dogs in Island Gardens and culminating with the Remembrance Sunday event at the Cenotaph.

For more information, visit the Canary Wharf website here

 

Autumn in Island Gardens

Whilst enjoying the autumn sunshine, I decided to put on my walking shoes and wander around the Island to Island Gardens. Arriving at Island Gardens it seemed that the Calder Wharf development had progressed but my main aim was to enjoy the gardens.

Anytime is a great place to visit the gardens but my favourite times are spring and autumn, autumn is especially enjoyable because although most of the flowers have died away, there is often an atmospheric mist on the water that shrouds the Old Naval College, Greenwich Park and the Cutty Sark.

Island Gardens is popular with locals and visitors, you often see a tour group wandering around or people sitting enjoying the views. The park is always interesting, you can see children running around the bandstand and people taking their dogs for a walk but you can always find a spot for a little peace and quiet.

One of the most unique features of the gardens is the view across to Greenwich, this famous view is still one of the great views of London and has remained largely unspoiled for centuries.

Island Gardens were formally opened by Will Crooks in 1895, Crooks a local MP considered that the park would be ‘little paradise’ for local people. It is still a ‘little paradise’ thanks to individuals and local groups such as Friends of Island Gardens who work hard to protect the park.

The ‘Fishing City’ and Other Isle of Dogs Projects

Last week’s post about Wood Wharf was a reminder that the Isle of Dogs have had some remarkable transformations. However the Island has been subject of a few schemes of the last 350 years, some that came to fruition and others that were considered follies.

The peculiar nature of the  Isle of Dogs which forms a horseshoe around which the Thames has led many to consider the possibility of creating a short cut at the top of the Island to cut down the time spent going around it. In the early 1570s, a scheme was considered by the City of London to construct a canal from the Thames at Limehouse Hole to the River Lea. They even bought in a  Dutchman to survey the potential sites and come up with a plan, eventually nothing was done but it was an idea that did not go away.

A century later, in 1681, the engineer, Andrew Yarranton came up with a scheme for turning the Isle of Dogs into a ‘fishing city’, to provide safe berths for a shipping fleet and houses for fishermen. His plan was to build two parallel docks and a connecting channel, controlled by locks, with houses lining the quays for the fishermen and families. He also believed other businesses like the making of rope and nets could use the Island. The Fishing city never came to light but some of these ideas and the idea of a canal were part of the grand scheme to build West India Docks over a century later.

The building of the West India Docks between 1799 and 1806 changed the whole character of the Isle of Dogs with the top part of the Island effectively cut off by large walls, docks and the City Canal. Between 1800–5, the Corporation of London built the City Canal which had long been thought about but never built. The canal was 3,711ft long between the lock gates, 176ft wide at the surface of the water and 23ft deep at its centre, disaster struck in early 1805 when the coffer-dam failed, causing a great wave to rush through the canal. Extensive repairs were needed and the opening had to be delayed to late 1805.

The City Canal was not a success because the cost of going through the short cut was not really worthwhile. Eventually the West India Dock company bought the canal in 1829 and turned it into the South Dock. This was not the end of the docks expansion with the heart of Island turned into Millwall Dock in the 1860s.

Despite the success of the docks, Philip Revell developed a plan of the 1870s to clear the whole Island and build an island fortress for the defence of London. It was not taken that seriously but was an interesting idea with what seemed to be locks on the Thames.

Even as recently as the 1930s, people were looking at reintroducing a passageway through the Island, a newspaper report gives more details.

An ingenious scheme for shortening the course of the Thames in London by about two and a half miles and converting the Isle of Dogs into a vast docks is advocated by Mr. H. Bragg, L.R.I.B.A., in the current issue of Modern Building Construction (says the London “Daily Chronicle”).

Mr Bragg proposes that the present U-shaped course of the river encircling the Isle of Dogs should be “cut out,”, and that a straight cut be constructed across the north part of the isle between Bugsby’s Reach and the Lower Pool. This could be done, he suggests, by widening the present West India Import Dock and extending it to the river both east and west.

Mr Bragg’s other proposals are:— Five new docks to be built on the Isle of Dogs, A river wall to be constructed along the south bank of the river from Lower Pool to the east end of Greenwich Reach and then across the present land to the river west of Woolwich Reach. Mr Bragg proposes that the ground between the new docks should be utilised not only as wharfage and warehousing space, but also for the erection of dwellings for dock workers with attractive gardens and children’s playgrounds.

Mr Bragg’s ideas were not taken up but this is one of the lessons of these types of schemes it is very difficult to know which will be a success and which will be a disaster. The ideas to turn West India Dock into a financial district and the creation of City Airport were not taken seriously at first.

The Rise of Wood Wharf in Canary Wharf

Over the last few years, we have kept a close eye on many of the developments taking place on the Island and Canary Wharf.  One of the largest developments has been Wood Wharf which is considered one of the most ambitious urban regeneration projects in London.

Unlike the main part of Canary Wharf, Wood Wharf is being developed into a 23 acre site with 5m sq. ft of mixed use space. Built on the former docks site, it is envisaged that Wood Wharf will have one of the largest clusters of tech and creative businesses in the UK. Canary Wharf Group are hoping that this Hi Tech hub will bring 20,000 jobs to the region, generate £2bn gross value from new jobs and £199m into the local small business economy.

Canary Wharf Group have produced some computer generated impressions of the finished site that offer a view of Canary Wharf which will probably the final stage of large development in the near future.

The site will have open spaces, waterside walkways, running trails and more retail areas and will be designed to high sustainability standards. The development will be targeting zero-carbon and zero-waste and is being built to have a positive social impact on the local area and communities. 25 per cent of the 3,600 residential homes will be affordable housing.

Although the new development does not directly impinge on the Isle of Dogs, indirectly it will have a knock on affect will more people living and working in the area. The top of the Island has seen unprecedented amounts of development in recent years and that development is slowly encroaching towards the bottom. It is likely that the development of Wood Wharf will accelerate that process even further.

The 1980s and 1990s saw the development of one of the largest business districts in Europe, that development was not necessarily welcomed by many Island residents. However in last 30 years, the Island has changed considerably and many will view the Wood Wharf development as more of an extension of the Canary Wharf footprint. Lots of Islanders use Canary Wharf for shopping, attending the various events and the transport system and of course, many residents work on the Canary Wharf estate.

In the 1800, the Isle of Dogs was largely inhabited before the coming of the Docks, after the rise and fall of the docks, we now have the rise of Canary Wharf. So the only real constant for the Island is change but there are few areas in London that have been the site of so many large global concerns in a relatively short time.

New Addition to the Memorial Area in Island Gardens

Tucked away in a lovely quiet corner of Island Gardens is the Memorial Area, The Friends of Island Gardens group have worked with the local council to create this small area within the park which is a place that people can pay their respects to the many who have sacrificed their lives.

A plaque was unveiled within the Memorial area in 2014 to mark the centenary of the start of the war and to mark the centenary of the end of the war there is a new addition, a pair of First World Tommies in Silhouette. The soldiers have their rifles in reverse as a mark of respect and mourning.

Unlike many places, there are not a lot of monuments to those who died in the two world wars on the Isle of Dogs. The main reason is that the Island itself suffered from considerable damage from bombing in the Second World War and has had extensive redevelopment since the 1980s.

In recent years, various groups have placed plaques around the Island to remember various events in the past, if you walk around the Island they are usually placed near were the disaster or incident took place.

The Memorial area in Island Gardens has become a community place of remembrance at certain times of the year but especially on a date near Remembrance Sunday. This years event will be held on Friday 9th November from 10.30 am and will have four schools sending children and there will be a bugler in attendance.

Many thanks to Eric Pemberton and Friends of Island Gardens for the photographs and information.