Those of you who have been following the colourful story of the Trust’s conservation of the original Mess Hut at Scott Base, often known as ‘Hillary’s Hut’, will have seen the transformation wrought in 2016-2017 during our major on-ice conservation project.
That project saw Gus and Tony, our two Antarctic Society volunteer painters, repaint the decades-old ‘Robert Thomson (RBT) green’ colour scheme back to the original yellow and orange 1957 colour scheme.
Hillary’s Hut before conservation.
Hillary’s Hut after conservation.
The Trust worked very closely with Dulux to research historic paint archives, and examine the multitude of different coloured interior and exterior paint samples from the hut itself. Eventually we established that not all of the colour codes for the original Bergermaster paints (since taken over by Dulux) still existed, so Dulux helped us by re-creating several very special Antarctic paint tones, so special they won the International category of the Dulux Colour Awards in 2017.
This year, Dulux rose to the challenge once again. We asked if they could match an original paint colour from a paint flake roughly 2mm in diameter? Sure, no problem, came the breezy reply, and shortly our team were heading off to Antarctica with a couple of colour options in their luggage, somewhat doubtful that such matching magic were possible.
The object to be painted is symbolic of a bygone era. Modern Scott Base makes its water through the reverse osmosis of seawater. In 1957 however, it was a daily (often twice daily) task for the men on station to take a sledge or a tractor trailer out to collect huge chunks of ice from the local glacier. This was fed through a hopper door into the tank of an ice melting unit, fired by diesel.
The hopper door for the ice melter on the exterior of Hillary’s Hut.
Snow being loaded into the hopper for the ice melter.
In Hillary’s Hut, the ice melter is no longer in working order, but still takes up a big corner of the galley. Partly painted in orange in 2017 to match existing colours found on the object, further research had determined the correct colour for the period was an industrial green.
The results speak for themselves. The original ice melting unit has now been transformed in a brilliant piece of colour matching to the tiny fragment taken off the original paint left on a small section of pipe work. Thanks Dulux!
The ice melter before (left) and repainted in the correct colour for the period (right).