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Firm's window on polar history

PUBLISHED: 11:02 11 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:14 05 July 2010

A trawl through the archives sparked a remarkable chain of events for a Lowestoft company, which has culminated in it receiving an order from one of the most inhospitable places on earth.

A trawl through the archives sparked a remarkable chain of events for a Lowestoft company, which has culminated in it receiving an order from one of the most inhospitable places on earth.

Officials at the Jeld-Wen timber factory made the exciting discovery that their predecessors provided British research huts for the Antarctic more than 60 years ago after finding an original purchase order.

This prompted them to make contact with the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and they were delighted to discover the huts were still going strong.

However, a window in one of the huts, called Bransfield Hut, had become damaged and it seemed only fitting that Jeld-Wen should build its replacement after so many years.

Jeld-Wen general manager Tom Horne said: “It's a real honour to be able to supply a window to the original Antarctic hut that our company built 60 years ago.

“This really does show how timber windows can last a lifetime; the huts are apparently still in really good condition, which is amazing when you consider the severe weather conditions and the fact they are 40 degrees below freezing, and nearly seven decades old. There are no harsher conditions than the Antarctic…”

The huts were built by Lowestoft joinery firm Boulton & Paul, which was bought by Jeld-Wen in 1999.

Bransfield House is the main hut at Port Lockroy, which was one of the first permanent bases in Antarctica. From the 1940s, it conducted geology, meteorology and botany work and kick-started the UK's scientific research interest on the continent. Today, it is a living museum for the thousands of tourists who visit every year.

Tudor Morgan, project manager for the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, said: “We are really pleased that Jeld-Wen was able to help restore Bransfield House. If this project works out as we expect, we hope to be able to replace other similar windows in the future.

“Our role is to conserve these historic British huts in the Antarctic, ensuring that they can be retained permanently as part of our heritage and enjoyed by thousands of visitors for a long time into the future.”

Bransfield House was named after Edward Bransfield, the first person to chart an area of the Antarctic coastline in 1819-20.

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