The Mizzen Mast on Victory Green is a tangible reminder of the great ship, built and designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1843, that had been in the Islands from 1886 to 1970. Following the successful salvage of the ship and its return the Britain, the mast remained on Victory Green reminding all who saw it of the famous ship that had been in the Islands for so long.
The mast itself is not made of one piece of timber, but of a number of sections banded around a central core, as shown in the picture of Willy Bowles. The lower part of the mast, which was placed on Victory Green in 1973, spent many years within the hulk in a seawater environment so teredo and gribble worm were able to enter the timber of the mast and weaken it.
Over the years, exposed to sea water and the elements the mast has slowly deteriorated.
Falkland Islands Museum & National Trust
The Falkland Islands Museum and National Trust, with advice from Theis Matzen, has treated the mast this year with a mixture of stockholm tar, linseed oil and white spirit in an effort to prevent rainwater seeping into the timber and preventing further deterioration of the mast. This is really only a short term solution as given the age of the mast and its exposure to the elements over the years it needs more protection. A longer term solution would be the construction of a cover over the mast to shield it from the worst of the Falklands weather. It has been suggested that a perspex or glass cover could be erected over the mast in situ which could both protect the mast as well as providing a sheltered seated area on Victory Green, possibly with interpretative panels or information boards about the history of the SS Great Britain, its time in the Islands and its memorable salvage and recovery back to Bristol in the United Kingdom.
With 2020 being the 50th Anniversary it is hoped that if funds allow we may be able to have a more permanent cover over the mast by this time.
The Falkland Islands Museum and National trust would like to thank Nigel Fisher and Morrison (Falklands) Ltd for the loan of the scaffolding over the winter, Nigel Bishop and his team for erecting the scaffolding and providing the tarpaulin cover and to Tony for doing the work treating the mast.
Find out more about the SS Great Britain in the Maritime section of this website.
The historic heart of Stanley