Gin Bottle (beacon)

Hwfa Jones:

Relics - there was another landmark at Halley that generations of FIDS had visited - it was of course the Beacon at the Gin Bottle (Macdonald Ice Rumples - why the Gin Bottle? - we wonder if it was the shape of some long gone iceberg?). [See below.] I think perhaps that was only place where Graffitti was practiced. This beacon had the names of all the FID visitors scratched on it - below is a photo of Gordon Devine using a ski tip or knife to mark on 'GORDO'. I wonder what happened to this Beacon - it was pretty tatty but certainly an historic landmark.

Gordon Devine at the Gin Bottle Beacon
Photo by Hwfa Jones
Gordon Devine at the Gin Bottle Beacon

I also add a picture, below left, of the Hobbits at the Gin Bottle which shows the Sledge bag art. Here the Hobbits are resting at the edge of the crevassed area after zig-zagging as close as we could get in between the holes - we then skiied in to the Beacon. The slipper skis devised at Halley are visible, detail below right (Frisby later took the idea to the Peninsula he tells me) and I see that there were two pickets at the back. By this time 1972 we had moved the climbing rope up to the handlebars as it was easier to get at there than slung below at the bottom. By the time we left it was whiteout so we just guessed on the zig-zags out. I suspect though it was Changi that actually picked the route! I was interested to read that people at Halley now go to the chips beyond the Gin Bottle - never thought of going there.

Incidentally the James Caird is at Dulwich College, south London - now that's a relic and one you can touch!
[21 May 2006]

How did the Gin Bottle get its name?

Following appearance of Hwfa's question (see above), in Z-fids Newletter No. 8, the following suggestions were received:

Shaun Burkey:

Gin Bottle got its name, as far as I know, because of the tradition of going down to the Gin Bottle caboose with a load of Gin, supplied by BAS, and making a weekend of it. [13 June 2006]

Alan Ward:

If anyone had asked me (and you just have!) the story I was told that the name came from the fact that the first people to set up the gin bottle depot marked it with an empty gin bottle on the top of a pole. This of course goes against the safety mantra of not taking alcohol out of sledge journeys but maybe it was before people thought of such things.....
However, I have no provenance for this and so it could be just one of many Halley myths......
[13 June 2006]

Richard Yeo:

The quite possibly apocryphal story we were fed as innocent fidlets on arrival at Z5 was that Gin Bottle was so named as a bottle of Gin taken on an early winter trip froze on a particularly cold night. No idea what temp Gin freezes at.. Of course to be pedantic, the alcohol would not freeze until -114C, so you would end up with slush above this temp, and with a little bit of filtering a simple way to get pure(ish) ethanol.. Not that we ever tried this ;-)
[14 June 2006]
[See relevant Internet discussion, or this one.]

Pete Davies:

I vaguely recall somebody telling me (can't remember who) that the Gin Bottle was so called because the entrance was marked by an empty gin bottle on a pole. Whether this is true I don't know, but it seems a plausible explanation.
[14 June 2006]

David Limbert reckons he was a member of the original party which left a gin bottle there on 28 October 1956. See his account here. - Ed.

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