Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, June 1915: The Blubber Stove

–from R. W. Richards’ account–

“Flames [from the burning blubber in the stove] would roar fiercely through the flue while melted blubber dribbled out and ran down the front of the range. At the same time black, oily smoke would permeate every nook and cranny in the hut. As the months passed everything became covered with this black deposit, it even penetrated between the leaves of books. Under these conditions the absence of soap was felt most acutely.

“Sealing in the dark is a dirty and messy business, and out faces and clothes quickly lost any resemblance to their normal appearance and it was impossible to do anything about it. Fortunately in the cold temperatures that always prevailed, both inside and outside the hut, this did not provide the embarrassment it would have done in more temperate climes. As time went on we all became coated with a greasy black layer.”

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