Trustee Hallam Murray writes:
'Very early on a misty May morning back in 1989 I arrived in Stanley aboard the Indiana 1 with my worthy steed Mancha, having completed the journey of a lifetime south from Los Angeles, California to Tierra Del Fuego by bicycle.
This was a journey broken in two, the first, through 12 countries, to La Paz, Bolivia in 1979/80, on a conventional Dawes road bike, and, after eight years back in London in book publishing, I returned to Peru with a formidably strong Ridgeback mountain bike to complete the journey south. In all I covered almost 18,000 miles, and the second of these journeys (by far the most difficult as it was through hugely remote & largely mountainous regions) consisted of 431 days during which time I never encountered anyone I had previously known.
I had heard about Indiana 1 from a security officer in the port at Punta Arenas. It was making irregular journeys back and forth to Stanley, but these sailings were problematic, for at the time the Argentines hated the idea of there being any contact between the Falklands and South America, and danger existed traversing Argentine waters. For almost a week I waited in the Port, where I camped with a kind Chilean family connected with the British School there, until Indiana 1 arrived.
Having made contact with Captain Wolfenden on the bridge of his ship, and having explained my dilemma - I had almost run out of money and was desperately trying to find a way of getting home to Britain - he telexed the ship’s office back in Glasgow to see whether they would give permission for me to travel. To my great excitement the reply came back in the affirmative, so long as I was prepared to travel as crew. Having signed on the manifest, all was set and I was introduced to Ray, the Chief Engineer & my boss for the crossing. He was a tough Glaswegian but with a great sense of humour. In no time he had me in a white boiler suit scrubbing down and painting parts of the rusty old engine room. The ship was really something of an old wreck and must have seen much better times! We had rough weather, I was hopelessly sick, and for a time the electric supply gave out; but to have had a bunk, and British food for the first time in well over a year, was an extraordinary half-way return to a normal life. Most extraordinary of all was listening to The Archers with the crew over breakfast in the ship’s mess.
Of course I should NEVER have been given permission to sail, for I had no onward reservation from the Falklands, and there were strict Island rules that no-one should be admitted without a guaranteed onward passage. Indiana 1 was met by two Stanley police who checked the manifest, and the documentation of the few islanders on board. When it was my turn to be checked they scratched their heads “You should NOT be here! Who do you know? How will you leave?” For some reason they took pity and one of them decided there and then that I was a friend of their family and that I could stay with them until I was able to find a way home. My passport was stamped. I could NOT believe my luck!!
For about two weeks my home was at 1, Kent Road. I cannot tell you what hospitality I received and the fun I had meeting Islanders and exploring East Falkland, sometimes alone and sometimes with companions, both children and grownups. A broadcast I gave on FIG was picked up by an officer at Mount Pleasant and I found myself invited up there for two days during which time I sailed a dingy with the Navy, and gave a talk on my adventures through Argentina to about 100 British troops, including the Commander British Forces. It was he who indirectly managed to facilitate my journey back to Brize Norton aboard the weekly Tristar.
By now it was June and the snows were descending. I biked back to Stanley in atrocious weather to await instructions. After a few days a call came through from Mount Pleasant. I was to be at the airport cargo shed at a given time with bike and all my luggage. The last view I had of the snow-clad islands was from the co-pilot’s seat (something that could never have happened after 9/11). A few hours later the plane was descending through cloud to land on a warm and sunny early summer’s day at Brize Norton.
The journey of a lifetime had reached its conclusion.
Over thirty years have now passed and periodically I have been lecturing on my expeditions and destination ports aboard cruise ships that have called into Stanley. With every visit I have increased my love of the place and I have watched with interest the expansion and modernisation of Stanley and, sadly, the slow deterioration of the remaining wrecks in the harbour. The Jhelum, a barque of 428 tons and built in Liverpool as early as 1849, one of my favourites, is alas no more.
How could I have guessed thirty years ago that I would find myself in a position as a trustee of a family charitable trust able to give a donation towards the modernisation and expansion of the wonderful and historic Falkland Islands Museum? The John R Murray Charitable Trust was set up after the sale of the John Murray Publishers archives to the National Library of Scotland and it is from this Charity that the money has been donated. My hope is that other trusts will hear of the heroic fundraising efforts of the Museum and also feel able to donate in time for the 40th year commemoration of the Campaign to be held next year.'
We are incredibly grateful to the Trust and to Hallam for this more than generous donation.
Hallam (right) on the Indiana