The first capital of the Falkland Islands
On Saturday 24th January, the Past Finders made a day trip our to Port Louis farm to visit the historical site.
The group met with Pete Gilding and started the tour of his house which was originally barracks built by the Sappers and Miners who arrived in 1842 with Governor Moody, Pete showed the group around outside of where the barracks were and pointed out where the French Fort was on the opposite side of the Pig Brook.
Pete then took the group to the Governor's house foundations and showed them a stone tunnel. Above this area is a stone corral and stable, this feature was recorded to be Governor Vernet’s house. A window can still be clearly seen in the North end of the corral. Pete believes a French church may have been near the new stable as there is a stone structure in that area. Pete pointed out Yates valley and the position of Thomas Yate's house. The group then walked down past Pig’s Brook and headed towards a nice sheltered spot where the gaucho’s houses once stood and had a little picnic. Pete showed the group a cannonball as well as an old spoon, and talked about the murders that occurred in 1833.
The Cook House was the next port of call followed by a walk to the foundations of the Spanish Church. The group then made their way down to the beach passing the Government corral and houses and gardens past the shearing shed. The group was informed that you can find fossils, so the group started to search and found a good selection. Carrying on around the coastline we came across Dickson’s store, canon and the French Battery.
On the way down to have a look at the graveyard there was huge excitement as the group found wild strawberries growing, there was a lot of scrambling about to see who could get the most! Arriving at the graveyard we discovered a smaller walled enclosure believed to be built by the French and the larger walled enclosure built by the British. Around 200 people are believed to be buried within the cemetery. Here the group learned about Matthew Brisbane and the massacre which took place and how the survivors escaped to Hog Island. The group tried to trace over the only surviving wooden headstones to try and find out what the inscriptions said, unfortunately this wasn’t successful. Next stop was the Spanish Fort placed at the highest point of the settlement. In the large foundations the entrance can still be clearly seen within the pentagon shaped fort.
After trekking around the settlement and with heads full of information the group headed off to the Cook House for some well deserved refreshments before heading back into town. It was then time to bid farewell and give a big thank you to Pete for allowing the Past Finders to explore such a fantastically historical farm.
Thank you to Emma Goss, Shirley Hirtle & Tooie Goodwin for helping out on the day. Also young Kiera Barratt (Past Finders member) for taking photographs.