The story of Britain’s whale hunters is to be broadcast across the UK in a new 2-part documentary on BBC Four on Monday 9 June and Monday 16 June. The documentary has been produced by ‘KEO films’, and in the second episode some material from the Salvesen Archive will appear. The collection had been given to us on permanent loan in 1969, and with subsequent additions, and was finally gifted by Christian Salvesen Investments Limited in 2012.
Recently a ‘Keo films’ researcher spent some days looking at material from the Salvesen archive before travelling to South Georgia in the South Atlantic to visit the remains of the Salvesen whaling operation there.
In addition to the broadcast in June, the documentary entitled ‘Britain’s Whale hunters: The Untold Story’ will again be transmitted on BBC Two, in Scotland only, later in the year, no date confirmed.
The Salvesen story itself had been an interesting one. In the early decades of the 20th century, the shipping firm Salvesen of Leith, Scotland, led the whaling industry at a time when food oils and other products from the Antarctic were considered an endless resource. Indeed, whaling dominated the Salvesen business. In later years – the 1960s and 1970s – the firm had diversified into the tanker fleet business, shipping steel and coke to Norway for the Norwegian shipbuilding and steel industries, factory fishing trawlers, and then to shore-based cold storage, canning, property development and also to house-building. Then, in October 2007, the French based transport and logistics provider Norbert Dentressangle announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire Christian Salvesen.
The images shown here are also from the Salvesen Archive and show the Company vessels ‘Coronda’ and ‘New Sevilla’ at Leith Harbour in South Georgia, and crew on board a prospecting cruise to South Georgia and Antarctica in 1913-1914.
Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts