Falkland Islands

Newbury Branch meeting Wed 8th February 2017

Speakers: Tony and Rosemary Hadland

Tony and Rosemary Hadland first visited the Falklands in 2008 because their son was finishing a tour of RAF duty there. An added incentive was that an old family friend lived there. They have now made the arduous trip south three times.

         The Falklands, which lie the same distance from the equator as does the UK, consist of a 750-island archipelago, although most of the inhabitants live on the two main islands, East and West, which are separated by a sound.

With the aid of maps and photographs Tony gave a comprehensive account of the geography, history and economy of the islands. First settled in 1763 by a Frenchman, de Bougainville (of botanical fame), who named them Les Maloeines after his home town of St Malo: hence Las Malvinas later. British occupation dates from 1833.

         At one time beef dominated the economy, later to be replaced by wool, and now fishing rights. The islands were once an important whaling centre, and also a stopover for ships rounding Cape Horn. For many it was their last port of call, and rusting hulks abound. Today only a few cruise ships call.

         The military garrison of 1,300 increases the resident population by over 50 per cent, the vast majority of whom live in Stanley. The garrison is the source of Falkland Islands’ broadcast media, relaying all the main TV channels.

         After Tony’s introduction, Rosemary Hadland gave a photo tour of the islands, with particular focus on their bird life, flowers, seals, penguins and buildings. Most of the latter are built in corrugated iron; stone and brick buildings are rare. Transport is mainly by plane or boat. Vehicles are usually of the rugged kind, the few roads being “like driving on marbles”.

         Although the temperature is no lower than that of the north of England, the wind is constant, and keeps vegetation low. Hence there are no native trees, and the beautiful white sand beaches are undisturbed by the trappings of seaside tourism.

         In conclusion Tony described family history in the Falklands. Norwegian genealogy is significantly represented via onetime settlers on South Georgia (900 miles away) who came to Stanley. There is now a Falkland Islands genealogical website – access by invitation only – which currently has 13,821 names on its trees, and over 1,000 photos.

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