Where the capital city is called Edinburgh of the Seven Seas
My great buddy of 30 years, Dan, Californian born and bred, recently emailed me saying that he had spent a fascinating hour reading the website of Tristan da Cunha. Most British people will have some odd recollection about this very remote community living in the South Atlantic because the islands are part of the United Kingdom. TDCU 1ZZ is, in fact, the UK postcode for Tristan da Cunha.
This is not a place which has a habit of making main-stream news! Indeed, one could not imagine a more distant part of the planet. Well you won’t imagine a more distant place. Tristan da Cunha is the most remotely inhabited archipelago on Planet Earth. Indeed, only one island, Tristan, is inhabited and, according to the website there are just 264 British citizens there today.
Earlier it was mentioned that most British will have some vague recollection of Tristan. More likely, that will be those British who were born before, say, 1950.
In 1961 the inhabitants of Tristan were forcibly made aware that the island that they were living on was, of had been, a dormant volcano. As the Tristan da Cunha website puts it:
The earth moves
Active volcanic islands can seem very benign as the time-scale between eruptions can span centuries. To a modern geologist, the tell-tale signs were there for all to see on the island of Tristan da Cunha . A classic pyramidal shape with a symmetric summit crater, a recent lava flow at Stony Hill not yet covered by vegetation, and everywhere evidence of hundreds of previous dark grey lava flows sandwiched between layers of fragile ash, often looking like Aero chocolate.
But there had been no recorded volcanic activity during human history.
The eruption started as magma pushed upwards and caused earthquakes which produced landslides directly behind the settlement during August and September 1961. On 8 th October a large earthquake and landslide particularly affected the eastern settlement where families moved overnight to the homes of relatives in the quieter western district. The following morning saw a fissure open between the Settlement and the canning factory where the ground rose. At a hastily organised meeting in the Hall, convened by Administrator Peter Wheeler, it was agreed to evacuate all the 264 islanders and 26 expatriates to huts at the Potato Patches overnight.
Eventually, the UK Government agreed to evacuate all the inhabitants back to England. They were first put into temporary accommodation just south of London before being placed in permanent housing on a former RAF base at a place called Calshot, near Southampton on the south coast of England.
So that’s why Tristan da Cunha became a news story in the British press during the early 60s.
That time in England for the islanders has left a tangible record. In Calshot today, there is a street called Tristan Close. It was here that most of the islanders lived before voting in 1963 to return to Tristan.
This is a fascinating story and wherever you, the reader, are at this present moment, it will be hard to imagine living in such a remote place as Tristan da Cunha.
More information here:
By Paul Handover