Campbell Russell made a welcome return visit to give another talk and presentation about his further visits to the far north. The excellent numbers of members and friends appreciated his talk. While there is not enough space for a full description of his adventures, I will give you a taste of these by picking out some of my highlights from the evening - not necessarily in any chronological order.
He travelled around the Norwegian coast using the very popular Hurtigruten passenger and freight shipping service in 1972 and 1995 (an NTS summer cruise from Leith). The certificate he received when he crossed the Arctic Circle on 26th June 1972 was on display. On this 1972 trip, he visited Ny Ålesund, on Spitsbergen Island. Spitsbergen was the name originally given to all the islands in the archipelago but this was changed to Svalbard in 1925. At that time in 1972, Ny Ålesund was very much a mining settlement, but in 1995 it was more a centre for scientific research (with 16 research stations) including having a base for the European Space Organisation. A number of other changes were noticeable, including armed guards and a new pier - for the Black Prince. By then the new Svalbard Museum was also open.
In 1972 he also visited Longyearbyen, the largest settlement and administrative centre of Svalbard, where the most northerly bank, a branch of Tromsø Sparebanken was located! The temperatures are so severe that waste water pipes are above ground with “frost” protection! One of his highlights on his visit to Bjørnøya (Bear Island) in 1972 was when a lifeboat pulling a floating pier ‘putt putted’ it’s way to his ship, and supplies of Haig Dimple and Tennents lager (and other more healthy commodities) were offloaded and the lifeboat ’putt putted’ its way back to shore!
In 1995, on his return to Longyearbyen the Main Street had been modernised, and also by then the settlement was proud to have the most northerly shop and post office! In 2016 he travelled from Oslo to Bodø by rail. He noticed a new sign for polar bears had also been erected - to assure the public that Svalbard was free of polar bears!
During his talk, a large number of slides were shown which demonstrated the very harsh but beautiful scenery there, the incredible sunlight (a warm glow, and warm winds at 1 am) in the Lofoten Islands, the many changes to the infrastructure of the area between 1972 and 2016, and of course the northern lights.
In conclusion - everyone thoroughly enjoyed Campbell’s excellent talk. Anny gave the vote of thanks and had the pleasure of presenting him with a wee bottle of malt (not from the ‘putt putt’ :) Thanks also to Margaret and Tommy for the catering and refreshments, and of course, to the other Council members who helped.
Pictures can be seen here... https://photos.app.goo.gl/JA2JgBD8bvu6kw6H8