Once British sailors were a big part of the whaling industry in the southern hemisphere.
Now only rusting buildings and ship skeletons remain, where once thriving whaling stations were, writes Adam Nicholson.
The abandoned whaling station at Leith Harbour on South Georgia in the south Atlantic looks as if it has been bombed.
Rusty steel chimneys lie collapsed across the roadways.
Power plants and dormitory blocks lie half-smashed, their innards spilling out through the walls – cast-iron beds and baths, piping and wiring, cushions and mattresses all now leaking into the freezing air.
Some of the huge steel cylinders of the whale oil tanks, 30ft high and 30ft across, have had their sides folded in, as if by a giant hand. But these are just the effects of time and the brutal winds of the Southern Ocean.
It is not somewhere you would ever like to be alone. The winds that hurl off the mountains of this sub-Antarctic island, 800 miles east of the Falklands, on the same latitude as Cape Horn, make the whole place creak and groan.
Rusted corrugated sheets screech against their fixings, doors slam open and shut, the ventilator cowls on the giant processor plants still turn in the wind as they have done since the place was finally abandoned and left to the elements in 1965.
No-one is there now because Leith Harbour, like most of the other whaling stations on South Georgia, is strictly off-limits.
The collapsing structures are too dangerous and the asbestos in which the whale processing machinery is still wrapped makes the enclosed places too toxic. The South Georgia government – this is one of Britain’s few remaining overseas territories – had to give us permission to film in this breathtaking time-capsule of a forgotten way of British life.
And we had to be accompanied by Tommy Moore, a Yorkshireman familiar with asbestos safety, and dressed in full protective gear.