By J. Brock (FINN)
The Whalers Church at Grytviken, South Georgia has been officially handed over to the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands by the family of C. A. Larsen, the Whaling Station manager who had the building brought to the Island in 1913.
In a letter from Hans S Larsen read out at the reception held at Government House by Dr Susan Barr, a referral was made to the centenary of the Church at Grytviken. Owing to circumstances beyond his control Mr Larsen was unable to attend himself like he did in 1988 at the 75th anniversary of the building of the church.
He pointed out the restoration and preservation of the church and expressed his gratitude on behalf of the family for the work done. He went on to say that the future protection and preservation was a concern to the family as well as those in South Georgia who looked after it.
For and on behalf of the family it has been resolved to give all rights whatsoever that may reside with the family unconditionally to the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, said Mr Larsen in the letter. The gift becomes effective on Christmas Day 2013.
The letter went on to say that it was a Christmas present to the Government from the family. A copy of the declaration as well as architects drawings and a picture of the bust of CA Larsen which was dedicated on Christmas Day in 1988 was attached. A list of the men who worked on erecting the church was also included.
In 1988 Mr Larsen visited the Island with Bob Headland, the author of a definitive book on South Georgia. At the time Mr Larsen told FINN he wanted to connect with parts of his Grandfather he was unaware of.
On Christmas Day the Whalers Church at Grytviken, South Georgia celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The Rev Dr Richard Hines of Christ Church Cathedral in Stanley, Falkland Islands led a commemorative service on the day, with a congregation including members of Oyas Venner (Norway's Friends of South Georgia) who arrivedl on the cruise ship Fram as part of a voyage to celebrate the church's anniversary.
On Saturday, 21 December a reception was held at Government House to commemorate the event and to meet and greet those who will be making the journey to the South Atlantic Island.
Captain Carl Anton Larsen is most famous as the Pioneer of Antarctic Whaling Industry at South Georgia from 1904. His pioneering voyages to Weddell Sea 1892-94, instigating "The Heroic Age" of Antarctic Exploration, are less well known.
Carl Anton Larsen was born on the 7th August 1860 at Østre Halsen near Larvik, a small coastal village south of the Norwegian capital Oslo (named Kristiania at that time). In the family tradition he became a sailor and at the age of 25, was a captain in the sealing and whaling industry in the Arctic Seas.