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April 2021

Object Title: Toy Panda

Object Number: 2015.5

This stuffed toy panda belonged to Gerald McLeod who lived at King Edward Point as a child with his family between 1957 and 1961. His father was a radio operator working for the Falkland Island Dependencies. Named ‘Little Panda’, it features in a memoir written by Gerald’s sister Beverley, ‘In the Shadow of Shackleton’s Cross’, describing her childhood on South Georgia.

Gerry in the snow at King Edward Point

The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) was formally established in 1985 when South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands became a British Overseas Territory, previously being part of the Falkland Islands Dependencies.

Before 1985 a magistrate was appointed to oversee local administration and required to carry out various other duties including Deputy Post Master, Immigration Officer, Harbour Master, Coroner and Registrar. A magistrate has been present on the island since 1909 and resided in small houses at King Edward Point, just 1km around the bay from the whaling station of Grytviken. At various periods during this time the magistrate was assisted by a Customs Officer and a Police Constable.

Over the past 100 years there have only been a handful of women and children living on South Georgia. The women were mainly the wives of these government employee or families of the whaling station officials. Most women were primarily caring for their home and occasionally children, but there were a number of women employed to work in the managers houses at the whaling station too. Women had to put all their skill and imagination to work keeping their family fed and children clothed and schooled. The schooling was difficult because it was hard to obtain educational books, plus the children had many other exciting distractions on South Georgia.

Today Government Officers are appointed by GSGSSI as the Government’s representatives and are still stationed at King Edward Point. They have responsibility for local administration and their duties include those of Fisheries Officer, Customs Officer, Police person and tourism management. Government Officers are still encourage to bring partners and loved ones to live with them on South Georgia, but children have not lived on the island since the early 60s.

King Edward Point settlement under snow in winter