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Anything that didn’t fit in elsewhere

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A collection of items that, while about or related to St Helena, did not justify a page of their own or fit into any of our other pages.

This page is in indexes: Pictures, Island History, Island Place, Island People, Island Activity, Island Detail

Zzyzx [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]

Below: Popular, but…The ‘Good Hope Castle’ Fire, 1973Mystery HelicopterSkandi Admiral: Supplying passing shipsWoodcuts of St Helena?Estimated international arrivalsPopulation GraphicMarine Reservoir Corrections: St HelenaPortraits of Lt. Gen. John Skelton and his wife Mary Moore Cassamajor SkeltonOld photographsAngola invades St Helena

Why this page is called ‘Zzyzx’

Zzyzx is the last word that appears in the online dictionary ‘Wiktionary’. It is actually a place name in California and various other things. It seemed a more interesting name than ‘Sundry’ or ‘Miscellaneous’. We could have called it ‘ort’, meaning a small scrap of food left after a meal is completed, but we didn’t.

It should be noted that the contents of this page may be fluid. At the time we add an item here it may not fit in anywhere else, but as Saint Helena Island Info continues to develop, we may find a better place for it and thus remove it from here. So if this page is empty please don’t contact us!

Popular, but…

Governor Guy [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]
Governor Guy

Governor Geoffrey Colin Guy was a reasonably popular Governor, and when in 1981 he finished his term he did not sail away into the sunset as most have, he retired to the island, buying Farm Lodge. Perhaps missing St Helena political life, in 1984 he stood for election to the Legislative Council{1} in the St Paul’s West district. This is the election report from the St Helena News Review of 11th May 1984:

Wednesday was Polling Day in the St Paul’s West Electoral Area. Voting commenced that morning at 10 o’clock and continued throughout the day until the Polling Station closed at 6 p.m. The counting of votes began at 7,30 p.m. and at 8.15 the Returning Officer announced the following results:

Geoffrey Colin Guy - 25 votes

Isaac Douglas Hudson - 38 votes

The Returning Officer accordingly declared Mr Hudson to have been duly elected to serve as a Member of the Legislative Council for the St Paul’s West Electoral Area.

40% of the vote is respectable, but this perhaps tells us a lot about the relationship between Saints and their Governor. However well liked s/he may be, the Governor is imposed on St Helena - its people have no influence over who is appointed. But in a by-election they get to choose who speaks for them…

The ‘Good Hope Castle’ Fire, 1973

This isn’t a Lost Ship story because the ‘Good Hope Castle’ did not sink, but it’s an important tale from our history and it had to go somewhere…{a}

On 1st July 1973 the Union Castle Line offices in London received contact from St Helena reporting that the ‘Good Hope Castle’, due in on 30th June from Ascension Island, was overdue. Reports from both Ascension and St Helena were that the ship could not be reached by radio. It was later reported from Ascension that the ship had been reported ablaze thirty-five miles south-east from Ascension.

It transpired that fire had broken out on 29th June some hours after leaving Ascension. A broken lubricating oil pipe to the starboard main engine turbo-blower sprayed oil onto an exhaust manifold, and before the resulting fire could be extinguished it spread through the engine-room casing into the accommodation. The eighty-two passengers and crew took to the boats, and were rescued 36 hours later by the steam tanker, ‘George F. Getty’ and returned to Ascension. There were no serious injuries and it seems the only life lost was that of a small dog that could not be coaxed from under its master’s bed and had to be abandoned.

The stricken Good Hope Castle photographed from Sister Ship Southampton Castle on 2nd July 1973, 24 miles off Ascension [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]
The stricken Good Hope Castle photographed from Sister Ship Southampton Castle on 2nd July 1973, 24 miles off Ascension

On the night of 1st-2nd July the ‘Good Hope Castle’ was sighted by her sister-ship the ‘Southampton Castle’ some twenty-four miles off Portland Point, Ascension, with a thirty degree starboard list, but no sign of fire or smoke, and with the port propellor visible in the swell. The photograph (right) was taken by on of the passengers on board the ‘Southampton Castle’.

On 4th July the ‘MV Clan Malcolm’ located the ‘Good Hope Castle’ and reported her again burning. By the next day much of the superstructure had been destroyed but the hull was still apparently sound. The West German ocean salvage tug ‘Aabatross’ was called to provide assistance, and on 7th July ‘Good Hope Castle’ was boarded by a Union Castle Line Superintendent who reported that there were no flames or smoke, but that the deck was severely buckled and hot, with the Bridge and accommodation completely gutted. Two days later the tug was alongside and able to put pumps aboard and prepare a towing connection.

‘Good Hope Castle’ was towed to Antwerp, arriving on 18th August where she was inspected and then sent to Bilbao for repairs. There were completed and she left Bilbao on 19th May 1974, arriving at Southampton to resume her position in the mail service to South Africa, starting on 31st May 1974.

Mystery Helicopter

We have seen the image below, thought to date from the early 1960s, of a Navy helicopter landing on the lawn of Plantation House. We are curious to know what ship launched it and when it was visiting. If you can help, please contact us.

Mystery helicopter [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]
Mystery helicopter{b}

As at the time of writing{2} we have received one reply:

My guess is that it’s from HMS Leopard or HMS Lynx, which visited St Helena together 15-17th August 1959 (see I remember the RM Band concert.

Can anybody confirm, or are there other theories?

Skandi Admiral: Supplying passing ships

In February2016 this website was contacted by the Vessel Superintendent of the tug Skandi Admiral with an unusual request. The message said the tug and payload would be passing St Helena at the end of February and could we put them in touch with an island merchant who could provide them with some essential supplies?

Naturally we were keen to help. We emailed the likely local merchants and Thorpe’s responded. Negotiations then proceeded between Thorpe’s and the Skandi Admiral, as a result of which a sizeable bag of supplies was taken out to the tug as it passed and winched aboard.

We’re glad to have helped!

Scandi Admiral and payload [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]
Scandi Admiral and payload

Approaching the Scandi Admiral [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]
Approaching the Scandi Admiral

Supplies being winched aboard [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]
Supplies being winched aboard

Woodcuts of St Helena?

St Helena? [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx] St Helena? [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]

These pieces of inlaid wood marquetry, apparently from the early 19th century, state that they show St Helena. They certainly look a little like St Helena, but are far from exact. We think they are Pastiches, probably done from memory. What do you think?

Estimated international arrivals

The following chart was incorporated into an article ‘Airport Opens Up Opportunities On St Helena’ published on Money Web on 7th November 2013. The article appeared on our Read articles about St Helena (Older) page, but has now been archived to our Much Older St Helena Stuff{3} blog. However we thought the data presented in the chart might still be useful.

Estimated international arrivals [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]

Population Graphic

Population Graphic, 2016 Census [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]

What this graph shows is the population of St Helena, broken down by gender and also into age bands. The blocks are figures from the 2016 Census; the lines are figures from the 1998 cennsus (before full UK Citizenship was restored to Saints).

What can clearly be seen is all the ‘missing’ people in the 20-40 age band. These people are working overseas, in the UK, Falklands, Acension Island or elsewhere.

The general effect of the ageing population can also be seen; a global issue!

Marine Reservoir Corrections: St Helena

Marine Reservoir Corrections Figure 2 [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]

This document seems to be a scientific study of rocks on St Helena, and is (probably) something to do with carbon dating. The document Abstract reads:

We present the first marine reservoir age and ΔR determination for the island of St Helena using marine mollusk radiocarbon dates obtained from an historical context of known age. This represents the first marine reservoir age and ΔR determination in the southern Atlantic Ocean within thousands of Km of the island.

The depletion of 14C in the shells indicates a rather larger reservoir age for that portion of the surface Atlantic than models indicate. The implication is that upwelling old water along the Namibian coast is transported for a considerable distance, although it is likely to be variable on a decadal timescale.

An artilleryman’s button, together with other artifacts found in a midden, demonstrate association of the mollusk shells with a narrow historic period of AD 1815-1835.

If you know what that means and would like to read more you can download the document (3.4Mb).

Portraits of Lt. Gen. John Skelton and his wife Mary Moore Cassamajor Skelton

In 1815 these people kindly gave up their summer residence in Longwood so that it could be used to house the exiled Napoleon Bonaparte (their winter residence was in what is now the Post Office). The property is now known to the world as Longwood House. But this couple rarely get even a mention in the history books, so we thought we would include their portraits here:

Lt. Gen. John Skelton [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx] Mary Moore Cassamajor Skelton [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]

The Skeltons befriended Napoleon, and visited him on many occasions. Governor Lowe actually accused them of carrying clandestine corresponence for the prisoner, though nothing was ever proved. They left St Helena on 14th May 1816.

Old photographs

Problem with mynah birds [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]
We caption this picture: “Clearly mynah birds were a problem in the ‘before days’ too.

Here are a few more for interest or amusement:

Jamestown school, 1906 [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]
Jamestown school, 1906

George Singer memorial, St. James’ Church. [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]
George Singer memorial, St. James’ Church.

Angola invades St Helena

Angola invades St Helena [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]

A BBC Radio 4 Radio Play, broadcast Friday 27th November 2009.

Officially entitled ‘The Visigoths Are Coming…’, this is part of a series of plays by Jonathan Myerson depicting life inside the UK Prime Minister’s office, Number 10 Downing Street. In this edition, the Angolan Navy has occupied St Helena. After six days, the PM and the Angolan Ambassador are locked in talks to try to prevent the declaration of war. Interesting details emerge, which suggest that the 2009 ‘pause’ in St Helena’s airport project was behind the invasion…

Good drama and a few amusing references to (then) contemporary political developments on and in regard to St Helena.

Click on the icon to hear this audio file: 

(right-click to download) 

Click here to listen [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx] (7.6Mb)

More excellent BBC drama here….

closinghumourimage [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]

Laugh at funny zzyzx humour - LOL [Saint Helena Island Info:Zzyzx]


{a} Text amended from a Facebook™ posting by Paul Blake, based on the account of the ship’s Captain, Peter Ascroft. Photograph by Ann Blake. Used with permission of the posting author.

{b} John Coyle


{1} Effectively the island’s parliament. More on our Government page.

{2} .

{3} See more blogs.


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