St Helena Online

Tag: Deadwood

Airport vehicle plunges St Helena into darkness (statement added)

Yellow vehicle with catarpillar tracks
Everything’s gone dark: Basil Read’s excavator

Power across most of St Helena was knocked out after an airport construction vehicle apparently brought down a power cable while being moved to Prosperous Bay Plain on Monday evening (3 September).

A bright flash on Deadwood Plain was reported to be visible across the valley at Gordon’s Post.

Power supplies were down across most of the island, including Longwood, Levelwood, Sandy Bay, Alarm Forest, Thompson’s Wood and Blue Hill, from around 7pm to 9.30pm.

An out-of-hours contractor was on the scene quickly but bad weather meant it was not possible to reconnect the cable. Electricity was restored to most of the affected areas by re-routing the supply, but Deadwood remained without power through the night.

The circumstances were being investigated.

Deon de Jager, Basil Read’s island director, issued a statement on 5 September. He said:  

Members of the public will be aware of the plans to take the heavy plant from Ruperts through the access track to Prosperous Bay Plain. All of the relevant health and safety arrangements were in place, for example, banksmen were required to walk the plant through the access track.

“Whilst we at Basil Read pride ourselves on our safety record and achievements, unfortunately accidents do happen.

“The pieces of plant, including the excavator, had reached the top of Pipe Ridge at around dusk. In an effort to contribute to project progress, it was decided to take the excavator a stage further to reach Fox’s Garage.

“At approximately 6.45pm, the excavator accidentally hit a power cable, causing the electricity pole to break off at the base. This caused the power supply to be interrupted, with power only being restored to some areas [on Tuesday].
We are currently reviewing our policies and procedures to minimise the risk of any future incidents.

“Basil Read Management would like to thank the Energy Division, their subcontractor and all those involved in restoring the power supply for their efforts. We would also like to once again apologise to all those affected for any inconvenience caused and we thank you for your patience during the power outage.”

Extra turbines are in the wind across island (comments added)

Track across Deadwood Plain, passing between turbines
Deadwood Plain (picture: John Grimshaw)

Go-ahead has been given for six new wind turbines to be erected on St Helena – with sites for more being considered on other parts of the island.

St Helena Government says the existing turbines on Deadwood Plain help keep  down the extremely high cost of electricity, which is subsidised at a cost of about £1.5 million a year. Even so, at up to 36 pence a unit, the island rates are thought to be among the highest in the world.

Members of the island’s planning board were briefed about the possible new turbines when deciding whether to allow six extra turbines at Deadwood Plain.

They approved the six, which are to be the same type as those already there.

A second substation will be built to regulate the supply of electricity sent via underground cables to the power station in Rupert’s Valley.

Read Vince Thompson’s report in this Friday’s St Helena Independent

Board members heard investigations were under way to choose sites for more turbines elsewhere on the island, but there was not enough information yet to say what sites might be suitable.

In March, St Helena Government said that the existing turbines had helped save about £250,000 in diesel costs. Without the turbines, it said, electricity would cost an extra 3.3p per unit.

Prices went up from 1 April 2012.

(This story has been updated to correct a statement that further turbines would bring prices down. Though this may be true, its inclusion was an error of interpretation).


Why is nobody using wave power there? An island in the middle of the ocean should have some waves.

– Amy DuPrez, via Facebook

Hydro-thermal may be an option too, and is much less unsightly than wave machines or turbines

– Michael Richards, via Facebook

Electricity tariffs – St Helena Government press release

Work starts on airport haul road

Before and after images showing dense foliage, one with the dirt track winding through
NOW YOU DON’T SEE IT, NOW YOU DO: the new haul road through Bilberry Field, Longwood

Work has started on building a 14-kilometre haul road from Rupert’s Bay to the site of St Helena’s airport on Prosperous Bay Plain.

Yellow vehicle with catarpillar tracks
MIND THE BIRDS: this 70-tonne excavator will pass through Deadwood Plain

The first section has been cut through Bilberry Field, just to the north of the golf course at Longwood.

Some heavy plant, including a 70-tonne excavator, must be moved to the airport site before the haul road is in place. A temporary route up from Rupert’s via the Pipe Path and Deadwood Plain has been negotiated – through an area frequented by wirebirds.

Measures have been agreed to protect the birds.

The heaviest plant will not pass through the Deadwood and Bottom Woods area again until it is no longer needed, meaning residents will only be disturbed twice.

Saints walking through a field
SAINTS ADVISE: members of the Deadwood Syndicate

A syndicate of local people met with Basil Read staff to agree ways to minimise disruption, according to the latest airport newsletter. 

The company promises that the heavy plant will not cause environmental damage to Deadwood Plain.

Read the newsletter here.

Camp gives airport workers a home draw
Don’t get distracted from the airport, Basil…
Saint lands top job on airport project

Help wanted: can you identify these old St Helena pictures?

Sergeant Arthur Jones is in the back row, far left

Sergeant Arthur Jones brought home a souvenir of his days guarding prisoners of war on St Helena – an album of photographs. Many years later, his son presented the pictures to his old regiment’s museum.

The photographs of Boer War prisoners from 1900-1902 – along with some local scenes – have since been published on the internet. But Peter Donnelly, curator of the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum in Lancaster, UK, needs help identifying some of the places in the photographs.

“Any help anyone can give with captions and stories is most welcome and
appreciated,” he says. “I have found some references about the period, but not very much.  Whilst we have the excellent album from Sergeant Jones, we know little of what he did there – which is a great shame.”

Sergeant Jones did not travel out to the island with the rest of his regiment. “There is no record of any other King’s Own soldier serving on the island,” says Mr Donnelly.

The King's Own museum needs information about Sergeant Jones's photographs

“I very much doubt if Sergeant Jones took the photographs himself. I assume he either bought the photographs or bought the entire album.

“I am sure a similar album was sold a few years ago, possibly in Hampshire.”

Sergeant Jones’s album is now safely in store, with all the images – about 100 of them – posted on the museum website.

Visit a gallery of sample pictures here – with a contact form for sending information.

See all the pictures on the museum’s own website, here.