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Polar Bytes - No. 7, February 1998

Polar Bytes - No. 7, February 1998

A word from our Chairman Philippa Foster Back

Belated Happy New Year! As you will be aware John Heap's 5 year term as Director of the Institute came to an end on December 1st and on behalf of all the Friends I would like to thank him for the tremendous contribution he has made to the Institute and Friends during his term. Our new Director is Professor Keith Richards, currently Head of Geography. However, to facilitate the handover, particularly in view of the building disruptions, John is continuing at the Institute in the role of Executive Director until September.

I enclosed in my Christmas message a letter from Professor Richards giving us an introduction to his thoughts on the role of the Institute and its continuing importance both within the university and in the wider world, and we look forward to working with Keith in the future.

I also have to report that Dr Pam Davis, having very successfully raised funding for the New Library has now left her post as the task is complete. Pam has done much to enhance the Institute's image and single-handedly generated an interest in matters Polar in the next generation with her work in schools. A thank you from the Friends and best wishes to Pam in her next post. Happily we will not be losing her expertise entirely, as she has agreed to sit on the Committee, taking on the role from Anne Todd who, under our Constitution, retired from the Committee at the end of December. I would again like to express my thanks to Anne for her steadfast support of the Friend's cause.

Captain Joe's Building Update

Since I wrote the last piece for Polar Bytes, we have had our AGM, and many of you had the opportunity to inspect the work in progress. It is a tribute to the sturdiness of polar people that we not only were we able to hold our meeting in conjunction with a most interesting and enjoyable lecture but to have a buffet and drinks. This is because we have been able to retain use of the Lecture Theatre, and most of the foyer, although in a much modified and much less attractive form than that to which we are accustomed. Fear not though, as all will be returned to former glory, and even better.

The big accomplishments since the last Polar Bytes are the following:

  1. The new basement has been completely dug out, a waterproofing system installed, the steel reinforcing rods for the deck installed, and the concrete poured. If you visit us now, you will be able to see the shape of the basement where the bulkheads will form the new map room, and in fact, the shape and form of the entire new basement. The deck to the rotunda should be poured the week of 19 January. If you come and look quickly, you will be able to see both the amount of steel reinforcing going into the concrete, and the quality of the workmanship.
  2. The new heating system. You may remember that all the heat for SPRI comes over from the Dept of Chemistry next door. This arrangement was installed when the 1968 building was constructed, and works by the boilers in Chemistry providing hot water indirectly for our radiators, through large connecting pipes between the two complexes. For several reasons, now is the right time for us to declare our independence from Chemistry. To do this, we are installing a new gas-fired boiler system in the 1934 basement, which will provide heat for the entire SPRI complex. All of the costs of this are being borne by the University.
  3. The lift, ("elevator" for the Canadians and Americans), the pit has been dug, and foundations for the structure begun. The pit was a very difficult job, as grey clay was hit just under the file and concrete. Every cubic yard and metre had to be mucked out by hand, and hand-carried up the steps. We will soon be bringing in the steel framework.
  4. A good piece of news that was agreed, 16 January, is that the University has agreed to install a new lighting system in the Lecture Theatre. We have all laboured long under inadequate lighting. We probably will have this no earlier than the beginning of Michaelmas term 1998, because of design work, and availability of money.
  5. There area number of other jobs going on all over the complex. I have described the major ones which form the beginnings of the Shackleton Memorial Library.

We are almost half way through the contract, close enough for me to predict that we will come in on time - the contract completed date is 4 July 1998, with much work to get us all moved back after that - and just under budget. You can be confident that all of the money so generously given for the Shackleton Memorial Library will be used just for that purpose. Other projects, connected to, but not part of, the SML, are being funded in other ways. One example of this is the new heating system, being funded by the University's Estate Management and Building Services office. You can also be assured of the high quality of workmanship, and the high level of interest on the part of all the people working on the site in giving us a good job.

Finally, I invite any Friends who would like the `Members' tour, or more detailed information about progress to contact me on tel: (01223) 336545, email, or web site

Written at 4 bells of the afternoon watch, with all progress data up to date as of 16 January 1998.

Members Summer Luncheon

Get your appointment book out! The Friends' Summer Luncheon is booked at Hughes Hall on 30 May, 1998. We will begin at 12:30 with drinks and have our lunch about 1:00. The price is £15.50 and tickets limited to 40 people so if you would like to attend, please complete the enclosed form and send a cheque made payable to "University of Cambridge" indicating how many will be attending to: Jennifer Dale, Membership Secretary, Friends of SPRI, Lensfield Road, Cambridge, CB2 IER. Hughes Hall say we have to give them final figures a week prior to the event, therefore payment must be in advance, we are not able to accept payment on the day.

Membership Matters

If you have any membership queries, please contact Jennifer Dale between 9:00 and 12:00 Mon - Fri She will always be pleased to help you. If you renew your membership on time it saves on postage and administration costs. Please also advise her of any changes of address to ensure you are kept up to date with events.

Peter Coker's Etching

Kim Crosbie was the lucky winner of Peter Coker's etching. Through his kind donation, we were able to raise nearly £100 towards the Shackleton Memorial Library. Many thanks Peter Coker.