WEDDELL ISLAND, West Falklands settlement


Weddell is the third largest island of the Falklands group and lies to the west of West Falklands. It covers 265.8sq km or 102.6sq miles and has over a hundred miles of coastline. Mount Weddell is the highest point at 383m (1,256ft).
Today Weddell is owned by Byron Holdings Ltd. In 2018 it had a population of 3 and carried 5642 sheep and 28 cattle.
Wildlife that can be seen there include penguins along with a wide variety of other birdlife, seals, dolphins and Patagonian foxes. It is a good place to see rare plants and wild flowers.

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Originally Weddell was known as ‘Swan’ Island but was renamed for the Antarctic navigator and explorer Captain James Weddell.
Weddell was first leased as a sheep farm in 1871 by Mr and Mrs Williams. By 1895 they had 23,000 sheep on the island.  In 1922 John Hamilton bought neighbouring Beaver Island and shortly afterwards Weddell (from the now widowed Mrs Williams) Staats, Tea and the Passage Islands, and in the 1930’s, Saunders. He built a manager’s house in 1923 (burned down in 1980s). Hamilton experimented with farm improvements and diversifications, replanting tussac, planting conifers and reducing stock on the badly overgrazed Weddell. Sadly his other ideas fell short of expectations. The sealing for oil venture was unsuccessful; the exotic animals he introduced in the hope of selling pelts to overseas markets left the islands with a plague of Patagonian foxes which besides eating the geese which they were intended to control, enjoyed lambs as well. An odd sea otter can still be seen.  A guanaco population still survives on Staats Island. John Hamilton died in 1945 and the farm was managed for a long time by Maurice McGill then Bob Ferguson. From the 1950s Weddell and Hamilton’s interests (including Beaver and Saunders) were under the supervision of Charlie Robertson, then manager of Port Stephens and a second-to-none judge of stock and horses.  Weddell became noted for its fine horses particularly it’s ‘Tobianos’ which were sold to other farms and private buyers. Bob Ferguson and his son John bought Weddell in the 1980s. They sold it on to Richard Visick in 2001. He turned it into a tourist destination with managers running it. In 2016 the island was sold to Byron Marine, a Falklands Company.

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Sources include: Wikipedia,, Falkland Rural Heritage- Joan Spruce with Natalie Smith, /Jane Cameron National Archives /Land/ Island/ Weddell, The Dictionary of Falklands Biography (including South Georgia) - Edited by David Tatham,
Photographic credits: Dilys and Alan Waton




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