In 1907 a "floating factory" was erected in Stromness Harbour; the land station being built in 1912. Stromness operated as a whaling station from 1912 until 1931. In 1931 it was converted into a ship repair yard with a machine shop and a foundry. It remained operational until 1961 when the site was abandoned. Historical and modern settlements of South Georgia Island.
In 1916, Ernest Shackleton and a small crew landed on the unpopulated southern coast of South Georgia at King Haakon Bay after an arduous sea voyage from Elephant Island in the 22-foot lifeboat James Caird. Shackleton along with Tom Crean and Frank Worsley then trekked across South Georgia's mountainous and glaciated interior in an effort to reach help on the populated northern shore of the island.
After 36 hours of crossing the interior they arrived at the Stromness administration center which also was the home of the Norwegian whaling station's manager. This building has been dubbed the "Villa at Stromness" because it represents relative luxury compared to its surroundings. All men were rescued from Elephant Island.
In the decades following its closure, Stromness has been subject to damage from the elements and many of its buildings have been reduced to ruins. However, recent efforts have been made to restore the "Villa" and clean up debris from the rest of the site in order to make it safe for visitors. Outside of Stromness is a small whalers' cemetery with 14 grave markers.