Stamps commemorating the 60th anniversary of the resettlement of Tristan's population after the evacuation caused by the 1961 volcanic eruption.

60th Anniversary of Tristan's 1961 Volcano, Part 3

Issue date: 11th December 2023

60th Anniversary of Tristan's 1961 Volcano, Part 3, 45p 60th Anniversary of Tristan's 1961 Volcano, Part 3, 60p
60th Anniversary of Tristan's 1961 Volcano, Part 3, £1.10 60th Anniversary of Tristan's 1961 Volcano, Part 3, £1.80
202316 Mint Stamps (45p, 60p, £1.10, £1.80) £3.95
202317 First Day Cover (with 45p, 60p, £1.10, £1.80 stamps) £5.15

60th Anniversary of Tristan's 1961 Volcano, Part 3: First day cover, set of stamps


The determination of most Tristan islanders to return home from their enforced volcanic evacuation in October 1961 began in earnest on 13th April 1962 when islanders Adam Swain and Joe Glass returned to England from the Royal Society Expedition declaring that the island was fit for habitation. It proved a tricky exercise to plan and carry out resettlement. This began when on 9th August 1962 twelve men of the Resettlement Survey Party left Southampton Docks aboard the Stirling Castle, arriving on Tristan aboard the Tristania 8th September 1962. Although officially this was a survey trip, make no doubt that these ten men were never going to return to England – resettlement of Tristan began on that day.

HMS Puma crew blasted a road from Garden Gate, the only usable beach for landings now that both Big and Little Beach had been destroyed by lava. Slowly the village was restored to some sort of order.

Back in England pressure grew on the British Government to facilitate a resettlement of the island, but there were doubters on both sides. On Sunday 2nd December representatives from the Colonial Office arrived unannounced in Tristan Close to conduct their secret ballot. The vote in favour of going back was 148, with five voting to remain. Now return of the refugees was a certainty. The Advance Party of 51 islanders led by Willie Repetto oddly sailed from Tilbury aboard RMS Amazon on 17th March 1963, transferring to MV Boissevain at Rio de Janeiro and arriving on Tristan on 9th April, rather than using the conventional Southampton-Cape Town route. Also on board was Administrator Peter Day, returning to lead the effort to re-build crucial harbour and factory infrastructure on which a successful resettlement would depend.

The main Resettlement Party of 198 islanders travelled direct from Southampton with 200 tonnes of cargo to Tristan aboard the Danish ferry Bornholm, departing on 24th October and arriving in triumph at Tristan on Sunday 10th November 1963. The islanders had made it home against the odds, and nothing could stop them.

There were many early problems before a viable economy and a good standard of living was established. Poor weather meant the Bornholm took eleven days to offload; one family refused to stay in their lava-damaged home and returned to England; potato crops were poor; savings dwindled as earnings were low before commercial fishing operations resumed in 1966. 35 islanders left Tristan for the UK in April 1966, so, out of the 280 Tristan islanders who could have returned home in 1963, 66 (24%) remained in the UK or had subsequently moved back. Whilst many of the 35 returned to Tristan, these facts highlight the human side of the resettlement – there was uncertainty about what was best for families and the future of their young people.

A full account of the 1961 volcanic eruption, the evacuation to the UK, times in England, resettlement and what has happened since can be found in the book 'Nothing Can Stop Us published' by the Tristan da Cunha Association and available from

This is Tristan’s first issue with King Charles III’s portrait. These old black & white photographs have been wonderfully brought to life with colour.

Description of the Stamps

45p - Leaving Calshot Camp - Frank Glass begins his return home outside his Calshot home in March 1963 as he prepares to travel to Tilbury to board RMS Amazon as a member of the Advance Party.

60p - Preparing Beach Access Road - Breaking and moving volcanic stone to make a new road across the 1961 lava field in about May 1963 to access the new small beach that could be used as a landing place. Lars Repetto poses in the centre with his sledgehammer raised, Leonard Glass wearing a sailor’s cap stands to the right, while Joe Glass points into the distance.

£1.10 - Garden Gate Beach - Islanders and their luggage on Garden Gate Beach during offloading of MV Bornholm in November 1963 (Photo: Jim Flint)

£1.80 - Landing at Garden Gate Beach - Interesting image of the scene on Garden Gate Beach on 9th April 1963 during the offloading of MV Boissevain. Bearded Frank Glass strides up the beach, busy drawing up loaded longboats and offshore further boats ply towards shore. The ship is the fishing vessel MV Tristania.

First Day Cover - The First Day Cover illustration shows a Tristan longboat being drawn up Garden Gate Beach during the offloading of MV Bornholm in November 1963 (Photo: Jim Flint)

Technical Specifications

Designer:Andrew Robinson Printer:Cartor
Stamp size:42 x 28mm Perforation:13¼ x 13½ per 2cms
Process:Lithography Sheet Layout:10
Production Co-ordination:Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd  

The Tristan Post Office would like to acknowledge the kind help and assistance of Mike Faulds and Richard Grundy.