Ascension Island – supplying the garrison

This mini-documentary follows the story of Ascension Island, a UK Overseas Territory in the Atlantic Ocean. Ascension is a small, desolate volcanic island, yet it proved essential in the 19th century as an important victualing station for ships rounding the capes. The British garrisoned the island, built large forts and relied on the strongholds with vital supplies that could make or break round the world voyages. After Charles Darwin and Joseph Hooker visited the island, the two naturalists developed a radical idea – to create a man-made rainforest on Ascension’s tallest cinder to create drinking water for the garrisoned soldiers. The experiment was a spectacular success, and by the 1870s, the dry volcanic desert had been transformed into a lush rainforest. We explore the legacy of the experiment, and the surprising use of planted Norfolk Island pines.

Britain’s Treasure Islands mini-documentaries

A series of short documentaries designed for on-line release exploring the wildlife, cultures and history of the UK Overseas Territories.

This film is one of forty mini-documentaries made from the footage not used in the broadcast series.

Visit to view all 40 mini-documentaries free of charge.

Please note: although complementary to the BBC FOUR series, the 40 short mini-documentaries are not commissioned or editorially overseen by BBC.

To discovery the wildlife, history and cultures of all of the UK Overseas Territories, please visit