The bay was discovered during 1904 and named after Edouard Lockroy, a French politician and Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies, who assisted Jean-Baptiste Charcot in obtaining government funding for his French Antarctic Expedition. The harbour was used for whaling between 1911 and 1931. During World War II, the British military Operation Tabarin established the Port Lockroy base (Station A) on tiny Goudier Island in the bay, which continued to operate as a British research station until 1962.
During 1996, the Port Lockroy base was renovated and is now a museum and post office operated by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust.
It is one of the most popular tourist destinations for cruise-ship passengers in Antarctica. Proceeds from the small souvenir shop fund the maintenance of the site and other historic sites and monuments in Antarctica. The Trust collects data for the British Antarctic Survey to observe the effect of tourism on penguins. Half the island is open to tourists, while the other half is reserved for penguins. A staff of four typically process 70,000 pieces of mail sent by 18,000 visitors that arrive during the five month Antarctic cruise season. A souvenir passport stamp is also offered to visitors.
The historic importance of the site relates to both its establishment as an Operation Tabarin base during 1944, and for the scientific work performed there, including the first measurements of the ionosphere, and the first recording of an atmospheric whistler, from Antarctica. It was also a key monitoring site during the International Geophysical Year (1957). The site has been designated a Historic Site or Monument (HSM 61), following a proposal by the United Kingdom to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting.