63rd Annual General Meeting - Ellesmere Port - May 2010
The venue for the World Ship Society's 2010 Annual General Meeting
A very successful 63rd AGM was hosted by Merseyside Branch over the weekend of the 14th -16th May, 2010, based at the Holiday Inn which is adjacent to the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port on the Wirral.
Friday evening saw an opportunity for members to meet informally together with a slideshow illustrating the current Mersey scene.
On Saturday morning a guided tour of the Waterways Museum was being arranged. The AGM itself commenced at 2 p.m. with an alternative activity for non-members. The AGM dinner was held at 8 p.m. with the after-dinner speaker being the very entertaining Canon Bob Evans MBE, former Chaplain Superintendent of the Mersey Mission to Seamen whose work caring for the welfare of Merseyside seafarers has covered almost 50 years.
A Mersey Ferries cruise on Sunday morning concluded the weekend programme.
Throughout the weekend the preserved coal-fired steam tug "Kerne" was available for cruises either across the Mersey or along the Manchester Ship Canal. There were also several book and photo sellers present and an exhibition of maritime paintings. Click here to access the vessel's website.
Scroll down for the Photo Gallery.
The following report by John Thomas, Vice-Chairman of Merseyside Branch is entitled "A few personal memories"
As a member of WSS both locally and nationally and as someone who has never previously been to an AGM I looked forward to the event with a degree of uncertainty about what to expect, who would be there, how many members from elsewhere I would know and how the format of the weekend would develop as well as how formal various events would be. Thankfully I needn’t have worried, but please do read on!
As a member of our branch committee I had some degree of preparation work to undertake in the months leading up to the weekend, but mention of the real heroes will be made a bit later.
If we just set the scene back a few months, at short notice our branch were asked if we would be prepared to arrange and host this AGM. The branch committee unanimously agreed and set about finding a venue to take account of the likely number to attend and ensure the cost element remained reasonable to all concerned. This was easier said than done but fortunately we came up with the Holiday Inn at Ellesmere Port on the Wirral, an area we had not previously thought of when touring potential hotels in Liverpool itself. What to do during the weekend itself? Well right on the hotel’s doorstep lies the National Waterways Museum while the Manchester Ship Canal runs alongside. Shortly afterwards the availability of the preserved coal-fired steam tug KERNE for short cruises became the icing on the cake.
The weekend arrived, (I have skipped a bit here but hey we want more volunteers to help arrange a future AGM!) everything was in place; booksellers had set up their stalls in the exhibition area; delegates arrived throughout Thursday and Friday. ST KERNE arrived from Liverpool with a number of our delegates on board and then made several sailings along the Manchester Ship Canal over the weekend.
Friday evening was an informal part of the weekend so that reunions and conversations between members from far and wide could take place both before and after the evening’s treat in the form of an excellent slide presentation on the port of Liverpool from Philip Parker of ACL. Truly outstanding photographs and Philip’s expert commentary made for an excellent evening.
Saturday morning saw KERNE depart with a full load of members in good weather conditions, while along with 30 others I enjoyed a guided tour around the National Waterways Museum (Ellesmere Port). Much to see at this museum, hopefully re-emerging from a recent period in the doldrums, and as usual too little time.
Various forms of lunch or snacks were consumed by delegates before the more formal part of the weekend began with the AGM itself which was led by WSS Chairman Dr Richard Osborne who gave a comprehensive and easily understandable explanation of the past year’s operations followed by other officers’ reports and the formal business of the election of officers and Council members for 2010/11.
After the formal business we were treated to an extremely interesting and entertaining presentation by the President of WSS Professor Andrew Lambert on how naval warfare changed as a result of the Korean War. So soon after World War 2 and yet so different in causing the major navies in the world to completely rethink strategy. I found this fascinating and I am going to try and find out more information on this subject.
Saturday evening arrived and so to the formal dinner. The Holiday Inn continued to perform in an excellent way and the food was good and the service friendly and efficient. Then various toasts were made, and our Branch Chairman Adrian Sweeney gave an excellent speech looking back on previous AGMs hosted by Merseyside Branch and outlining a history of the branch itself.
Our guest speaker Canon Bob Evans then gave a performance worthy of Ken Dodd in its comedy and duration. We all wanted even more but there must have been a risk of overrunning until the next day which, being Sunday, might not have amused the retired Canon’s former employer! For anyone who has not seen Canon Bob in action he is highly entertaining and speaks without notes managing to wander off subject but never forgetting where he is. A mere 86 years young, Canon Bob sat down to wild applause but his work was not yet completed.
How to follow the Canon, well you can’t really, but Dave Crolley did make an excellent effort with the Grand Draw which he had been working on for many months. At this point I will pose a question. How do you become a millionaire? The answer, start off as a billionaire and let Dave talk you into donating prizes for the Grand Draw!
Over the past 6 months or so Dave had collected an amazing array to the extent that over 30 prizes were awarded - including some really valuable ones worth over £100! As the Draw got going Canon Bob was announcing the winners and did so in a very efficient way and adding to the fun of the occasion. Everything has to come to an end although none of us wanted it to but we still had next morning’s activities.
Sunday morning saw a large party of members travelling by a preserved Birkenhead Corporation Leyland PD2 double decker bus to sail on the Mersey Ferries followed by a visit to the preserved U-boat U-534 and its exhibition at Woodside Ferry. Then an added bonus, an unexpected ride on a replica Birkenhead tram, before a return on the bus to the Holiday Inn for heartfelt au revoirs until next year.
My trip on KERNE was the return version of what those WSS members had undertaken on Friday namely sailing down the Manchester Ship Canal and then transiting a quite choppy Mersey to lock in for berthing at Sandon Dock Liverpool. A highly enjoyable ending to what had been an excellent weekend.
Now to Mentions in Despatches. The branch committee worked hard to put on an enjoyable weekend, and one in which we as a branch can all be proud, though as a member of the committee I would say that wouldn’t I! Special mention should be made of the amount of work in arranging this event especially by John Williams and Dave Crolley and their respective better halves, not forgetting the considerable administration undertaken by our secretary Philip Welsh, who must have felt at some time he was in the travel agency business, and also for the detailed arrangements for the exhibition area by Geoff Holmes before, during and after the event.
Now, where did I start? Oh yes, what should I have expected over the weekend. I thought it would be a good weekend but I think I speak for everyone who attended in saying it surpassed all expectations. I am sure I will be attending future WSS AGMs elsewhere. I would also encourage fellow members who have not previously attended an AGM to do so and especially if at some future time you are asked to host the AGM you should do so. For those who did not attend this AGM, you really did miss a treat. Now let me see, I wonder if I can get to Cobh for the 2011 AGM next year!
Grace, Toasts & Menu
Photo Gallery from 2010 AGM
00 — Ellesmere Port canal basin outside Holiday Inn. Photo by John Williams.
01 — KERNE awaits her passengers on Saturday morning. Photo by John Williams.
02 — Louis Loughran & Alan and Sheila Watt amongst the book stands. Photo by Geoff Holmes.
03 — Chatham's stand. Photo by John Williams.
04 — Exhibition of maritime paintings. Photo by Geoff Holmes.
05 — Boat Hall in National Waterways Museum. Photo by Dave Ellison.
06 — WSS General Secretary, Jimmy Poole, awaits dinner. Photo by John Williams.
07 — Philip Simons and Alan Bishop peruse the menu. Photo by John Williams.
08 — Adrian Sweeney (Merseyside Branch Chairman) welcomes the guests and members. Photo by John Williams.
09 — Canon Bob Evans gives his very entertaining post-dinner address. Photo by John Williams.
10 — WSS Chairman, Richard Osborne, thanks Canon Evans. Photo by John Williams.
11 — Canon Bob performs his other duty of the evening - the Grand Draw. Photo by John Williams.
12 —Classic Birkendhead bus arrives with members at Woodside Ferry. Photo by Sue Williams.
13 — Ferry Cruise - DUBLIN VIKING discharges at Twelve Quays, Birkenhead. Photo by Dave Crolley.
14 — MERSEY VIKING departs Birkenhead for Belfast with several WSS members aboard. Photo by Dave Crolley.
15 — CLIPPER RANGER off Pier Head, Liverpool, having left Cammell Laird's yard after repairs. Photo by Dave Crolley.
16 — Preserved U-534 at Woodside, Birkenhead. Photo by Dave Crolley.
17 — Engine Room of U-534. Photo by Dave Crolley.
18 — KERNE ready to sail for Liverpool. Photo by Sue Williams.
19 — WSS members aboard KERNE having safety briefing. Photo by Sue Williams.
20 — KERNE sailing down Manchester Ship Canal at conclusion of a very successful AGM weekend. Photo by Sue Williams.
The following collection of photos represents one member's impression of the activities surrounding the AGM Weekend. The next series of images were taken by Sheila Watt, during — and after the weekend meeting.
138 — An information Board giving details of the Concrete Boats. "FCB18 is a concrete barge. She was built in 1944 by Messrs Wates Ltd of Barrow-in-Furness. She is the result of war-time austerity which caused shortages of both shipbuilding skills and steel.
To overcome these shortages the government turned to the building trade to produce vessels using concrete, which was a cheap and readily available material even in wartime. These vessels could also be made with a minimum amount of steel; a concrete barge with 200 tons carrying capacity required only 18 tons of steel compared with 56 tons necessary for an all steel barge.
These boats were never popular being heavy and difficult to steer. Due to the brittle nature of concrete they were easily damaged, despite being fitted with heavy timber fendering on their sides.
They were found mostly in the major ports and on rivers throughout the country; locally they were used on the Manchester Ship Canal, and the River Mersey.
In 1985, after being moored for many years at Westward Ho in Manchester, FCB18 was donated to the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port by the Manchester Ship Canal Company." Photo by Sheila Watt.
141 — One of the Concrete Boats awaiting renovation. Photo by Sheila Watt.
142 — Looking down through locks. Photo by Sheila Watt.
143 — Looking down through Second lot of locks - Office complex in background. Photo by Sheila Watt.
144 — From bridge over locks, looking towards Museum Building - Kids bikes just been fixed on rear of narrow boat by family! Photo by Sheila Watt.
145 — From bridge over locks, looking towards Musuem Building. Photo by Sheila Watt.
146 — DUBLIN VIKING. Photo by Sheila Watt.
150 — Members enjoying a trip on Sunday morning on the Mersey Ferries' ROYAL DAFFODIL. Photo by Sheila Watt.
151 — More members enjoying the view of Liverpool from the deck of the Mersey Ferries' ROYAL DAFFODIL. Photo by Sheila Watt.
153 — Six-sided clock and tower, left over from the industrial days, for workers to know the time! Photo taken from ROYAL DAFFODIL. Photo by Sheila Watt.
154 — Information aboard the ROYAL DAFFODIL reads - BY ROYAL APPOINTMENT
“The Mersey ferries saw active service in both world wars, distinguishing themselves under heavy enemy fire. It was after the famous raid on the Belgian port of Zeebrugge in April 1918 that the Mersey ferries IRIS and DAFFODIL received the ‘Royal’ prefix in honour of the bravery of their crew. 214 people were killed and wounded in the daring raid that ultimately proved successful in blocking German U-boat movements.” Photo by Sheila Watt.
159 — At the U-boat Story, you will be able to look into the U-boat, now in four sections with glass viewing partitions. Through the exhibition's interactive and audiovisual exhibits one can gain a unique insight into life on board a submarine during wartime, and the enduring mystery of U-534. Photo by Sheila Watt.
160 — WSS members chatting about the U-534, after touring the exhibit situated at the Woodside Ferry Terminal. Photo by Sheila Watt.
163 — Another view of damage incurred near the stern of the U-534 at Woodside. Photo by Sheila Watt.
Birkenhead Transport of a different type. Ship Society members are interested in other types of transport besides ships, and this weekend meeting allowed some to get a taste of life from years gone by.
167 — The following images show some of the trams and buses from the Birkenhead Transport Museum's collection, being displayed at Woodside. Photo by Sheila Watt.
168 — Full size replica of RESURGAM — at Woodside Bus and Ferry Terminal. Photo by Sheila Watt.
169 — The public can ride some of the old trams from Woodside to the Birkenhead Transport Museum's car barns - approximately a one-mile trip. Photo by Sheila Watt.
171 — Inside the Birkenhead Transport Museum. Photo by Sheila Watt.
170 — Another vintage tram from the collection at the Birkenhead Transport Museum. Here we see tram conductors being turned round for return journey. Photo by Sheila Watt.
172 — Three of the many trams in the Birkenhead Transport Museum's collection. The Museum is operated by the "Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society". Photo by Sheila Watt.
173 — Also from the Birkenhead Transport Museum - but not a tram! This bus was used to transport WSS members to their hotel. Photo by Sheila Watt.
174 — View from patio outside the Holiday Inn's restaurant of various boats in the Museum complex. Photo by Sheila Watt.
175 — View from room at Holiday Inn Hotel. Photo by Sheila Watt.