The following is a list of currently operating UK branches.
Click upon the branch name to see more details about it.
Contact: David Menzies, 149 Spring Road, Kempston, Bedford, MK42 8NR. Tel: 01234 352014.
On the Horizon: our forthcoming Bedford & District Branch meetings
- 15 November - Branch social evening at the King William PH Kempston
- 13 December - Alan Pepper giving a presentation “Christmas Fare” - Please note this is the SECOND Wednesday of the month
On August 25, 2008, Ian Wells was presented with a book of Bedfordshire, by David Menzies, after his 25th visit to the branch to show slides and talk about shipping at Tilbury. [02.2009]
Contact - Richard Brown, 4 York Avenue, Ashley Down, Bristol BS7 9LH.
Tel: 0117 9513168.
Email: email@example.com [08.2013]
Upcoming Branch Programmes
- 6th September 2018 The History of Meyer Werft, Papenburg
Harry Spong. This family owned shipyard was founded in 1795 and in modern times has built over 40 cruise ships for worldwide customers.
- 4th October 2018 The History of Strick Line
A presentation by Barry Peck. Strick Line traded to the Arabian Gulf for some 80 years from 1890. Barry was a deck officer for the company in the 1960s.
- 1st November 2018 ‘Yes, we have no Bananas’
A WSS show covering a 29 day cruise to Central America including the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Pacific Coast.
- 6th December 2018 A GM
Followed by a talk by Carl Merry, a Gloucester Pilot, about the history and current work of the pilotage service.
- 3rd January 2019 Roland’s Reminiscences
A miscellany of pictures and stories of various ships researched over the years, presented by Roland Whaite.
- 7th February 2019 Steamers of the River Dart
Richard Clammer will be visiting us again with a presentation concerning the history of the ships and coming right up to date with the ‘Kingswear Castle’
- 7th March 2019 Ships around Scotland – Part 2
Our Chairman will be continuing his journey to shows us ships and ports on the West Coast.
- 4th April 2019 Captain Askew
Jim Charnock from the Manchester branch will be presenting a programme of slides taken by the late Captain Askew during his voyages with Manchester Liners.
- 2nd May 2019 Naval Evening
Richard Osborne, President of the Society, will be presenting ‘From Suez to the Falklands: The Royal Navy 1956 – 1982’
We were very pleased to welcome Ian Wells with his ‘London Shipping 1972 – Part1’ presentation at our May meeting. It was nostalgia aplenty as we saw excellent pictures of ships at the Royal Docks in London. There were views of some of the ancillary vessels as well. No high visibility jackets in view and containers were not talked about until the last shot. This was the beginning of the end for conventional ships and British liner companies who had dominated traditional cargo handling routes for many years. This was the last meeting of the season and we will be back in September.
The ‘Beast from the East’ came west in time to cancel our March meeting. The first part of our April open evening was taken up by admiring a selection of a member’s scale models (1/1200) showing cargo ships belonging to British companies in the 1950s and ‘60s. He also brought along photographs of ships in the Bristol docks taken over many years. Another member talked about his projects involving wrecks near Clevedon and tugs from Germany working in Bristol. We finished with a slide show of more local ships taken from a selection of 5000 slides given to our Chairman.
Our previous Secretary and Treasurer, Arthur Clark, was ‘Wandering the Med again’ for us with his pictures from a cruise on the 1965 built ‘OCEANIC’ in 1996. Unfortunately, Arthur could not be with us so the presentation was co-ordinated by Roland Whaite with ship histories and Arthur’s comments. Following on Roland showed views of about twenty ships operational in the ten years from 1948. The connection to them was a man who had served on deck on all of them. Roland had researched the vessels, obtained photos of them and intertwined histories and experiences. Thanks to Roland and Arthur for a very interesting evening.
Our Chairman, Bernard McCall, entertained us in our first meeting of the New Year with his presentation ‘Ships around Scotland’. We began in Alloa on the River Forth. Yes, it was an important port in its time linking exports from Glasgow to Europe but closed commercially in 1970. We then journeyed around the east coast through ports old and new via Orkney and Shetland to the west finishing at Kyle of Lochalsh. We saw a wide range of ports and shipping, ancient and modern, and accompanied with audience participation plus some personal anecdotes it all combined into a very enjoyable evening.
At our AGM the usual formal business concerning the Committee remaining in place, the reasonable financial situation and the various Officer reports were soon dealt with.
A long discussion then followed about trying to increase our numbers by local advertising and as a result some initiatives were agreed. After the break we were able to indulge in some good old nostalgia as Cedric Catt showed some of his slides taken in Bristol, Avonmouth and Sharpness in the 1970s and 1980s. Happy days!
For November our Treasurer, Nigel Edgell, presented our Naval evening – ‘Royal Navy Carrier Air Power’. There were several strands incorporated. Why aircraft carriers are important; the UK contribution to carrier technology (considerable); how carriers supplanted ‘dreadnoughts’ and their history from World War II onwards. There were 58 carriers at the end of the war although not all suitable for more modern use. Now we will have two. We were well informed on the ups and downs of the last few decades which were not surprisingly guided by political decisions. Well done, Nigel, it was an interesting evening.
At our October meeting, we were delighted to welcome back David Walker,
secretary of the Torbay Branch. David gave a splendid account of some
of the minicruises that he has enjoyed in recent years. We were
particularly impressed by the facilities on board ferries in northern
Europe where ferry travel is just as popular as it ever was and the
ferry companies serve their passengers extremely well. Many thanks,
David. We look forward to Part 2.
On the 1st August for our second excursion of the summer thirteen members and friends travelled on the ‘Balmoral’ sailing the 3 Rivers and 5 Bridges trip from Clevedon pier. 3 Rivers – Severn, Avon to Bristol and return plus the Wye. 5 Bridges – M5 and Clifton Suspension Bridge, the two Severn Bridges and the Wye Bridge. The weather for the six hours or so was bright and breezy. There is a wealth of history to be seen from over two hundred years ago to the latest technology which in some cases cannot be accessed from the landside. The ship was very comfortable with plenty of refreshments available and expertly handled in some tight turning situations in the Avon and the Wye. It was disappointing that the ship movements for this particular tide at Avonmouth and Portbury occurred before we embarked and after we left but the day was enjoyed by all. Let’s hope we can travel on the ‘Balmoral’ again next year.
Ship arrival – ‘Cuidad de Cadiz’ – Airbus on board – 15,643gt/2008.
Ship departure – ‘Grande Ellade – 52,485gt/2001
Ships noted in dock – ‘Arklow Bank’ – 8565dwt/2014, ‘Arklow Brave – 8660dwt/2015, ‘Arklow Spirit’ – 34,905dwt/2013, ‘Aasheim’ – 5826dwt/2001
July VTS Centre Visit
On 24th July nine members from the Bristol Branch visited the marine planning and VTS centre of the Bristol Port Company. The building is located on the South pier at Avonmouth Docks and is responsible for shipping movements between the Holme Islands, beyond Weston-super-Mare, and The Shoots, by the newest Severn bridge, as well as the River Avon to Bristol. We were given a detailed assessment of the many factors which have to be considered when ships arrive or sail. The tidal conditions can be testing as the Severn estuary has the second highest tidal range in the world and Panamax vessels are not uncommon in the container, tanker and coal trades. At the other end of the scale small coasters can be pilot-free and need a different approach. There is also an increasing number of leisure vessels in use with the Portishead marina facilities nearby. It was a very interesting visit and will certainly help us to understand what is happening when we are ship-spotting at Battery Point.
We were very grateful to the Port Company for making the visit possible.
Shipping seen: Clarity – 1307gt/1989 and ‘Neptune Aegli – 21554gt – 2002 leaving Royal Portbury Dock. ‘Titania’ – 74255gt/2011 arriving Royal Portbury.
For our last meeting of the season we enjoyed a presentation from Branch member Huw Gibby entitled ‘Four cruises in 2016’. This had been held over from our AGM in December. Huw’s travels began in early April on the ‘Marco Polo’, followed by the inaugural cruise of the ‘Harmony of the Seas’ from Southampton to Rotterdam and back. ‘Braemar’ and the German waterways was next and finally the ‘Britannia’ to the Canary Islands. We saw a wide range of shipping and ports and contrasting scenery with ships (fairly) ancient to very modern. The views of the facilities of the ‘Harmony’ were the subject of much discussion – not always favourable. Thanks again Huw.
Richard Potter came from Yorkshire with his presentation ‘Navigating the Humber’. This was an illustrated talk on the River Humber and the fifteen separate ports and wharves between Spurn Point and Howendyke. It was full of good pictures, enlightening facts and topical anecdotes. There was much similarity between ‘our’ Severn and the Humber with movements at high water, dredging and shifting ship channels. The evening was enjoyed by all.
We were pleased to welcome Krispen Atkinson to our March meeting for his presentation of ‘Cornish Ports and Harbours – Part 4, the Isles of Scilly, the Tamar, and creeks of the Fal’. As with his other shows we saw what are now quiet backwaters for todays tourists and boaters had been thriving ports and boatyards in earlier times. With his guidance we saw that it is still possible to see remains of this today and details of the ships used are still available. We thought this was the last talk in the series and we have certainly enjoyed them all but it seems there may be more, perhaps.
Contact: Tony Atkinson, 'Tregarth', 20 Lower Redannick, Truro, Cornwall TR1 2JW.
Tel: 01872 275602.
On 16th August 2012, members of the Cornwall Branch were privileged to visit two Royal Naval vessels at Queen's Wharf, Falmouth by courtesy of the commanding officers, RN port liaison and A&P Falmouth. HMS Mersey P283 (1,677 tonnes displ.) was on a routine visit during her busy deployment on fishery patrol duties in the area as one of the three River Class patrol vessels conducting all such patrols around England, Wales and Northern Ireland. HMS Enterprise H88 (3,500 tonnes) one of the Royal Navy's two Survey Vessels Hydrographic Oceanographic (SVHO) was alongside for a period of maintenance. A tour of each vessel with a detailed explanation of its durites was much appreciated. Our thanks to Adrian Symons for initiating and arranging the visit. Photo by Tony Atkinson. [08.2012]
Contact: Mrs. Marion Browning, "Tarven" Corfe Lodge Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 9NF.
Tel: 01202 694338.
Upcoming Branch Programmes
- 14th January 2017 WRECK OF EAST INDIAMAN HALSEWELL in 1786 off the Dorset coast: Philip Browne
- 11th February 2017 CONTRASTS IN CRUISING: Bill Mayes
- 11th March 2017 BRANCH AGM + DVD or member
- 8th April 2017 GRACE HARWAR -one of the last commercial sailing Ships: Bonny Sartin
- 13th May 2017 A CRUISE ALONG AMERICA’S EAST COAST: Bill Lawes
Contact: Mike Jackson.
Upcoming Branch Programmes
- 5 May 2017 - Mike Jackson A Ferrymans Photos
- 2 June 2017 - Ken Larwood Ferry Nostalgia 1970-2000
- 7 July 2017 - Don Mckeand Icebreakers
- 4 August 2017 - Bernard Mccall Ships Around Scotland
- 1 September 2017 - Michael Lindsay Mick'S Miscellany
- 6 October 2017 - Ian Wells Thames Shipping Memories 1972
- 3 November 2017 - Bernard Morton/Andrew Humphreys - The Slides Collections Of Bill Reynolds And John Freestone
- 1 December 2017 - Krispen Atkinson Krispen's Travels
- 1 January 2018 - Members Photos Taken During 2017
- 2 February 2018 - Andrew Humphreys Slides From The Collection Of Peter Glenn
- 2 March 2018 - AGM and Photographic Competition
Tel : 01505 863386. firstname.lastname@example.org [09.2014]
- 27th April 2017 - YEAR ON THE CLYDE 2016 - Digital show/ Talk by Paul Strathdee
BRANCH REPORT -
”50 Years On”
Our branch - which is based in Greenock - was founded in the summer of 1965.
We celebrated our 40th birthday in 2005 with a special Dinner which was held at
the Tontine hotel. Our special guest on that occasion was Jimmy Poole, Honorary
General Secretary. Long-service medals were presented to George Gardner,
Paul Strathdee and Robin Wilson who were all founder-members of the branch.
To commemorate our branch’s 50th Anniversary we opted for a more modest, less
formal event. On a Saturday in August 2015 a group of members enjoyed a hearty
Lunch at the Royal Gourock Yacht Club.
Those members present were able to reflect on the changes that have taken place
on the Clyde during our first half-Century.
A busy river, bustling Glasgow docks and many thriving merchant shipbuilding yards
all now seem just a distant memory.
On the positive side, though, the container revolution has brought us the Greenock
Ocean Terminal, and the leisure boom has resulted in ever-larger cruise ships calling
at Greenock in increasing numbers.
These pictures were taken at our 50th Anniversary Lunch. [09.2015 plus 03.2016]
Contact:Iain McGeachy, 30 Clerwood Terrace, EDINBURGH, Midlothian, EH12 8PG Tel no: 0131 476 5499
E-mail: email@example.com [08.2015]
Branch Website: http://www.wssfirthofforth.uk
- 16th October 2017 - Ian Quinn ‘A JOURNEY DOWN THE CLYDE’ Slide show
- 20th November 2017 - Maurice Napier ’ Peru to Argentina’
- 18th December 2017 - David Fleming-Miller ‘The Merchant Navy in WWII’
- 15th January 2018 - Peter Gifford “Southampton and the Solent”
- 19th February 2018 - Robert Warnock ‘The Lure of the Red Funnel - MacBrayne’
- 19th March 2018 - AGM and Members Night
- 16th April 2018 - John Ives ‘ Rosyth’
Contact: Alan Drewett, 48 Parton Road, Churchdown, Glos GL3 2AF Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: To be advised. [05.2015 RW]
- 10 September 2018 HMS Glamorgan by John Elliott
- 8 October 2018 A shipping medley by Ted Tedaldi
- 12 November 2018 HMS Victory by Simon Battisby
- 14 January 2019 Panama Transit by Keith Reed
- 11 February 2019 Falklands Shipping by WSS Film Library
- 11 March 2019 Singapore Scenes & Shipping by Ken Guest
- 8 April 2019 Brunel's SS Great Britain by Ian Caskie
- 13 May 2019 A late 60s life at sea + AGM by Russell Judge
More details on the current programme can be found at http://glostransporthistory.visit-gloucestershire.co.uk/world-ship-society-gloucester-branch-20172018/
RECENT BRANCH EVENTS
GLOUCESTER At the last meeting at The Pop Inn before our move to Tesco, St Oswald's Road, GL1 2SG on 11 September 2017, the Branch AGM heard reports from its officers and re elected them for another year. This was followed by a Powerpoint presentation by Secretary Alan Drewett entitled "Landships and Tanks at Sea" looking at the contribution of the Royal Navy to the introduction of tracked armoured fighting vehicles and the challenges of using these during opposed amphibious assaults. Getting the tanks ashore - from Dieppe to Inchon and beyond - has involved different sizes of mechanised landing vessels, swimming and underwater gun tanks, specialist assault vehicles and, most recently, air cushioned landing craft.
As before, meetings from 11 September 2017 will commence at 1930 and attendees are required to sign in at the Customer Services Desk.
H.M.S. GLOUCESTER’s CREST
When it was announced that a Class 42 Destroyer was to be named GLOUCESTER for service in the Royal Navy, the thought occurred to Tom Askew (a member of the WSS Gloucester Branch) that there should be a physical link between the ship and the City which had given that name to ten of her naval predecessors since 1654.
Tom had been a shipyard apprentice at the Rosyth Dockyard towards the end of World War One, and had become a skilled craftsman to the extent that he was an Inspector of Shipwrights prior to retirement. So, the idea of a ship’s crest began to emerge, but there was no precedent for the presentation of what would normally be a bridge crest by a private body or individual to ships of the Royal Navy.
A huge amount of effort was put in by Chris Witts, then Secretary of the Branch (and later destined to be a Mayor of the City of Gloucester) to cajole and persuade the numerous organisations with an involvement. Initially, they included the shipbuilders Vosper-Thorneycroft at Woolston near Southampton; Admiralty Procurement at Bath and more generally the Ministry of Defence. It took the involvement of local MP, Mrs Sally Oppenheim and presentations by Tom Askew and Branch Chairman, Terry Robinson, before the MOD gave full authority for the Crest to be created and offered to the ship.
Meanwhile, the effort to source suitable hardwood had eventually born fruit when a piece of old and well-seasoned timber was found in the Gloucester Cathedral works yard. With the full backing of the Cathedral, Tom was able to carve the crest using a bench mallet and planes made by him as an apprentice; after soaking the wood with preservative and coating with primers and sealants, the gilding and painting was carried out by Mr & Mrs George Gough as per the existing ships badge which was based upon a 16th century version of the City coat of arms.
The Crest was completed in time for the launch of GLOUCESTER on 2nd November 1982, when the Branch was represented at the ceremony; however, for an intervening period during fitting-out of the Destroyer, the Crest was put on display in the Cathedral Treasury.
On 7th June 1985, six members travelled for the formal presentation to D96 of the Crest, accompanied by a brass plaque denoting that it had been presented by the Gloucester Branch of the World Ship Society. Initially, the Crest was mounted at the head of the gangway.
(1) The presentation party on 7th June 1985 as Capt Dermot Rhodes of HMS GLOUCESTER receives the Crest from WSS Gloucester Branch members: (left to right) Tom Askew, Chris Witts, Mary Tibbetts, Les Dalton, Ken Vincent and Les Tibbetts
The connection between the Branch and HMS GLOUCESTER was maintained at intervals, culminating in the Branch Treasurer, John Mayer, being a supernumerary on the voyage in May 2011 between Avonmouth (where the ship had made a farewell visit) and Portsmouth prior to decommissioning.
(2) Branch Treasurer John Mayer with officers of HMS GLOUCESTER on the bridge as they navigate the Needles channel in May 2011.
WSS ‘Marine News’ Vol 66, no 6 (June 2012) reported that the Crest had been returned on 16th July 2011 by the ship’s Operations Officer, Lieutenant Tom Rowley, and accepted by Canon Celia Thompson on behalf of the Cathedral for their safe keeping. It was particularly appropriate that the Branch was represented by Chris Witts, Les Dalton and Mary Tibbetts from the 1985 presentation party, along with a good turn-out of current members.
(3) Branch Chairman Ken Guest, Lieutenant Tom Rowley RN, Weapons Officer of HMS Gloucester, Mrs Mary Tibbetts, Chris Witts, Les Dalton and Canon Celia Thompson as the Crest is returned to Gloucester Cathedral on 16 July 2011.
(4) Canon Celia Thompson of Gloucester Cathedral with the Crest.
Following on negotiations led by Branch Chairman, Ken Guest, positioning of the Crest was decided and led to a re-dedication ceremony at the Cathedral on 10th October 2012, in the presence of Dame Janet Trotter, the Lord Lieutenant of the County of Gloucestershire, and the current Mayor of the City of Gloucester, Councillor David Brown.
(5) The photograph shows Branch members below the Crest after the re-dedication in the Cathedral, from the left:
Harry Phillips, Ted Tedaldi, Dave Markey, John Mayer (Branch Treasurer), Penny Meenagh, Mr & Mrs Fred Jones, Malcolm Bell (Branch Secretary), Mrs Margaret Mayer, Mrs Mary Tibbetts, Ken Guest (Branch Chairman) and Chris Witts
Thus, this permanent link between warships named GLOUCESTER and the City is on display in the Cathedral, along with the plaque which informs of the involvement of the WSS Gloucester Branch.
And the story finishes with the ship leaving Portsmouth under tow on 22nd September 2015, bound for the beaches of Aliaga in Turkey for recycling by Layal Ship Dismantling.
Contact: Derek Sands, 33 Portland Crescent, Dovercourt, Essex. CO12 3QH.
Tel. 01255 507017.
On the Horizon: our forthcoming meetings
- 14th July — “Blue Funnel, Part 2”, a WSS Tape/Slide Show
- August — NO MEETING
- 8th September — “Central American Cruise”, powerpoint show by David Brown of a cruise by the late Martin Wright
- 13th October — Hull, the Humber and Trent Ports by Andrew Warrick
- 10th November — AGM and members’ slides/photos/images
- 9th December (Friday) — Social Evening, at the Brantham Bull
For our June meeting Derek Sands gave a digital presentation of a cruise made on Fred Olsen's Bramaer in April 2015.
Starting fom Harwich the first port of call was Hamburg, where due to a kind offer an impromptu tour of the port was made on the preserved customs launch
Prasident Schaefer. Several ships were seen on the Elbe as the Braemar sailed and next day passed through the lock at Ijmuiden bound Amsterdam.
Amsterdam was as usual busy with some nice photos taken. Onwards then to Antwerp where a harbour cruise was made and also several shots taken
on the cruise down the Scheldt. A good attendance enjoyed the show.
Contact: Malcolm Magee, 16 Port-E-Chee Avenue, Douglas, Isle of Man IM2 5EW.
Tel: 01624 676882.
Contact: Jim Charnock, 27 Bollin Drive, Timperley, Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 5QR.
Tel: 0161 969 1581. [02.2013]
On the Horizon: our forthcoming meetings
- 15th Feb. Branch AGM + Supporting programme. We hope that with a speedy AGM we will be able to introduce a further topic to our annual collection.
- 15th Mar. Shipping slides
- 19th Apr. Marine Casualties - slideshow by the late Bert Novelli
- 17th May. Slides from the Capt. Eric Askew collection - Jim Charnock. Jim is bringing a further selection of slides from Eric’s collection. Eric’s ‘action’ pictures are superb and many shots just beggar belief.
- 21st June Slides from the World Ship Photo Library - Jim McFaul. We have invited Jim to come up from Coventry again with a further selection of slides from the massive collection that forms the Library. We already know the standard so book your seat early.
Geoff Holmes, 17, Bayswater Court, Newport Avenue, Wallasey CH45 8QJ.
Tel: 0151 638 6760
e.mail: email@example.com [08.2015]
The Winter 2016 Edition of the Mersey Log Mersey Log Winter 2016
On the Horizon: our forthcoming meetings.
Please see the list of full events here 2017-2018 Presentations (pdf 518KB)
Merseyside Branch activities
June 2018: For our June meeting we welcomed branch member David Shore who gave an excellent presentation entitled ’Ships built on the East Coast of England, 1960’s to 1990’s’. With slides taken by himself and his Father Barry, David gave us a history of Shipbuilders between the Humber and the Tweed. We saw many examples of vessels built at famous yards such as Yorkshire Dry Dock, tugs at Hessle, John Harker at Knottingley, Swan Hunters, Sunderland Shipbuilders and Smiths Dock at Middlesbrough all accomplied by histories researched by David. Unfortunately most of these yards and vessels are all gone now. Thank you David for a great night’s entertainment.
May 2018: Our May meeting speaker was our old friend Bernard McCall who travelled from Bristol to give us a great presentation about visiting Ports around coast of Scotland. He started at Alloa and finished at Stornoway. This was a great talk and Bernard gave us most interesting explanations of the places he visited. We all learned a lot but unfortunately time ran out so hopefully we are now looking forward to your return next year to complete your tour of rest of the West coast that we never got to see. Thank you Bernard for coming to talk to us.
April 2018: We were very pleased to welcome members from the Cobh branch who came to visit us for our April meeting, we hope you all enjoyed being on Merseyside. John Hooley from Macclesfield was our guest speaker and he continued his magnificent account of Railways at Sea incorporating South and West Coast Railway Ships up to Sealink in 1984. He started this talk at Newhaven and we saw ferries and trains in Ports all along the coast to Cardiff. It was another great evening so thanks John for coming to talk to us and we look forward to Part 3 next year.
March 2018: We welcomed well known book author Paul Boot to our March meeting and the title of his presentation was ‘Strangers on the River, unusual visitors to the Mersey’ and this is exactly what we got. It was an incredible evening coupled with Paul’s extreme talent in taking photographs and his explanations of the ships he showed us. These ranged from a lot of Liverpool ships that had re-appeared in different guises to ships we hadn’t seen before. Thank you a lot Paul for coming to talk to us and we hope we see you again very soon.
February 2018: Our February meeting exceptional when we had the pleasure of welcoming Iain Quinn from the Coastal Cruising Association. Iain’s presentation was ‘In the wake of the Queen Mary from Glasgow to the Sea’. The evening was fantastic showing us a photographic tour of the River Clyde, typical ships and buildings that the Queen Mary would have passed. These slides showed us spectacular vessels that have long gone now, too many to list here. All the members agreed that this presentation was one of the best Iain had given. Thanks a lot Iain and we look forward to seeing you again next year.
January 2018: For our January meeting we held a Maritime DVD evening. The first DVD was presented by Peter Head who showed us an Imperial War Museum production ‘Shipyard and Docks at War. This was made up of five sections titled ‘A Tyneside Story’, ‘From the Seven Seas’, ‘Steel goes to Sea’, ‘Clyde built’ and ‘Shipbuilders’, very interesting and most entertaining. After the interval John Williams showed us a Snowbow production in the Great Liners Series, Part 8 titled ‘Echo’s of the Mersey’. This was also very interesting where we saw many ships that graced the Mersey over the years. Thanks to Peter and John and also John Luxton for his projection skills.
December 2017: Our own branch member John Luxton solved several PC/Projector problems to present his latest Seatube 4 series of videos from the Internet for our December meeting. The highlights included old footage of HMS HERMES and HMS GLAMORGAN plus videos from the German Navy. Also a video of Merseyside Shipping from 1941 was excellent plus other Maritime Mishaps that were quite amusing especially one showing a canal boat stuck under a bridge. Thanks a lot John for another good Seatube presentation and we look forward to another show next year. Thanks also must go to Dot Gibbons for presenting us with another of her delicious Christmas Cakes which we all enjoyed.
November 2017: We were honoured to welcome to our branch for our November meeting Roy Cressey from the Yorkshire Ship Enthusiasts Society who showed us fabulous images of previous competition winners taken by the members over several years. The standard of photography was extremely high and all Roy’s members should be congratulated on their remarkable achievements. We were shown all manner of vessels, large and small, seen not only in the U.K. but in many other countries as well. Thank you Roy for travelling from Leeds to see us and hopefully it won’t be too long before we see you again.
October 2017: We were very privileged to be granted a visit by Atlantic Container Line to their new ‘G4’ Ro/Ro/Container Ship ATLANTIC STAR. Visits Secretary Dave Crolley presented Captain Jakub Miszczyszynwith a WSS Varnished Plaque which was mounted on the wall in their Conference Room. Then we were given a very comprehensive and interesting tour of the ship by 2nd Officer Rodel Server. Thanks to Phil Parker for arranging this unique visit. Our October speaker was Jim Charnock who showed us slides from the collection of Captain Eric Askew. Everything he showed us was taken from the bridge of the MANCHESTER COMMERCE which Eric was Master of. We saw ships of every variety taken in the 1970’s era from all parts of the world but mainly on the St Lawrence Seaway were Eric’s shots of ice bound ships was spectacular. Thanks Jim for a great presentation.
September 2017: For our first meeting of the new season in September our guest speaker was our own committee member Phillip Parker who gave us a most interesting presentation entitled ‘50 Years of the Atlantic Container Line’ which this year is celebrating their Anniversary. We were very privileged to see previously unseen images taken from over the years starting with ACL’s first ship ATLANTIC SPAN at Baltimore in 1967. Philip showed us the whole fleet right up to date including the new G4 class ships that have only recently been introduced. A very good evening Philip, thank you very much.
July 2017: Brought our Branch AGM when our current Chairman Dave Crolley stood down as he had served his three years in office. The newly elected Chairman is now Adrian Sweeney. Our current Committee was re-elected en-bloc for the forthcoming season. The future of our branch library was discussed. After the interval we all enjoyed slides from Jim Charnock of the Manchester Branch who showed us some interesting photographs from Buenos Aires, San Francisco, Kiel Canal, Hamburg and Rotterdam. Thanks Jim for entertaining us.
June 2017: Our own branch member Geoff Holmes was our guest speaker for our June meeting who gave us a great presentation about Liverpool’s South Docks. Geoff showed us some very interesting images of vessels that entered the system from famous shipping lines such as Booth Line, Elder Dempster and the Guinea Gulf Line. What made Geoff’s presentation great were his stories about these vessels as he had sailed on most of the ships he showed us. Thanks a lot Geoff. On June 16thwe all had a fabulous day on the re-built 1903 M.S.C. tender Daniel Adamson for a trip from Ellesmere Port to Acton Bridge and onto the Anderton Lift by bus, a great day out. I’m sad to report branch member Dave Roberts had passed away after a long illness.
May 2017: Our own branch member John Luxton was our guest speaker for our May meeting who gave us Part 4 of his Maritime Infrastructure presentations showing us Industrial Archaeology of more Irish Sea Ports. This was a most interesting evening where John started by showing us examples of maritime buildings around Douglas Harbour on The Isle of Man both past and present. After the interval we visited Piers at Llandudno, Beaumaris, Menai Bridge and ended up at Bangor. A most enjoyable evening from John, we thank you very much and look forward to Part 5 next year.
April 2017 : John Hooley from Macclesfield was our guest speaker for April and he gave us a magnificent account of Railways at Sea including East and South Coast Railway Ships up to Sealink in 1984. He started on the Humber showing us ferries from 1885 running out of Hull. Then it was down to Harwich, Dover, Folkestone, Newhaven, Southampton and ending us showing some Channel Island Ferries. John also showed us many rare images of old British Railways Steam locomotives hauling trains such as the Golden Arrow, most interesting. It was a great evening John so thanks for coming to talk to us and we look forward to Part 2 next year.
March 2017 : Our March meeting brought our good friend Iain Quinn from the Clyde River Steamer Club. It is always a special evening when Iain comes to see us and this meeting was no exception. On this occasion his subject was Paddle Steamers of the 1950’s, 60’s & 70’s and what a fabulous presentation it was. Iain started by showing us vessels from the South Coast, the Bristol Channel, then on to the East Coast, ending with vessels on Scottish waters. As expected Iain slides were of a very high standard showing rare vessels coupled with great scenery and of course Iain always tells amusing stories to go with his commentary. Thank you Iain for a great evening and we look forward to seeing you again next year.
February 2017 : We decided to hold a Maritime DVD presentation for our February meeting which was most entertaining. The first film we showed was about Humber Shipping but mostly featured the ferries that crossed from Hull to New Holland showing the last ferries in service, namely Tattershall, Winfield and Lincoln Castle’s. Also there was an interview with one of the Captains that served for 25 years on the route. After the interval we were treated to one of the Snowboat Maritime series entitled ‘The Great Liners, Mersey Bound’. This DVD was very good as it showed many of the Liners that we all love that served Liverpool over the past decade. A great evening was had by all.
January 2017: Our own Branch member Adrian Sweeney gave us for our January meeting an excellent presentation entitled ‘Fading Memories and Hazy Perceptions’ which he showed us images taken from the first camera he owned as a boy of 10. The photos he showed were taken mostly around the River, The Landing Stage and Birkenhead Docks. Also as you would expect from Adrian he also showed quite a few shots taken on trips to Douglas, Isle of Man. Thank you Adrian, it was a very good evening’s entertainment and we hope you can show us more of your archives again soon.
November 2016 : As it was 1990 when we released our own Merseyside Branch Slide Show for showing to all branches so we decided it was time to look at it again for our November meeting. This programme brought back memories of great ships such ships such as the Britannic, Reina Del Pacifico, Carinthia, Empress of England and the 1951 built Mersey Ferry Royal Iris. Also we looked at the Overhead Railway and Mersey Tunnel. Each dock area was featured from the South Docks up to Seaforth in the North plus docks areas at Birkenhead were also seen. Thanks to Phil Welsh for operating the equipment so that we could all enjoy a fabulous evening.
The Branch has recently taken part in the 2016 North West Ship Show. This was successful. Please see attached photos.
For our October meeting our own branch member Philip Parker was fortunate gain access via Peel Ports Management to show us many very old photographs of the MD&HB archives that could easily have been lost. They had been found in a cupboard that nobody had looked into for many years. They all were superb b/w images from the early 1900 showing river views, all the dock areas and most interestingly the constructions of the MD&HB Building at the Pier Head plus fascinating shots of Gladstone Dock under construction before water had been let in. Thank you very much Phil for allowing us to see these images, it was an amazing evening.
September 2016. We are sad to announce that two of our most respected members have died, Donald MacArthur and Ken Lawrence. Both these fine gentlemen will be greatly missed by our branch. To start off our new season we were visited by Jimmy Poole who gave us an account of the vessels he saw during his April 2015 cruise aboard NORWEGIAN JADE. The ports he called at were Civitavecchia, passed through the Messina Strait, Katakolon, Piraeus, Kusadasi, Istanbul and Naples. As expected from Jimmy this was a very interesting and amusing presentation. Thanks a lot Jimmy for coming to see us.
July 12th brought our Branch AGM when Dave Crolley was re-elected to serve as Chairman for another year and our Committee was re-elected en-bloc for the forthcoming season. After the AGM we were all enjoyed slides and images from Philip Welsh who showed us some interesting launches at Cammell Lairds, Phil Parker, P&O’s Strath class Cargo ships, Dave Crolley on his visit to Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth and Jon Godsell showed images old and new of Naval vessels mainly around Birkenhead. Thanks to you all for giving us great presentations.
Our June meeting was a lovely evening with Harry Spong from the Bristol Branch who gave us a delightful presentation about the History of Bristol Docks. As expected from Harry this was a most enjoyable, interesting and very amusing presentation, exactly what you may expect from Harry. Most of the images we saw were old black and photographs from many years ago showing the Port from its early day’s right up to present day. A great night Harry, thank you for visiting us and hopefully we will see you again soon.
Maritime Infrastructure Part 3 was the theme for our April 2016 meeting presented by our own branch member John Luxton. As in previous shows John didn’t disappoint us and his talk that was most interesting covering such places as Hayle and Newlyn in Cornwall and after the interval we were shown what buildings were still in existence from the old Aust Ferry on the River Severn. To finish off we then looked at the village of Portskewett in Wales. Thanks John, another great evening and we look forward to another show next year. A small group of members visited HMS BULWARK which was a very informative and enjoyable occasion.
The Branch took part in the first North West Ship Show (2015). This was successful. Please see attached photos.
We have also helped to organise the Merchant Ship Day. This was held on November 7th at the Liverpool Seafarers' Centre. Again, a very interesting and enjoyable day.
Contact: David Brown, 8, Forefield Green, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 6YU.
Tel: 01245 465052. [12.2009]
For a full report on the branch activities and "What's On", visit the branch website at http://midessexships.org.uk, monthly reports on the branch activities; items of local interest; a list of tanker transhipments off Southwold; the history of the London County Council ferry fleet of 1905; the diary of HMS Perseus (1901-1903); the diary of the sailing ship Derwent's maiden voyage to Australia in 1885, plus other photos and articles of interest.
Contact: Alan Smith, 35 Maes Seiriol, Pensarn, Abergele, Conway, Gwynedd LL32 7RZ.
Tel: 01745 825824.
From April 19th 2018 the North West Kent Branch will meet at;
The Community Room. Asda Superstore, Thames Way, Gravesend DA11 0DQ.
Meetings will be held on the Third Thursday of each month and the room is available from 17.00 – 20.00.
Contact: Glen Humble, 195 Old Road East, Gravesend, Kent DA12 1PN. Tel: 08707201130.
On the Horizon: our forthcoming meetings.
Contact: Michael Hamilton, 56 Moira Drive, Bangor, Co Down, BT204RW. Tel 02891- 469072
Contact: Ian Denton, firstname.lastname@example.org [10.2012 RW]
Contact: Mrs. Val Thompson, 60 The Grange, Hurstpierpoint, Hassocks, West Sussex BN6 9FD.
Tel: 01273 834446.
Publications: bi-monthly - South Coast Look Out; semi-annually - South Coast Packet. [08.2015]
On the Horizon: our forthcoming meetings.
- May 25th Thames Miscellany Steve Spouse
- June 22nd Torpedo Boats of WWI Trever Cox
- July 27th Torbay AGM 2017 Philip Simons
- August 24th Thames Shipping 1972 Ian Wells
- September 28th Strick Line Trevor Cox
- October 26th Fishing Vessels Stuart Emery
- November 23rd Krispen, Still on his Travels Krispen Atkinson
- December 2nd Christmas Fayre at Southwick Community Centre
- December 14th Xmas Buffet & Nautical Film The Members
Recent Meeting Highlights
Meeting Notes: Thursday, 22nd October : "My Travels in 2013" by Bill Mayes.
The Branch was taken on a 14,243 mile voyage on 108 ships, also involving some 61 nights afloat and numerous ferry connections, when Bill Mayes presented his "2013 Voyages and Visits." Louis Cruises ORIENT QUEEN, Aida Cruises AIDASTELLA, Hurtigruten's LOFOTEN and NORDKAPP – northbound Bergen to Trondheim then southbound respectively, Voyages of Discovery's DISCOVERY, Plantours HAMBURG and Saga Cruises SAGA SAPPHIRE were the principal ships covered in this excellent travelogue, with the last being a fascinating two week voyage from Dover, up the Norwegian coast to 600 miles north of the Arctic Circle to the Norwegian archipelago of Spitzbergen. Bill brought reality to his presentation with detailed accounts of the shipboard layout, facilities, restaurants, public rooms and the cuisine encountered on his various voyages, not to mention his excellent photography which also took in other cruise ships sighted at the various ports of call. Lunch on board QUEEN MARY II in Southampton and three River Seine bridges and eight cross-river ferries also featured during the absorbing evening.
Meeting Notes: Thursday, 24th September, "A second look at British India Steam Navigation Company", by Trevor Cox.
A full complement of members steamed out to the Indian sub-continent when Trevor Cox presented the second part of his presentation of ships on the British India Steam Navigation Company. The ships covered ranged from the early vessels that could be also rigged for sail, through to those that joined the fleet post-WW2 to replace lost tonnage, and included passenger and cargo ships, both "Home Line" and Eastern-based, along with the service history of each, and for those that became casualties in war, details of their loss. The number of deck or "unberthed" passengers that some of the ships could carry was astounding with a few being licensed for up to 5000. Troopships, and also some of their conversions to school ships, was another aspect of the company's operations which was not forgotten in the very well-received production.
Meeting Notes: Thursday, 27th August : "A History of Red Funnel" by Chris Bancroft.
The branch welcomed Chris Bancroft who had travelled over from the Isle of Wight to present "Crossing the Solent with Red Funnel." The formation of the company in 1861 was explained by the amalgamation of the 1820-formed Isle of Wight Royal Mail Steam Packet Company of Cowes with the 1826-formed Isle of Wight Steam Packet Company of Southampton. The new name was The Southampton, Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Company Limited, which was shortened to Red Funnel in 1935 although the former is still the company's official name. Chris provided the individual history of many of the various vessels starting with the early paddle steamers, many of which saw war service in WW1 and, for some, WW2 as well. The company's triangular-quartered houseflag of sapphire, emerald, ruby and pearly is after the names of the early paddle steamers. Those vessels which had been sold were followed up in their new careers at home and abroad, and Chris brought his presentation right up-to-date with today's car ferries, including their various modifications, and the high-speed craft that are in service. It was an excellent evening, thoroughly enjoyed by a good turn-out of members.
Meeting Notes: Thursday, 23rd July, "Krispen's Travels : A few nights aboard MAGELLAN" by Krispen Atkinson.
Krispen Atkinson took members aboard Cruise and Maritime Voyage's 46,000 GT MAGELLAN (ex Carnival Cruise Line's HOLIDAY of 1985) for a five-night round-cruise from Tilbury via Ijmuiden, Amsterdam, Hamburg, then round the Skagerrak and into the Kattegat for calls at Copenhagen and Alborg. All local, short sea and deep sea shipping seen on passage was comprehensively covered by both day and night, and in all weathers, through Krispen's expertise behind his camera's lens, along with other features seen on passage – passing traffic on the Thames, pilots embarking and disembarking, Helgoland, Brunsbüttel, The Skaw, houseboats, local ferries, river barges, tugs, etc. Once alongside in the various ports Krispen explored the local waterside and associated docks on foot, and took trips aboard local harbour ferries rather than join an organised excursion into the town. It was a most informative and extremely well illustrated presentation, even more remarkable that the cruise had taken place just the previous week, and it was thoroughly appreciated by all present.
Meeting Notes: Thursday, 25th June 2015 : "How it all Began," by Colin Drayson.
This unique illustrated talk was Colin Drayson’s autobiography explaining the development of his interests in ships and shipping, originating around the wharves on the River Itchen in the late 1950s. We viewed the docks and buildings he visited during his lunch-breaks that have since disappeared in the name of progress, along with many coasters he saw before he graduated to deep sea cargo ships and liners, followed by a spell at sea. It was a fascinating presentation, and as Colin suggested, a topic we could all prepare and present. He concluded a most enjoyable evening with visits to a wide range of ports both home and abroad, in both old and new photographs.
Meeting Notes: Thursday, 28th May 2015 : An Evening of Nautical Miscellany.
For the first part of the evening members viewed the late Alan Bishop's informative presentation of "Lifeboats of the Mersey, Present and Future" with an additional commentary knowledgably supplied by Phil Simons. Included was an interesting sequence on how some of the local boats are launched from the beach and of the vehicles that have been developed for such operations. Phil then went on to show a wide variety of craft he viewed in an around the Bristol and Cardiff docks during the recent AGM weekend. Finally Trevor Cox showed an instructive DVD of the 2013 maiden voyage from Korea to Rotterdam of the Triple-E container ship MÆRSK MC-KINNEY MØLLER, how shipping operations have changed with navigation, pilotage and cargo-work being almost completely reliant on computerised technology!
Meeting Notes: Thursday, 23rd April 2015 : Branch Annual General Meeting, followed by
Kripsen Atkinson's "Twelve Months, Twelve Ships."
The Branch recorded another most successful year at its A.G.M., its record reflected in a fully supported vote of thanks to the committee who were then unanimously re-elected by all present to hold their offices for another year. The second part of the evening was given to Krispen's presentation of his travels in 2014 in "Twelve Months, Twelve Ships," the highlight of which was a Mediterranean cruise aboard CELEBRITY SILHOUETTE, his first such cruise. Krispen takes photographs under all lighting and weather conditions by day and by night, with his expertise behind the lens certainly to the fore in this show in the numerous ship sightings he recorded. Members enjoyed visits to various Mediterranean ports including Venice and Naples, while on other ships he travelled in included visits to Rotterdam, Europort, Hamburg, Santander were included. (The Branch Photographic Competition will be held later in the year.)
Meeting Notes: Thursday, 26th March 2015 : "The Raider SEEADLER," by John Random.
Members welcomed a new speaker to the branch when John Random presented "The SEEADLER, the Story of the Kaiser's Pirates." This was a most interesting and well researched account of the WW1 German commerce raider, the former British sailing ship PASS OF BALMAHA which was captured by Germany in 1915 when under American ownership. John covered her career in detail under the command of Count Felix von Luckner from December 1915 until she was wrecked in the Pacific in September 1917 on Mopelia Atoll where she had stopped to rest the crew. She had captured 16 vessels totalling 30,099 grt., sinking all but one, yet with just one casualty. An absorbing evening.
Meeting Notes: Thursday, 26th February 2015 : "In the Wake of the Intermediates" by Andy Skarstein.
Andy Skarstein took members on a 1970s personal voyage to the Cape via the Suez Canal and East African ports compiled from his time aboard CLAN MACINDOE and CLAN MACILWRAITH, in which he was serving as Radio Officer, when he presented “In the wake of the Intermediates.” Being a shipping enthusiast, and always with camera close to hand, we enjoyed wide variety of shipping at Port Said, followed by all ports to Cape Town : Aqaba, Djibouti, Mombasa, Dar-es-Salaam, Nacala, Beira, Durban, and East London. Andy included not just the commercial shipping at each port but pilot boats, dredgers and, of course, the classic South African Railways and Harbours Administration tugs. In those days there was plenty of time to go ashore and explore the local area, have a beach party and perhaps take on the locals for a game of football (what we missed by serving on tankers!) This was an excellent first part of a series of three programmes we now eagerly await the second.
Meeting Notes: Thursday, 22nd January 2015 : "Roger's Slides" by Val Thompson.
Val provided a selection of “good old-fashioned slides” taken in the 1970s and 1980s by our late Chairman, Roger, and also by the late Gordon Anscombe. Many of the views were taken from well-known vantage points at Flushing and the Hook of Holland, and also locally at Shoreham and Newhaven. We viewed many traditional cargo vessels rigged with masts and derricks, but it was also interesting to see the emergence of container ships converted from earlier tonnage and their influence on today’s designs. Also included were some of the harbour service craft, tugs and ferries at the various ports, some of which are still in use today. Thank you Val for a wonderful nostalgic evening, bringing back memories to many members, especially views of Stephenson Clarke’s colliers discharging at the power station.
Meeting Notes: Thursday, 12th December 2014 : "For Those In Peril" and Christmas Buffet.
Filmed in 1943, "For Those in Peril" was designed to publicise a then little-known unit of the R.A.F., the Air-Sea Rescue Service, which had been set up in 1941 with the aim of saving those in distress at sea, particularly airmen who had been shot down or otherwise forced to ditch their aircraft in the water. In common with a number of other war-related films made by Ealing at this time the plotline was subservient to the propaganda message, so well-known actors were generally not used, and genuine sailors featured in the action scenes. Location filming took place mainly in and around the area of Newhaven, although due to wartime censorship the town was neither mentioned nor identified, however, many views were easily recognised by members, including a Walrus aircraft taking off from Shoreham Airport. The film provided excellent scenes of not only the R.A.F. base MCS (Marine Craft Section) Unit 1107 which was on the west side of the harbour, but also of the Royal Navy Coastal Forces Base, H.M.S. FORWARD II (H.M.S. AGGRESSIVE from November 1942), opposite on the east side and based at the London and Paris Hotel. There was also excellent footage of both R.A.F. and R.N. craft alongside and underway, including at full speed.
Meeting Notes: Thursday, 27th November 2014 : "Trasmediterránea" by Jimmy Poole.
Jimmy Poole made a welcome return to the branch when he presented "Compañia Trasmediterránea," ("cross-Mediterranean"). Founded in 1917 by the amalgamation of five companies to provide services between Spain and the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and North Africa, the history of the company's ships was covered in most informative detail. To see the longevity reached by the earlier tonnage was quite remarkable, many surviving in service for 60 or more years under various owners after having been built in the 1860s/1870s and surviving until the 1930s. During the Spanish Civil War, the ships were used as auxiliary navy ships by both sides of the conflict, the Republican Navy and the Nationalists. On its inception it had a fleet of 45 ships, while today it operates a fleet of 25. Jimmy brought the company's fleet history up-to-date by covering their post-war vessels through to their modern ro-ro ferries, high speed catamarans and hydrofoils in their pre- and post-Trasmediterránea careers. All agreed it was an excellent evening.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 23rd October, 2014 — “My Travels in 2013,” by Bill Mayes, Bill Mayes returned to the Branch to present the concluding part to his “Travels in 2012” (part one was in June last year) with his cruises aboard THOMSON SPIRIT, AIDAVITA, MEIN SCHIFF 2, SAGA SAPPHIRE and MARINA. We cruised the Baltic, Eastern Mediterranean, and Aegean, including two fascinating visits to Istanbul where not only we viewed the magnificent variety of local ferries but also a most interesting tour of the local transport museum. Bill brought his tours to life with superb photography of all the shipping in port – especially the background of four large cruise ships berthed along one quay – with not just a most informative commentary but also a comprehensive summary of his appetising dining experiences on board each ship. Bill’s travels in 2012 involved 112 ships, 12,400 miles and 55 nights at sea – all meticulously planned in advance with air, rail, road and ferry connections all having to be taken into account. We look forward to Bill’s subsequent “Travels in 2013” next year.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 25th September, 2014 — “The Raj at Sea” – the British India Steam Navigation Company, part 1,” by Trevor Cox. Members found themselves sailing in Indian waters when Trevor Cox showed the first part of the story of the British India Steam Navigation Company, one of the largest ship-owners of all time. In its history the company had owned more than 500 ships and managed 150 more for other owners, while at its height in 1922, British India had more than 160 ships in their fleet, some based in eastern waters (Eastern Service) and others operating out of the U.K., (Home Line). Instead of a basic chronological history, this was a wide-ranging compilation under various classes and themes such as early troopships during both the Boer War and WW1, Cadet Training Ships (13 were used between 1916 and1971, and Sir “Robin” Knox-Johnston is also a former cadet), two and three-funnelled passenger vessels and their deployment as hospital ships in WW2, educational cruise ships, river paddle steamers, and the later cargo ships. A brief history of each ship shown was covered, both in peace and at war, along with a look at life at sea in the company’s ships. The presentation was very well received; a second part next year will cover other ships and aspects of British India.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 28th August, 2014 — “2013 Trip Down Under,” by Jimmy Poole. In a change to the advertised programme members welcomed Jimmy Poole and his “2013 Trip Down Under” covering his cruise aboard CELEBRITY SOLSTICE of Celebrity Cruises. We first visited Sydney where we toured different parts of the harbour and saw the various ferries named after the “First Fleet Ships.” A visit to the Australian National Maritime Museum included the ‘Daring’ Class destroyer HMAS VAMPIRE, the submarine HMAS ONSLOW, the 1874 tall ship JAMES CRAIG and lightship CARPENTIA. We then sailed round to Melbourne for time ashore and where we saw Landing Ship Dock HMAS CANBERRA fitting out (her hull was built in Spain) before crossing the Tasman to New Zealand where ports from Milford Sound and Dunedin in the South Island to Wellington and Auckland in the North were on the itinerary. At each port we had comprehensive coverage of the shipping in harbour, ferries – tourist, local and inter-island – naval craft and tugs along with various public transport systems, original old colonial buildings, and nautical museums ashore. Jimmy’s commentary accompanied by some excellent photography made for a truly absorbing evening.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 24th July, 2014. — “Cornish Ports, part IV” by Krispen Atkinson: The River Tamar, the creeks of the River Fal, and the Isles of Scilly. Krispen Atkinson presented the keenly anticipated fourth part of his “Cornish Ports” and members were certainly not disappointed. After an excursion to Port Isaac (“Portwenn” of ITV’s “Doc Martin”) on the north coast we moved to the south and visited the small creeks and harbours found along the length of the River Tamar including Calstock, Saltash and Torpoint (known as “Tarpoint” in earlier times), including the ferries at various crossing points, followed by a trip across to the Isles of Scilly to examine all aspects of their inter-island ferries between the principal islands of St. Mary’s, St. Martin’s, Tresco and Byher, and then an exploration down the River Fal from its head of navigation at Tresylian down to Penryn, Perranworthal and Devoran, then into the estuary. The history of each small harbour, its varied shipping through the ages, industrial archaeology – most of the ports handled tin, clay, and other minerals along with timber and coal – and what can be found there today all featured in a fascinating display of photographs old and new backed up by Krispen’s expert local knowledge and narrative.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 26th June, 2014 — A Southampton Docker’s Tale, by Colin Drayson. Colin Drayson made a most welcome return to the branch when he presented “A Southampton Docker’s Tale” which was a revealing first-hand account and insight into manual cargo handling in the port during the 1960s and 1970s before containers swept away the workforce along with their traditional skills. Fruit, timber, frozen meat, heavy lifts, grain, general, vehicles, bales of cotton and CKDs (Cars Knocked Down) were all covered in the specific way they were handled, stowed or discharged giving a fascinating insight into ships at work and bringing back memories to those of us who worked with break-bulk cargoes. Their handling and stowage ashore and onward transport was also covered, along with the various services to ships the port supplied were also seen. A wide variety of shipping using the Southampton Docks at that time was also included, many still unmistakably being wartime built tonnage. Unfortunately technical gremlins prevented the digital projector receiving the signal from a selection of three laptops despite the technical knowhow of Krispen, Val and Trevor, with the result members had to sit round a single small screen, but nevertheless, Colin’s was still a brilliant talk.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 22nd May, 2014 — “A South Georgia and Falklands Tale”, by Richard Hurley, H.M.S. ANTRIM. Members were given a fascinating first-hand account of naval involvement during the 1982 Falklands War by an eye-witness. Richard Hurley was a watch-keeping Sub-Lieutenant aboard HMS ANTRIM and luckily had ensured he had a good supply of film for his camera. We followed the voyage south from his ship’s participation in Exercise Spring Train which had just concluded, saw stores and supplies being transferred to ships deploying south to make up the Task Force from those returning to the U.K. ANTRIM was present when South Georgia was taken and the submarine SANTA FE disabled, then she came under fire in San Carlos Water during which she was hit by a bomb (made in Britain!) but luckily failed to detonate, before returning to South Georgia as guardship. We saw most of the naval units, auxiliaries, supply ships and merchant ships taken up from trade involved in their various wartime roles and replenishment at sea. Richard was most warmly thanked for an evening very much appreciated as shown by a substantial question-time afterwards.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 24th April, 2014 – Branch A.G.M. and Photographic Competition. The Branch held its AGM which proceeded smoothly through calm waters with the Committee unanimously re-elected to serve on the bridge for another year, while all those associated with the running and organisation of the branch were most warmly thanked for their various contribution. Updates and reports were given on the progress of the branch website, the branch publications, Chatham library, and the annual tri-branch meeting, while ideas were taken from the floor for possible trips and visits. After the business was concluded the annual photographic competition was held which attracted fifteen entries. Krispen Atkinson took first with an excellent view of the Trinity House tender ALERT our at sea seen through a most prominent rainbow, and he also came second with a fine photograph of the chemical/oil products tanker STOLT PUFFIN underway on the Manchester Ship Canal. Andy Skarstein came third with a very clear view of the DFDS Seaways ferry PEARL SEAWAYS operating on the Copenhagen-Oslo service seen in Olsofjord set against a magnificent Baltic coast background at Drobak.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 27th March, 2014 – “Richard Dunston of Thorn,” by George Robinson. For the first half of the evening members were treated to George Robinson’s Richard Dunston of Thorne, 1886-1984” presentation. Thorne is on the north bank of the Stainforth and Keadby Canal, some 12 miles from the River Trent and about 45 miles from the sea. In the beginning Dunston built wooden barges, using locally-grown, hand-sawn timber and in common with many boatyards at the time, the yard was self-contained, with facilities for making sails, ropes and running gear. This developed into a profitable sideline, supplying ropes to many local industries, and other items to chandlers in Hill and Grimsby. While repairs to existing hulls were a major part of the output of the yard, vessels capable of carrying up to 80 tons were built, for the use on the Humber and its connecting navigations. This was an excellent and comprehensive account of the various small craft built – a total of 1394 – by the firm ranging from barges and tugs to coasters and special service craft. During the war 151 TID tugs were constructed, some at six day intervals, and 35 VICs, while port-war 36 tugs were built for the Irrawaddy Flotilla. George must be congratulated for such an informative presentation. Trevor Cox made up the second half of the meeting with an abridged showing of “Training Ships on the Thames” covering the river from Reading down to Greenhithe.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 27th February, 2014 – “A Personal Voyage through the 1970’s” by Andy Skarstein. Members enjoyed an evening of pure nostalgia when Andy presented the second part of his “Personal Voyage through the 1970s” when he was serving as a Radio Officer with the British and Commonwealth Line, mainly in Clan Line vessels. We viewed the shipping he came across in a variety of U.K. and Northern European ports – traditional deep sea cargo ships, liners, ferries, coasters, dredgers, cable layers, tugs – before sailing down to South Africa, stopping on the way at Ascension Island and St. Helena. Andy included views of shipboard life and cargowork (and with not a single container to be seen!) – including the carriage of race horses – with the whole presentation complemented by a most informative commentary of his experiences. The evening’s voyaging concluded in Indian waters followed by a sharp contrast with a trip from Norway to a frozen St. Lawrence Seaway on board a bulk ore carrier. One sad aspect was that about three quarters of the ships we saw were built in British shipyards, flew the Red Ensign, and sailed under the houseflags of well-known British shipping companies – Clan Line, Harrisons, Ellermans, Union Castle, Ben Line, Blue Funnel, Palm Line – and now, just 40 years on, the whole range of these various industries have almost completely vanished and become extinct. It was most gratifying for members to learn that Andy has a third instalment for a future date.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 23rd January, 2014 – “Yes, we have no bananas” by Martin Wright. Martin Wright made sure our year had a good start when he presented “Yes We Have No Bananas” in which we followed his 2011 cruise along both coasts of Central America, including a transit of the Panama Canal, on board Saga’s m.s. QUEST FOR ADVENTURE. The cruise started at Havana and finished in Costa Rica, visiting Progreso, Veracruz, Cozumel Island in Mexico, then to Belize, followed by Porto Santo Tomas de Castilla in Guatemala, Puerto Cortes and Roatan Island in Honduras, Puerto Limon on Costa Rica, Cora Island in Nicaragua enroute. Martin then included a fascinating transit of the Panama Canal including trip on the Panama Canal Railway. On exiting there was time ashore at Coiba Island in Panama, then Golfito in Costa Rica, Acajutia in El Salvador, Puerto Quetzel in Guatemala, Ampala Island in Honduras, San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, Punta Arenas and Caldera in Costa Rica where the voyage terminated. The presentation, accompanied by an excellent commentary, include not just a comprehensive look at the shipping – the majority being feeder-container ships and tankers – but also local harbour tugs, ferries, and naval craft, along with the local wildlife – Martin also being an observant and keen ornithologist – and ancient Mayan structures. Martin was warmly thanked for a most interesting and fascinating evening. Sadly, this was to be Martin’s last presentation.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 12th December, 2013 – A film accompanied by Christmas Buffet. Members enjoyed a private showing of the 1943 Ealing Studios drama-documentary film “San Demetrio, London”, supplied by Trevor Cox, which told the story of the Eagle Oil tanker m.s. SAN DEMETRIO which was abandoned on fire in mid-Atlantic after being shelled by the German heavy cruiser ADMIRAL SHEER on 5th November 1940. She had been part of Convoy HX-84 bound for the U.K. and their only escort was the armed merchant cruiser HMS JERVIS BAY which put up a gallant fight before she was lost – her Commanding Officer, Capt. Fegen, received the award of a posthumous Victoria Cross. The following day the abandoned tanker was reboarded by the crew from one of her lifeboats who then managed to extinguish the fires. In an epic feat of seamanship they restarted her engines and, without charts or navigational equipment, sailed her back to home waters, docking in the Clyde on 16th November. The film was one of the few films to recognise the heroism of British Merchant Navy crews during the war and perhaps the ship and her crew could be seen to represent Britain at that time – besieged, damaged, but refusing to accept defeat. During an intermission members tucked into and thoroughly enjoyed a sumptuous Christmas Buffet generously supplied by Val, with contributions from members, and ably assisted by Sheila who received due appreciation and thanks from all those present.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 28th November, 2013 – “The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant”, by Stuart Emery. Stuart Emery travelled down from the Southend Branch to present his view of last year’s Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames. For Stuart, a crew member aboard the preserved tug KENT from where he had a unique view, it was a four day event: day one, Friday – sailing up the Thames from Chatham to the Upper Pool and reporting in to the various bureaucratic and security authorities, day two; Saturday – on their allotted moorings and not allowed to move until further notice; day three, Sunday – the Jubilee Pageant itself; and day four, Monday – permission to leave and the return journey. On the journey up river Stuart included views of numerous craft under way from tugs and work-boats to sailing craft and motor cruisers – Thames barges included MELISA, FUDGE, EDITH MAY, CAMBRIA and THISTLE, while many of the Dunkirk Little Ships were also present. Not only did Stuart give superb coverage with excellent photography of the numerous craft involved, but his tug had a prime position for the pageant itself being on an outboard mooring opposite HMS BELFAST which provided an excellent background for many of his photographs. The whole operation had taken a year to plan. An outstanding evening.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 24th October, 2013 — “Milford Memories,” by John Davidson. In a late change to the advertised programme John Davidson presented “Milford Memories,” starting with an informative history of RAF Pembroke Dock – where John was once stationed – and the Sunderland aircraft based there. This was followed by a comprehensive look at the work of and the shipping using Milford Haven today from VLCCs and gas tankers to coasters and the port’s tugs, with many excellent views taken from one of the pilot boats taking pilots out to arriving deeply-laden tankers and then following the tugs assisting in their berthing. For the second part of the evening John took us on a most interesting passage on board Olsen Cruise Line’s BALMORAL through the Kiel Canal followed by a visit to the ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven. John was warmly thanked for a most interesting and varied evening.
Activity Notes: Saturday 5th October, 2013 — South Eastern Social and Leslie Sergeant Quiz, St. Andrew’s Art Centre, Gravesend. Eight South Coast members joined up with some forty WSS colleagues from Southampton, Southend, Thames Valley, North-West Kent, Mid-Essex and North Surrey for a most enjoyable day. There were plenty of books and photographs for sale on branch tables along with other nautical memorabilia. All branches took part in the Quiz during the afternoon which was won for the second year running by Thames Valley – our branch team of Phil Simons, David Start, Neil Hawke and Trevor Cox, came in slightly astern of the other six! Many thanks to Krispen for his superb organisation and running of the event including setting the questions, and a special thanks to Val for providing – and making – a sumptuous feast and supplying a constant stream of cups of tea and coffee.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 26th September, 2013 — “Blue Funnel at War,” by Trevor Cox. Members were taken through a detailed account of Blue Funnel’s war losses and military involvement when Trevor Cox presented an illustrated account of “Blue Funnel at War.” Alfred Holt’s company lost 12 ships in WW1 and a further 44 in WW2, while many more experienced confrontations with the enemy, were involved in major military operations, or were requisitioned by the Admiralty for service as auxiliaries, transports, minelayers and armed merchant cruiser. Apart from the two world wars, Holt’s ships were used to transport troops and equipment and then evacuate British ex-patriot civilians during unrest in China in 1927, and again in 1949 when one, ANCHISES, was attacked and seriously damaged in the Yantze at the same time as HMS AMETHYST. Two were trapped in the Suez Canal in 1967 and where they remained for five years, while more recently two saw service in the 1982 Falklands campaign.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 22nd August, 2013 — My Travels in 2012, by Bill Mayes. Bill received a warm welcome when he made his annual visit to show the results of his last year's various nautical travels in "2012, Another Great Year for Travelling by Sea" - 110 ships, 55 nights and 12,400 miles. Bill's travels were so extensive that he could only show the first six months of the year. He travelled - and dined - on board SAGA SAPPHIRE, visited Hamburg for the naming of AIDAmar when he had a trip on the preserved cargo ship / museum ship CAP SAN DIEGO, then joined the clipper STAR FLYER to travel to Den Helder and Amsterdam. This was followed by a week's Ocean Liner Society Cruise aboard HORIZON in the western Mediterranean after which Bill found time to be present for the "Three Queens in Southampton" as he was for P&O Cruise's "Grand Event." In between he managed to travel from Kiel to Bremerhaven "the long way" via Copenhagen, Malmo, Travermunde, Kiel to join ARTANIA, then Gothenburg and Fredrickshaven. His last meticulously planned venture was a "Mediterranean Ferry Adventure": including Merseilles, Corsica, Toulon, Corsica, Genoa, Marseilles, Corsica, Tunis, Marseilles aboard PIANA, ISLE DE BEAUTE, MEGO SMIRALDEE, MOBY FANTASY, CORSE, MONTE DORO, TANIT and CARTHAGE. Bill was warmly thanked for a fascinating evening in which he entertainingly described the variety of accommodation, public-rooms, catering and service he experienced under the various flags. He has been booked to return next year for the showing of the second half of the year - and then perhaps his travels in 2013 !
Meeting Notes: Thursday 25th July, 2013 — Thames and Medway Ports, Past and Present, by Steve Spouse. Steve travelled down from Plumstead Common to present members with his "Thames and Medway Ports, Past and Present" - an excellent slide presentation covering all aspects of the docks, tugs, towage, and shipping using the two rivers, both of yesterday and today. As well as some fascinating photographs of Tilbury past and present, views ranged from a pre-war atmospheric shot of HMS PRESIDENT with her top hamper either temporarily removed or lowered being towed under the Hungerford or Charing Cross Railway Bridge, aircraft carrier H.M.S. ARK ROYAL passing through the Thames Barrier on her last visit to London in 2007, to last year's courtesy visit by the new Type 45 destroyer HMS DIAMOND; Steve must be congratulated on his enterprising camera angles, many of which are from cranes and tall buildings (he must have a very good head for heights!) or on board tugs, which provide an unusual yet fresh and fascinating view of the docks and of the shipping, including night-time seenes. His in-depth local knowledge of the river scene "then and now" is an added bonus, and we certainly look forward to his next London Docks-based production.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 27th June, 2013 — A Cornish Ports Medley, by Krispen Atkinson. Krispen Atkinson presented members with a first showing of "A Cornish Ports Medley" through which he brought up-to-date his Cornish Ports and Harbours series with newly acquired material. We started on the north coast of Cornwall at Bude from where we travelled down the coast to Boscastle, Padstow, Newquay and Hayle where we saw a WW2 Flower Class corvette alongside Thos. Ward's for breaking up. We then rounded Lands End calling at Penzance, across Mounts Bay, then passing The Lizard, before visiting the stone quarry port of Porthoustock, then up the River Fowey to Truro and then back down to finish our tour at Falmouth. En-route we visited every port, large and small, viewing scenes and shipping spanning the whole of the last century. We viewed the costal tanker HEMSLEY 1 which ran ashore while on her way to a breaker's yard in 1969, and then the infamous TORREY CANYON wrecked in 1967 on Seven Stones Reef. The presentation included many unique scenes, many now vanished over the years (one remarkable view was of a young Krispen strapped into his pushchair!) which, when coupled with Krispens's expert local knowledge of the area, provided for an absorbing evening leaving members looking forward to this sequel on the Scilly Isles next year.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 23rd May, 2013 — Members' Interests Evening. This was a somewhat sad and rearranged evening in place of what would have been a presentation on Sussex RNLI Lifeboats prepared by the late Alan Bishop, a very keen supporter of the Institution and former Chairman of our Branch. Three members prepared a variety of topics of general interest to members. Trevor Cox put together a PowerPoint show on the 4000 Spanish child refugees who came to Britain in May 1937 aboard HABANA to escape the Spanish Civil War with several groups then staying in Sussex. This was followed by a thought-provoking account based on the maritime aspects of the Kindertransport programme of 1938 - 1940 during which time thousands of unaccompanied children came to Britain to escape from Nazi persecution. Nick Hall then showed a remarkable selection of small, light and micro-light aircraft operating from various small airfields in the southern part of the country. Some of the aircraft were homemade from kits and looked little more than large models! Nick's superb photography was accompanied by his knowledgeable commentary. The final presentation was from our Chairman, David Start, who showed a collection of fascinating slides taken at Gatwick Airport in the 1980s when there were few restrictions of where you could go to take close up photographs of aircraft taking off and landing many in what were the well known liveries of airline companies which now no longer exist.
Meeting Notes: Thursday, 25th April, 2013 — Branch A.G.M. and Photographic Competition. An almost full gathering of regular members attended the Branch A.G.M. and, in voicing their complete appreciation for an interesting and successful year, were unanimous in voting in the committee to stand for another year. Under the competent guidance of David Start, Phil Simons and Val Thompson the meeting proceeded smoothly and efficiently. The committee announced that it is proposed to donate two public bench-seats to Shoreham and Littlehampton lifeboat stations commemorating our late Chairmen, Roger Thompson and Alan Bishop respectively, a proposal which received overwhelming approval. At the close of business Nick Hall proposed a vote of thanks to the committee for their hard work in making ours such a successful branch. The meeting was followed by the annual photographic competition which attracted 25 entries and which was won by Geoff Bedford with an excellent night-time view of QUEEN VICTORIA manoeuvring at Costa Rica - Geoff now holds the trophy, the miniature scale model of HMS SHOREHAM, for the year. John Davidson came second with MARCO POLO passing the Spinnaker Tower while leaving Portsmouth and with a pilot boat approaching, the photograph being taken from Fort Blockhouse, and Nick Hall was third with the Norwegian veteran paddle steamer SKIBLADNER on Lake Mjøsa.
Obituary Notice — Alan Bishop, 3rd April 2013 — A Memorial Service was held in Littlehampton at the Church of St. James the Great with a gathering after at the Arun View Hotel, both in an area Alan knew so well as a schoolboy - he had even been a choir boy and server in the Church. Both the main Society and our South Coast Branch were very well represented in paying their respects.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 28th, March 2013 — To the Land of the Trolls, presented by Nick Hall. In keeping with the prevailing freezing termperatures Nick Hall took members across the North Sea "To the Land of the Trolls" with a presentation covering the visit he made last year to Oslo and Bergen. All aspects of the local shipping industry were covered: the local and cross-sea ferries, preserved craft, visiting cruise liners - including ROTTERDAM, RYNDAM, QUEEN MARY 2, COSTA neoROMANTICA - off-shore support vessels, coasters, harbour services, and fishing boats all featured along with their various service histories. Preserved ships included the 1908-built and still coal-fired ferry BØRØYSUND and the 1892-built polar expedition schooner FRAM. While at Oslo Nick went north to Lake Mjøsa where he sailed on board the world's oldest operating paddle steamer SKIBLADNER which dates back to 1856. As usual, in keeping with most Scaninavian vessels old and new, every ship was immaculate, clean and tidy. It was a most interesting evening and we look forward to viewing Nick's next adventure overseas.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 28th February, 2013 — Shanghai Shipping, presented by Jimmy Poole. Jimmy Poole received a warm welcome from members when he returned to present “Shanghai Shipping 2010” – a photographic account of his cruise up the Yantze from the sea to Shanghai’s Bund on board LEGEND OF THE SEAS. Jimmy estimated the journey took about four hours and ships were being continuously passed on both sides – a ship photographer’s delight. We saw a truly vast amount of shipping: numerous container ships, VLCCs, bulkers and many smaller cargo ships and coasters – most of the older tonnage having had its cargo handling gear removed – plus naval vessels, numerous ferries and tugs. The background was just as interesting as the ships: container cranes by the dozen, many shipbuilding and repairs yards, a huge steel works, and the modern high-rise buildings of this vast city which occupies 2500 square miles with a population approaching 30 million. A fascinating evening and a real eye-opener of just how much China has progressed in recent years – little wonder the west is in recession.
Meeting Notes: Friday 24th February, 2013 — The Keith Rivett-Drake Annual Branch Dinner. A most enjoyable evening was had by some 30 members and their guests when they sat down and enjoyed a superb dinner roast beef or lamb with seasonal vegetables accompanied by equally excellent starters and desserts at the Sussex Yacht Club. This was our annual gathering in member of our generous benefactor and former member, Keith Rivett-Drake. A vote of thanks must be given to Philip Simons and the committee for their meticulous planning and organisation which made the evening most enjoyable.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 24th January, 2013 — “A City of Ships” – the London Docks 1924-1948, presented by Trevor Cox. Sub-Arctic temperatures effected attendance and caused a last minute change of subject at our first meeting of the year, however, those members who did venture out thoroughly enjoyed three excellent Port of London Authority films on the London Docks in the DVD “A City of Ships” presented by Trevor Cox. The first was a silent film set in 1924, the second 1938/39 with a most informative commentary, and the last a colour presentation from the late 1940s when the docks were still recovering from damage sustained in the Blitz and many of the ships were wartime constructions. We saw the docks in the days of intense manual labour when almost all the cargo was moved and handled by 35,000 dockers, the wide varieties of cargoes handled along with their inspection and distribution. The 35 miles of quays were full of shipping in an era when there could be 1000 daily shipping movements passing Gravesend.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 14th December, 2012 — Christmas Film Evening. A last minute technical hitch meant that the branch’s annual photographic display and competition could not take place – (it is now scheduled for the April meeting along with the Branch AGM and Quiz) – and in its place members were entertained, and most thoroughly enjoyed, a showing of the 1955 classic Ealing Studios film “The Ship that Died of Shame.” Many harbour scenes taken at Weymouth, Poole and Portsmouth provided a background to an interesting storyline.
At the film’s conclusion a very acceptable seasonal buffet was produced by Val Thompson and Sheila Watt, to whom sincere thanks are given, and which was greatly appreciated and enjoyed by all present making a very pleasant end to the branch’s activities for the year.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 22nd November, 2012 — “A Personal Voyage Through the 1970s”, presented by Andy Skarstein. Andy Skarstein took members on “A voyage through the 1970s, Part 3” when he showed ships he encountered and ports visited when serving as a Radio Officer with Clan Line on board CLAN GRAHAM, CLAN MACINDOE, CLAN RAMSAY and CLAN MACLEOD. The London Royal Docks, coasters on the Thames, Union Castle at Southampton, and shipping on the Rivers Mersey. Clyde and Tyne were featured, followed by visits to northern European ports before visiting India, South Africa – including the well-known S.A. Railway tugs – and finally the Mississippi and Miami in the U.S.A. The first generation of container ships were just starting to appear so we saw a superb mix of shipping both new (for the period) and old – the latter dating back to ships built during the war years. Also included was a variety of steam railway locomotives found in ports where steam was still in daily use. It was also interesting to see how much the ports had changed in the intervening years – shipyards had become housing estates and docks industrial sites. A fascinating evening left members hoping Andy has a Part 4.
Meeting Notes: Tuesday 6th November, 2012 — Fish and Chip Supper. Sincere thanks to Phil Simons and the members of the Committee for organizing the convivial gathering at “The Plaice in the Square” fish and chip restaurant in Southwick. Some 21 members and their guests sat down and enjoyed a most pleasant evening which was deeply appreciated by all present.
Meeting Notes: Saturday 3rd November, 2012 — South Eastern Social and Leslie Sergeant Quiz, St. Andrew’s Art Centre, Gravesend. Eight South Coast members joined up with forty colleagues from Southampton, Southend, Thames Valley, North-West Kent, Haven Ports, Mid-Essex and North Surrey for a most enjoyable afternoon. Brisk business took place in sales of books, photographs and postcards on Branch and Chatham Library tables followed by the main feature – Lesley Sergeant Quiz. Two heats were held – we were up against Thames Valley North Surrey (“deceased”) and Haven Ports but failed to make the final which was contested by heat winners Thames Valley and Southampton, along with Haven Ports as best runners-up. Thames Valley then took the honours and won the cup. Many thanks must go to Krispen Atkinson for organizing the day, ably supported by Phil Simons, and to Val for providing an ample and delicious table buffet which was consumed to the last crumb !
Meeting Notes: Thursday 25th October, 2012 — “19th Century Cruising”, presented by David Hornsby. David Hornsby made a welcome return when he presented “Cruising — the Early Years” which covered the history of cruise ships from their inception in the 1830s through to the start of the Great War. The history of the foundation of many liner companies, their development and expansion of cruising itineraries, along with the careers of the ships, were all covered in David’s most interesting commentary supported by fascinating artistic and photographic images. P&O, Thomas Cook Tours, Hamburg-Amerika, Neopolitan Steam Navigation, and Polytechnic Steam Yachting Cruises were just a few of the companies covered. Cruising commenced through the alternative employment of liners in the off-season through to the huge purpose-built cruise liners we see today — last year there were over 18 million cruises booked with British cruises being an average of 10.5 days and in the U.K. (where up to 10.9 cruises were booked) being 6.5 days. The start of cruising can be traced back to Arthur Anderson, the co-founder of P&O, who along with his business partner Brodie McGhie Wilcox set up Wilcox and Anderson Co. in 1832 and secured various Admiralty mail contracts. It was interesting to learn that in the 1840s Anderson had suggested the construction of the Suez Canal but this was dismissed in turn by the Admiralty and Parliament as not being feasible, a decision based on inaccurate tide levels. Members look forward to his port-WW1 era at a future meeting.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 27th September, 2012 — “United Molasses Co. / Athel Line” presented by Trevor Cox. Members became fully acquainted with the molasses trade when they were given the story of the United Molasses Company / Athel Line from its beginnings when founded by Danish-born Michael Kroyer-Keilberg just before WW1 with the sailing vessel SUNLIGHT through to its eventual demise in the 1980s. He proposed the prefix “ATHEL” for the ships of his company which can e traced to his Danish ancestry as being derived from the Dutch “Adel”, or Norse “Ethel” or other Aryan words which have the same meaning of “noble, splendid, fine, or pleasing” – the company’s first ship being named ATHELSTANE, possibly from the first monarch of England, Aethelstan. Member Trevor ox covered the history of each of the company’s ships, along with photographs, from their building through to their scrapping or loss, including interesting links with other casualties during the war years. Athel’s Caribbean coastal fleet, the absorption of Tankers Limited, WW2 managed ships, and the amalgamation with the Anco Group were also featured in the presentation which was greatly appreciated by all present.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 23rd August, 2012 — “A Tale of Travels in 2011”, presented by Bill Mayes. We joined Bill Mayes, Chairman of the Ocean Liner Society, for his “Travels in 2011” which involved sailing on 74 different ships – a mixture of ferries and cruise ships – and covering 11,200 miles and involving 49 nights at sea. GRAND HOLIDAY (strawberry-flavoured soup with garlic!), OCEAN PEARL (41 years old), BOREAL, GRAND MISTRAL, AIDABELLA and NAPOLEON BONEPARTE were just some of the liners featured along with numerous ferries and visits to ports in the Mediterranean and adjacent Atlantic coast. Bill accomplishes his outward and return journeys with meticulous planning so as to include a multitude of ferry connections – including 18 ferry crossings in one day while visiting Istanbul. His commentary includes a comment on the standards of catering to be found on board each ship – along with photographic examples – as well as his excursions ashore. One ferry of particular interest was EXPRESS SANTORINI, fondly remembered as the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry CHARTRES, built in 1974 and now operated by Atlanticoline on their Faial – Pico – Sao Jorge service in the Azores. Ship visits to EMPRESS, RYNDAM, SAGA RUBY and MSC POESIA were also on the itinerary. We also travelled across the Irish Sea to Cobh for the WSS AGM and saw the various memorials to the loss of LUSITANIA. Warmly thanked, Bill readily agreed to return next year with his travels in 2012.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 26th July, 2012 — “Travels in the Caribbean”, presented by Peter Ives. Members were taken on a tour of the Caribbean when Peter Ives from the Medway Branch presented his “Travels in the Caribbean” which he undertook a few years ago on board Thomson Cruises THOMSON DREAM, 42,092 grt., built in Germany in 1984 as HOMERIC for Home Lines. The Caribbean islands of Grenada, Barbados, Curacao (what a transformation: the island can now cater to several large cruise liners both inside and outside the harbour waterfront at Willemstad, and where not a single Shell tanker was in sight – how times have changed !) and Aruba were among the islands visited as well as the coal-exporting port of Santa Marta in Columbia. Peter covered all the shipping he saw, from tugs and harbour craft to cruise liners and container ships. Of fascinating interest were a series videos taken of shipping transiting the Panama Canal when Peter stayed at a hotel overlooking the Miraflores Locks from where he had a superb grandstand view of ships entering the lock and how they were manoeuvred through with the assistance of the “mules” keeping them centered in the locks. Peter was warmly thanked and invited back for a further travelogue of his shipping adventures.
Meeting Notes: Tuesday 3rd July, 2012 — P&O’s 175th Anniversary, “The Grand Event.” A good number of members assembled at lunchtime in Ocean Village, Southampton and, with members from other branches, boarded WIGHT SCENE at 1500 for the first of two cruises. The first was to tour the docks where the P&O fleet of seven liners were berthed. We remained on board for the highlight of the day – the departure of the ships and to follow them down Southampton Water as they proceeded outwards in line ahead. ADONIA was the first to slip at 1745 followed by VENTURA, ARCADIA, AURORA, ORIANA, AZURA and OCEANA, each slipping her moorings as the last ship in line passed. By 1915 all seven ships were underway – some 570,000 grt., carrying some 15,000 passengers and 6,000 members of crew. Unfortunately for much of the time the weather was not in our favour but this did not “dampen” the spectacle of the first time the complete P&O fleet had been in port together and then sail together – a stunning sight unlikely to ever be seen again.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 28th June, 2012 — A Visit to the Cornish Ports – part 3, by Krispen Atkinson. Krispen presented “Cornish Ports and Harbours, Part 3” when he took us on a fascinating tour of all the ports to be found from Mounts Bay and along the coast of north Cornwall to Bude. In an excellent presentation we viewed the ports today and in their heyday in earlier years, all enhanced by Krispen’s well-informed commentary and an imaginative use of aerial maps. A wide variety of coasters and local ferries through the years were seen along with some commercial docks and infrastructure which have now disappeared. It is quite a hazardous coast for ships in difficulty and accidents old and new were covered. Members congratulated Krispen for a most interesting evening and agreed that his planned Part 4 is eagerly anticipated.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 24th May, 2012 — A Nautical Miscellany, presented by Martin Wright. Martin Wright made a welcome return to our branch when he presented his “Nautical Miscellany.” Through his camera we visited the Polish ports of Gdansk, Gdynia, Szczecin, Kolobrzeg and Swinoujscle in 1992 and then returned in 2009 when we could see what had changed. We then travelled to Vietnam to view shipping on the river at Saigon before coming back to the North Atlantic to visit Las Palmas and then into the Mediterranean to conclude our journey at Messina. At each port we toured the local docks viewing a wide variety of shipping as well as the local shipbuilding and repair yards. Members warmly thanked Martin for a fascinating and wide-ranging evening.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 26th April, 2012 — Branch Annual General Meeting, followed by our Annual Quiz, this year set by Mike Hearn. The Branch A.G.M. sailed on a straight course through calm waters with our Chairman, David Start, in command, ably assisted by his crew of Philip Simons and Val Thompson. Members expressed their sincere thanks and satisfaction by re-electing the committee for a further year’s voyage and were enthusiastic in giving their support to future planned ports of call. All reports wee accepted and members were brought up-to-date with reports on a suggested branch website, latest news from Chatham via Alan and Sheila Watt, and our in-branch publications. After the business was concluded Mike Hearn conducted a most enjoyable annual quiz, this year won by David Start (67%) (whose prize is to set next year’s questions), with Andy Skarstein just one mark behind (66%) and Trevor Cox (64%) closely following in third place.
Meeting Notes: Saturday 31st March, 2012 — WSS Merchant Ship Day, Civil Service Club, Whitehall, London. Several members attended and enjoyed five informative presentations: on-line historical research through the huge, and increasing number of digitized newspapers now available on-line, ferry services to and amongst the Orkney Islands, Naval Control of Shipping in the Great War. Merchant Navy Cadet Ships in the 20th Century, and the early days of the collier trade to the Thames. Unfortunately your Editor’s presentation on training with Shell Tankers for some reason was not compatible with the two laptop computers available.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 22nd March, 2012 — "Paddles, Props, Jets and Foils". presented by Nick Hall. A wonderful trip around the various lakes of Northern Italy, Switzerland, Bavaria and on the Elbe at Dresden was provided by Nick Hall when he presented "Paddles, Props, Jets and Foils" following his visits to the various regions in 2006 and 2008. Among the lakes we visited during the evening were Lac Léman, Vierwaldstättersee, Lago di Lugano and the Starnbergersee where we saw the local commercial, service, and passenger traffic along with the delightful vintage paddle steamers. One of the oldest was at Dresden, DIIESBAR, nearly 130 years old, built in 1884 and still fired by coal. Nearly all the paddle steamers were over a century old - GENEVE, BLÜMLISALP, SCHILLER, URI, MEISSEN - although some have been converted to diesel-power, all are kept in immaculate condition and they were made even more picturesque by the superb backgrounds of the Alps - and Nick's expert photographic eye and skills.
Meeting Notes: Friday 24th February, 2012 — The Keith Rivett-Drake Annual Branch Dinner. Some 30 members and guests sat down and enjoyed a superb dinner of Supreme of Chicken in a White Wine and Mushroom Sauce, Sauté Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables accompanied by equally excellent starters and desserts at the Sussex Yacht Club for our annual gathering in memory of our generous benefactor and fomer member, Keith Rivett-Drake. A vote of thanks must be given to Philp Simons and the committee for their meticulous planning and organsiation which made the evening most enjoyable.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 23rd February, 2012 — Ship-Breaking at Aliaga, by Selim San and presented by Geoff Watson. Geoff Watson from the North-West Kent Branch provided a fascinating evening when he presented Selim San's "Ship-Breaking at Aliaga." The views were taken over the past 20 years and so we saw ships that covred a wide period, with a few, such as the former ARGONAUT, dating from the 1920's. Liners, ferries, tugs, Great-Lakers, warships and former Soviet research ships all met their end on the foreshore. Easily recognisable were STEFAN BATORY and Union Steamship Company's RANGATIRA, our former local STENA LONDONER, ex VERSAILLES from the Newhaven-Dieppe route, the Normandy Ferries DRAGON, and the former British Antactic Survey ship JOHN BISCOE. On a smaller scale we saw the former Red Funnel Southampton-Cowes CARISBROOKE CASTLE (1959) and General Steam's ROYAL SOVEREIGN. Another presentation on this rarely seen but most interesting and unique theme would be most welcome.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 26th January, 2012 — Memories of the London River, presented by Stuart Emery. Stuart Emery from the Southend Branch was our guest speaker when he presented Memories of the London River. Members were able to visit the London Docks as they were in the 1960s and 1970s, and not just for the ships from those times but also the infrastructure and service vessels. These were the days before containerisation had taken over from break-bulk cargo, and one aspect most conspicuous then, but now mainly vanished, was the numerious and wide variety of dockside cranes. Ocean-going ships were seen in the Upper Pool when today such ships rarely proceed above Tilbury. Well known companies such as P&O, British India, Harrisons, Ben, Port, and Glen Line were all featured. Passenger liners, cargo ships, training ships, Thames barge races, ship breaking, Thames lighters, coasters, tugs and salvage work were also included in what was a fascinating evening of pure nostalgia. We sincerely hope Stuart will return for another view of bygone days on the Thames and its various docks.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 8th December, 2011 — Branch Annual Photographic Competition followed by the Christmas Buffet. A good number of members took part in the branch’s annual photographic competition with some 24 entries, which, with many thanks to Krispen working intently with his laptop and scanner beforehand, had all the photographic prints, transparencies, and digital submissions displayed on the screen in digital form. All photographs were voted on using a 1, 2 or 3 mark scale with the results being close, and many thanks to all those who took part. Peter Longhurst took first place with a superb view of the 1905 Buoy Tender BUSSARD taken at the Flensburg Steam Rally, “Dampf Rundum,” for which the newly inaugurated Peter Roberts Trophy was awarded – a scale miniature model of our affiliated ship, the minesweeper H.M.S. SHOREHAM, which will be mounted in a display case. Second place was taken by John Davidson with an elevated view of HMS ARCHER and HMS EXPLORER underway and abreast in the entrance when leaving Portsmouth Harbour, while Peter also took third place with the former 1908 Hamburg-built SCHAARNHÖRN – a twin screw coal-fired Inspection Vessel accompanied by a preserved tug. After voting, results and presentations members concluded the year’s final meeting by enjoying a sumptuous Christmas buffet. Many thanks to all those who took part and especially to Val, the prime provider and organizer of the excellent buffet.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 24th November, 2011 — The Forton Lake Archaeology Project , by Mark Beattie-Edwards of the Nautical Archaeology Society. The branch welcomed Mark Beattie-Edwards, Programme Director of the Nautical Archaeology Society, N.A.S., when he presented “The Forton Lake Archaeology Project.” It was an excellent exploration of the history of the inlet on the northern outskirts of Gospost, the survey and recording work of the remains of the various craft to be found, the detective work to determine their various identities, service history, and how they came to be in the lake. The former Gosport ferry VADNE, a Cowes chain ferry which was once the floating home of Uffa Fox, a naval steam pinnace and two R.A.F. craft were covered in detail. The Forton Lake project, to investigate the remains of hulks and associated history of the Forton Lake project, to investigate the remains of hulks and associated history of the Forton Lake area in Gosport, Portsmouth, has been a collaborative project between the NAS and the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archeology which began in 2006 thanks to a Local Heritage Initiative Grant. Local residents and schools, including support from St. Vincent College situated on the shore of the lake, have taken part in the practical tasks of recording heritage around the lake by helping to photograph, survey and excavate some of the abandoned vessels. Members warmly thanked Mark for a fascinating evening and hope for follow up presentations covering the future projects.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 27th October, 2011 — A Further Selection of Roger's Slides of Yesteryear, by Val Thompson. We enjoyed an evening of pure nostalgia when Val showed another batch of Roger's slides he had taken in the 1960s and 1970s. Most were taken in the ports of Shoreham, Newhaven or Littlehampton, on WSS visits to the Thames docks, and across the Channel to Calais, Antwerp and the New Waterway. These were the days when cargo ships were festooned with masts, sampson posts, king posts and derricks, containers were somewhat a novelty and carried as deck cargo, most tankers had their bridge amidships and passenger ferries and liners had funnels rather than elaborately-designed exhaust pipes. Not only did it bring back memories of the ships of that era but it was also a graphic illustration how much our local port infra-structure has also changed. Thank you Val for another most interesting presentation and we certainly look forward to another voyage down memory lane next year.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 20th October, 2011 — Branch Fish and Chip Supper. Sincere thanks to Phil Simons and the Committee for organising the gathering at "The Plaice in the Square," Southwick. Some two dozen members and guests sat down and enjoyed a most pleasant evening which was deeply appreciated by all present.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 22nd September, 2011 — A History of Shipbuilding in the Western Balkans, by Dr. Allan Ryszka-Onions. Allan received a warm welcome from members when he returned to present the second part of his detailed history of shipbuilding in the Western Balkans. We viewed the shipping through the years that have come from the various shipbuilding yards in Croatia at Split and Trogir. For example the present, and largest, Brodosplit Shipyard Company (Brodogradilište Split) was founded in 1922 and has built ships from small ferries up to 140,000 dwt. tankers, including the 20,000 dwt BRITISH UNITY and BRITISH FIDELITY. On a more local note the former Newhaven-Dieppe ferry VERSAILLES / STENA LONDONER came from the Brodogradiliste Jozo Lozovina Mosor shipyard at Trogir in 1974 as STENA NORDICA. We then viewed shipyards in Serbia on the banks of the River Danube such as the Belgrade Shipyard and the Danubius Team Shipbuilding Group which specialised in tugs, pusher-tugs, barges and river/sea vessels. Allan's presentation included a very wide range of shipping ranging from small local ferries, coasters and tugs through to large Scandinavian ferries, freighters, and super tankers. An unusual trade was the tanker ORANGE STAR, a 9980 grt. specialist orange-juice tanker capable of carrying 32,000,000 litres. It was a most ineresting evening accompanied by Allan's extremely informative commentary.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 25th August, 2011 — Travels in 2010 by Bill Mayes. Bill Mayes made a welcome return when he presented his "Travels in 2010" which involved passages on 96 ships covering 17,640 nautical miles and involving 73 nights at sea plus a great deal of meticulous planning. We joined him aboard SAGA RUBY for a cruise from Southampton to the Black Sea, a Mediterranean voyage aboard BLU DE FRANCE, an Agean trip on SEABOURN ODYSSEY, and a trip to Channel ports aboard ATHENA, the former STOCKHOLM. Hotel ships CRUISE HOTEL ex-ROTTERDAM with its 252 rooms in Rotterdam and the 1961 British-built passenger ship TURAN EMEKSIZ now called OTANTIK HOTEL moored at Bursa, to the south of Istanbul, were also on the itinerary, along with cruise ships BLACK WATCH, DISCOVERY, SAGA PEARL II, PRINZENDAM, OCEANA, and QUEEN ELIZABETH. Some of the many ferries we travelled on were PONT AVEN, DOVER SEAWAYS, CAP FINISTERRE, PRIDE OF BILBAO, BRETAGNE and JULIA. We enjoyed trips ashore in many ports and experienced the numerous ferries across the Bosphorous as well as seeing the various transport systems in Istanbul including trams, underground railway and buses. In the Black Sea we saw the Romanian REGINA MARIA, ex HMS LONDON. Bill was warmly thanked for an excellent evening and we look forward to his "Travels in 2011" nest year.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 28th July, 2011 — Members other interests A fascinating evening in which five members gave 20 minute talks on their non-shipping pursuits. First Frank Halliday provided an excellent history of North American Lakawanna and Western Rail-Road Company in a presentation "Through the Port Hole - The Route of Phoebe Snow." He was followed by Andy Skarstein showing a first-rate selection of vintage aeroplanes, road vehicles and steam locomotives at home and abroad. David Start took us through to the interval with biographies of two aviation pioneers, John Springfellow and Frederick Miles. After a break John Davidson showed some magnificent photographs he had taken at various air shows - Farnborough, Goodwood and Shoreham - from vantage points not accessible on show days on the day before the shows from where he could capture the aircraft arriving, and on the days after to catch them leaving. Trevor Cox brought up the rear with a presentation on some of the former WW1 German cemeteries in the Ypres Salient which the Belgians required be removed and concentrated in just a few sites, from 280 cemeteries in 1920 to just four today - the futility of war is obvious when you visit a cemetery the size of two football pitches holding in exess of 44,000 burials. Thanks go to the contributors for sharing their diverse interests. It proved to be a much appreciated and successful evening which members asked to be repeated in future years, and thanks go to the contributors for sharing their diverse interests.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 23rd June, 2011 — The Gosport-Portsmouth Ferries, by Philip Simons. In a change of programme our Branch Vice-Chairman / Treasurer Phil Simons presented a very well-researched and most interesting illustrated history of the Gosport Ferry from its early days in the 1880s as the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Company through to today's Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company. We viewed all the various ferries that have operated on the cross-harbour service and followed them through their various lives after being sold. Many of the ferries saw naval service in WW1 and WW2 - some in both - and one as far away as Sierra Leone. Several still exist today as houseboats in various parts of the country, one is virtually buried on the foreshore of a country estate, and sadly several are rusting hulks in the mud. Also covered was the steam operated chain ferry which was in service 1840 - 1959. This was Phil's first talk and he is most certainly to be congratulated for such an enjoyable and fascinating account, and we certainly look forward to another.
Meeting Notes: Saturday 18th June, 2011 — Tri-Branch Meeting (South Coast, Isle of Wight and Southampton) at the Amberley Chalkpits Museum. Some two dozen members from the three branches met up at Amberley and enjoyed a fascinating day at the museum exploring the various exhibits and displays of yesteryear - it's quite alarming to see objects you remember using (or still do!) not so long ago now regarded as museum exhibits. With coffee, tea and biscuits being provided throughout the day, for lunch an excellent well-presented hot and cold buffet lunch ws provided which all present attacked with relish. Many thanks to Phil Simons and the committee for organising this most successful day, and to Alan Watt for bringing boxes of postcards, photographs and books from Chatham for members to browse at leisure and purchase.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 26th May, 2011 — Shipbuilding at Goole by George Robinson. The subject of our May meeting was George Robinson's PowerPoint presentation of "Shipbuilding at Goole, 1875-1987." We were taken through the wide range of small vessels constructed at the various shipyards in the locality over the 112 years from "Tom Pudding" tugs used for towing skips of coal to large coasters for Everards, tankers for Crescent Shipping, and larger vessels for Ellerman's Wilson Line of Hull. Auxiliary naval craft were very well represented from armed trawlers and drifters to minesweepers - including an "Ascot" Class paddle-minesweeper, and salvage craft, and even 'Q' ships. George has produced a most interesting show with some fascinating old photographs from the early years accompanied by a fully informative commentary on the screen. With a little time to spare members then viewed a DVD of King George V battleships which included the hunt for the Bismark - rather appropriate as it was 70 years ago to the day.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 28th April, 2011 — Branch Annual General Meeting followed by A Nautical Quiz set by Nick Hall. Vice-Chairman/Treasurer Phil Simons was ably assisted by our Secretary Val Thompson when together they took the helm and calmly steered the branch through the agenda of its AGM. No contentious items were raised, the accounts were accepted, and members gave a unanimous vote of thanks to the committee for their hard work throughout the year on behalf of the branch and the four members were re-elected en bloc to serve another term with Nick Hall being available to be co-opted during the year. After the interval members took part in the annual 50-question quiz set by last year's winner, Nick Hall. This year's victor was Mike Hearn - whose prize is the honour of setting the questions for next year - he was followed by Phil Simons and Alan Watt in second and third place respectively - also congratulations to Alan, the Honorary WSS Librarian at Chatham, for being nominated as the WSS Manager at Chatham.
Meeting Notes: Saturday 26th March, 2011 — Merchant Ship Meeting 2011, London. Three South Coast members were present at the meeting held in the Civil Service Club, just off Whitehall. The day commenced with answers to the 50 question quiz set by Malcolm Cooper and sent out in advance - your editor came second with 32, and Alan Watt third with 31 - many thanks due to the Internet and Google! There were six illustrated presentations during the day: Freights Down - Ships Down: a look at one of the consequences of the slump in freight rates in 1920 (John Cook); The Development of the Reefer Vessel during the 20th Century (Tony Breach); Elder Dempster - A Fleet shaped by its trade (Andrew Bell); Confessions of an Everards Marine Superintendent (Ken Garrett); United Africa Company/Palm Line, 1929-1985, a shipping company and its ships (Trevor Cox); Evolution of the Fleet Supply Ship (Tom Adams). Many thanks to Roy Fenton, Malcolm Cooper and their committee for organising the most enjoyable day.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 24th March, 2011 — Clan Line Steamers, part III. This was the third and final part which concentrated on the ships that served the company post-war through to its decline in the 1970s and on to its total demise in the 1980s. It was during this period that many consider Clan Line operated some of its finest designed ships - the last of the break-bulk cargo ships. As with many other British companies they were somewhat late to respond to the dedicated container trade and facing freight rates being under-cut by foreign companies the Clan Line house flag sadly vanished from the seas. A brief look was also taken at King Line Ltd., whose ships were absorbed into the Clan Line Fleet, the Scottish Tanker Company and Scottish Shire Line. The evening concluded with some recent photographic "finds" of Clan Line's turret ships.
Meeting Notes: Friday 25th February, 2011 — The Keith Rivett-Drake Annual Branch Dinner. Some 30 members and guests, including our former Chairman Alan Bishop, enjoyed a succulent roast beef dinner with all the trimmings at the Sussex Yacht Club at our annual gathering in memory of our generous benefactor and former member, Keith Rivett-Drake. It was a most enjoyable evening and a vote of thanks must be given to Philip Simons for his meticulous planning and organisation.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 24th February, 2011 — The Thames and Medway, by Steve Spouse. Members enjoyed a most interesting and informative presentation from Steve Spouse, a member of the North West Kent Branch, when he showed "The Thames and Medway" through a slide show of tugs, towage and shipping on the two rivers. Tugs belonging to the various local towage companies were seen : J.P. Knight, William Watkins, Gamecock, Elliott, Sun Tugs, Ship Towage Ltd., London Tugs Ltd., Alexandra Towing Co. (London) Ltd., Howard Smith, Adsteam, Tilbury Dredging and the Port of London Authority. There was an excellent blend of then and now, old and new, including an excellent view of a newly launched tug CHALLENGE which is at present now berthed in Aldrington Basin. However, what was truly spectacular were Steve's remarkable aerial views of tugs, ships and various London docks from cranes, the tops of high-rise buildings and similar vantage points - he must have a good head for heights ! The evening was a blend of two fascinating subjects - tugs and Thames shipping - brought together in a unique show and we certainly hope to see Steve again at another meeting.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 27th January, 2011 — Ocean Liners and Cruise Ships, part II: letters F - Q, presented by Alan and Sheila Watt. Continuing on from last year, Sheila and Alan Watt treated members to a showing of Joe Clark's A-Z of Ocean Liners and Cruise Ships, parts III and IV covering letters F to M, and O to Q. Numerous passenger vessels were seen in a variety of settings all accompanied by an easy yet informative commentary. There was some remarkable pre-war black and white footage of Orient Line's "O" ships at Colombo - ORCADES, ORION, ORFORD, ORONTES, OTRANTO, post-war P&O and Union Castle liners in Southamptom - ORIANA, ORONSAY, KENYA CASTLE, PENDENNIS CASTLE, PRETORIA CASTLE. Other ships included FAIRSEA, FAIRSKY and FAIRSTAR, GOTHIC, HIMALAYA, MALOJA, LAKONIA, NALDERA and MONA LISA with the famous painting reproduced on her funnel. We saw the final departures of QUEEN ELEZABETH and QUEEN MARY plus QE2 leaving on her maiden voyage, and amongst other well-known liners from the past -- MAJESTIC, MAURETANIA, GRIPSHOLM, FRANCE, NEVASSA, ORANJE to name but few. A most interesting evening and an excellent start to the year's programme.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 9th December, 2010 — Photographic Competition. The Branch's Annual Photographic Competition followed last year's successful format in which each image was digitised and projected via the computer, and each photograph was given a mark by each member of 1, 2 or 3. There were 35 entries and the winning three were : first - a port quarter view of Princess Cruises SAPPHIRE PRINCESS (2004, 116,000 grt.) in the Tracey Arm Fjord and entered by Geoff Bedford : second - the 1922 German-built Dutch steam tug NOORDZEE at the Dordhrecht Steam Festival (Dort in Stoom) taken by Nick Hall, and third - the 1997-built Dutch coastal tanker STAR BONAIRE on the New Waterway taken by Geoff Bedford. By popular consent the old clock / barometer trophy was donated to the WSS Chatham Library and the committee have decided to replace it with a new award which will be known as the Peter Roberts Trophy in honour of our late shipmate whose funeral was held that morning. The three winning photographs will be printed in the next edition of South Coast Packet - thanks are due to Krispen Atkinson for bringing his laptop plus scanner and working hard to scan members' images at the start of the evening. Aftr the awards members enjoyed the customary Christmas buffet for which a vote of thanks must go to Val Thompson and Sheila Watt for supplying and then organising many of the eatables and drinkables. All too soon a most enjoyable evening, and year of meetings came to an end.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 25th November, 2010 — An Evening in Stockholm with Nick Hall. Nick Hall gave a fascinating presentation when he took members on a most interesting shipping tour of the port of Stockholm and the surrounding waterways. Situated amidst an archipelago of some 24,000 islands, water-borne transport is essential and we saw the complete range of the city's classic ferries, some dating back to the 1870s and still in service, some in steam and coal-fired as built. The various types of commerecial shipping from cruise ships and container ships through to houseboats were all very well documented along with their relevant histories, for example Wallenius Line's first ship, the coastal motor tanker SOYA III which is still afloat but has been converted into the company's floating conference centre. Tugs, and former tugs (one being VIDAR dating back to 1865), old lightships, and ex-coastal naval craft, converted into houseboats were all seen along with a variety of floating hotels, floating restaurants and the Vasa Museum. Members commented on the immaculate appearance and high standard of maintenance apparent on all the various ships and craft — indeed the city of Stockholm itself was spotlessly clean and tidy. The whole show was complemented by Nick's very high stand of photography and knowledgeable commentary — many thanks Nick for the most absorbing evening.
Meeting Notes: Thursday 28th October, 2010 — Clan Line Steamers ~ Part II, by Trevor Cox. We resumed our voyage under the Clan Line flag (still minus seagulls) with the MacNair Class and followed the histories of the ships that were either built or acquired during the Inter-war years through to those built by the end of WW2. Member were stunned by the incredibly high number of war losses sustained by the company during WW2 – 34 ships sunk and over 60 lives lost – facts which underlined the role of the Merchant Navy during those was years. It was also interesting to note just how many of the Clan Line ships fell victim to U-boat “Aces” responsible for other major attacks: ATHENA, HMS MALAYA, and EMPRESS OF CANADA, to name but few. Clan Line ships were to be found in most major theatres – the Malta and Russian Convoys, Operation Torch, and the D-Day landings as cargo ships, store ships and troopships. Three ships were taken over by the Admiralty during building and completed as aircraft transports serving as RN vessels HMS ATHENE, ENGADINE and BONAVENTURE, not being release back to civilian service until 1946/47. The last leg of our voyage will reach its home port next March when we witness the decline and eventual demise of this large company by which time was part of the British and Commonwealth Group. As with many other fine British shipping companies the rapid advance of containerisation was not appreciated, planned and prepared for in time. Also include will be a brief look at some of Clan Lin’es associated companies: Scottish Tanker Co., Scottish Shire Line, King Line and Houston Line, plus some recent additions to my Clan Line Steamers collection. [01.2011]
Meeting Notes: Thursday 23rd September, 2010 — “Roger’s Slides” — Part II. Val provided members with an evening of pure nostalgia when she presented a further selection of slides taken by Roger in the 1960s and 1970s. Roger conscientiously took a photograph of almost every ship he saw, especially in Shoreham Harbour, and today we can be grateful that he did for we can now see the many old favourites of yesteryear alongside landmarks also now disappeared with the passage of time – a time when Shoreham boasted two power stations and a gas works. We journeyed back to the time when Shoreham was a busy port in the number of ships it handled – classic Dutch coasters, flat iron colliers, wine tankers, Russian timber ships with their complex-looking cargo-handling gear and a wide variety of small tankers. Further along the coast at Newhaven SNELAC was a new ship on the crossing to Dieppe and large cargo ships still berthed just inside the seaward end of the harbour. Ocean-going ships were seen on visits to the now long vanished London Docks and across the water in Rotterdam. Thank you Val and we certainly look forward to another evening of shipping photographs from the past next year. [01.2011]
Meeting Notes: Thursday 26th August, 2010 — Cornish Ports and Harbours, Part II ~ The Clay Ports and St. Austell Bay, by Krispen Atkinson. Krispen produced a very well researched and superb presentation covering the ports of Mevagissey, Pentewan, Charlestown, Par, Looe, Lerryn, and Fowey (your editor learned it is apparently pronounced “Foy”!) The history of each port was interlaced with aerial views, old postcards and photographs, and brought up-to-date with Krispen’s own photographs from similar vantage points showing “Then and Now.” The shipping varied from old time sailing ships, through coasters old – Everard – and new, to laid up shipping and modern cruise liners. The main export of the harbours was china clay and it was amazing to see several coasters alongside in harbour so small you wondered how even one would fit in. Pentewan started life as a 16th century fishing haven – before WW2 it exported clay and copper while it imported coal and lime – since 1940 when the harbour entrance started to silt up it has become totally landlocked. Charlestown was built as a “Georgian New Town” – it fitted out MFVs in WW2 – today it exists as a maritime museum town. Par had a large china clay drying plant, today the port is closed. In Fowey we saw the famed tugs TURMOIL (of FLYING ENTERPRISE fame), and tug CANUTE now in Exeter museum, while at Fowey the thriving cargo trade has been mainly replaced by cruise ships. A truly fascinating evening Krispen, and we look forward to a Part II – and then a Part IV . . . . . [01.2011]
Meeting Notes: Thursday 22nd July, 2010 — An Evening of Shipping Films. The first film was “Mersey Bound” Part 9 of Snowbow Productions “The Great Liners”. It was a genuine nostalgic voyage back to the 1950s and 1960s, the days before containers and, in many cases, palletised cargoes. Companies such as Elder Dempster, Harrison Line, Blue Funnel, T & J Brocklebank, and Palm Line (which included a voyage on IKEJA PALM – and now you know why your editor chose this film!) were all strongly featured showing all aspects of life afloat and a wide variety cargo work. It was an era when going to sea and trading to foreign shores was almost romantic and seamanship played an important part in everyday work – today it has become a sterile business dominated by high tech computer systems. The second film was “Day Trips to the Sea” which was a compilation of cine films taken on Thames pleasure steamers in the 1960s and 1970s. We sailed on board m.s. ROYAL SOVEREIGN, p.s. QUEEN OF THE SOUTH (ex JEANNIE DEANS), and p.s. WAVERLEY which, at that time, was in her first few years of operation on the Thames. Starting at Tower Pier, Southend Pier was almost an obligatory call but other resorts included Greenwich, Gravesend, Margate, Herne Bay and the River Medway. Thank you to Trevor Cox and Val Thompson for providing the films at short notice in the absence of Ken Johnson who has no taken up residence in Gibraltar. [01.2011]
St. James' Road Methodist Church
St. James Road
Shirley, Southampton SO15 5HE
on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, at 7:30 pm.
Contact: Colin M Drayson, 57 The Drove, Commercial Street, Bitterne, Southampton, Hampshire SO18 6LY —
E-mail: email@example.com [12.2010]
Branch website: (with lots of information about local branch activities) http://www.sotonwss.org.uk [04.2011]
Contact: Stuart Emery, 66 Bellhouse Lane, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex SS9 4PQ.
Tel: 01702 528948.
Contact: Tony Breach, 'Playas', MARCROSS, Llanwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan CF61 1ZG.
firstname.lastname@example.org [10.2015 RW]
Contact: Stuart Hardie, 26 Southbrooke Avenue, Hartlepool TS25 5JB.
Tel: 01429 274881. Publications: Tees Packet - quarterly - Editor: Derek Hinds.
Branch Website: http://teesships.co.uk [07.2010]
Teesside Ship Society / Teesside Branch of the World Ship Society. The Teesside Ship Society was formed in 1956 and became a branch of the International Society in 1971.
Recent Meeting Highlights:
For details of selected meetings, subscribe to the Tees Packet, The Journal of the Teesside Ship Society
Meeting Notes: DECEMBER 2010 — The presentation at our Middlesbrough meeting, being the last meeting of 2010, was another in the series 'Slides from the Archives' by Derek Hinds. This time it was on those workhorses which one can find in almost every port in the world - 'Tugs'. The slides shown were from the collections of the late Albert Weller, John Coombs, John Proud and a few where the photographer was unknown. Their cameras captured the tugs which served in, or visited the north-east ports from the 1960's until the 1980's. Other pictures were from when they ventured further afield from our region. The final section of slides were from John Roud's collection, our own 'Mr Tees Tugs', some of his pictures were from the time that he was preparing his book 'Seahorses of the Tees' showing the eralier steam tugs assisting some sailing vessels on the river.
Contact: Christopher Perkins, 14 Ellison Way, Wokingham, Berks RG40 2AB
Telephone 01189 799411 Mobile 07818 507958
email address email@example.com [05.2017]
On the Horizon: our forthcoming meetings.
- 1 June - To be arranged
- 6 July - Colin Drayson My time as a Stevedore in Southampton
- 3 August - Philip Simons WSS AGM 2017 (Torbay)
- 7 September - To be arranged
- 5 October - To be arranged
- 2 November - Trevor Cox British India Passenger Ships
- 7 December - Members Evening Short presentations, objects of interest, DVDs – whatever we have on the night Plus Christmas goodies
Contact: David Walker, 13 Charlton Court, Bank Street, Teignmouth, Devon. TQ14 8FN.
Local Branch Website: http://worldshipsdevon.blogspot.co.uk/ [11.2016]
Contact: Paul Hood, 28 Teal Avenue, South Beach Estate, Blyth, Northumberland NE24 3PT.
Tel: 01670 360132.
Directions for finding the new venue: click on the following link for a map (for Satnavs, the postcode is NE30 2LD ) http://www.streetmap.co.uk/
Contact: Tony Bray, 16 Prince Andrew Drive, Dersingham, Norfolk PE31 6JW
Tel: 01485 542983. [11.2015]
or Adrian 01945 588691 / (mobile) 07828703931
Monday 25th June Singapore & Australia (slides or DVD tbc) by Adrian
Monday 30th July Liverpool DVD by Tony
Monday 10th Sept. Slide show - Here, There & Anywhere by Mervyn - (AUGUST & SEPTEMBER meetings combined not last Monday)
Monday 29th Oct. China (tbc) by Adrian
Contact: Jim McFaul, 92 Armorial Road, Styvechall, Coventry CV3 6GJ. Tel: 024 7641 5574.
Notice about the status of the Branch
Following a sharp fall in attendance at our monthly meetings it was decided at our branch AGM on the 9th April 2016 that unless someone stepped forward before September to take on various tasks, the branch, after over sixty years, will be formally closed and no more meetings held. Unfortunately no-one has volunteered and furthermore in the last few months we have also lost several long serving key members so the branch is now closed. Our thanks to the many members who have supported us over the years, many unfortunately no longer with us, and to all those speakers who presented so many interesting talks.
Some past Meeting Highlights
Meeting Notes: In November 2007, the branch was proud and honoured to welcome four verterans who were involved with Operation Pedestal, the crucial Malta convoy of August 1942. Les Dalton, our speaker, served on HMS EAGLE, Les Rae on HMS CAIRO, John Berrill on HMS INTREPID and Harold Highfield had served on Holt's DEUCALION. For the first part of his illustrated talk Les reviewed the warships that participated and took us through the action from the Glasgow and Liverpool departures, across the Bay of Biscay, passing Gibraltar to face continuous attacks by aircraft, surface vessels and submarines in the Mediterranean which included the loss of his own ship. Of the fourteen merchant ships only five including the tanker OHIO reached Malta. All were damaged but helped in the island's survival. In the second part, Les covered the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Pedestal convoy sponsored by the Maltese Government. This was a meeting that the members of the branch will not forget.