Meets: Community Space, Tesco, St Oswald’s Road, Gloucester GL1 2SG, on the 2nd Monday, September to May, at 7:30 pm.

Contact: Alan Drewett, 48 Parton Road, Churchdown, Glos GL3 2AF Email:

Tel: To be advised. [05.2015 RW]

  • 13 May 2019                AGM & Emily Ratajkowski and the mega ships by Alan Drewett 

More details on the current programme can be found at


February 2020: For our February meeting Branch member Pete Evans treated us to an old fashioned evening of 35mm slides projected on a venerable screen. But this was not nostalgia for its own sake. Pete had only just been reunited with his slides of coasters in ports such as Gloucester, Sharpness, Bristol, Portishead, Teignmouth and Falmouth after lending them to another branch member – sadly no longer with us – for 25 years. Among the featured vessels was PLANCIUS (IMO 5258456 399 grt) at Exmouth docks in June 1986. This was built in 1962 at Groningen, Netherlands, by G.J. Van Der Werff.

January 2020: For our 13 January 2020 meeting, Branch Member Keith Reed made a presentation entitled “Suez Transit and QE2 Hotel” about his November 2018 voyage aboard MSC LIRICA (IMO 9246102 65 591 GRT) from Venice via Katakolon, Piraeus, Heraklion, Port Said, Aqaba, the Sultanate of Oman ports of Salalah, Muscat and Khasab to the destination Port Raschid in Dubai.
Highlights along the way included the sites of the original and 1886 Olympic Games, Mount Lycabettus funicular railway, Palace of Knossos, Egyptian – Japanese Friendship Bridge over the Suez Canal, Nabatean city of Petra, Burj Khalifa, Atlantis Hotel and Mall of the Emirates – complete with penguins.

December 2019 : As well as the traditional yuletide social gathering and buffet, our December meeting featured a photographic competition which was won by member Penny Meenagh with a picture of TS ROYALIST ( IMO 1003530 83 grt) leaving Gloucester Docks after the 2019 Tall Ships Festival. Penny also took third place with a picture of the sailing vessel ANNE (MMSI 319132100) passing through Slimbridge on the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal. Second place went to Chairman Ken Guest with his picture of HMS BELFAST (11 550 tons displacement) taken from London’s Shard. Thanks are also due to member Terry Cruttenden for organising the raffle. 

November 2019 : Branch Member Ted Tedaldi made a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Shipping 2018 ”. Among the vessels featured were the tall ship KASKELOT. She was originally a traditional Baltic Trader built in 1948 by J. Ring-Andersen, one of the world’s most reputable shipyards, for the Royal Greenland Trading Company at the Svendborg shipyard in Denmark.
During the 1960s she worked as a support vessel for fisheries in the Faroe Islands and was then purchased by Square Sail, UK in 1981 and converted to replicate a traditional three masted barque double topsail.

October 2019 :  Paul Barnett, Chairman of the Friends of Purton, made a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Wrecks to Relics” exploring the link between concrete barges and the Mulberry Harbours supplying Allied forces after the 1944 D-Day landings. Although much larger concrete lighters were built in Bristol Road, Gloucester in 1919 and 1920, the eight strengthening the banks of the River Severn were assembled in Barrow in Furness in 1941. Although easily holed and sunk- and difficult to steer – such concrete vessels made ideal pontoons for the 16 kilometres of “Whale” roadway sections, capable of carrying Sherman tanks.

September 2019:  Our Branch member Roland White presented Two Unusual Stories from his career as a writer and historian. The first concerned a rare typed diary of a 1926 Pilgrimage Cruise from the Western Mediterranean to Salonika, Gallipoli and Istanbul aboard Cosulich Lines STELLA D’ITALIA (5 530 grt) while the second followed the fortunes of HAIDA 1929 (693 grt IMO 8981652). This Cox and Stevens designed motor yacht appeared in the “Money Money Money” sequence of the 2008 feature film Mama Mia. Previous owners had included the US Navy and Coast Guard, Lowell Guinness MP and impresario Robert Stigwood. 

May 2019: Following the AGM our Monday 13 May 2019 meeting enjoyed a PowerPoint presentation by Branch Secretary Alan Drewett entitled “Emily Ratajkowski and the Mega Ships”. This started with Gulf Oil’s UNIVERSE class ultra large crude carriers “bringing home the oil” to Bantry Bay’s Whiddy Island and moved back to Noah’s Ark and then forward to MSC OSCAR (IMO 9703291) and the US Navy ‘GERALD R. FORD class aircraft carriers. Each ship was compared in length to an eight carriage InterCity 125 train, and the talk ended at King’ s Cross Station:close to the childhood home of Emily Ratajkowski. 

April2019: We learned all about Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s SS GREAT BRITAIN from Visitor Services Volunteer and Ian Caskie. Floated out of dry dock in 1843, the 3 674 ton vessel was the largest in the world and the first ocean liner to combine an iron hull and steam powered screw propulsion. Like Brunel’s earlier paddle steamer GREAT WESTERN, GREAT BRITAIN began its career on the North Atlantic before becoming an emigrant ship for Australia. Eventually converted to a windjammer taking Penarth coal to San Francisco, GREAT BRITAIN limped into Port Stanley in 1886. 

March 2019:  Chairman Ken Guest shared his still and moving images of the vibrant, diverse Republic of Singapore., both now and in the 1960s.

Ships noted in Singapore included Pacific International Line’s KOTA prefixed container ships and a number of offshore including the Dutch registered ALP SWEEPER (IMO 9737254, 5 901 grt).

Perhaps the most unusual however was Wellard Group’s OCEAN DROVER (IMO 9232852, 29 812 grt) capable of transporting 75 000 sheep or 18 000 cattle. It carries 1 500 tons of animal fodder and can produce up to 600 tons of fresh water a day.

February 2019: We once again welcomed our old friend Iain Quinn who had travelled down from Glasgow to visit us. As expected from Iain it was a tremendous evening’s entertainment, this time he spoke about his favourite River Clyde Steamers. These included amongst many others JEANIE DEANS, DUTCHESS OF HAMILTON, KING GEORGE V, QUEEN MARY II and of course his beloved WAVERLEY. As you may expect Iain’s slides, knowledge of his subject and humour were all first class. Thank you for your visit Iain, the evening as always is the highlight of our season and we look forward to seeing you again next year.

For our Monday 14 January 2019 meeting member Keith Reid presented his pictures of a transit through the Panama Canal. This officially opened on 15 August 1914 with the SS ANCON inaugurating the 51 nautical mile waterway which avoided the need for ships to round Cape Horn en route from the Atlantic to the Pacific and saving 6 500 miles on a journey from the eastern coast of the USA to Japan. The Canal was partially widened by 2016 in conjunction with the building of new longer, wider locks which can take overall vessel lengths of 366 metres and 49 metres beam

History was made on Monday 10 December 2018 when World Ship Society Gloucester Branch member Ted Tedaldi became the final recipient of the Les Tibbetts’ trophy for maritime picture of the year. Ted claimed the final shield on the wooden trophy with an evocative shot of a Lake Geneva ferry. The branch’s annual photographic competition will now be replaced by a quiz.
Thanks go to Branch Treasurer John Meyer for organising the raffle, Chairman Ken Guest for organising the competition and to everyone who brought buffet food and raffle prizes for the annual social gathering.

For our September meeting John Elliott of the Leicester Society of Model Engineers presented his superb 1/96 scale radio controlled model of HMS GLAMORGAN as well as probably the most well prepared and fascinating talk that this branch has ever had the pleasure to receive. We can supply contact details on request. D19 was one of eight County Class destroyers which were the first Royal Navy ships to be fitted with anti aircraft guided missiles. HMS GLAMORGAN herself – commissioned on 11th October 1964 – remains the only ship ever to be hit by an Exocet missile and survive.

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.



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.

1presentation group 7 June 1985 -2

(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.

2HMS Gloucester bridge May 2011

(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.

3Crest return celebrations July 16 2011 003

(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.

4Crest return celebrations July 16 2011 025

(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.

5crest rededic 10 oct 2012-1

(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.