Brocklebank Ships - Mainmasts

Jim S
20th March 2007, 23:25
Can anyone enlighten me on why post WW2 Brocklebank ships other than Manipur did not have a mainmast? -It would appear that some prewar ships had mainmast top removed although Martand was an exception.
Considering this it seems strange that as far as I can determine Manipur retained hers to the end.
I suppose it did reduce the preparatory work required for a Manchester Ship Canal transit but as all the company's ships that did a Ship Canal transit still needed the funnel top removed at Eastham this seems marginal as the bridge fitted signal mast had to be lowered.
I know it sounds trivial but I am sure someone has the answer.

Don A.Macleod
21st March 2007, 11:23
As the house flag was flown from the foremast why bother with a mainmast aaargh!! Seriously though, I can't remember if the MANIPUR had one or not and I was there on her last voyage. I'm sure though someone can respond to your query.Donald

oglebilluk
21st March 2007, 12:16
It could have been recognition that preventing funnel smoke was not always possible, so the lack of a full height mast would reduce any 'target'. Certainly on Matra when about to be overtaken by Queen Mary it was logged as 'fog stand-by' in order to slow down a few revs and stop the smoke.

Bill Ogle

Tony Crompton
21st March 2007, 12:19
Because there was no reason to have a topmast on the mainmast. It would serve no practical use apart from keeping the deck crowd employed soogeying the soot off it.
Possibly a much more relevant question would be "Why did the Manipur have one"
Could it be that the older ships needed a longer length on the main ariel between 2 masts rather than between the fore topmast and the funnel as in the later ships? Sparkies may have the answer.
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Tony C

Roger Bentley
21st March 2007, 13:14
Here is a picture of the Manipur in Port Said in April 1956 taken by my brother John Bentley who was 2nd R/O at the time. Clearly she still had her main mast. I always thought that an aerial slung between fore and main gave better results than the doubled system used when there was no main mast, but the rather primitive methods of loading transmitters in those days was hardly scientific. I can remember Arthur Oram one of the radio superintendents telling me that if they could manage without aerials from mast to funnel and use single whips or rods for transmitting he would be happy! Salaams, Roger

Jim S
21st March 2007, 18:15
Roger,
You mention whip aerials - Mangla. Mathura and the like certainly had funnel mounted whip aerials. looked pretty impressive too. On an Atlantic gale on Mathura we lost one of them. - I believe that was not uncommon. I remember an article some years ago by an ex Brock man writing in "Sea Breezes" I think, where he described the loss of the whip aerials and one spearing itself into No4 wooden hatch cover.

Roger Bentley
21st March 2007, 18:56
Hi Jim, Yes they did and even on the old Mathure (1920 version) we had two, but they were receiving aerials not transmitting. I hated going up the funnel to disconnect them when we went through the Manchester Ship Canal, same thing on the Maskeliya. Although later on if VHF was fitted a whip aerial would be OK for those frequencies. I never sailed on a Brocklebank ship with R/T but then I left in 1961 so maybe things changed drastically later on! Best wishes, Roger

Tony Sprigings
21st March 2007, 19:07
The other point that has not been mentioned was to do wth Navigation Lights.
The mainmast light had to be fifteen ft above the foremast light and this dictated the need for the main mast. However later in the day the Mainmast light was afixed to the signal mast and this obviated the need for the mainmast. The Manipur did not have a signal mast and could not therefore do away with the mainmast.
Does that help?

Jim S
21st March 2007, 21:42
I realise this debate is going on a bit now, but however - looking at some of the old photos the policy to have or not to have a mainmast seems a bit erratic. As mentioned Manipur had a mainmast and yet her older sister Magdapur did not and all later ships from Maidan onwards did not. The 1925 built Mahout had her main topmast removed after WW2 and yet Markhor of 1929, Marwarri of 1935 and Malancha of 1937 retained theirs.
I guess it might be one of life's little mysteries with the policy makers of the day not around to tell us why.

Tony Sprigings
21st March 2007, 23:08
At the risk of repetition I would point out that the reason for the Mainmast in some of the fleet was simply to carry the Miainmast light. In the case of the ships you mention the light was resighted, in the case of Mahout (1) on the funnel. Magdapur had her Mainmast light on the signal mast.
It was all to do with Navigation lights. Nothing to do with Company Policy.

Tony Crompton
22nd March 2007, 20:23
If we were to be absolutely correct the only two ships without a mainmast were "Mahseer" and "Matra" with the 3 samson posts between 5 & 6 haches.It is main topmasts that this discussion is about.

From "Maipura" onwards all ships had 3 masts which from "Maskeliya" to the Motor ships were Bipods. I suppose these were technically Fore, Main, and Mizzen, though I do not remember from my time in "Makrana" them ever being referred to by these names.
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Regards, Tony C

Tony Sprigings
22nd March 2007, 22:50
Yes, to be really pedantic it is the main topmast that the discussion is about. However the reason remains the same purely a means of hoisting the rear light 15ft. above the foremast light.

Jim S
22nd March 2007, 23:32
Being equally pedantic I still do not see reason why of all the wartime and post war built ships up to the introduction of the bipod masts on Maskeliya and Maturata had no mainmast top except Manipur. I cannot image this was just a whim by Wm Hamilton the shipbuilder. They would just have been as happy to fit a signal mast to accommodate navigation lights. After all Manipur would have had to be fitted with a telescopic maintopmast for Manchester Ship Canal transit. Is it just possible that the company having its own Radio Department wanted to re-assess aerial performance - I base that on the earlier comment by Roger Bentley.
Anyway I am getting to the point now on this discussion as Catherine Tait would say "Am I boverred ?"

Tony Sprigings
27th March 2007, 21:28
Like you, I think we have milked this for all we can get. There is no one left alive who can confirm any specific details as to the reason for the choices and all our efforts must remain as pure speculation tempered with a fair degree of professional expertise.

Don A.Macleod
27th March 2007, 23:24
Amen to that Tony.Enjoyed your book immensely, now on its third "reader" in the Western Isles. Donald.

Tony Selman
28th March 2007, 13:49
We should have charged you extra for that Don. With all those readers you will wear it out! Mind you that means you might buy another one!

Tony Crompton
28th March 2007, 17:06
Nothing to do with masts but private books. I have just found by "Surfing the net" a small privately printed book called "Voyage 62" which I had no idea existed.
It is "Privately Printed" by Blackwoods for "Messers Thos. & Jno. Brocklebank Ltd" and written by Captain A.Hill OBE telling of his experiences when "Mandasor" was sunk by a Raider in 1941 and of his subsequent years in a prison camp. A fascinating story.
I sailed with Capt. Hill on my second trip on "Mahseer". I remember him as being one of life's true gentlemen, a total contrast to the Master on my first ship who was anything but! Other names from "Mahseer", John Lyle was Mate and Dave Woolfenden Second Mate.
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Tony C

japottinger
28th March 2007, 18:16
No need for a mainmast on Maihar (I), the funnel was tall enough to carry the aft steaming light and some!

Roger Bentley
28th March 2007, 21:32
Nothing to do with masts but private books. I have just found by "Surfing the net" a small privately printed book called "Voyage 62" which I had no idea existed.
It is "Privately Printed" by Blackwoods for "Messers Thos. & Jno. Brocklebank Ltd" and written by Captain A.Hill OBE telling of his experiences when "Mandasor" was sunk by a Raider in 1941 and of his subsequent years in a prison camp. A fascinating story.
I sailed with Capt. Hill on my second trip on "Mahseer". I remember him as being one of life's true gentlemen, a total contrast to the Master on my first ship who was anything but! Other names from "Mahseer", John Lyle was Mate and Dave Woolfenden Second Mate.
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Tony C

Tony, I thought the title rang a bell, and sure enough this story was published in a book called Touching the Adventures - of Merchantmen in the second World War. Edited by J Lennox Kerr, this was published in 1953 by George G Harrap & Co Ltd. There is a foreword By John Masefield and the stories are all superb. On a visit to Liverpool Nautical Museum some years ago I noticed in a cabinet several Master's voyage notebooks for WW2 one of which was by Captain Hill. Regards, Roger

Roger Bentley
29th March 2007, 20:48
I am sure the phrase Touching the Adventures will bring back reminders of those sterling words at the start of the Lloyds Assurance policies perhaps the Government might like to think of them. [I]Touching the Adventures and Perils which we the assurers are contented to bear and do take upon us in this Voyage they are , of the Seas . Men of War, Fire, Enemies, Pirates, Rovers, Thieves, Jettisons, Letters of Mart and Countermart, Surprisals, Takings at Sea, Arrests, Restraints, and Detainments of all Kings, Princes and People, of what Nation Condition or quality whatever... [I] Makes you think! Roger

Tony Selman
30th March 2007, 12:10
You can still buy the book from specialist booksellers. I have done an internet trawl and found a couple of copies for sale. I am just in the process of sorting a purchase out, it sounds like a good read.