Esso Portsmouth disaster 1960/61

barnsey
16th August 2007, 03:12
I have a problem ... no sarky remarks from any of you either !!!

I was on a BP tanker on the Tyne drydocking of course.

The Esso tanker which had a burnt out midships accommodation was alongside in the river ... she had been in an explosion and fire at Milford Haven.

We toddled over and had a look aboard.

Now I have info that the fire was in July 1960 and by August 1960 she was at Palmers.

Fact..... I was aboard British Sergeant throughout 1960 well away from UK.

I joined British Vigilance late July 1961 seemingly, at Brighams.

Questions ...

What was the order of yards progressing up river from Brighams.?

Does anyone have a "Map" of the Tyne they can post showing all the yards?

Was it possible to walk from Brighams to Palmers, the Esso job was alongside in the river.?

What was the date of the Esso Portsmouth progression from explosion to leaving the yard on the Tyne as an all aft vessel.?

Does anyone have any photos?

barnsey

allalogie
16th August 2007, 07:06
photo's here..... before and after.....

http://visseraa.piranho.de/uktankers/id204.htm#esso_portsmouth

barnsey
16th August 2007, 11:08
Yup been there but the dates do not tally up ... he has it as 1960 .... couldnt be ... I saw her in 1961.

barnsey

Ron Stringer
16th August 2007, 11:33
Brigham and Cowan's drydock and repair yard was nearest the Tyne Piers near the mouth of the river. Then, going up-river, there was Tyne Dock Engineering (TDE) between B&C and the ferry landing. Beyond the Custom House was the big repair yard of Middle Docks running up to Readheads Shipbuilders. They were all in South Shields.

After leaving South Shields you came to Tyne Dock, then Jarrow and eventually to Hebburn.

Palmers drydock and repair yard was adjacent to Hawthorn Leslie's shipyard in Hebburn, about 3 or 4 miles up river from South Shields. You could walk from B&C to Palmers but it was a good walk and not too scenic. I always took the bus myself.

barnsey
16th August 2007, 11:43
Thanks Ron,

Just as I thought ... we couldnt have walked it therefore we must have been at Palmers as was Esso Portsmouth.

This website www.visseraa.piranho.de/uktankers...Esso Portsmouth has got the date/Year wrong unless I have the Esso tankers name wrong.

Barnsey

bert thompson
16th August 2007, 20:07
Remembe going to fit a radar on the Portsmouth. The bridge plan was as before. Only difference was that Decca Radar had updated. Previously a Type 45 was fitted with Transceiver mounted in the scanner housing. The Transar Transceiver had to be mounted on the aft bulkhead and waveguide run up to the scanner. Seem to recall that the Radio Officer was reported to have swum to a lifeboat with a badly damaged back. Think he took a job which I held at one time. ie. Radio man for Lawson Batey Tugs.
Bert.

offcumdum sanddancer
28th August 2007, 17:28
The attached files, from the "Times" may help.

They deal with the accident, and the repair

Keith

dnobmal
28th August 2007, 20:03
I sailed on the Esso Portsmouth,joined her in 1972 in New York

barnsey
29th August 2007, 13:50
Well done Keith thats brilliant finding those cuttings .... all stored away ..
Many thanks

Barnsey

offcumdum sanddancer
29th August 2007, 15:33
The cuttings come via my online link to the Open University and the full content of London Times between 1785 and 1985. There is more on that incident, but I think that that partly answered your questions though.

Also, between Tyne dock and Palmers Hebburn there was the Mercantile Drydock in Jarrow, formerly part of the Charles Mark Palmer empire that was Jarrow.

Will try and put together a map if you still would like to see it?

offcumdum sanddancer
29th August 2007, 16:29
I also attach an article about a later explosion on the Esso Durham which had the same second mate on board.

Keith

K urgess
29th August 2007, 16:46
Thanks for that Keith.

I sailed with Tony Moor (he was christened Tony not Anthony) when he was Master of the world's favourite tanker, the Cerinthus, of Hadley's Sunshine cruises.

He lived not far from me at the time and we got on quite well. I can't remember him mentioning the Portsmouth but he had photographs of the damage to the Durham showing the peeled back side and deck plates. Also the damage caused by flying rivets to the bridge front and the wheelhouse windows. Looked like it had been machine gunned and he was lucky to survive since he was on watch at the time.

He always suffered from a bad back that he blamed on standing on the focsle as mate while the anchor chain ran out. Obviously more as a result of being bown up twice. The first time quite seriously.

Luckily his run of bad luck had ended by the time I sailed with him on the Cerinthus.

One of my favourite Old Men and a pleasure to sail with but I was more of a friend and neighbour than a sparkie. I lost touch after he came ashore for a while and then went off foreign flag so I'd appreciate knowing where he is if anyone knows. He managed to sell me a pension in one of his shoreside incarnations, just before all the pension rules changed for the umpteenth time.

Cheers
Kris

barnsey
30th August 2007, 00:58
The cuttings come via my online link to the Open University and the full content of London Times between 1785 and 1985. There is more on that incident, but I think that that partly answered your questions though.

Also, between Tyne dock and Palmers Hebburn there was the Mercantile Drydock in Jarrow, formerly part of the Charles Mark Palmer empire that was Jarrow.

Will try and put together a map if you still would like to see it?

Yes please ..... gee I never thought I would forget which drydock i had been in ...

David

offcumdum sanddancer
2nd September 2007, 19:17
This should be the first of 8 posts scanned from an old A to Z street atlas. I never throw anything away! The original map was obviously quite old as it shows some railways as belonging to the NER, and as fellow anoraks will know, this company was brought in to the 'big four' railway company LNER in 1923. The map also shows the Tyne Tunnel, which was opened in 1966 I think, so there is quite a mix of periods but I think will illustrate the Tyne in the 1950's and 60's, which is what we want?

The dry docks on page 32 of my book (first post) shows the two docks of Brighams and Cowans as the first coming upriver, on the South side. The site is labelled Brighams dry docks. Next upriver are the two small docks of Tyne Dock Engineering, labeled as TDE. Over the river can be seen the little Low dock which held light ships, and near the North Shields ferry landing is Smiths Dock, labeled here as Bull ring docks.

Middle dock is the last in the bottom left corner.

To see South Shields today, Google map my postcode (NE34 6HJ) and you will see the river in both map form and a very high res. satellite photo.

Keith

offcumdum sanddancer
2nd September 2007, 19:33
Page 31 brings us Albert Edward dock and the rest of Smiths dock on the North side, and Middle docks and Readheads dry docks on the South side.

It has changed considerably.

offcumdum sanddancer
2nd September 2007, 19:37
Page 30 brings us to the delights of Northumberland dock, and we have just passed on page 31, Hayhole Road, which led to the tanker cleaning berth and passing Ma Becks (?) place. She was murdered in the late 60's and her killer never found.

offcumdum sanddancer
2nd September 2007, 19:48
Page 29 has Willington Gut and Wallsend Slipway's dock, entitled graving dock.

Back to the South side next

offcumdum sanddancer
2nd September 2007, 19:55
Page 45 takes us from Readheads shipyard and drydocks, past Tyne Dock and Jarrow slake (pronounced slack) of fond memory. It's filled in now, and wall to wall cars for export from Nissan's Washington plant now, AND piles of IMPORTED coal.

offcumdum sanddancer
2nd September 2007, 19:58
Page 44 has Mercantile drydocks in Jarrow after the oil terminal of Shell-Mex, (the jetty for which is on page 45) and to the west of the city of Jarrow is an untitled dry dock.. Don't know this one. Anyone help?

offcumdum sanddancer
2nd September 2007, 20:02
Page 43 shows Walsend Slipway to the top and probably, but not shown on this map, both of Palmers Hebburn drydocks at the extreme top left

offcumdum sanddancer
2nd September 2007, 20:07
Page 42 has brought us to downtown Hebburn and Ellison street leading down to where the Mid-Tyne ferries were. Over the river were Swann Hunter dry docks at the Neptune yard, now owned by Appledore I think?

barnsey
3rd September 2007, 13:48
Keith,

Keith,

Thats a wonderfull service for which I thank you..... I presume they wont fit on the ECDIS????

Who in the hell cares.... I guess a lot of us "Wrinklies" could do it with our eyes shut ... and Keiths discription to hand of course.

Barnsey

cruachan53
2nd October 2007, 09:55
Good morning. Was browsing "Esso Tankers", and came across your comments on "Ma Beck".
That really takers me back.
I was with Esso, we used to Berth at Percy Main Terminal, next to the Tanker Cleaning Berth,--used it once prior to berthing at Palmers at Heburn on the Esso Oxford! We used Minnie Becks, and her Dock Hotel, regularly. She always assumed that our wives were naughty girls, and she would count the drinks you were consuming, and would stop the supply if she thought it necessary.
Above the door, it stated she was licensed to sell "Beer". She did however have a supply of spirits which she would offer to selected customers, namely, Ships Masters!! Talk about class distinction. I was Third Officer.
A couple of pints in Minnie's then down to the "Jungle" in North Shields"!
The Hotel was broken into and as a consequence of the upset, I believe she passed away soon after.

offcumdum sanddancer
4th October 2007, 14:48
Thanks for the clarification, cruachan53, the story I heard was murder, but we all know how the game of 'Chinese whispers' turns out.

Minnie Beck certainly stopped our Chief's wife from partaking of any more juice, and was she making her view's known of Minnie? YES she was.

I never went in myself, as I was more interested in getting ashore to see my then girlfriend, and now wife of 37 years.

madbob
3rd November 2007, 07:43
Came across the reference to Minnie (Ma) Beck whilst browsing. Spent many a happy hour there with other 'collier men' at the time. No power,only gaslight and beer served direct from the barrell. Ma was very direct and would often refuse service if she felt like it. In one amusing episode she refused service to a very coal blackened and thirsty 'teemer' who arrived on a motor assisted bicycle because he was "driving". It was the meeting place for the 'watch ashore' before sailing. The last place to get a Blue Star brew before the Courage and Watneys served in more southern establishments. Another piece of history fondly remembered. Thanks for the thread guys.
Good sailing.
Madbob

damoor
9th February 2008, 11:05
that was my dad who was the second mate that got blown up twice. no wonder he drank so much whisky

gabe95
3rd October 2011, 01:23
Possibly a dead thread...but I will post anyway.
Recently bought a little Teak box with a plaque inside
"Teak from Esso Portsmouth. New tank section launched 9th June 1961. Naval yard, Walker."
Led me to finding out a little more about the source. Was interesting, if ultimately a little sad.

mr g elliott
28th July 2013, 11:41
Page 30 brings us to the delights of Northumberland dock, and we have just passed on page 31, Hayhole Road, which led to the tanker cleaning berth and passing Ma Becks (?) place. She was murdered in the late 60's and her killer never found.

the dock hotel I think you called it and Minnie beck was the land lady she would only allow you 2 bottles of the brown ale Newcastle that is and that was that I know I was on the Battersea a collier years ago gordon(Eat)

eldersuk
29th July 2013, 00:51
As a Scouser I was somewhat lost in the Newcastle / Gateshead area when I was sent (1978) to do some trials on the 'Pacific Swan' at Swan Hunters, Hebburn.
I used to stay in the Five Bridges Hotel in Gateshead and frequently repaired for lunch to a hostelry called 'Banks of the Tyne'

Anyone know these establishments - are they still in business?

Derek