Blue Funnel Heyday.

Hugh Ferguson
28th March 2009, 15:56
I believe most would agree that the 1950's decade was the heyday of the typical cargo liner era. It was a time when, on sighting such a ship emerging over the horizon, she could be readily identified as a City, a Shaw Savill & Albion, a Clan, a Brocklebank, a Danish Ostasiatiske Kompagni Aktieselskabet Det, a Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij, a Glen, a Bluey, an Osaka Shosen Kabushiki Kaisha, a B.I., a Hamburg-Amerikanishe Packetfahrt Actien Gesellschaft, or yet many another of that incredibly varied fleet of merchant ships that ploughed the seas during that glorious era when ships had character and all retained their distinctive livery.
In the middle of that decade, 1955, I happened to be a pilot in the Port of Aden and it was in that very year that the number of ships calling there exceeded 5,000. During my near two years in Aden I piloted 1,204 ships, and of those 62 were of my old company, the Blue Funnel & Glen Line.
That is an astonishing 5% of the total. It's little wonder that Blue Funnel was a bye-word amongst the 12 working pilots, (four to an eight hour watch) a 13th pilot being the one having a day off during a week.

Bill Davies
28th March 2009, 21:23
Hugh,

I certainly have fond memories of my Blue Funnel experience of the 50s.
I often heard many an old China Boat hand say that it was all over around 1970. I recall having a drink in Chester in 66 with a mutual friend, Hughie Davies who said that the 'heydays' had passed.

Brgds
Bill

jmcg
28th March 2009, 21:39
I was at the tail end of what only be described at not only a means of transport but a way of life. I was part of the rapid demise of a once mighty "China".

Very sad.

BW

J

jmcg
28th March 2009, 21:57
Further to above post; in latter years the China was employing a lot of chaps from the "Pool". I certainly noticed a dimunition of skills and discipline among the new chaps. Long hair was creeping in and the long distilled discipline was diluted by poor application and attitude.

The "contract men" i.e. PO's, leading seamen and old hands witnessed a disturbing trend; one that eventually consumed them. By 1978 it was all over as we knew it.

BW

J

benjidog
28th March 2009, 21:58
Hugh has asked me to move this thread to the Blue Funnel forum so I have done so and left a one-week redirection notice.

Ian6
28th March 2009, 22:07
Hugh
Totally agree, the fifties were the peak, the sixties saw the beginning of the decline and then it was all downhill.
Equally must agree that 'blue flue' ships were the most recognisable since they all had similar, beautiful and classic lines. I am a bit disappointed that your list of Aden visitors omits P&O since we were greeted by the signal station with the combination of House and Royal Mail flags that signalled the arrival of mail from home and P&O established a coaling station at Aden (fed by sailing ships) to refuel its Far East steam ships before the Suez Canal existed.
That said I always admired the wonderful lines of an Alfred Holt ship - blue funnel or red.
Ian

Pat Kennedy
28th March 2009, 22:19
I remember the Aden pilots, all very grand figures in spotless whites, they looked to me like visiting rear admirals.
As far as I can remember, the Aden pilot only spoke to the Old Man, he certainly never addressed the helmsman directly.
Similarly in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Regards,
Pat

Barber Hector
28th March 2009, 22:33
I was in the old company from 1958 to 1988 when they chucked their hand in as regards shipping. Lots of changes along the line but one thing I will say that the crew, be it deck, victualling or ER remained of good quality in spite of what JMCG says in #4, to the end. I have great respect for the BF ratings and I dont ever recall any trouble with drugs or violence. Hangovers yes, didnt we all.

ROBERT HENDERSON
28th March 2009, 22:52
PAT
I am not surprised that the pilot did not address the helmsman directly. As a Master on coastal ships the pilot notes stated that the pilot will give instruction through the master or his delegate ie the OOW. In practice often the pilot would actually steer himself, this however would not be possible on bigger ships.
With Hugh's remarks regarding other companies, when I was deep sea or coasting we could invariably tell what company a ship belonged to before we saw her colours. Towards the end of my sea career I think all the charm had gone out of seagoing, that era were certainly happy days, even in rough hungry Baron boats

Regards Robert

Pat Kennedy
28th March 2009, 23:02
Robert,
Of course what you say is true, but in practice, many pilots would directly address the helmsman, particularly if a very quick reaction was required. Amsterdam, Hamburg and Rotterdam pilots were very friendly and chatted affably to whoever was in the wheelhouse.
One pilot entering New York, talked to me about the Beatles who were currently appearing in NY,and gave me a big cigar once we got alongside.
I cant imagine that happening with Blue Funnel appropriated pilots East of Suez, as I said, they were very grand.
Pat

TonyAllen
29th March 2009, 00:02
China boats from 55 /60 and yes I agree they were the days to look back on and in that period thats when they pulled down the old overhead railway and that to me was warning sign about the docks Tony allen

Hugh Ferguson
29th March 2009, 10:03
Hugh
Totally agree, the fifties were the peak, the sixties saw the beginning of the decline and then it was all downhill.
Equally must agree that 'blue flue' ships were the most recognisable since they all had similar, beautiful and classic lines. I am a bit disappointed that your list of Aden visitors omits P&O since we were greeted by the signal station with the combination of House and Royal Mail flags that signalled the arrival of mail from home and P&O established a coaling station at Aden (fed by sailing ships) to refuel its Far East steam ships before the Suez Canal existed.
That said I always admired the wonderful lines of an Alfred Holt ship - blue funnel or red.
Ian

Sorry about that, Ian-very remiss of me! Do you recall P&O had their own tug, Lahej, in Aden. We weren't permitted to use it for ships, other than P&O,
except in exceptional circumstances. Regards, Hugh.

R651400
29th March 2009, 10:52
The "contract men" i.e. PO's, leading seamen and old hands witnessed a disturbing trend; one that eventually consumed them. By 1978 it was all over as we knew it.

Except Maersk, NDL and flourishing Far East companies Evergreen, OOCL and that grand old Scottish Company that still keeps the Red Duster above the waves.. Andrew Weir.

Bill Davies
29th March 2009, 12:03
Robert,
Of course what you say is true, but in practice, many pilots would directly address the helmsman, particularly if a very quick reaction was required. Amsterdam, Hamburg and Rotterdam pilots were very friendly and chatted affably to whoever was in the wheelhouse.
One pilot entering New York, talked to me about the Beatles who were currently appearing in NY,and gave me a big cigar once we got alongside.
I cant imagine that happening with Blue Funnel appropriated pilots East of Suez, as I said, they were very grand. Pat

Pat,

Interesting.
I relieved a Master of a HK registered O/O carrier (+165k) back in 79 and he had been for many years Chief Pilot in Penang. Hailing from Pitlochry and in his late 70s he had lost none of the 'Grandness' of his former glory and more so as we were the only 'round eyes' on board. Yes, I remember the Pilot Boats with armchair on stern with large umbrella.
Unfortunately, the ship had never carried Oil since built and entered a T/C for carriage Oil Jebel Dhanna/Quintero Bay ( hence the reason I was relieving him).
On a lighter note, disturbed on handover with the question 'Inert Gas??'


Bill

PS : Hugh Ferguson another mutual friend of ours!!

Hugh Ferguson
29th March 2009, 12:50
I remember the Aden pilots, all very grand figures in spotless whites, they looked to me like visiting rear admirals.
As far as I can remember, the Aden pilot only spoke to the Old Man, he certainly never addressed the helmsman directly.
Similarly in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Regards,
Pat

You've got the wrong pilot service there, Pat. You must be thinking of the Hooghly, or Singapore lot-we were never in that class! Hugh.

Bill Davies
1st April 2009, 09:30
Robert,
Of course what you say is true, but in practice, many pilots would directly address the helmsman, particularly if a very quick reaction was required. Amsterdam, Hamburg and Rotterdam pilots were very friendly and chatted affably to whoever was in the wheelhouse.
One pilot entering New York, talked to me about the Beatles who were currently appearing in NY,and gave me a big cigar once we got alongside.
I cant imagine that happening with Blue Funnel appropriated pilots East of Suez, as I said, they were very grand.
Pat

Pat,

I used to insist that helmsmen repeated all helm orders in a loud voice and receive affirmative eye contact from me. The Bridge Team would all be well acquainted with my requirements. There would be no room for error.
One or two mishaps in the early 70s made me a Pilots nightmare I have to say.

Brgds
Bill

Pat Kennedy
1st April 2009, 10:13
Pat,

I used to insist that helmsmen repeated all helm orders in a loud voice and receive affirmative eye contact from me. The Bridge Team would all be well acquainted with my requirements. There would be no room for error.
One or two mishaps in the early 70s made me a Pilots nightmare I have to say.

Brgds
Bill

Bill,
That was the way I was taught in the China, and I always did it like that.
Pat

jmcg
1st April 2009, 11:39
With one exception perhaps - if I can recall - when the Suez Pilot would order "KEEP HER IN THE MIDDLE".

To that one order my response was along the lines "in the middle she is and in the middle she will remain". It caused a bit of a stir in the w/house. The OM looked on in shock although he did have "a word" with me afterwards.

The Pilot was happy enough with the response.

BW

J

Bill Davies
1st April 2009, 12:58
Bill,
That was the way I was taught in the China, and I always did it like that.
Pat

Pat,

I can recognize quality when I hear it.

Brgds

Bill

Bill Davies
1st April 2009, 19:33
With one exception perhaps - if I can recall - when the Suez Pilot would order "KEEP HER IN THE MIDDLE".

To that one order my response was along the lines "in the middle she is and in the middle she will remain". It caused a bit of a stir in the w/house. The OM looked on in shock although he did have "a word" with me afterwards.

The Pilot was happy enough with the response.

BW

J

I can understand why!

Bill

bev summerill
28th April 2009, 19:55
blue funel was much improved when eds came along with much more practical officers and no bull s**t with tickets which were different to blue flue bev summerill

Bill Davies
28th April 2009, 22:28
blue funel was much improved when eds came along with much more practical officers and no bull s**t with tickets which were different to blue flue bev summerill

Improved? More practical officers? 'Tickets !

Please expand as I am sure there are many BF Mates out there that would have the opinion there was a'dumbing down' with the integration of EDs

Bill

jmcg
28th April 2009, 23:02
As different as chalk and cheese. Culture was alien to me on Forcados, Degema and Obuassi.

Sombre, morbid and crews lacking intellectual rigour. Forcados was a good feeder- probably the best I have experienced.

BW

J

john meekin
6th May 2009, 11:24
With one exception perhaps - if I can recall - when the Suez Pilot would order "KEEP HER IN THE MIDDLE".

To that one order my response was along the lines "in the middle she is and in the middle she will remain". It caused a bit of a stir in the w/house. The OM looked on in shock although he did have "a word" with me afterwards.

The Pilot was happy enough with the response.

BW

J
I remember on a Wilsons 10 day boat round Oslo fjord we used to get the order "nothing to port,(or starboard),some times it was "nothing to port or starboard,that realy kept us on our toes,and we never hit anything.Regards John meekin

Peter Martin
6th May 2009, 18:19
Remenber eons ago as an apprentice going up the Elbe having just picked up the pilot near Cuxhaven the Skipper asking me to take a bearing. I shouted the bearing from the wing of the bridge and the W African helmsman repeated the bearing and went to alter course to it! OM screamed at him to stay 'steady' and at me for confusing the quartermaster.
I still go red at the thought of it now!

Bill Davies
6th May 2009, 19:48
Peter,

Sounds like an extract from the 'Don't Panic - Write an Report' post.

Brgds
Bill

eldersuk
6th May 2009, 23:24
As different as chalk and cheese. Culture was alien to me on Forcados, Degema and Obuassi.

Sombre, morbid and crews lacking intellectual rigour. Forcados was a good feeder- probably the best I have experienced.

BW

J

You should have stuck around, you might have learned something from a company that was older than BF and lasted longer (just).

Chris Isaac
7th May 2009, 08:17
Oh this is going to be good, reminiscent of the Clan - Union Castle merger (or take over as the Clan liners seem to think).

Clan Line men not knowing how to hold a knife and fork, UC men not knowing what a cargo hold was etc etc.

Seconds away..... Round one!

jmcg
7th May 2009, 10:37
#28

Sorry Chris - this ex Bluie is not going to engage with those of other outfits!!! Much too wise for that.


BW

J

K urgess
7th May 2009, 11:17
Not outside here, Gents.
So let's be very friendly and funny about this, please.

trucker
7th May 2009, 11:25
should this thread not be named HAY DAYS.as poster,s seem to like throwing verbal ,straw punches.(Jester)

Hugh Ferguson
7th May 2009, 13:03
Pat,

I used to insist that helmsmen repeated all helm orders in a loud voice and receive affirmative eye contact from me. The Bridge Team would all be well acquainted with my requirements. There would be no room for error.
One or two mishaps in the early 70s made me a Pilots nightmare I have to say.

Brgds
Bill

This comment has got me reflecting on my experiences with regard to the master/pilot relationship. One thing it makes me realise is how lucky I was not to have found myself piloting one of Uncle Bill's commands-the job can be stressful enough at times without the thought of the captain breathing down one's neck!
So, what have my thoughts come up with on this issue-not a lot despite the very few occasions of drama, collision and grounding etc.. The only experience I can recall of a captain actually counter-manding my actions was a very minor thing: he went to the telegraph, and without a word to anyone, rang half speed (to avoid a possible "wash" claim) and he was completely justified in doing so.
In the major collision of the Chantala and the Hudson Light no helm or telegraph orders I gave were disputed, no heated words exchanged-all parties involved maintained an orderly relationship and the same applied when I had the misfortune to put a 7,000 ton Swedish cargo ship aground on the Goodwin. (In that instance, as I was able to get the ship off without too much trouble, I asked the captain if he might forbear from reporting it to his owners. He demurred, but reassured me that after he had had a look at the bottom plates in the Newcastle dry-dock where they were going after London, he would 'phone me. He was good to his word and reported no evidence of a grounding which information persuaded me to let sleeping dogs lie!) I cannot imagine a better, or more amicable relationship with a fellow seaman than that!
The worst-if you can even call it that-was with the captain of a Union Castle passenger liner. Those ships customarily came roaring up to the Dungeness cutter in the evening in order to make a very leisurely over-night passage to arrive at Tilbury Landing Stage about breakfast time. On account of a forecast of snow I was anxious to get on with the 70 odd miles pilotage, and requested sea speed for the first half. They insisted on remaining at the reduced speed. I'm afraid I rather lost my cool at that and somewhat pompously requested that, as my "advice" had been rejected, it should be noted in the log. Well, it did snow just as we were transitting the Downs, and an unnecessarily long ten hours of piloting found us arriving at Gravesend at the appointed time. I apologised to the captain and left. So why Uncle Bill appears to have evolved such a suspicious relationship with pilots really surprises me.
One of the things that used to bug me during my early time piloting-54 years ago in Aden-were the captains, mostly the German ones I seem to recall, who occasionally made the rather personal observation that I looked too young to be a pilot! Oh, to be that again!!

Bill Davies
7th May 2009, 18:45
Hugh,
Ever the diplomat, and a post designed to diffuse some of the heat in the previous posts. Well done! In my early years in command I had more than my fair share of bad experiences which made me very watchful as the result of too many Pilot assisted damages where the Pilot walked away leaving me burning the midnight oil explaining the situation to an owner who did not take prisoners. However, to absolve myself somewhat, I did experience many a fine Pilot, one a SN member Tony Crompton, who over 30 years ago, 11/78, performed a very professional piece of work on a Cape Size Bulk carrier I was Master of. I was complimented on Tony's departure on my own coolness which was the result of 7 years with old DK.

Brgds

Uncle Bill

sidsal
7th May 2009, 19:54
Very interested in Bill and Hugh's reminiscences ! Re helm orders being misunderstood - how about this -
Fort Camosun - Late 1943 or early 1944. Loaded war supplies in Baltimore 24 hours a day and sailed in a rush to catch a convoy to Meddy. Capt and pilot on starboard bridge wing. On coming to a bend in the river pilot shouts - "Starboard wheel"
Helmsman - "Starboard wheel it is Sir"
Pilot, after a minute or two shouts _ "More wheel "
Helmsan - "Port wheel" and puts the wheel to port.
Pilot, seeing he head falling off shouts - " Hard over"
Helmsman _ " Hard over"
And we ran aground whilst going full ahead.
We had tugs galore but nothing would shift her and we were there for 2 days.
We were opposite a big shipyard and in those 2 days there were 2 or 3 Liberty ships launched. There was no ceremony - the hulls just entered the river and pssing tugs would nudge them back to their berths.
Eventually, after another session with tugs there was a respite and then a tug approached at speed and went head on to our bow. When he hit his mast nearly topppled forward - twanging rigging etc, The shock pushed us afloat again. Naturally we missed the convoy and joined a later one.

non descript
7th May 2009, 20:19
Very interested in Bill and Hugh's reminiscences ! Re helm orders being misunderstood - how about this -
Fort Camosun - Late 1943 or early 1944. ....


I would suggest early 1944 is likely, on the basis that "3 December 1943 at position 11 23'N/46 03E, damaged by Japanese submarine I-27 commanded by Fukumura" (http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=20674)

Hugh Ferguson
7th May 2009, 20:59
What a catalogue of misunderstanding, Sidsal! We've all experienced similar but I never heard of anything that could match that!
I love the one of a Bluey making its way up the Elbe at the time, in the late 20's, early 30's?? when helm orders were changed (see Titanic film before that change) and starboard helm became starboard helm. As midnight struck a new helmsman arrived at the wheel having had it drummed into him exactly what that meant. Unfortunately, he was the only one who remembered that, and when the pilot ordered "starboard the helm" he put the wheel to starboard and not to port as had been the previous custom. When the stocky pilot and the also stocky captain realised they were going the wrong way there was rush into the wheelhouse and both became wedged in the narrow doorway, or so it is recalled.
On the long drag up from Dungeness to Gravesend I frequently found myself alone in the wheelhouse with the man at the wheel-the mate in the chartroom, the master turned in. It was then that I found it useful to give the courses in one or two other languages such as, Spanish, Italian and French. Greek I never mastered and German, or Scandinavian ships it was not necessary.
In my early days I thought I was being smart ordering "babord" to a Norwegian helmsman-he didn't understand what I meant, but fortunately the captain was at hand to enlighten me that all Scandinavian helmsmen would expect to be addressed in English. Just as well to remember that as well to use "right" or "left" in American ships.

IAN M
7th May 2009, 21:32
Hello Hugh

We met on the web several years ago concerning our mutual friend, Dugald McNab.

I believe I joined Holts about the same time you did.

Ian Malcolm

Bill Davies
9th May 2009, 10:28
Oh this is going to be good, reminiscent of the Clan - Union Castle merger (or take over as the Clan liners seem to think).

Clan Line men not knowing how to hold a knife and fork, UC men not knowing what a cargo hold was etc etc.

Seconds away..... Round one!

Chris,
Your posts leave me a little perplexed.
Several days ago you asked about Indicator Cards (they were in our syllabus) and above you suggest that you knew little of cargo holds (I am sure you are jesting).
Can you tell us what you Junior Officers in Passenger ships did or, is that a answer you would prefer to give after the 2100 watershed.

Brgds

Bill

Hugh Ferguson
9th May 2009, 11:51
Bill, You really are the limit!!!!

Chris Isaac
9th May 2009, 16:31
Chris,
Your posts leave me a little perplexed.
Several days ago you asked about Indicator Cards (they were in our syllabus) and above you suggest that you knew little of cargo holds (I am sure you are jesting).
Can you tell us what you Junior Officers in Passenger ships did or, is that a answer you would prefer to give after the 2100 watershed.

Brgds

Bill

Sense of humour bypass I feel!

Bill Davies
10th May 2009, 09:56
Bill, You really are the limit!!!!

Hugh,

A perfectly valid question and one that has been in my mind for some time. I have absolutely no experience of that lifestyle and in 50 years I can count on one hand the times that I can recall women being on board (officially). Perhaps a valid answer might throw up other questions

Brgds
Bill

Chris Isaac
10th May 2009, 12:04
Hugh,

A perfectly valid question and one that has been in my mind for some time. I have absolutely no experience of that lifestyle and in 50 years I can count on one hand the times that I can recall women being on board (officially). Perhaps a valid answer might throw up other questions

Brgds
Bill

Ok I will try to answer your question as it seems that you have a gap in your seagoing experiences (passenger ships). This will be a bit "off topic" but you did ask!

Passengers are a form of cargo like any other the principal exception being that all officers are not only responsible for their stowage but also for their welfare and safety during their time on board. Consequently companies such as Union Castle, P & O, Cunard et al tended to staff these ships with their best officers. It was generally the case with Union Castle and I expect with the others that there was a Masters certificate on the bridge at all times.
The fact that officers on these ships probably eat a little better than cargo, tanker or tramp ship officers and also were expected to embrace some of the social graces does not in any way diminish the standards of professionalism or seamanship found on these more prestigious vessels in fact the opposite may well be the case.
I would also draw to your attention to the fact that many passenger vessels carried a significant amount of cargo, all the Union Castle Mail Ships carried more cargo that most Blue Funnel ships, who do you think was responsible for the stowage of the cargo and stability of the ship?
At sea the officer of the watch had over 2000 lives reliant upon his abilities and on a ship travelling must faster than any Blue Funnel ship. Professional Seamen, of course we were! Were there any perks to the job? Yes a few but they came with added responsibilities.
I note that you were never on such ships, perhaps that is for the best.

Bill Davies
10th May 2009, 12:59
Ok I will try to answer your question as it seems that you have a gap in your seagoing experiences (passenger ships). This will be a bit "off topic" but you did ask!

Passengers are a form of cargo like any other the principal exception being that all officers are not only responsible for their stowage but also for their welfare and safety during their time on board. Consequently companies such as Union Castle, P & O, Cunard et al tended to staff these ships with their best officers. It was generally the case with Union Castle and I expect with the others that there was a Masters certificate on the bridge at all times.
The fact that officers on these ships probably eat a little better than cargo, tanker or tramp ship officers and also were expected to embrace some of the social graces does not in any way diminish the standards of professionalism or seamanship found on these more prestigious vessels in fact the opposite may well be the case.
I would also draw to your attention to the fact that many passenger vessels carried a significant amount of cargo, all the Union Castle Mail Ships carried more cargo that most Blue Funnel ships, who do you think was responsible for the stowage of the cargo and stability of the ship?
At sea the officer of the watch had over 2000 lives reliant upon his abilities and on a ship travelling must faster than any Blue Funnel ship. Professional Seamen, of course we were! Were there any perks to the job? Yes a few but they came with added responsibilities.
I note that you were never on such ships, perhaps that is for the best.

Many thanks for your comprehensive response. Yes, there were gaps in my experience which I stated in earlier post and initiated the question.

Bill Davies
10th May 2009, 13:03
Thanks again Kris. I'll have to take more care.

Bill

K urgess
10th May 2009, 13:11
All part of the service, Bill.
You need to keep the bold characters off the square brackets and make sure all the square brackets are present.
Regards
Kris

Bill Davies
10th May 2009, 13:14
Enjoyed dinner last night with an old Anselmian school friend who spent his working life in India Buildings working for the China
Talked about people who never had a real job but would walk from office to office with a piece of A4 in their hands and disappear to the various pubs around noon not to be seen again until 1500hrs.
There were many customs in the China which I did not experience in subsequent British companies which make me think was this 'HEYDAY' imaginary or real. The 'crowd' were relieved immediately the last line ashore in Gladstone and did not join until sailing day. Impact/interface with the Shoregang. Should there be another thread..'The Demise of the China'.
Working for literally dozens of differents owners from 61/2005 it is easy to see where BF got it wrong in the end.

Brgds

Bill

Hugh Ferguson
10th May 2009, 13:59
It's an old, old, old thing and it's called complacency and it sets in when a certain lifestyle takes over. You can see it vividly displayed at this very moment by the mess our politicians have got themselves into.
Yes, Bill, a perfectly valid question, if a tad sharply pointed. I must admit (apart from the pilot thing) there's not much about which I do not see eye to eye with you.

Bill Davies
10th May 2009, 19:25
Hugh,
I would not read too much into the pilot 'hang up' as it is borne out of my own personal experience and working in my early years as Master for an owner who was very demanding. I was as relieved as the next to see the North Sea Pilot at Brixham although on one occasion I had to send one (Hutchinsons..I think!) off the Bridge immediately on boarding as he was 'well oiled'. You are what life throws at you and cope the best you can. I sailed one of the Bantry class from Whiddy without a Pilot or tugs because of Tug protocol being abused. DK stood behind me although I am not too sure I would have survived should I have caused damage. Brgds

Bill

Bill Davies
17th May 2009, 09:54
Hugh,
A paper on 'complacency' was recently published by one of the senior men in the MAIB (not that that means he's right). Further, its use has been well used in the preliminary finding of the most recent Maritime Accidents in the Channel. Maybe we should initiate a new thread so entitled. I noticed complacency creeping in from the 80s on . Probably started a lot earlier in British Flag but, was not there when I left in 68.
Brgds
Bill

florian
17th May 2009, 11:39
A little bit off subject but still Blue Funnel.

My uncle born 1894 lost his life on HMS Newbury Nth Atlantic Convoys Sept 1941. Pre WW2 he was working on the Blue Funnel Line ships sailing from Cardiff or Liverpool to South America.

His mother, my Grandma used to receive postcards from him of the ships he sailed on. Some of the postcards were mailed at Montevedio.

This was during the 1930s. I never saw the postcards. Were these ships cargo or passenger ships.

Bill in Melbourne.

Hugh Ferguson
18th May 2009, 18:13
This is a "thumbnail" of an original section of a cargo plan beautifully constructed by the purser (Hemingway, I believe), on Voy.17, 19th Aug./15th Dec.1950, in the Glenroy.

teb
19th May 2009, 07:18
Bill in Melbourne- As an ex Blue Funnel Man I have never heard of Blue Funnel trading to South America!!!! Blue Star yes!!! Teb in Perth

Hugh Ferguson
19th May 2009, 21:31
This is a "thumbnail" of an original section of a cargo plan beautifully constructed by the purser (Hemingway, I believe), on Voy.17, 19th Aug./15th Dec.1950, in the Glenroy.

This cargo was loaded, as usual, by the mate who in this instance was Mr R.H.Carruthers. Despite making two voyages with Mr Carruthers I never learned that he had been the sole surviving deck officer from the sinking of the Stentor, one of the 13 ships lost in convoy SL125, over seven days of continous attack by U.Boats.
This was, in all probability, the worst loss of life suffered in the sinking of one of the company's ships-45 of the 247 persons on board were lost when a torpedo exploded in a deep tank loaded with palm oil which descended in a sheet of flame all over the bridge structure. The Stentor sank in less than ten minutes!
It had always been thought that this attack had diverted those U.Boats from attacking the huge troop convoy on its way to the N.African landings.
On his second voyage in the Glenroy, Mr Carruthers was taken out of the ship in Singapore to go as master in a company ship whose captain had been taken ill. It was extremely sad to hear that not long after, Mr Carruthers died. I still have the letter from his wife, to whom I sent condolences, in which she mentioned how often her husband had referred to those happy Glenroy days. He had been awarded the M.B.E., and I never knew that either, until I had read the book. We shall remember them.

Bill Davies
23rd May 2009, 10:41
This is a "thumbnail" of an original section of a cargo plan beautifully constructed by the purser (Hemingway, I believe), on Voy.17, 19th Aug./15th Dec.1950, in the Glenroy.

Like so many things Hugh. Skills lost and not to be seen again. Can't claim to have acquired experience in this area save for time as a junior mate in British GC tramps early 60s. Mind you, have carried oils where the cargo plan was like a kaleidoscope.

Brgds

Bill

Hugh Ferguson
23rd May 2009, 17:19
Like so many things Hugh. Skills lost and not to be seen again. Can't claim to have acquired experience in this area save for time as a junior mate in British GC tramps early 60s. Mind you, have carried oils where the cargo plan was like a kaleidoscope.

Brgds

Bill

Yes, Bill, extraordinary to imagine these days how that plan was duplicated goodness knows how many times-the original was placed in a frame overlaying photographic paper and put out on the boat-deck in the sun, just to make one copy
If you noted the elephants accommodation at the port after end of No.4 centre-castle deck-those unfortunate critturs were bound for Hamburg and would be delivered there in December, the dead of winter!! Initially, after being shipped in Singapore, they were carried on the after deck, but as we got into colder climes they were moved into a very cramped space in the centre-castle where they amused themselves pulling down the barricade that was supposed to keep them from the other cargo. It wasn't long before they began to show signs of suffering from the cold-elephants shiver in slow motion would you believe-and it was then that some bright spark thought a bottle of rum in a bucket of warm water would help, which, as anyone would realise these days, is exactly what you should not do.
Whatever, after the best part of a month they arrived in Hamburg in December 1950. One or more of them could still be alive, as an elephant's life-span is similar to the human. I have a photograph some-place of them being off-loaded.

Bill Davies
23rd May 2009, 17:31
Hugh,

As much as we old timers reminisce about the China boats, they were not particularly good cargo carriers. Their Cubic Capacity was abysmal when compared with other British Tramps (Watts, Watts et al.) However, I have to hand it to their Mates, they were excellent with the art of stowage.

Brgds

Bill

Pat Kennedy
23rd May 2009, 18:48
Hugh,

As much as we old timers reminisce about the China boats, they were not particularly good cargo carriers. Their Cubic Capacity was abysmal when compared with other British Tramps (Watts, Watts et al.) However, I have to hand it to their Mates, they were excellent with the art of stowage.

Brgds

Bill
Bill,
I recall canteen discussions concerning cargo capacity of various ships when I worked on the Docks.
The way we estimated capacity, as a rough rule of thumb, was how long it took to load, because the actual cargoes were much the same.
Top of the league in ships sailing from Birkenhead were Bibby Line ships, Herefordshire, Worcestershire etc. These vessels regularly took three weeks to load with general cargo, and that was with seven gangs and a full night shift.
Clan Line were next, taking on average sixteen days, again with night shift, and Blue Funnel were third, followed by City Line, Harrisons, and Paddy Hendersons.
Blue Flue usually loaded in a week, but they sometimes had two gangs per hatch, and more often than not were already carrying some cargo loaded in Glasgow or another coasting port.
China boats always appeared to load more deck cargo than any other company's ships and also had special cargo lockers in the mast houses and other locations.
A ships foreman at the China once told me that when they built the quayside cranes at Vittoria dock, it knocked a day or two off the average time a ship was in Birkenhead.
regards,
Pat

Bill Davies
23rd May 2009, 20:08
Pat,
Fully understand.
I am however talking about the Bale/Grain capacity differential on the China boats was colossal compared with their tramp counterparts who needed to have a much smaller differential to avail themselves for all types of cargo, Bulk, general etc. Further, the China boats over construction plus Orlop decks etc all had an impact. They were very much built for one trade only.

Brgds

Bill

Hugh Ferguson
23rd May 2009, 20:39
Pat,
Fully understand.
I am however talking about the Bale/Grain capacity differential on the China boats was colossal compared with their tramp counterparts who needed to have a much smaller differential to avail themselves for all types of cargo, Bulk, general etc. Further, the China boats over construction plus Orlop decks etc all had an impact. They were very much built for one trade only.

Brgds

Bill

Yes indeed, built for the trade. I cannot imagine a more diverse cargo than one loaded in the Far East. Just imagine loading a cargo of that complexity without a pocket calculator, let alone a computer (or even a Biro for that matter). Some chief mates had a slide rule but I don't think I ever sailed with one.

holland25
23rd May 2009, 23:14
The production of the fair cargo plan was done by the 1st R/O on the Far East run, at least the trips I did in the late 50s. However on the Ulysses it was the job of the 2nd R/O, and it had to be done ready for handing into the agents upon leaving New York. They must have had a better method of reproduction. Once the final loading got going it was full on and more or less a non stop task. I smoked a lot cigarettes and was brought sandwiches, I was also entertained by WNEW and the latest hits. On St Patricks day 1960 for some reason we couldnt sail and the plan was finished so I was able to go ashore, I now bore my family by telling them were I was on St Pats day 1960.

Bill Davies
25th May 2009, 09:20
Can't recall their ever being a 2nd Radio Operator on any of the China Boats I sailed in. Or maybe I just did not notice him. What was the training? Age on commencement, length of time before becoming 1st.

Bill

teb
25th May 2009, 11:33
Can't recall their ever being a 2nd Radio Operator on any of the China Boats I sailed in. Or maybe I just did not notice him. What was the training? Age on commencement, length of time before becoming 1st.

Bill

Bill- I joined Blue Funnel in 1943 (17yoa) as 3rd RO then promoted 2ndRO then 1st RO- regret can not give dates discharge Book misplaced / lost many years ago during my changes in place of residence. I did not start making cargo plans until I was 1stRO.which included one voyage on Phrontis
Dutch Flag BF.During the time I was with BF/GL never heard them referred to
as China Boats!! (must have been the company I kept!!) Teb(Thumb)

Bill Davies
25th May 2009, 12:01
Teb,
This point has been well discussed in the past. It may well have been a deck thing, which I can comment on. I never sailed as a Mate in 'the China boats' (couldn't resist that) as on passing Second Mates (FG) the thought of sailing as Fourth Mate did not appeal. It would therefore be interesting to hear from the BF 'Officer and Gentlemen' fraternity as to whether the term was familiar to them. Otherwise, it was a foc'sle thing.

Brgds

Bill

trucker
25th May 2009, 12:03
well put .me old china.(K)

Bill Davies
25th May 2009, 12:17
Good one trucker!

Bill

makko
25th May 2009, 15:03
Bill,
I think that it was a common term throughout the fleet. I may be wrong but I think it was just Ozzy boats or China boats.I had never paid much attention until it was time to go to sea and my Dad said "Make sure that you get a China boat" - The other options were West Africa, COBRA (India etc.), Bay Boats, tanker/OBO Tantalus/Ajax/ etc., Helenus (reputedly a punishment vessel!) or Barber Blue Sea, which I eventually landed.

By this time, there were almost no vessels going into Vittoria - Ocean vessels (EDs) went into Gladstone, Huskisson etc.BTW, I have never sailed from or arrived to a British port! The closest I got was anchored off Gravesend to load explosives! That just about sums up where the China boats/hands went to!

I remember on a 1977 M Boat - Great consternation when an Eng. Super came onboard and said the engine room was quite hot - He urged us to open another skylight!

Rgds.
Dave

Bill Davies
25th May 2009, 19:54
Dave,
I thought as much but I really needed someone else to enter the debate so thanks for that.
So, Teb (me old China) is looks as though you Sparkies led a somewhat cloistered life.

Brgds

Bill

Pat Kennedy
25th May 2009, 20:07
Bill,
I think that it was a common term throughout the fleet. I may be wrong but I think it was just Ozzy boats or China boats.I had never paid much attention until it was time to go to sea and my Dad said "Make sure that you get a China boat" - The other options were West Africa, COBRA (India etc.), Bay Boats, tanker/OBO Tantalus/Ajax/ etc., Helenus (reputedly a punishment vessel!) or Barber Blue Sea, which I eventually landed.

By this time, there were almost no vessels going into Vittoria - Ocean vessels (EDs) went into Gladstone, Huskisson etc.BTW, I have never sailed from or arrived to a British port! The closest I got was anchored off Gravesend to load explosives! That just about sums up where the China boats/hands went to!

I remember on a 1977 M Boat - Great consternation when an Eng. Super came onboard and said the engine room was quite hot - He urged us to open another skylight!

Rgds.
Dave

Dave,
By 1977/78, Vittoria Dock was home to PSNC. The likes of Orbita, Oropesa etc, loading for South America, until the mid eighties
After several years of inactivity the Gorthon boats started using it as a discharging berth for steel products. They transferred to Liverpool about four or five years ago and since then it is largely unused except for an occasional RoRo.
Regards,
Pat

makko
25th May 2009, 20:29
Thanks Pat.
The Old Fella always used to say,"Oropesa - The golden dollar!". After about 1983 I can count my visits "home" on one hand ('92 being the first!).
Rgds.
Dave

Bill Davies
25th May 2009, 20:43
Pat/Dave,

So what exactly is happening on the Birkenhead side?
About a month ago I noticed an RFA ship near the Penny Bridge and that was it.

Bill

Pat Kennedy
25th May 2009, 20:54
Bill.
Not a lot is the short answer.
The RFA is Bayleaf in for a refit and probably close to completion now.
The Stolt Avocet is discharging at East Lewis's Quay, which sees about one ship per week.
There are usually one or two coasters on the Birkenhead side of the West Float discharging Bentonite at Reas or steel products at Cavendish Quay, and one or two more on the outboard side of the Clan Line sheds discharging steel products.
Sometimes the Red Duchess is in discharging logs, and there is the odd RoRo at Vittoria Dock again discharging steel. Apart from the Mersey Ferries in for the night, ships in lay up or in for repair, that is it.
Birkenhead is dying slowly but surely.
Pat

Bill Davies
25th May 2009, 21:01
Very sad.
The days I used to travel on the bus (10/11) down Gorsey Lane in anticipation of the Duke Street Bridge being up (evident when abeam of Earnie Clares Kiosk on the corner of Gorsedale Road) and thereby causing me to miss the 94 to Manor Hill.

Brgds

Bill

Peter Martin
25th May 2009, 21:05
Pat/Dave,

So what exactly is happening on the Birkenhead side?
About a month ago I noticed an RFA ship near the Penny Bridge and that was it.

Bill

Was up t'North yesterday seeing an aged Mum and couldn't resist a drive over the Four Bridges and back via Bidston. Apart from a re-named Mersey Ferry; s*d all!
The 'Clan Line' sign is still witness to the past though. Greatly disappointed that no reference reamins to Blue Funnel though.
Strangely enough, was sitting with Ma the same afternoon and watched 'Lawrence of Arabia' - saw what I thought was an 'M' boat going through the canal.
Quite a day for memories.

Pat Kennedy
25th May 2009, 21:06
I couldn't afford the bus Bill, push bike only, and many a time got the front wheel stuck in the railway lines!
Pat

Bill Davies
25th May 2009, 21:13
Strangely enough, was sitting with Ma the same afternoon and watched 'Lawrence of Arabia' - saw what I thought was an 'M' boat going through the canal.
Quite a day for memories.

Peter,
I believe it was an 'M' Boat.
Memories are all we have Peter.

Bill

Trader
26th May 2009, 18:30
Can't recall their ever being a 2nd Radio Operator on any of the China Boats I sailed in. Or maybe I just did not notice him. What was the training? Age on commencement, length of time before becoming 1st.

Bill

Bill,

There were 2nd Sparks on all the Blueys that I sailed in. I believe he did most of the watch work and the Chief Sparks did all the office work (Pursers job really). He relieved the 2nd. for meals etc.

I can still remember the Chief Sparks on the Bellerophon even though it is 57 years ago. He was a N. Ireland man called Mr. Wilson. He was a very correct man and called every one Mr. from top to deck boy. He used to give out the subs in port and I remember queuing up outside his office one day in Singapore to receive mine when I was deck boy. The man in front of me was an EDH from Wallasey, Ronnie Keagan. Mr. Wilson said "how many dollars do you want Mr. Keegan?" , Ronnies reply was "ten dollars please Sparkie". Mr Wilson cringed and said " Mr. Keegan, I don't call you rope yarn please don't call me Sparkie". That sticks in my mind to this day.

Alec.

Bill Davies
26th May 2009, 18:35
Alec,

I have no doubt of the stories authenticity but I heard it when I was in the China. It was a classic.

Bill

jmcg
26th May 2009, 21:06
Trader & Bill

The retort referred to @76 brought back memories of me hearing it in the late 60's. No doubt it was a truism and much lauded in the China.

Trader. Only one Sparks on board in my time in the China.

BW

J

Pat Kennedy
26th May 2009, 21:18
Its strange how our memories differ. There were always two sparks in my experience, and the junior of the two used to get cargo watching duties in port.
Pat

teb
27th May 2009, 13:08
Dave,
I thought as much but I really needed someone else to enter the debate so thanks for that.
So, Teb (me old China) is looks as though you Sparkies led a somewhat cloistered life.

Brgds

Bill

Bill could be but then again maybe (just maybe) it was a saying conjtured up after I had left the company v.early 50's .People tell me I dont look my age so
a mistake easily made!![=P] Regards Teb






9

Bill Davies
27th May 2009, 13:36
Dave,
I think the expression goes back a lot further. Like most young men we emulated our peers in our vocabulary. When I started in the Blue Funnel in April 55 I was sailing with men who had been at sea since the great war.
There were certain expressions which I knew differentiated the deck crowd from others one of which 'around the land' which was merely referring to 'coasting'. We were a strange lot and a 'non china Boat man' would quickly be evident..

Brgds

Bill

makko
27th May 2009, 15:36
Bill could be but then again maybe (just maybe) it was a saying conjtured up after I had left the company v.early 50's .
Regards Teb

Teb,
Just a thought....Where were you from originally? My family were from Birkenhead/Wallasey. I know Bill hails from B'head. Local people would drink in the same pubs and everyone knew everyone else........It could be that although widespread, China boat could have been a local expression. I can imagine that officers from outside the area would check in at Iliad house and simply go down Duke Street to sign on the next day without visiting the dockland pubs. They would therefore not be aware of the term as, if you were on a China boat, there would be no need to tell anyone else onboard! I know my father would first identify himself with Holts/Blueys and then make the distinction that he was a China boat man.

Rgds.
Dave

K urgess
27th May 2009, 16:19
A question from an outsider.
Does the "China" have anything to do with the ships belonging to the China Mutual branch of Alfred Holt's?
Cheers
Kris

Bill Davies
27th May 2009, 16:30
Kris,
I think it more simple than that and well explained by Dave. The very fact that the ships ran to China was sufficient together with Merseysiders propensity for shortening everything possible. Everything seemed to be 'the China' and everyone knew what you meant. The catylist could have been how you say.

Dave, me Birkenhead!! Wallasey born and bred. Marymount-Redcourt- St.Anselms.

Brgds

Bill

Pat Kennedy
27th May 2009, 16:36
I believe it was the Liverpool/Birkenhead dockers who originated the term 'The China ' when referring to Blue Funnel, the ships, the berths and everything to do with Alfred Holt's organisation.
My uncle who was a deckhand at the China in Gladstone Dock used to say that nobody could pronounce the ship's names so just referred to them as the 'China boat'
BTW I only learned the correct pronunciation of 'Menelaus' when I saw Brad Pitt in Troy. we always called her 'Menalaws'
Pat (Thumb)

K urgess
27th May 2009, 16:37
Thanks, Bill & Pat. (Thumb)
As a latecomer to the Mersey it appeared logical but, having sailed out of the 'Pool quite a bit, I can understand how it could get applied to all the ships sailing that way out east rather than just the China Mutual boats.
Cheers
Kris

Bill Davies
27th May 2009, 16:52
There has been posts in other threads about pronunciation of China Boat names, in fact I put my foot in it with ‘Rothesian’ an ex China middy about a year ago.
The tales is worth repeating.
If your partner, parent rang India Buildings to enquire the ETA of a certain ship there was a good chance the enquirer would be ‘picked up’ by a very superior Alfred Holt telephonist who would invariable correct the name as asked.
Menalaus on first enquiry would be corrected to ‘Don’t you mean the Men a LAus.’ The question a day later would be vice versa.

No there is a new thread. Alternatives for China Boat names
Brgds

Bill

makko
27th May 2009, 17:48
Kris,
Dave, me Birkenhead!! Wallasey born and bred. Marymount-Redcourt- St.Anselms.

Brgds

Bill

OOops! Sorry Bill! It was the St Anselms link that got me!
So, we're both "Foreign Islanders"! I think that the name "Wallasey" is unique. I've never checked it out though.
Rgds.
Dave

Pat Kennedy
27th May 2009, 18:09
OOops! Sorry Bill! It was the St Anselms link that got me!
So, we're both "Foreign Islanders"! I think that the name "Wallasey" is unique. I've never checked it out though.
Rgds.
Dave
I think St Anselms provided more than it's fair share of Blue Funnel seamen.
There were four in my class alone. One went to the NZSC but learned the error of his ways and joined the China.

Wallasey, I believe, means 'Welshman's Island'.
Birkenhead means 'evil smelling place,home of the bewildered'.
regards,
Pat[=P]

holland25
27th May 2009, 21:30
Whilst in no way disputing that the expression "The China", was how Blue Funnel was referred to. The term that springs to mind naturally, for me, is "Blue Flue".

I believe that the 2nd R/Os disappeared sometime in the mid 60s and that the Pursers work, done by the 1st R/O, became the responsibility of the Male Nurse/Doctor.

I never minded being called Sparks or even Sparkie. The one I liked best, was how the 2nd R/O ended up in Chinese. I was once told that it sounded something like, "FFooey Teng Tin Y". The rough translation was, "Little man without a wire." Mind you, could have been a leg pull.

Santos
27th May 2009, 21:48
Well Gents,

One explanation for the name Wallasey is that originally the village of Kirby-in-Walley was ruled by a Reputed Chief and Prime Man called Walley. When the Vikings came from the East and coming to the beach saw the sea, they asked, what or whose sea it was and being answered by the villagers thus ' tiz Wallys Sea ' they henceforth named it Wallazey.

The Chief was also apparantly called Walley of Pooltown hence the Wallazey Pool or as we know it now Wallasey Pool from which that famous watering house the Pool Inn was named.

Chris.

makko
28th May 2009, 03:48
Barber Blue Sea M's carried 2/RO in the eighties! RoRos only 1/RO. I don't know about any others! I also liked "Blue Flue". The China boats were gone in my time!

Thanks, Chris. I have always heard that Wallasey came from "Island of the "Welsh" although Welsh can be interpreted as "foreigner" in old english, as the mount of Wallasey was cut off at high tide until the docks were built.

Rgds.
Dave

Bill Davies
30th May 2009, 21:25
'Menestheus' was another sure to be corrected to 'Menes Theus'
'Automedon' (Auto Medon)
'Astyanax' this one was strange. Crew Asty Anax ( Mates and Office As Ty anax)

Must be many.

jmcg
30th May 2009, 21:33
Autolycus

They "ought to like us" but they dont was a familiar chant on Autolycus. Happy ship.

BW

J

Hugh Ferguson
21st October 2013, 21:09
I miss these, usually good natured exchanges, with irascible old Uncle Bill

(Ian, I'm still in touch with Dugald)

IAN M
21st October 2013, 21:59
I miss these, usually good natured exchanges, with irascible old Uncle Bill

(Ian, I'm still in touch with Dugald)

Good to know that. I haven't heard from Dugald in years.

Incidentally, many on this site refer to Blue Funnel/Glen Line as 'The China' although, during my eight years with Holts, I never heard described as that or even as 'The Welsh Navy'.

Holt is one of the companies listed in my new book SHIPPING COMPANY LOSSES OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR. Much of the information was gleaned from A MERCHANT FLEET IN WAR, but with the addition of important details omitted by Roskill.

Best wishes

Ian

Jon T.
22nd October 2013, 00:08
What was the protocol with deck officers and the rank braid they wore? Given that so many sailed at a level under their "certificate of competency."
The reason I ask is that I have a photo of my Gt. Uncle taken in 1924, shortly after he obtained his Masters certificate, wearing epaulettes with four stripes. He did not sail as Master until the late 1940's. Was the photo just for the benefit of his nearest and dearest?

Jon T.

trotterdotpom
22nd October 2013, 11:21
I miss these, usually good natured exchanges, with irascible old Uncle Bill

(Ian, I'm still in touch with Dugald)

Don't worry, Hugh, you're probably still having them. Good natured? Really?

John T

Hugh Ferguson
22nd October 2013, 15:38
http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=16067&page=3http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=16067&page=3http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=16067&page=3Don't worry, Hugh, you're probably still having them. Good natured? Really?

John T

I did say "usually". He had nice things to say about my 5* thread "Day Off In Kobe", even though he spelt my name wrongly!

TonyAllen
22nd October 2013, 15:56
hello hugh.nice to have an old thread revieved.so decided to read it all again.don't know about you but it was pure nostalgia all over again 1955/1960 was my heyday. cheers tony.

R651400
22nd October 2013, 16:57
I miss these, usually good natured exchanges, with irascible old Uncle Bill..No need to shed a tear. I believe he is still around permeating other shipping websites in multiple duplicity.

Barrie Youde
22nd October 2013, 18:18
A most interesting thread.

I grew up surrounded by Blue Funnel men, feeling very privileged to learn their ways. I still feel the same way.

In 1959/60 in my own Blue Flue time, we certainly did carry two Sparks in Jason, Radnorshire and Memnon. Chief Sparks of the Jason was the positively ancient (to a 16 year old) Tegwyn Davies of Pwllheli. I remember him speaking with pride of his time in "the old Nestor, tallest funnel ever put on a merchant ship". (Am not sure of the truth of that claim, but Tegwyn and the Second Sparks I remember well). Tegwyn might or might not have been at sea during the First World War. On Christmas day (one day out of Sydney) the Second Sparks did me the huge kindness of placing on my breakfast plate a telegram from home. Not forgotten.

As to the expression "China boat", I never did hear it until the introduction of VHF radio (about 1963?), when I heard an enquiry on the radio of the whereabouts of a particular Rea tugboat.

Back came the answer, loud and clear, "We're running down in Gladstone with a China boat." The explanation was crystal clear!

Blue Funnel pilots always referred to them either as Blueies, or Blue Flue or Holts.

A recollection of the exquisite cargo plan, as shown by Hugh, above, is that a cargo plan was expected to be compiled by the half-deck, for submission to India Buildings. Naturally, responsibility fell on the Senior Middy. The story which I recall is that one such cargo plan showed that, in some discreet corner of a tween-deck there were stowed "Fifty seven bags of bullsh*t for India Buildings". And that the prank was spotted- and not well received.

TonyAllen
22nd October 2013, 19:06
just to clarifi a little when I told my dad i was to go to birkenhead to join the blue funnel line he being an ex docker said "oh the china boats"and that was in march 1955 ,so think it was the dockers that called them china boats first he was born in 59 jordan st on the edge of china town back then.

kypros
22nd October 2013, 19:12
I was never involved with the BF in my time at sea,but I do recall the dockers in Liverpool routinely refer to the company as the china,this was common with other companies who had names like the monkey referring to Elder dempster,this I believe was due to the fact a lot of the cargo was nuts,Elders & Fyffes were called the skin boats and so on.KYPROS

makko
22nd October 2013, 19:22
I think that may be it - It certainly sounds right that dockers would refer to China boats, skin boats etc. Ties in to the (perhaps) difficulty of names - Old timers would refer to A's, D's etc. and then recite the whole class.

When I was a kid, I only ever heard "Holts" or Blueys. Going across to Birkenhead, at the first chance we got, we would count how many "Blueys" were in the dock.

When on Bidston Hill, the old fellah would get us to say which classes where in. When in New Brighton, he would see if we could read the names of the ships in dock on the Liverpool side.

I always looked longingly at those vessels flying the Blue Peter, wondering what lay ahead and what distantlands they would visit!

That, gents, is nostalgia!

Rgds.
Dave

Hugh Ferguson
22nd October 2013, 20:14
What was the protocol with deck officers and the rank braid they wore? Given that so many sailed at a level under their "certificate of competency."
The reason I ask is that I have a photo of my Gt. Uncle taken in 1924, shortly after he obtained his Masters certificate, wearing epaulettes with four stripes. He did not sail as Master until the late 1940's. Was the photo just for the benefit of his nearest and dearest?

Jon T.

One only wore the "stripes" of the rank held and NEVER of the certificate held.

Jon T.
22nd October 2013, 21:13
One only wore the "stripes" of the rank held and NEVER of the certificate held.

Thanks for that.


Jon T.

R651400
22nd October 2013, 23:32
....A recollection of the exquisite cargo plan, as shown by Hugh, above, is that a cargo plan was expected to be compiled by the half-deck, for submission to India Buildings. Naturally, responsibility fell on the Senior Middy.....Don't know where this came from Barrie. All cargo plans were prepared by the 1st R/O who was responsible for all ship's paper-work and did little or no radio duties. Some even gave themselves the grandiose title of R/0-Purser.
I also agree that I never once heard BF being referred to as the "China" and happy to accept it came via the docks. Alfred Holt is never mentioned in any BF ownership title and one of them maybe another possible reason for the origin of the "China" ie China Mutual.
The reason for midshipman instead of cadet or apprentice is also obscure some say it came from manning the boats during the WW1 Gallipoli landings and/or evacuation.
I do believe Middies were expected to wear their uniforms when ashore in Liverpool and were affectionately referred to around the 'pool hostelries as "Alfie's boys." Not sure that would go down too well today as it did then!

Barrie Youde
23rd October 2013, 07:22
#108

I don't suggest for a moment that the ship's final cargo plan was ever the responsibility of the Senior Middy. (Neither, for that matter, have I any prominent recollection of ever seeing either Sparks (Senior or Second) in a cargo hold. Cargo work/stability was strictly the responsibility of the Mate/Master and still is, as far as I know.) The Blue Flue idea, rather, was that the midshipmen should be inculcated as soon as possible in every aspect of the responsibilities of cargo work. The idea came from India Buildings and I have a vivid recollection of being (with others) on the receiving end of it. As Hugh points out, it was a mind-boggling thing to have to get to grips with.

To the present day I have difficulty loading a supermarket trolley.

The name Holt was prominent throughout most Liverpool shipping, but to speak of "Holt's" invariably meant Blue Flue.

Lamport & Holt was either "Lamport & Holt" or simply "Lamport's", while John Holt & Co was invariably "John Holt's".

chadburn
23rd October 2013, 11:40
http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=16067&page=3http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=16067&page=3http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=16067&page=3

I did say "usually". He had nice things to say about my 5* thread "Day Off In Kobe", even though he spelt my name wrongly!

You do realise that Dave Wilson along with another name shown were/are? just some of his alter ego's.

R651400
23rd October 2013, 11:55
# 109.. I assume by you're remarks that you're actually ex Blue Funnel...
You're direct connection to the India Buildings doctrine and midshipman duties (if you excuse the pun) don't tally with mine.
Apart from cargo watchmen I've never come across any midshipman who had any responsibility towards cargo and/or eventual cargo plans.
Outward bound cargo manifests were presented to the 1st R/0 to draw up tally-books from cargo markings on said manifest to be passed to chief tally-clerks in each port of discharge.
Homeward bound the exact reversal and thence the the 1st R/O drew up the necessary multi-coloured plans to enhance discharge as efficiently and quickly as possible...
My first Blue Funnel port of call deep-sea without any middies was Jeddah where as 2nd R/O I was given responsiblity to guard some supposed valuable cargo being discharged from the foc'sle strong room.
As a Radio Officer two things come to mind one there was no middy aboard to do this job and secondly my days with Blue Funnel were positively numbered.

Barrie Youde
23rd October 2013, 12:05
#111

Let us not fall out!

You are perfectly right that our recollections are different and it is entirely possible that we are both right. For sure, my own recollections remain vivid.

Different ships, different long splices.

Best wishes,

BY

R651400
23rd October 2013, 12:35
#112...No need to fall-out but irrespective truth prevails...
The cargo watch job I did in Jeddah was at 16 years old and not too long later middies on more than one occasion were my "jack tar ashore" companions.
Great company ashore but on board my impression then (happy to be corrected) was they were nothing more than poorly paid indentured cheap labour at the mercy of any BF mate's whim.

Peter Martin
23rd October 2013, 12:59
I've read, with interest, comments regarding responsibility for cargo plans. I remember a master plan being compiled by R/O and then being set in a frame with photo sensitive paper, placed in the sun and a copy made. This process was repeated until the desired number of plans were produced. These had to be posted to stevedores at all ports of discharge in Europe.
With regard to the Half Deck input, we were given coloured pencils and filled in various blocks of cargo each referenced to the port of discharge.
One task given to us by Jim Turner, on one occasion, back at Aulis was to produce our own small scale cargo plan. This was in addition to our Course Work for Riversdale and, of course, the Voyage Log. All this and more!

Barrie Youde
23rd October 2013, 13:30
#113

Long may the truth prevail. It is a pleasure to hear it said!

The truth of who might or might not have had responsibility for the cargo-work in any ship is that it certainly never was the the middies/apprentices/cadets. Those young bods (of whom I was but one in Blue Flue for 12 months, followed by a further six years in the Liverpool Pilot Service, where no cargo work at all was involved) were blissfully free from most responsibility but were, on the other hand, obliged to prepare themselves ultimately to take it.

Peter confirms at #114 in part how this (i.e. the preparation) was done in Blue Flue. For sure, he confirms how Middies were required to learn how to compile a cargo plan.

As to whether the middie/apprenticeship/cadet system was merely a matter of cheap labour, that is a matter of opinion. Others saw it as a means to an end, and largely enjoyed it.

And yes, I do remember the myriad trail of paperwork which shunted in and out of Sparks's Office and, yes I do remember, very well, Sparks at the Tally-Clerk's office when working cargo in port . I just don't remember seeing Sparks down a hatch, very often, if at all.

makko
23rd October 2013, 14:29
I also agree that I never once heard BF being referred to as the "China" and happy to accept it came via the docks. Alfred Holt is never mentioned in any BF ownership title and one of them maybe another possible reason for the origin of the "China" ie China Mutual.


I think it was company men who referred to "Holt's" - Maybe a carry over from Holt's Mutual for uniform/gear/kit, something like "gone for a Burton"? A lot of the stuff was second hand but in good nick, also a favourite for a "run in" steam bonnet! Whatever happened to my ties?
Rgds.
Dave

makko
23rd October 2013, 14:47
Those young bods (of whom I was but one in Blue Flue for 12 months, followed by a further six years in the Liverpool Pilot Service, where no cargo work at all was involved) were blissfully free from most responsibility but were, on the other hand, obliged to prepare themselves ultimately to take it.

Peter confirms at #114 in part how this (i.e. the preparation) was done in Blue Flue. For sure, he confirms how Middies were required to learn how to compile a cargo plan.

As to whether the middie/apprenticeship/cadet system was merely a matter of cheap labour, that is a matter of opinion. Others saw it as a means to an end, and largely enjoyed it.


I agree Barrie. When the first intake of Engineers started, they were widely ridiculed in Odyssey Works - In uniform, wearing white gloves and not particularly from an engineering background. It took a while to undo the mistakes but with the "old" company men, a whiff of mistrust persisted.

In regard to preparation, Iain Daggy Dalgleish was paramount for turning out, or turfing out, engineers.

My own "watershed" was on the Barber Priam, Voy.55 if I remember correctly. I was J/Eng. and we had a complete crew change in NY. No one had previously been on this class of vessel except the C/E. Thus, as I was doing a double header and knew the E/R intimately, I was tasked with looking after the job in port, receiving bunkers, receiving spare parts (E/R and Trucks), receiving lub oil and getting the job ready for sea, taking her out of port on STBY. A very hectic day which (thanks to my training and personal interest in the job!) went very well indeed. Do you sink or swim? I remember the Chief asking if I had enjoyed being 2/E for the day!

As an aside, in my time and experience, the Middies were intimately involved with the cargo plan, stowage, loading etc. You could certainly see them "grow" and glow with the 2/O ticket finally in hand! I think that the change in type of cargo, deck gear and especially on the RoRo's, there was a very high level of integration between the activities of Deck and Engine as port stays were very tight and sailing times guaranteed.

Rgds.
Dave

R651400
23rd October 2013, 15:58
At least this thread is coming up with a few home truths regarding Flue Blue.
The one thing I specifically noted as a (free agent) 2 R/O was just how much power the mate (without capitals) wielded over his midshipmen subordinates who unfortunately had every or little or chance for company continuance once their voyage report was presented to India Buildings aka the Kremlin.

Barrie Youde
23rd October 2013, 16:25
It is certainly true that only the best were invited to stay. Nobody would suggest that it was, or should have been, a holiday camp.

One man's high standards are another man's bullshit. Take your pick.

R651400
23rd October 2013, 16:36
So yours is what bullshit or high standards or both?
Do you want a list of Flue Blue ships I sailed on where bullshit almost capsized same?
Or talk slave labour ships like Clytoneus or Diomed?
Let's not fall out but at least be objective.

WilliamH
23rd October 2013, 17:07
R651400 Your posts 111 and 113 confuse me, I'm easily confused, but from them I get the impression you were a 2nd Radio Officer at the age of 16, is this true.

R651400
23rd October 2013, 17:19
... we were given coloured pencils and filled in various blocks of cargo each referenced to the port of discharge....Peter.. By 1962 (after I left) Blue Funnel) had moved to a one R/O per ship responsibility ie radio duties only plus BF extra-curricular which obviously didn't include cargo-plan picasso work.

R651400
23rd October 2013, 17:27
R651400 Your posts 111 and 113 confuse me, I'm easily confused, but from them I get the impression you were a 2nd Radio Officer at the age of 16, is this true.Aren't we all at this coffin-dodging stage. WH..
I joined Blue Funnel as R/O at 16 yrs old..
Without blowing the dust from my discharge book my Jeddah experience may have moved up a gear to when I had reached the dizzy heights of 17.

Barrie Youde
23rd October 2013, 18:32
#120

It might be thought that objectivity and nostalgia are distinct and separate things which are counter-productive - a bit like exhorting a sprinter to admire the flowers along the way.

For sure, there was no nostalgia in Blue Flue. It was a matter of objectivity all the way through - until, of course, it all went pear-shaped. But that is another story.

R651400
23rd October 2013, 18:51
.. a bit like exhorting a sprinter to admire the flowers along the way..So I assume the lack of any direct experiential response to my postings is said sprinter did only Flue Blue midshipmanism then wisely departed to sniff flowers in pastures new?

Barrie Youde
23rd October 2013, 19:19
#125

Rather more relevant are the facts that (i) at the present stage of events I am here strictly for the nostalgia and (ii) I never was a Sparkie and am therefore not qualified to respond to your experiences, which I salute. With apologies to those who might have seen it before, below is a further view which might be relevant to this thread.

THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT SHIPOWNER

It is an Ancient Shipowner.
He hath a tale to tell
Of how much prospect turned to dross
Which started off so well.

And all forgot the start of it:
E’en all the men who knew
And saw the fortunes rise and rise
By credit-balance true.

And still they held a dinner-feast
When all was at its end.
And of the Ancient Shipowner
His ghost was there. A friend.

He was not dressed in sack-cloth.
Much decorum did prevail.
His suit was made of canvas
From a fore-t’gallant sail.

“My boys,” quoth he, “’Twas at a time
When England could expand:
And trade was in the market
In each continent and land.

And trade was driven then by sail
Dependent on the wind.
A power more dependable
I knew that I could find.

And did. The future was in steam.
I would forsake all sail
When possible. This was no dream.
My methods would not fail.




I was ahead of all in trade
In that mad, glorious world.
And lived to see my ships at sea
Without a sail unfurled.

At heart I was an engineer.
I knew that I could make it;
And did. And built the very best.
The fortune, I would take it.

‘Steam gives way to sail’, men cried
And some men were not pleased
To see the competition raised
As wind-dependence eased.

By halves I did not do things.
I’d compete on longest routes.
And traders to the China seas
Were shaken to their boots.

And envy then was in their eyes.
‘Who is this driven man?
Who’d take the cargo from our ships?
We’ll catch him if we can.

He sets his standards highest,
It appears to us, in greed,
That he would sweep us from the seas
By steam-power and its speed’.

I was not greedy then, my boys,”
The Ancient Owner spake.
“No more than any other,
For we all were on the make.

My engines were efficient
So I had the bunker-space
To get my vessels there and back
And still to win the race.

My ships were named as heroes
From the great Olympiad,
Moral courage was the watchword.
Honour good. Eschew the bad.

And others then would follow
When they saw what steam could do.
And so, to make a further mark,
I painted funnels blue.

At this, the envy rose the more
And I had many a rival.
On good Welsh coal I staked my soul
And gambled my survival.

The gamble worked, I prospered well,
And so did all my crew;
And so did all who trusted me,
And funnels painted blue.”

“Are you the Holt who started it?”,
The dinner-guest enquired.
“Tonight we all salute you.
We are all of us retired.

But, tell us please, what happened,
As still trade is done by sea.
You were the boss. What caused the loss?
What was the destiny?”

And spake the Ancient Shipowner,
“I’m puzzled. I don’t know.
Most trade is carried still by sea
And likely will be so.

My vessels were the best of all
As also were my crew.
In two World-Wars they showed their worth,
And in the peace-time, too.

And I am somewhat baffled, therefore,
Why there was a loss.
Though I sent many a ship to sea,
I shot no albatross.

Or did I? All those years ago,
When I eschewed all sail?
And placed my faith in coal and steam?
Was I then doomed to fail?

Did I then blight the world,
Although most people said ‘twas good.
A century has seen me gone.
Am I yet understood?

Or did the Devil catch me out
As wily as a fox,
The day he placed upon this Earth
The foul container-box?

I built my ships for strength and service.
Profit, yes, and speed.
Until the box-boat came along
I stayed well in the lead.

But then the heart went out of it,
The soul and spirit, too.
There was very little purpose
In a funnel painted blue.”

The dinner-guest was horrified
As also was the Holt.
Here was not mutiny by crew,
But owner in revolt.


‘ “To serve, to strive and not to yield”,
You taught us all to do it.
Did you then simply chuck it in?
Good Sir! How could you do it?’

“The best laid plans of mice and men
Alas, gang aft agley.”
Thus spake the Holt in wisdom.
No, he did not turn away.

“Nothing lasts for ever,” said he,
“This I’ve taught you, too.
And I thank you for your loyalty
To funnels painted blue.

There’s more to life than shunting cans
Along the ocean tracks:
Though, pleasant it might be for some,
With sunlight on their backs.”

“Certum pete finem”, said the scholar
As he thought,
What next to do, when browsing through
The classics, as he ought.

“Thank you,” said the Holt
“I’m glad you’ve learned a little more.
Please may I join your table?
It is draughty at this door.

I weep to see what’s happened:
That the fleet has long been sold;
Though all of us have values gained
Which far exceed all gold.

Are you here in my memory?
Or does that ask too much?
Or simply camaraderie?
To rubbish me, as such?

You are here for your own reasons, sure,
And I am here for mine.
And the evening’s far from over.
Could we share a glass of wine?

There is more that I could tell you,
If you really want me to,
Of ships and string and sealing wax
And of the Chinese crew.

I chose them for intelligence,
For industry and clout.
That they could turn the tables
There was never any doubt.

And that is why I warned you all
To take the utmost care
In dealings with your fellow men
On Earth. We all must share.

The day is gone when funnels blue
Would dominate the seas:
But lessons have been learned by all.
Mark well and follow these.

Do unto others only
What you’d have them do to you
On oceans or on battlefields
Or peaceful pastures new.

Fear nothing save the truth
Which you must follow to the end.
I thank you for your loyalty.
Now I must go, my friend.”

BY
16.06.2012

IAN M
23rd October 2013, 19:32
The following is extracted from my Kindle book, VIA SUEZ.

While the vessel was loading, the mates pencilled in the consignments on a cargo plan. Using indian ink, I had been making my fair copy since leaving Penang and, now that we had cleared Colombo, I completed it. It measured 15" by 39", was headed as follows:

GLEN LINE LTD.
m.v. "GLENGARRY" VOY. 7 HOMEWARD
Sailed from (First Loading Port) KOBE on 22nd November, 1949
" " (Last Loading Port) COLOMBO on 28th December, 1949
Draft Leaving Last Loading Port:- Forwd. 29'00" Aft. 31'00"
Fuel Oil " " " " 690 tons

For:- Aden: Port Said: Alexandria: Genoa: London: Rotterdam: Hamburg: Antwerp.

The approximate tonnage distribution in tons of 20 cwt was entered into two printed boxes. One box showed the tonnage in the centre castle, 'tween deck, orlop deck and lower part of each hold. The other showed the tonnage for each port and the holds in which it was stowed.

The tonnage for the ports was as follows:

Aden - 124. Port Said - 83. Alexandria 577. Genoa - 370. London - 3352.
Rotterdam - 705. Hamburg - 1072. Antwerp - 1033. Copenhagen - 7 (To be discharged at Hamburg) Optional - 326. The total of 7649 tons was shown in both boxes mentioned above.

Most of the cargo from Malaya consisted of bales of rubber, but this didn't make the job any easier as each consignment had to be shown on the plan under its individual mark. Other cargo from Malaya was timber, rattans, copra, coconut oil in bulk, desiccated coconut, coco beans, apricot kernels, coffee, egg albumen, hides, bristles, chewing gum base (consigned to Wrigley), potassium iodide, sassafras oil, pineapples, soap, drums of latex, drums of wood oil, one Wolseley and one Austin car, pepper, plumbago, wolfram ore, lead, tin and 882 bags of mail.

When the plan, done on waxed paper, was completed, I made a copy of it by placing a sheet of light-sensitive paper beneath it in a glass frame and exposed it to the sun for a minute or so. Having already half-filled our bath, I then carried the blank sheet to the bath where I immersed it and the copy appeared. I had to make several copies then colour them and instructions on the original plan read:

HOMEWARD

Plans to be completed and forwarded from *Port Said by airmail as follows:-

All Vessels 3 copies to Glen Line Limited, 20, Billiter Street, London, E.C.3.
who will distribute to N. Continental ports.
2 copies to Marine Superintendent, Glen Line, K.G.V. Dock, E.16.
1 copy to Alfred Holt & Company, India Buildings, Liverpool, 2.
Vessels calling at Genoa or Marseilles: 1 additional copy to Agents concerned.
Cargo for different ports to be shaded in different colours:-
LONDON - Red HAMBURG - Blue A/DAM. R/DAM. - Green
ANTWERP - Brown GENOA - Yellow
When Fuel Oil is carried as cargo in D.B. Tanks and in consequence
vessel has unfilled space in Holds through lack of draft state here
the amount of such unfilled space, viz. tons of 40 cu. ft.
Double Bottom Tanks. Show whether empty or full
(F.W., Oil Fuel, etc.) leaving last loading port.

*When I had previously done the job on the Atreus, I had understood that the plans (and cargo books) had to be sent from Aden and I always did this. It seemed to me that for vessels calling at Genoa or Marseilles, posting from Port Said to the Agents at these ports was cutting it rather fine.

I had also to type a cargo book to accompany each plan. These were composed from the information shown on the **boat notes which the 1st Mate signed when the cargo was loaded. First of all, I arranged them according to the port of discharge and then in alphabetical order according the consignment mark. When each book was typed, I stapled it between brown cardboard covers with the port of discharge shown on the front cover. **This is what we called the 'mate's receipts' and the particulars on the bills of lading, the official receipts for goods shipped and signed by either the Master or the Agent, had to tally with those on the boat notes. There could be as many a 2000 bills of lading for our cargo, but the average number was 1200.

Pat Kennedy
23rd October 2013, 19:36
For what its worth, in my time in Blue Funnel, the junior sparks was nearly always to be seen , while in port, down one or other of the cargo holds, watching cargo. One, on the Nestor almost caused a dockers strike in Fremantle when he stopped one of the holdsmen taking an apple from a broken case. It was only the mates' intervention that stopped the dockers walking off. The diligent sparkie was sent to do something in the radio room.
Often enough, I saw middies down there as well.cargo watching and tallying cargo.
Holts middies did turn to on deck as well as carrying out bridge duties, but for the most part they didn't work with the deck crowd, but carried out some unpleasant job like scraping varnished surfaces on the bridge or bilge diving.
As for China Boats,as has been stated earlier, it was the Merseyside dockers who called them that, mainly because the names were impenetrable to the average Scouse. (Me included until I sailed in them)
Regards
Pat(Jester)

holland25
23rd October 2013, 21:40
I went down the hatches, on a number of occasions, during my time with Blue Funnel. A number of times cargo watching in Jeddah,tallying in Texas City and surveying damaged cargo out east. A memorable one was, in Japan, on the night of my 21st.

The Snr R/O certainly produced the cargo plan on the normal Far Eastern trips,however on the US far East run the cargo plan had to be completed before leaving New York. This job ,in my case, fell to the Jnr R/O. I did it twice and remember being under a lot of pressure to get it done so that we could sail.

Farmer John
23rd October 2013, 22:30
I did three trips with Blue Flue, two we worked with the crowd, but had to feed in the saloon in whites, quite tricky to do if you had been painting, chipping or many of the the things you do.

You also had to do a steering certificate, autopilot off and you were chasing the compas card one way then back till you got the hang of it. We had a log to write (mine was shamefully thin) and you also, when in port, did stuff like tallying mail and spirits out of strong rooms, did quite a few night watches (always someone to call).

My last trip, after bad health, was on the bridge, with one or other of the watch-keeping officers. Noon sights, compass bearings, hours walking the wing of the bridge. Some thing about starting ventilation fans, follow the 3rd mate and pull the thermometers on palm oil deep tanks.

I certainly did some cargo plans, not used for anything else than giving us the idea of what it was and so on.

Was I exploited, Was I hell, I was worked in the ways of a cargo ship of the time, I had good mates with the other Middies, dry ship for us but the occasional can for something or other. I loved it, when I had to leave (that health thing again), I was heart broken, I had "one last trip" dreams for years.

I can only speak of that which I remember.

I was proud to work for them, and they did right by me.

makko
23rd October 2013, 22:49
Well said Ian, Pat, Holland and John. The exercise to to stir the nostalgia and you all, from your different view points, done just that!
Rgds.
Dave

Strachan
24th October 2013, 03:06
I find this thread rather desperate.

I joined Bluies as a Midshipman from Grammar School and an OBSS Course (Aberdovey) in December 1958. Sailed with middy's of quality like Taff Pitchard, Hugh Davies, Joe Bindon, George Hogg and so on. BUT there were also the bullies like CGF Lunnie, 'Dick' Richards, Alistair Mill-Irving.
SO WHAT.
All part of life's rich tapestry.
When I went to companies like China Nav, Jardines, Manners, Smit I sometimes wondered how they stayed at sea and not on land. NO compass errors recorded for 9 months, NO chart corrections EVER, NO data on cargo gear age etc, IT SCARED the life out of me. I became a HATED Master because I fired people who didn't do their job.

I was taught how to be a REAL ships officer by Blue Funnel, left the rest in the struggles.

R651400
24th October 2013, 11:05
I find this thread rather desperate.

(a) When I went to companies like China Nav, Jardines, Manners, Smit I sometimes wondered how they stayed at sea and not on land. NO compass errors recorded for 9 months, NO chart corrections EVER, NO data on cargo gear age etc, IT SCARED the life out of me.

(b) I became a HATED Master because I fired people who didn't do their job.

(c) I was taught how to be a REAL ships officer by Blue Funnel, left the rest in the struggles.If it was a desperate thread before your posting revelation of half-deck bullying certainly makes it a lot more desperate now!
(a) I leave real China Sea mariners and one of our most revered senior SN members to answer.
(b) and (c) Can one vaguely assume this hatred you practiced on the HK/Tug circuit could be recognised as originating from your Blue Funnel alma mater?

Hugh Ferguson
24th October 2013, 12:26
The following is extracted from my Kindle book, VIA SUEZ.

While the vessel was loading, the mates pencilled in the consignments on a cargo plan. Using indian ink, I had been making my fair copy since leaving Penang and, now that we had cleared Colombo, I completed it. It measured 15" by 39", was headed as follows:

GLEN LINE LTD.
m.v. "GLENGARRY" VOY. 7 HOMEWARD
Sailed from (First Loading Port) KOBE on 22nd November, 1949
" " (Last Loading Port) COLOMBO on 28th December, 1949
Draft Leaving Last Loading Port:- Forwd. 29'00" Aft. 31'00"
Fuel Oil " " " " 690 tons

For:- Aden: Port Said: Alexandria: Genoa: London: Rotterdam: Hamburg: Antwerp.

The approximate tonnage distribution in tons of 20 cwt was entered into two printed boxes. One box showed the tonnage in the centre castle, 'tween deck, orlop deck and lower part of each hold. The other showed the tonnage for each port and the holds in which it was stowed.

The tonnage for the ports was as follows:

Aden - 124. Port Said - 83. Alexandria 577. Genoa - 370. London - 3352.
Rotterdam - 705. Hamburg - 1072. Antwerp - 1033. Copenhagen - 7 (To be discharged at Hamburg) Optional - 326. The total of 7649 tons was shown in both boxes mentioned above.

Most of the cargo from Malaya consisted of bales of rubber, but this didn't make the job any easier as each consignment had to be shown on the plan under its individual mark. Other cargo from Malaya was timber, rattans, copra, coconut oil in bulk, desiccated coconut, coco beans, apricot kernels, coffee, egg albumen, hides, bristles, chewing gum base (consigned to Wrigley), potassium iodide, sassafras oil, pineapples, soap, drums of latex, drums of wood oil, one Wolseley and one Austin car, pepper, plumbago, wolfram ore, lead, tin and 882 bags of mail.

When the plan, done on waxed paper, was completed, I made a copy of it by placing a sheet of light-sensitive paper beneath it in a glass frame and exposed it to the sun for a minute or so. Having already half-filled our bath, I then carried the blank sheet to the bath where I immersed it and the copy appeared. I had to make several copies then colour them and instructions on the original plan read:

HOMEWARD

Plans to be completed and forwarded from *Port Said by airmail as follows:-

All Vessels 3 copies to Glen Line Limited, 20, Billiter Street, London, E.C.3.
who will distribute to N. Continental ports.
2 copies to Marine Superintendent, Glen Line, K.G.V. Dock, E.16.
1 copy to Alfred Holt & Company, India Buildings, Liverpool, 2.
Vessels calling at Genoa or Marseilles: 1 additional copy to Agents concerned.
Cargo for different ports to be shaded in different colours:-
LONDON - Red HAMBURG - Blue A/DAM. R/DAM. - Green
ANTWERP - Brown GENOA - Yellow
When Fuel Oil is carried as cargo in D.B. Tanks and in consequence
vessel has unfilled space in Holds through lack of draft state here
the amount of such unfilled space, viz. tons of 40 cu. ft.
Double Bottom Tanks. Show whether empty or full
(F.W., Oil Fuel, etc.) leaving last loading port.

*When I had previously done the job on the Atreus, I had understood that the plans (and cargo books) had to be sent from Aden and I always did this. It seemed to me that for vessels calling at Genoa or Marseilles, posting from Port Said to the Agents at these ports was cutting it rather fine.

I had also to type a cargo book to accompany each plan. These were composed from the information shown on the **boat notes which the 1st Mate signed when the cargo was loaded. First of all, I arranged them according to the port of discharge and then in alphabetical order according the consignment mark. When each book was typed, I stapled it between brown cardboard covers with the port of discharge shown on the front cover. **This is what we called the 'mate's receipts' and the particulars on the bills of lading, the official receipts for goods shipped and signed by either the Master or the Agent, had to tally with those on the boat notes. There could be as many a 2000 bills of lading for our cargo, but the average number was 1200.

What a wonderful cargo that was from the Far East, Ian. And there was so much more loaded prior to Malaya-bales of human hair, barrels of ginger, drums of peppermint oil. Tea from Japan, Hong Kong and Colombo and much, much more, all emitting a distinctive odour that could only have come from the East.
I once piloted a French ship into the Thames with a ventilator that exuded those odours right in front of where I stood on the bridge.
Talk about nostalgia! I was thousands of miles and years away and almost forgot what I was supposed to be attending to!

Pat Kennedy
24th October 2013, 12:43
Hugh,
Do you recall the distinct smell when you joined a Blue Funnel ship in Birkenhead? All the accomodation and messrooms etc were furnished with dark stained wood and this was always cleaned off and french polished while the ship was loading in Birkenhead. Ive never smelled it on any other company's ships, it was unique to Holts.
Regards,
Pat

R651400
24th October 2013, 13:08
I think the french polish smell was from shelac and alcohol/meths and a lot of this work was carried out in Glasgow before the final move to Birkenhead Vittoria and deep-sea.
My recollection it was the parquet flooring in the passenger accommodation that was french polished after sanding by machinery.
To see a Chinese "dockie" carrying a bale of raw rubber with it's distinctive aroma on his emaciated back was something else.
Copra one remembers from the infestation of copra bugs which mostly took their leave once the ship reached open sea.
My favourite was the aroma from a deep tank full of palm oil no doubt bound for Port Sunlight and thence Palmolive soap and they said the profit from that alone was
enough to pay the crew's wages.
"H" class from Australia also had deep tanks of heated and foul smelling whale-oil which may have gone in the same direction.
One of the most aromatic cargoes I encountered was very valuable demijohns of Coca Cola syrup stored in the foc'sle strong room on a voyage from Sydney to Singapore on Orestes.
On discharge one of the glass demijohns smashed and when the foc'sle was hosed down it frothed and smelled like a Coca Cola factory.

IAN M
24th October 2013, 14:39
Hugh

I have the original plan.

Ian

R651400
24th October 2013, 14:54
Ingots of the purist tin from Indonesia come to mind.

Hugh Ferguson
24th October 2013, 16:05
Hugh,
Do you recall the distinct smell when you joined a Blue Funnel ship in Birkenhead? All the accomodation and messrooms etc were furnished with dark stained wood and this was always cleaned off and french polished while the ship was loading in Birkenhead. Ive never smelled it on any other company's ships, it was unique to Holts.
Regards,
Pat

The only one, Pat, that comes to mind as regards ship odour, rather than cargo, was the brand new Agapenor in Glasgow, 1947.
I was a brand new 4th Mate. I joined her late at night to find my cabin bunkless and the only place I could find for a lay down was in the unlocked chart room! So, in my brand new uniform I slept on the settee there-in. Unfortunately, I failed to notice that the slats on the bulkhead had been freshly varnished so that me, and my brand new reefer jacket, became firmly glued to that bulkhead during the night!
We went around the Continent with about 20 shipyard finishers on board & completed loading in Birkenhead. Punchard was the mate.

Pat Kennedy
24th October 2013, 20:14
The only one, Pat, that comes to mind as regards ship odour, rather than cargo, was the brand new Agapenor in Glasgow, 1947.
I was a brand new 4th Mate. I joined her late at night to find my cabin bunkless and the only place I could find for a lay down was in the unlocked chart room! So, in my brand new uniform I slept on the settee there-in. Unfortunately, I failed to notice that the slats on the bulkhead had been freshly varnished so that me, and my brand new reefer jacket, became firmly glued to that bulkhead during the night!
We went around the Continent with about 20 shipyard finishers on board & completed loading in Birkenhead. Punchard was the mate.

Hugh,
I was AB in that same Agapenor, coasting from 25/5 to 26/6 1962, and according to my discharge book, Punchard was master. I dont however, recall him. I do recall the trip; we went from London to Hamburg, Bremen, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Avonmouth, Newport, Swansea and Birkenhead and I grew weary of topping and lowering all of Agapenor's 24 derricks every few days, as well as the hard graft involved in hatch cleaning, and mooring and unmooring. In those days there were 3 eyes and bights on the focsle and the same on the poop, plus 2 eyes and bights on each of the well decks. 30 parts of rope and wire knitting the ship to the quay, plus an insurance wire as often as not.
I see ships nowadays, moored in Birkenhead with just four parts of rope and wire at each end. I think maybe Blueys were a bit overcautious.
Regards,
Pat(Pint)

Hugh Ferguson
24th October 2013, 20:18
Click HERE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbUX6zohwgo) for a Blue Funnel video.

Barrie Youde
25th October 2013, 09:45
#141

The video provides a good illustration that "heyday" should perhaps be spelled "hay-day". It shows a healthy and fulsome crop (the Blue Flue fleet) about to be cut down in its prime in the harvest of commerce. It shows also, of course, that the healthiest seeds of the crop will flourish virtually anywhere at some later date.

The harvest is seen to have been ripe in the 1950s. Overton Gordon Small was a Blue Flue pilot at Liverpool. He was a close friend of my my father and in due course became my own close friend and mentor. In 1958, seeking to knock some sense into me (then aged 15) he warned, "The whole future of shipping is in the melting-pot. It will not continue as it is. However it might prove to be in twenty years' time, it will be very different from today." He did not live to see 1978, but I doubt that he could have imagined just how different things had become by then.

There is no sign yet that the crop as seen in the 1950s and early 60s will ever be repeated. For sure, I count myself lucky to have seen it.

R651400
25th October 2013, 10:29
The number of single voyage one off's with the video's originator surprises me compared with 1950's style Blue Funnel eg Frank Fish 1st R/O Peleus/GMQP almost from launching until scrapping which I'm sure was the same with Blue Funnel skippers and Chief Engineers who were synonymous with their ships voyage after voyage.

Hugh Ferguson
25th October 2013, 21:13
The number of single voyage one off's with the video's originator surprises me compared with 1950's style Blue Funnel eg Frank Fish 1st R/O Peleus/GMQP almost from launching until scrapping which I'm sure was the same with Blue Funnel skippers and Chief Engineers who were synonymous with their ships voyage after voyage.

Yes, that surprises me: my last two years, before going piloting, were seven voyages on the trot in the same ship, Glenroy, 3rd & 2nd mate.
I'm not sure about this but I do believe one of the Bluey bosuns did every voyage-from launch to breaking up-in the same ship!!

makko
25th October 2013, 22:00
Hugh and R651400,

I think it could be down to the reduction of the fleet and the ingress of some new tonnage. Remember, the container capable vessels could carry a whole lot more cargo than the old boats meaning an overall reduction.

In the 70's, the old AH 50's & 60's vessels were disappearing and Laertes/Lycaon and the M's coming into the fleet. Similarly, in ED's, the old boats and PH vessels were going out and the S boats coming in.

Many people were also seeing the writing on the wall, leaving holes in the traditional style manning rotas. Also, in the 80's, for the engineers there was the re-engining of the Bay boats which lead to many swaps to allow staff to get motor time in and maintain their seniority.

I joined in Jan 80 and there was much grumbling about engineers having extra Chiefs tickets and 3/O's with Masters and no viable possibility of of ever getting their command.

If I remember rightly, when I first went to sea in late 81, there were only about 22 ships in the fleet. Hence, big changes and natural attrition leading to people not particularly being confined to one ship.

A lot of people went to offshore vessels, indeed there seemed to be some sort of connection to Zapata Marine, there was also OIL out of Aberdeen. Then everything went to IOM and there were the thinly disguised Panamanian outfits, charters etc. It was almost inevitable that it would all end in tears.

Different and changing times!

On a lighter note, I have just read that the "Captains Mate" of the Mersey ferry Snowdrop is a Panamanian - Are the ferries going FOC?!

Rgds.
Dave

Farmer John
25th October 2013, 22:21
I could be missing something obvious, so forgive me if I am.

Is there any narrative of the demise and then death of the old ways? I went ashore in about 67, I was young and absorbed in other problems, I would like a true story of what happened, the piece by piece way of hearing this is quite frustrating.

Maybe someone could/should write this up.

Barrie Youde
25th October 2013, 22:25
#145

Dave,

You are absolutely right. In about 1980, Liverpool shipping was described to me as a matter of "Dog eats dog"; because matters had deteriorated so much in the previous ten years. Most things were unrecognisable then from the way they had been fifteen years previously and the memories of the declining years give little more pleasure now than they did at the time. The video offers no surprises to me of any kind. Together with many others,I saw it all happening.

I take my hat off, though, through it all, to Mike Harrison for following his star, as I do to any others who did likewise.

Barrie Youde
25th October 2013, 22:40
#146

FJ,

My own recollection is that in (about) 1967, Blue Flue gave notice to its entire sea staff that within five years there could be no guarantee of continued employment because the decision had been made that the fleet would be reduced drastically within that time scale, if not sold altogether. And so it happened.

In 1970 I was aboard my own old ship Jason, whose passenger accommodation had been removed altogether and she was looking very shabby. By 1972 the fleet was a shadow of its former self. It carried on in dribs and drabs until (I think) the last Blue Funnel was seen in Liverpool in 1988. A very sad story. Numerous histories of the company have been written, one of which is "There Go The Ships" by Marshall Meek (which I haven't yet read) and another is by Hugh Falkus(?) which I have read and would recommend.

ps It was Malcolm Falkus and not Hugh Falkus - my apologies.

Pat Kennedy
25th October 2013, 22:44
[quote=Hugh Ferguson;711475]Yes, that surprises me: my last two years, before going piloting, were seven voyages on the trot in the same ship, Glenroy, 3rd & 2nd mate.
I'm not sure about this but I do believe one of the Bluey bosuns did every voyage-from launch to breaking up-in the same ship!!

Hugh,
That was Joe Bates, who joined the Hector in Harland & Wolffs in Belfast while she was fitting out, in 1949, and was still bosun in her when she arrived in Kaohsiung in July 1972 for demolition.
I was told that he came home from there and never set foot on a ship again.
Regards,
Pat

Barrie Youde
25th October 2013, 22:59
#149

A similar record is Kenny McAskill who was Quartermaster of Anchor Line's Circassia from her launch in 1936 to her sale in 1964.

The past is a foreign country (as somebody said).

Farmer John
25th October 2013, 23:17
I am dredging far back into the realms of corrupted memory, but I think it was while I was coasting "Astynax", about 1965 or so, there was an old guy on the ship called Jazzer, he was someone who seemed not to have a very clear role apart from being on deck. If I was doing a night watch, one thing to watch for was that Jazzer didn't go and wake the old man up to tell him things were alright. When you are coasting, things just happen one after the next, it was along time ago and I could be wrong, but I got the impression that he came with the ship, and had been there some time.

Farmer John
25th October 2013, 23:28
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/10342700/Marshall-Meek.html

A very recent death, thank you Barrie for bringing this man to my notice. I can't find an available copy of his book, a link to a buyable copy would be welcome.

Barrie Youde
26th October 2013, 07:14
#152,

John,

In the immediate short term I think that your local public library might be your best bet. It's what I intend to do but haven't yet got around to it.

Best,

BY

Pat Kennedy
26th October 2013, 09:02
#149

A similar record is Kenny McAskill who was Quartermaster of Anchor Line's Circassia from her launch in 1936 to her sale in 1964.

The past is a foreign country (as somebody said).

Barry,
I wonder if Kenny McAskill was on the wheel when that Circassia rammed the Jason which was alongside at Meadowside Quay on the Clyde in 1964.
We got a few weeks in Barclay Curles drydock after that incident.
Regards,
Pat

Tom Inglis
26th October 2013, 09:38
The last "Ocean" Vessel to enter the Mersey was "Menelaus" on 17th March 1989, Captain Brian Jones. I think she was flying Elder Dempster colours, being inbound from West Africa. The end of an era.
Sadly these 1980's M class were not as graceful as the previous M class of the 1950/60's See attached photos

38084

38085

Barrie Youde
26th October 2013, 10:34
#156

Thank you, Tom.

The death throes were long drawn-out and agonising to witness. A most poignant photograph from Captain Brian Jones.

I've now ordered Marshall Meek's book from my local library.

Barrie Youde
26th October 2013, 10:51
#155

Sorry, Pat. Pass!

The incident which remains in my memory is the occasion when my Dad, with Captain James McGill Brown of Circassia, went together to see Kenny who was laid up in hospital in Liverpool. Dad told me then of his record, and that he had never missed a trip.

I'm sure that such friendship, goodwill and loyalty still exists in today's maritime world, even if it might be less evident.

Best,

Barrie

makko
26th October 2013, 17:34
Barrie,
It what makes us all different to shoreside - We always look out for a shipmate, we never know when he might have to look out for us! The brotherhood of the sea. The last time I was on a ship was March in Ensenada. I walked up the gangway and asked permission to come aboard. The Chinese mate smiled broadly and said,"The Master is waiting for you in his cabin".
Upon meeting the captain, he was visibly circumspect and inquired (as I was from the Insurance, long story) if I was a seaman. He was all smiles and opened up when I said yes.
The camaraderie from the engine room staff was very good. They were completely open with me.
So, its not only confined to one's countrymen, it is a worldwide fraternity.

Even in the death throes, standards did not lower in Ocean.

Rgds.
Dave

chadburn
26th October 2013, 18:49
Any of the old Blue Flue members remember a Captain Rae (Scotsman) although he may have not been a Master with Blue Flu but was when the join up with E.D. took place, not exactly a former shipmate but we were together on his vessel "Sokoto" for a short period of time.

Hugh Ferguson
26th October 2013, 19:10
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/10342700/Marshall-Meek.html

A very recent death, thank you Barrie for bringing this man to my notice. I can't find an available copy of his book, a link to a buyable copy would be welcome.

His book's title is- There Go The Ships ISBN: 1 84104 045 2. Price 17.50 Pubished 2003 by the Memoir Club.

Not much doubt where he places the blame for the explosive decline of British shipping.

Barrie Youde
26th October 2013, 19:12
#158

Hi, Dave.

Absolutely right.

In my own later life, on entering the legal world I soon realised that the strikingly unusual feature of most mariners is that they are honest. That high standard most certainly lives on; and is a wonderful thing to see.

Hugh Ferguson
26th October 2013, 19:16
Too honest in my case, always landed me in trouble

makko
26th October 2013, 20:37
Me too, Hugh!

Barrie Youde
26th October 2013, 21:20
#161

Honesty? Crikey! Sometimes I feel that I’m the luckiest man ever born. Perhaps I am.

Blue Flue retained its own pilots at Liverpool, one of whom, as mentioned, was Ovey Small. Ovey was the son of Pilot Tom Small who had retired in 1938 after more than 30 years as a Blue Flue pilot. On the outbreak of WWII old Tom was recalled from retirement and appointed as King’s Harbour Master. My Dad also was a Mersey pilot, four years younger than Ovey. They had served as apprentices together in the pilot cutters in the 1920s and early 30s. My own good fortune was in having a ready-made introduction into the Pilot Service. Dad was appointed to Anchor Line in 1948 when I was five years old.

In 1964 I was 21 and (during my own leave) Ovey invited me to join him in travelling by train to Glasgow to join a Blue Funnel ship for the passage to the Mersey. On changing trains at Preston we met (on the platform, by chance) Pilot Alex Macleod (Clan Line pilot- and also the son of a pilot) who was also travelling to Glasgow to join a Clan boat. “Pilots’ sons – the very curse of the Pilot Service!” said Ovey. I kept my gob shut.

At Glasgow, Ovey took me to Rogano’s restaurant for dinner before joining the ship. “Tell me,” he said, “what do you think is the most important quality in a good pilot?” Well aware of my own shortcomings I suggested, “A strong personality?”

“No, that is nonsense,” he said. “Pilots with a strong personality are ten a penny. The most important quality is dignity.” From such a boisterous personality, this was astonishing. He then recounted to me an incident which had occurred when he and Dad were apprentices. As crew of one of the pilot cutters (with Ovey as Senior Apprentice and de facto Mate of the cutter), concern had been expressed as to the insobriety of the Master of the cutter. A complaint had been lodged. In short, the apprentices shopped the Master and it was arranged that the entire matter should be voiced before the Pilotage Committee – which at the time was comprised of some of the most powerful men on Merseyside. It was a serious affair. The apprentices were called to give their evidence. Ovey told me, “Your father (aged 18) stood before the Chairman of the Pilotage Committee and said ‘ Sir, I have seen the Master on the bridge, on his knees at the telegraph, praying for steam’, putting his hands together as though he was in Church. And the Committee believed him.”

Never forgotten.

richardwakeley
27th October 2013, 03:39
Just caught up with this after a 'week off' SN. Strachan mentioned the names of several senior middies who were bullies. One of those named was Master of my last Blue Funnel ship - a one way voyage from N.Europe to Indonesia in 1981/82 ending with lay-up for sale at Singapore. I had a 'misunderstanding' with him, definitely didn't get on. But I expect he disliked me with good reason, I had already taken voluntary redundancy and was leaving at the end of the trip - probably acting a bit of a prat. Makko will know - he was there!
As others have mentioned in this thread, it was rather sad times with senior Mates already in their 50s and no hope of ever achieving the promotion they had worked all their lives in the company for.

richardwakeley
27th October 2013, 03:54
PS to Strachan,
One of the 'middies of quality' you mentioned was Capt. Hugh Davies, who I will always remember. He was very friendly and helpful to me. I joined Cyclops in 1971, aged 19, at Birkenhead and did the outward voyage to the Straits as the only R/O. As I had not previously done the Purser job, a 1st R/O (Ray Binding) joined for the Far East coast and homeward trip, to teach me how to do things like how many seconds to hold the cargo plan in the sun etc. Thanks to Capt. Davies' recommendation I did the following three voyages as '1st' R/O.

PPS to Ian M,
I just wish I had kept one of my 'artworks'. I do have a couple of the 'Homeward Loading Lists'. I know after reading your book that you collected so many items, which I now regret not doing myself.

Graham the pipe
27th October 2013, 07:03
Any of the old Blue Flue members remember a Captain Rae (Scotsman) although he may have not been a Master with Blue Flu but was when the join up with E.D. took place, not exactly a former shipmate but we were together on his vessel "Sokoto" for a short period of time.

Hi. Now that you have a 'name' to go on will be interesting to see the feedback you get from our Blue Flue friends in respect of ED's 'cannabis capers' during the Liverpool dock strike.

R651400
27th October 2013, 08:15
#166. Interesting point on BF retaining their own Holyhead pilot cadre.
Never knew and wonder why they would have to require a pilot on any ship from Glasgow to Liverpool and not just a Holyhead boarding?
Was this Holyhead/BF pilot system the same for BF ships coming from deep-sea as my recollection was the ETA would be sent simply to Holyhead Pilots begging the question how did they differentiate between BF and any other ship that may have a name from Greek mythology?

Barrie Youde
27th October 2013, 08:36
It was all part of the service provided to (and paid for by) Blue Flue. Joining at Glasgow or any other coastal port was seen as a commercial expedience when the need otherwise to rendezvous with a pilot cutter could mean the difference between catching the tide and missing the tide at Liverpool. Many of the leading companies availed themselves of the service for that particular reason.

As to Holyhead, it was Holyhead pilots who provided the launch service to put a Liverpool pilot on board. They would do so, if asked, for any ship; and still do.

R651400
27th October 2013, 08:47
Thanks for above and come to think of it with a delve bit deeper into the RAM I now realise I never sent any ETA to the Holyhead Pilots (telegraphic address) when coasting but never guessed we actually had the pilot aboard.

Pat Kennedy
27th October 2013, 09:24
If coming from the North, the pilot would normally board at Liverpool Bar, not Holyhead. Ive done the passge from Glasgow to Liverpool on a Bluey many times, but only recall the Liverpool pilot joining in Glasgow once or twice.
Regards,
Pat

Hugh Ferguson
27th October 2013, 13:51
The inscription on the fly-leaf of Marshall's book.

Barrie Youde
27th October 2013, 14:46
Very many thanks, Hugh.

It will be interesting to see how he might narrow down the decline chronologically. My own guess would be that in 1965 most things were still in their prime (save only the deep-sea passenger trade, whose decline started circa 1957, with the development of the jet airliner) and 1975 when, in terms of the Merchant Navy as we knew it, it was virtually all over.

R651400
27th October 2013, 16:47
I have a copy of May 1989 Ships Monthly with main feature Ocean Fleets Farewell by A J Barratt and the front cover a lovely pic of three Blueys nose to tail in Gladstone in the '70s.
For obvious copyright reasons I cannot scan and post but suggest anyone interested should keep an eye out for this piece of BF nostalgia.
Drawing from the SM article it is hard to pin down any real reason for the demise of Blue Funnel and others.
As would be expected they made the right moves diversifying into containerisation, bulk and oil plus expanding and amalgamating with old adversaries like Ben Line all to no avail.
In the past I've thought it was poor management but now with hindsight maybe it was just the end of the line for BF, Ben et al and the start of a new empire for others such as Maersk.

Farmer John
27th October 2013, 16:49
Library can't locate a copy in the county. It's 10 to have them even ask if anywhere else has it.

mariniero
27th October 2013, 18:13
Very many thanks, Hugh.

It will be interesting to see how he might narrow down the decline chronologically. My own guess would be that in 1965 most things were still in their prime (save only the deep-sea passenger trade, whose decline started circa 1957, with the development of the jet airliner) and 1975 when, in terms of the Merchant Navy as we knew it, it was virtually all over.

Barrie,
I would suggest that the causes/reasons behind the demise of Blue Funnel was no different to that of other British companies of the time and simply down to poor management/focus and a reluctance to adapt new technology/ideas. Blue Funnels slow embrace of containers left the door open to their competitors in the Far East such as A P Mollers which is amazing considering the strong foothold BF had in that area. Their foray into gas & oil tankers was nothing short of disasterous.

Barrie Youde
27th October 2013, 18:51
Dear Mariniero,

Thank you. For my own part I'm in no position to dispute any of your suggestions and am therefore bound to agree that you are probably right. I anticipate that that is Marshall Meek's view, too.

The only surprise, perhaps, is that there was/might have been "poor management" in the Blue Flue boardroom where, previously, management had been exemplary (or at least had been widely acknowledged as such, and still is to the present day) over several generations.

Perhaps the fault extends beyond any individual UK shipping company; and might lie in successive political administrations which have failed to bear in mind our reliance, as a nation, on sea-borne trade? In light of the political and public errors which have now been witnessed over several decades, this might be the more likely bet. As you will have seen from this forum and elsewhere, the record of the Holt family remains held in some reverence by those of us who were privileged to serve in its employment - not withstanding the lead-welly which was ultimately cast out. There has to be merit there, somewhere.

Best wishes,

Barrie

R651400
27th October 2013, 19:38
If coming from the North, the pilot would normally board at Liverpool Bar, not Holyhead. Ive done the passge from Glasgow to Liverpool on a Bluey many times, but only recall the Liverpool pilot joining in Glasgow once or twice.
Thanks for that which is more to my thinking if not experience as I coasted Liverpool Glasgow Liverpool no more than three times. Deep sea I well remember the ETA telegrams to Holyhead Pilots which almost cost me a GPO reprimand on my first trip when the Old Man who obviously knew his coast stations insisted it went direct to Seaforth radio/GLV when we were nearer to Landsend/GLD.

Hugh Ferguson
27th October 2013, 19:39
See this (http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/320065/title/holt-s-folly/cat/500) photo and comments

holland25
27th October 2013, 20:43
Library can't locate a copy in the county. It's 10 to have them even ask if anywhere else has it.

The only copies I could find are asking around 90 pounds for them. There are some in libraries in the UK which have copies, you can track if you do a search on the following site.www.worldcat.org/‎

Barrie Youde
27th October 2013, 22:01
#171 and 178.

It is quite right that most ships approaching Liverpool from the North would take the pilot on board at the Bar, but that is by no means the full account in respect of Blue Flue.

The compulsory pilotage area for Liverpool was defined by a line drawn from the North coast of Anglesey through Middle Mouse Island to the Calf of Man and thence from the Point of Ayre to St Bee's Head. Holyhead, of course, was outside the compulsory area as were all the other major coastal ports used by Blue Flue. Pilotage services between Liverpool and any port outside the compulsory area were voluntary; and therefore arranged as a matter of convenience between the parties (shipowner, shipmaster and pilot).

Blue Flue availed itself extensively of the voluntary services outside the area, Holyhead being a particular case in point. (The usual or public pilot station was at Point Lynas, just inside the compulsory area.) As to the passage from Liverpool to Glasgow or vice-versa, the same Blue Flue preference applied. In the better part of thirty years in the service I have no recollection of ever having seen a Blue Funnel ship use the Bar pilot station, either to embark or to disembark her pilot. I don't say that it never did happen, as I'm quite sure that it did happen occasionally when circumstances might have suited. Pat says that he saw it and I don't dispute his word. But it has to be said that it was a rare occasion when a Blue Funnel ship ever did stop at the Bar.

Apologies for pedantry!

Graham the pipe
27th October 2013, 22:12
The last "Ocean" Vessel to enter the Mersey was "Menelaus" on 17th March 1989, Captain Brian Jones. I think she was flying Elder Dempster colours, being inbound from West Africa. The end of an era.
Sadly these 1980's M class were not as graceful as the previous M class of the 1950/60's See attached photos

38084

38085

Hi Tom. Your 'The end of an era' says it all. Our respective time at sea has many 'date' similarities. Self September '57 with EDs and Masters, August '67 at John Cass, London. Was the latter a 'shared' time? Let's remember our mid to late '50s through to mid to late '60s era as, probably, the climax and commencement of the decline of our, once great, Merchant Navy. A misspelling of the first letters of containerisation sums up, in my opinion, the demise of Ocean, which began with the amalgamation of two, contrastingly differently managed companies each 'No 1' in their respective destinations and trades but NOT in each others.

Pat Kennedy
27th October 2013, 22:14
That is curious Barrie, and I'm not doubting your word by any means, but my recollection is that we picked up the pilot at Liverpool Bar on several occasions when coming down from Glasgow. This would be 1959-1965, after that I was no longer with BF
Regards,
Pat

Barrie Youde
27th October 2013, 22:31
Hi, Pat,

A further aspect was that, within the Pilot Service, the matter of appropriation to a particular shipping company created extensive jealousy (such is human nature). One of the benefits (for a pilot) of being appropriated to a company such as Blue Flue was the large amount of voluntary pilotage which was involved, to the pilot's own financial benefit. Green eyes were everywhere!

Today, however, such differentials between pilots no longer apply.

Pat Kennedy
27th October 2013, 23:57
Barrie,
I believe one of them has his own little radio show on Radio Merseyside once a week.
Regards,
Pat

Trader
28th October 2013, 00:01
I was in the "Neleus" in 1955 and docked in Liverpool from Aussie and then went "round the land" to Glasgow, Hamburg, Antwerp and Southampton. I remember the Hamburg pilot coming across to Glasgow to join us. It must have cost a fortune.

Alec.

Taliesin
28th October 2013, 03:12
The day after the "new" Glens were in trade and Meek gained influence, Blue Funnel was doomed. Meek designed and delivered ships that were 10 years out of date, over complicated, and dinosaurs.
Harry Flett delivered ships that were workers, efficient, and PROFITABLE on a voyage basis.
I spent time in BluFlu, read Meek's book etc etc
In 1968 I telexed (that was the way) Hutson from Antarctica (where I was on an expedition) that I'd be happy to rejoin. He replied "There won't be a Blue Funnel by 1970". So I didn't bother.

pilot
28th October 2013, 06:02
I was in the "Neleus" in 1955 and docked in Liverpool from Aussie and then went "round the land" to Glasgow, Hamburg, Antwerp and Southampton. I remember the Hamburg pilot coming across to Glasgow to join us. It must have cost a fortune.

Alec.

Boarding and landing fees today can cost a fortune. With a pilot onboard on arrival less chance of delays due weather. Nor any boarding cost incurred

Not unheard of for the ship's agent to request a pilot boards at the previous port to minimize delays.

Rgds.

R651400
28th October 2013, 07:30
Marshall Meeks first full design was Centaur and I think it unfair to blame him for any "folly" that was apportioned to the super P class.
But were the super P's the dinosaurs some say?
One of the original problems with the super P's was the delivery times and delays in British yards mainly Vickers Newcastle on Tyne.
Disastrously ending BF's British shipyards only doctrine with the last two super P's built by Mitsubishi as was Menelaus mentioned earlier as the last BF ship seen on the Mersey.
Falkland war veterans 1976 Laertes and Lycaon were Russian built Dnepr class.
On average BF managed 12 years service from the super P's with four of them bought by Oriental Express who stripped all their cargo handling gear and converted them to pure container carriers giving OEL another six years working life from their purchase before the knackers.
Blue Funnel moved into full containerisation in 1969 with the Meeks designed Flinders Bay for OCL only some three years after US Sea-Land Services opened their first container service from New York to Europe.

Barrie Youde
28th October 2013, 11:11
For what it might be worth, I have no doubt at all that the greatest errors were made in the Houses of Parliament rather than in the boardroom of any one shipping company. I’ve neither the authority nor the expertise to analyse the facts of history very much further; but it does seem obvious that a crowded island nation should maintain its own means of adequate international transport, for its own benefit. Otherwise, ultimately and inevitably, the nation becomes dependent on meals-on-keels provided (or not) by other nations.

In the Admiralty Court in London, a silver oar lies on the desk in front of the Judge as a reminder of this simple point. Perhaps it should be in the House of Commons, rather than a mace?

R651400
28th October 2013, 11:44
Silver oars and maces in such hallowed halls are hopefully beyond the realms and dreams of avarice and corruption.
I do love Marshall Meeks comparison when he suggested borrowing money for the Super P's to be reminded that Blue Funnel always paid cash down for their new-builds to those of Livanos and Onassis who built fleets and fortunes using OPM... other people's money.