Bank Line Accommodation

Alistair Macnab
20th May 2010, 16:44
The poorest accommodation that I experienced was on the "Ettrickbank" (1937 vintage) in 1955 - 1956 before she was upgraded in Tamano Dockyard in Yokohama. I was 3/M and my cabin consisted of a high bunk with drawers under and a narrow wardrobe along the outer bulkhead. The porthole was over the bunk and looked out onto the main deck working alleyway. Along the forward bulkhead was the settee and along the after bulkhead was the dresser with folding down writing flap and the compactum, the 'boy operated' cold running water folding sink. Admittedly this was virtually a "Doxford Economy" job. There was no forced ventilation and the deck machinery steam pipes passed overhead on the Boat Deck on their way to the forward winches. In thieving ports like the Philippine Out Islands, you had to keep your porthole shut but this was ameliorated somewhat by slotting the cabin fan into the porthole shoe and keeping it running to keep wandering hands clear of the whirring blades.

The best accommodation was on Harland & Wolff's "Roybank" of 1963 vintage.
The wood paneling was good quality with contrasting woods and grains every now and then for variation. The open-tread 'open arms' staircase and stair well were most elegant and decorative except for the plastic hand rails which raised no end of static electricity. Soft furnishings were a bit 1950s in style but comfortable enough. I don't suppose Harland's employed an interior decorator! Doesn't sound like a very Irish thing to do.
We called the "Roybank" 'Daddy's Yacht' for obvious reasons. She really was a very comfortable ship. Air conditioned, of course and compared well against the plastic interiors of the Doxford ships of similar vintage.

Donald McGhee
20th May 2010, 22:55
Teviotbank was the most comfortable I think, 1967 I joined her as an app straight from Donaldsons, where I had been in a two berth cabin that was formerly the officers laundry! Pretty small, only one door out to the deck, no access to the alleyway, so we sometimes got frozen/iced in in winter time and had to be chipped out by the crew. Safety and health would have a field day nowadays.
I stood by Teviot at Sunderland and did the maiden voyage on her, A.J. Whiston in command. A fine ship, but she had a few engine problems.

Marabank and Teviot both had single cabins for the apps, Inver was a double that I shared with Andy "Chop" Whittle. Great ship, great trip, good guys all on board so who cared about sharing a cabin?

All in all I can't say I ever had any complaints about where I laid my head and made my temporary floating home. The secret is good shipmates and they make the trip, not the accommodation (although it would help I guess).(Thumb)

IRW
20th May 2010, 23:43
I was 2/0 on Ettrickbanks last voyage. Remember that port over the bunk as cracked my head on it when sitting up too quickly! Also had to go aft indoors then out and forrd on boat deck to reach bridge. No auto helm and radar main part in Capt Lynch wardrobe. But still was one of my better voyages.

Ian Harrod
21st May 2010, 01:46
As a cadet on the Testbank, we had a crew change in Chittagong and this included a first trip Saloon Topaz. I think his handover consisted of "you clean the bathrooms" as the first day he was on board he went up the stairs to the Officer's Deck and the first door he came across was a bathroom. So he cleaned it. Every day for the next month or so until the mate sprung him!! The Old Man did comment that the Cadet's bathroom had never been so clean and that the cadets had certainly improved in their housekeeping!

Abbeywood.
22nd May 2010, 05:42
As a cadet on the Testbank, we had a crew change in Chittagong and this included a first trip Saloon Topaz. I think his handover consisted of "you clean the bathrooms" as the first day he was on board he went up the stairs to the Officer's Deck and the first door he came across was a bathroom. So he cleaned it. Every day for the next month or so until the mate sprung him!! The Old Man did comment that the Cadet's bathroom had never been so clean and that the cadets had certainly improved in their housekeeping!

The 'Marabank' and 'Speybank', of 1960's vintage, and built as speculations by Swan Hunters.
The cabins, although not en suite, had beds as opposed to bunks.
With the Engineers accomodation being on the weather deck, the beds were reasonably comfortable as long as the weather stayed fair, but were a bit of bind in heavy weather when one was frequently sent 'walk-about' round the cabin deck. so often the mattress, et al, was transferred to the deck, though this was sometimes 'stymied' by the following problem which was that there was a natural vent' flap over the deck entrance storm door which, inevitably, often got left un-dogged until realised too late, so that one either got wet thru' in the process of securing the 'dogs', or it resulted in that accomodation, and especially the 3rd Eng' cabin suffering from inundation, and the said person often ended up paddling around in his cabin, collecting all the sodden 'bits and bobs' he had failed to secure earlier.
Oh what fun we had.

jimthehat
22nd May 2010, 16:21
I was 2/0 on Ettrickbanks last voyage. Remember that port over the bunk as cracked my head on it when sitting up too quickly! Also had to go aft indoors then out and forrd on boat deck to reach bridge. No auto helm and radar main part in Capt Lynch wardrobe. But still was one of my better voyages.

just out of interest when was the last voyage of the ettrickbank/aco-incidence,but JR LYNCH was master for the full two years i was on the Ettrickbank. had such a good and busy time that i did not realise how bad the accomodation was.
regards
jim

Andy Lavies
29th May 2010, 20:10
I shared the 2 berth apprentices cabin in Ettrickbank with John Baird, both of us fairly lanky. It was so small that we had to take it in turns to dress. The door was opposite the engineroom entrance to it was very hot, too, particularly with no forced ventilation. We had the luxury of running water installed in Japan in 1957. Wow!
Andy

jimthehat
29th May 2010, 23:07
Though it was the happiest ship i sailed oncapt holland & Wilkie rutherford,the Clydebank was the most basic and uncomfortable,apps first job of the day was to bring fw from the aft peakto midships.

jim

Charlie Stitt
10th November 2010, 18:58
Having sailed on the Myrtlebank and Westbank with their narrow bunks I was surprised, when I joined the Sam Boat Ericbank, to find a good three quarter size bunk complete with a deep interior sprung matteress. What comfort, except when she rolled heavy, which was often, it was impossible to'' wedge in'' and the springs worked overtime, as if doing their utmost to turf me out onto the deck. Also remember the lights were turned on, clockwise/anticlockwise, not an up and down switch. The accommodation on the Liberty ships, I reckon, was as good as it got in the 50's.

Alan Rawlinson
10th November 2010, 21:07
Having sailed on the Myrtlebank and Westbank with their narrow bunks I was surprised, when I joined the Sam Boat Ericbank, to find a good three quarter size bunk complete with a deep interior sprung matteress. What comfort, except when she rolled heavy, which was often, it was impossible to'' wedge in'' and the springs worked overtime, as if doing their utmost to turf me out onto the deck. Also remember the lights were turned on, clockwise/anticlockwise, not an up and down switch. The accommodation on the Liberty ships, I reckon, was as good as it got in the 50's.

Would agree with that, especially given that it was wartime when Liberty's came into being. They were getting on for 10 years old when I got to sail on the Maplebank, and the general high standard of finishing was noticeable. Wider bunks, as Charlie mentions, the lower bunks also had solid wood partiioning above instead of slats, and there were other minor differences, which all added up. Nothing to match the Bird's eye Maple panelling, chrome bars, and swimming pools which came in 20 years later, of course!

The bridge gear on the Liberty's was chunkier also, and we also had the fun of the upper and lower steering position. The little upper steering position was great - It was possible for the helmsman to work the wheel, telegraph, and with a bit of quick footedness, the whistle as well, Para Handy style!

Entering Port Chalmers one morning with a pilot on the bridge wing, and I was on the wheel in the lower wheelhouse. The heavy brass wheel was loose on the spindle, and when the wheel was amidships, I pulled it off and held it up for the pilot to see - stupid thing to do, but I guess I wanted to see the reaction. Wasn't disappointed - apolexy all round, and an engineer appeared with a spanner in short time.

Someone recently mentioned the reliable steam engine that these vessels had - The engine reminded me of the cut away section in the text book - what was it - Fisher's Engineering. HP, LP, cylinders and big thundering crankshaft ... I forget the rest, but it was impressive to see.

The Liberty ship fan club - Count me in!

jimthehat
10th November 2010, 22:45
Would agree with that, especially given that it was wartime when Liberty's came into being. They were getting on for 10 years old when I got to sail on the Maplebank, and the general high standard of finishing was noticeable. Wider bunks, as Charlie mentions, the lower bunks also had solid wood partiioning above instead of slats, and there were other minor differences, which all added up. Nothing to match the Bird's eye Maple panelling, chrome bars, and swimming pools which came in 20 years later, of course!

The bridge gear on the Liberty's was chunkier also, and we also had the fun of the upper and lower steering position. The little upper steering position was great - It was possible for the helmsman to work the wheel, telegraph, and with a bit of quick footedness, the whistle as well, Para Handy style!

Entering Port Chalmers one morning with a pilot on the bridge wing, and I was on the wheel in the lower wheelhouse. The heavy brass wheel was loose on the spindle, and when the wheel was amidships, I pulled it off and held it up for the pilot to see - stupid thing to do, but I guess I wanted to see the reaction. Wasn't disappointed - apolexy all round, and an engineer appeared with a spanner in short time.

Someone recently mentioned the reliable steam engine that these vessels had - The engine reminded me of the cut away section in the text book - what was it - Fisher's Engineering. HP, LP, cylinders and big thundering crankshaft ... I forget the rest, but it was impressive to see.

The Liberty ship fan club - Count me in!


Alan ,I am another member of the maplebank fan club.in the 18 months that oi was on her we never used the lower wheelhouse.
From the day we sailed from Surrey commercial docks to the day we arrived back in bromborough 3 of us apps were under the control of the bosun and on watches,i was second wheel out of the locks ,and had never seen a wheel before.Did anyone else on white crew bankboats spend the whole trip on watches??

jim

Hamish Mackintosh
11th November 2010, 00:06
[QUOTE=jimthehat;468698]Alan ,I am another member of the maplebank fan club.in the 18 months that oi was on her we never used the lower wheelhouse.
From the day we sailed from Surrey commercial docks to the day we arrived back in bromborough 3 of us apps were under the control of the bosun and on watches,i was second wheel out of the locks ,and had never seen a wheel before.Did anyone else on white crew bankboats spend the whole trip on watches??

jim[/
All the Appie's did on the Ivybank, for the full nineteen months we were out, in fact we were always so short handed in Ozz and NZ, that we would never have made it out of port without their numbers

Alan Rawlinson
11th November 2010, 08:06
[QUOTE=jimthehat;468698]Alan ,I am another member of the maplebank fan club.in the 18 months that oi was on her we never used the lower wheelhouse.
From the day we sailed from Surrey commercial docks to the day we arrived back in bromborough 3 of us apps were under the control of the bosun and on watches,i was second wheel out of the locks ,and had never seen a wheel before.Did anyone else on white crew bankboats spend the whole trip on watches??

jim[/
All the Appie's did on the Ivybank, for the full nineteen months we were out, in fact we were always so short handed in Ozz and NZ, that we would never have made it out of port without their numbers

Hamish, I know what you mean. We had a lengthy period on the phosphate run on the Maplebank, and the App's often had the whole thing to do leaving a NZ or Oz port - cover the hatches, putting beams in and boards on. Then the tarps and battens often. Then lower the derricks, and finally take the first watch and wheel turn to allow the crew to sober up a bit. On one memorable occasion, I had done a couple of hours at the wheel, and felt knackered about 0200 hrs, calling the 2/0 and insisting that he find someone to take over. ( 2/0 was McCoy - later Master in Bank Line, I believe). Up came an AB called Smith, and as I walked away from the wheel I heard a crash as he collapsed in a heap. I legged it down to my cabin!

Joe C
11th November 2010, 12:15
I spent a couple of months on the Ivybank and was amazed at the "silence"when at sea,it was the only steamship I sailed on and was quite a contrast to the Fleetbank which was equipped with an engine governor that went off like a gun at irregular intervals.
The comfortable bunks I remember and the lethally hot radiators,all in all it could have been described as a comfortable old rust heap!
(The Ivybank Alistair,not the Fleetbank.)

Billieboy
11th November 2010, 14:16
I spent a couple of months on the Ivybank and was amazed at the "silence"when at sea,it was the only steamship I sailed on and was quite a contrast to the Fleetbank which was equipped with an engine governor that went off like a gun at irregular intervals.
The comfortable bunks I remember and the lethally hot radiators,all in all it could have been described as a comfortable old rust heap!
(The Ivybank Alistair,not the Fleetbank.)

It had that sort of, "Lived in Feeling", as did lots of other Liberty ships.

Alistair Macnab
11th November 2010, 14:41
Billieboy has highlighted the situation that existed in 1953 when there were 'soft' Bank Boats and 'hard' Bank Boats. I remember meeting other apprentices when I was on my first voyage on "Fleetbank" brand new from Belfast. If they were on a Liberty, they expected to be recognised as a special breed of 'hard men' especially if it was a white crew ship.

They were absolutely correct. Aboard "Fleetbank" our life was cushier than theirs but we still had the same two year voyages, nutty senior officers, Calcutta moorings and reeking bilges to contend with. It was not until my second voyage on "Fleetbank" that we were assigned to the Copra Run but that was in 1968 and I wasn't an Apprentice by then!

Alan Rawlinson
11th November 2010, 15:23
I spent a couple of months on the Ivybank and was amazed at the "silence"when at sea,it was the only steamship I sailed on and was quite a contrast to the Fleetbank which was equipped with an engine governor that went off like a gun at irregular intervals.
The comfortable bunks I remember and the lethally hot radiators,all in all it could have been described as a comfortable old rust heap!
(The Ivybank Alistair,not the Fleetbank.)

On the Maplebank, John Whiteside was the mate ( later his first command would be the Luxmi) and he had a ' thing ' about rust. He hated it. We smashed the bulwark plates with a big hammer until all the rust fell off, sometimes leaving a 'see through' area. Then he showed us yet another use for old charts which were cut up and pasted over the gaps with gloss paint or more usually varnish. When all was finished a final coat of white gloss left the whole thing looking like new - providing no undue pressure was applied, of course!

jimthehat
11th November 2010, 23:02
Billieboy has highlighted the situation that existed in 1953 when there were 'soft' Bank Boats and 'hard' Bank Boats. I remember meeting other apprentices when I was on my first voyage on "Fleetbank" brand new from Belfast. If they were on a Liberty, they expected to be recognised as a special breed of 'hard men' especially if it was a white crew ship.

They were absolutely correct. Aboard "Fleetbank" our life was cushier than theirs but we still had the same two year voyages, nutty senior officers, Calcutta moorings and reeking bilges to contend with. It was not until my second voyage on "Fleetbank" that we were assigned to the Copra Run but that was in 1968 and I wasn't an Apprentice by then!
Alasdair,18 months on a white crew liberty,thanks nearly 60 years on that i should have considered myself a "hard man"thats something I can now tell my grandchildred ,maybe I will get a bit of street cred.

jim

Joe C
12th November 2010, 15:22
On the Maplebank, John Whiteside was the mate ( later his first command would be the Luxmi) and he had a ' thing ' about rust. He hated it. We smashed the bulwark plates with a big hammer until all the rust fell off, sometimes leaving a 'see through' area. Then he showed us yet another use for old charts which were cut up and pasted over the gaps with gloss paint or more usually varnish. When all was finished a final coat of white gloss left the whole thing looking like new - providing no undue pressure was applied, of course!

A similar system was employed on old used cars, only copies of the News of the World were the favourite "filler"