Bankline - was it a mirage?

Alan Rawlinson
27th August 2011, 18:40
Hallo shipmates - those of us still steaming....

It's a bit sad that the Bank Line site is drying up. Makes me wonder if it was all a mirage. Somewhere in the memory I recall that a famous philosopher once said " All things that are transitory are an illusion " but I definitely remember laying at anchor at Sand Heads, wondering when, if ever we would get a pilot. Also, arriving at Visagapatam with a full load of grain, badly needed. Then there were weeks spent laying at anchor at Beira, swatting off the Tetse flies. Not to mention sitting on No 4 hatch listening to Isa Lei played by guitar wielding natives in the Pacific islands before we sailed away....

Fond memories, made sweeter by the passage of time.

Donald McGhee
27th August 2011, 23:01
I agree. The actual Bank Line site has fewer members than I would have expected, but I guess maybe the folk are drying up, as opposed to the topics themselves.

Come on guys, there must be some areas we all shared in Bank Line, or even the realities of life ashore we can share and comment on, we didn;t all just die after Bank Line! Just because the company has ceased to trade doesn't mean the folk who made it what it was should also be silent. Let's keep it alive on this and the other site as well.

TonyAllen
27th August 2011, 23:34
Actualy guys I thought that the bank line guys were the most prolific of posters
and I have read all of them.wonderfull tales full of humour sadness and and the comradeship from above and below decks.as I have said before my eldest brother was a banky late1940s and and told his tales very well, girl friend took him away from the sea and he had regrets till his kids came along Tony

John Rogers
28th August 2011, 00:28
My first deep sea ship was a Bank Boat the Moraybank,in Jan 1948,what a grand voyage for a young 17 year old,Samoa,Tonga,Fiji,and five ports in NZ,I can still smell the fragrance of the Islands and the dusky maidens.

John.

Donald McGhee
28th August 2011, 03:11
My first deep sea ship was a Bank Boat the Moraybank,in Jan 1948,what a grand voyage for a young 17 year old,Samoa,Tonga,Fiji,and five ports in NZ,I can still smell the fragrance of the Islands and the dusky maidens.

John.

The dusky maidens didn't smell all that much John!

Alistair Macnab
28th August 2011, 04:46
Yes.... it was nothing but a mirage, a brief moment when day dreams came to pass and we were transported in our minds to the fragrant South Pacific or to the majestic Magellan Straits and the Inner Passages of the South Chilean fjords. We think we remember those voyages to post war Japan where the pound could buy anything; we think we were able to listen to LM radio but it was really Radio Luxembourg. But the typhoons in the South China Sea; the sweltering days and nights on standby at the Hooghly Moorings with a heavy Bore Tide barrelling up the river; and the terrifying cable car ride up Table Mountain all seem strangely real. Were we there? It seems unlikely because our contemporaries tell us that it was impossible to have done so much in such a short time. Perhaps they were right.

Waighty
28th August 2011, 11:49
Sitting here today what brings back the happy memories of sailing with Bank Line are: the Pacific Islands, New Orleans, Aussie, chips with breakfast on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, being alone on the bridge in the middle of an ocean, fabulous meals at Port Pirie (we were there 4 weeks on Avonbank), bulk sugar loaded in Queensland ports, watching the crew changes by lifeboat, getting ship maintenance done, being hands on with the job, cargo work (the "three dimensional jigsaw"), good Masters, the camaraderie.

The not so happy memories are: getting deep tanks clean on the Cora class or any class for that matter, the smell of decaying tank washings, the smell of copra, "strange" Masters, crawling around some godawful small spaces, watching a fountain of coconut oil blast out of the ullage pipe in Suva and knowing your calculation was wrong, being hove-to, being aground, trying to eat some truly terrible Aussie sausages that we took on at Sydney, watching a shoreside cargo pump fall into a deeptank full of edible oil (the shoreside strop parted), the loudest thunderclap I've ever heard (mid Atlantic)

And many many more memories both good and bad.

John Rogers
28th August 2011, 15:45
The dusky maidens didn't smell all that much John!


I cant say yay or nay about the dusky maidens Donald as I spent my time off in the Blue Angel,but I did like those little coconut mats they laid on and liked to share.(Wave)

John.

Donald McGhee
3rd September 2011, 03:59
I cant say yay or nay about the dusky maidens Donald as I spent my time off in the Blue Angel,but I did like those little coconut mats they laid on and liked to share.(Wave)

John.

The mats were pretty hard on the old knees though ! No mirage then eh?

Steven Lamb
3rd September 2011, 05:40
Ivybank - 77/78 & Nessbank 78/79.
Ivybank - quite memorable as we did the Copra-run to New Guinea & Tarawa in the Gilbert & Ellice on the way home. Quite simply a place that I shall never see again ! Six weeks all told (anchor time & discharge) in Singapore for bulk sugar from Queensland - and a few empty pockets I guess with the amount of 'runs' up the road!
Nessbank - did the East African ports then loaded 15,000+ tons of palletised bagged cement in Durban for Bandar Abbass / Iran - 'yuck' Rolled up there right at the time that the ex Shar was ousted - chaos ! Anchored / drifted in the gulf for about 6 weeks before racing round to Hong Kong and pay-off. We thought the cargo had been re-sold. Remember Dave ? Ch Off from Doncaster 'determined as anything' to catch a tuna or two whilst we were at anchor up there & he suceeded ! He also famously topped up our fresh water tank/s collecting rain water with a canvas & hose whilst we were swinging on the hook.
Rolled up in Hong Kong to pay-off and find the relief crew facing a return trip back to Iran as soon as we were down the gangway and they'd bunkered etc.
Never a dull moment in Bankline with some of the "characters" that's was for sure !

Duncan112
3rd September 2011, 09:19
Remember Dave ? Ch Off from Doncaster 'determined as anything' to catch a tuna or two whilst we were at anchor up there & he suceeded ! He also famously topped up our fresh water tank/s collecting rain water with a canvas & hose whilst we were swinging on the hook.

Never a dull moment in Bankline with some of the "characters" that's was for sure !

Dave Barlow? - Finished up as Super in the Islands after McKenzie retired.

Aberdonian
3rd September 2011, 12:49
Yes.... it was nothing but a mirage, a brief moment when day dreams came to pass and we were transported in our minds to the fragrant South Pacific or to the majestic Magellan Straits and the Inner Passages of the South Chilean fjords. We think we remember those voyages to post war Japan where the pound could buy anything; we think we were able to listen to LM radio but it was really Radio Luxembourg. But the typhoons in the South China Sea; the sweltering days and nights on standby at the Hooghly Moorings with a heavy Bore Tide barrelling up the river; and the terrifying cable car ride up Table Mountain all seem strangely real. Were we there? It seems unlikely because our contemporaries tell us that it was impossible to have done so much in such a short time. Perhaps they were right.

LM Radio was fine, but the mid-50s Sri Lankan DJ, Happy-Go-Lucky Greg is also worth a mention. His comical delivery was required listening in those days! If I recall correctly, he did the Binaca Hit Parade sponsored by a brand of toothpaste.

Ron Stringer
3rd September 2011, 13:03
. the mid-50s Sri Lankan DJ, Happy-Go-Lucky Greg is also worth a mention. His comical delivery was required listening in those days! If I recall correctly, he did the Binaca Hit Parade sponsored by a brand of toothpaste.

My memories of Ceylonese radio was of the frequent public service appeals on behalf of some charity that raised money to treat/prevent "wision-blurring trachoma". Odd, the things that stick in the mind. :confused:

Alan Rawlinson
4th September 2011, 08:23
[QUOTE=Ron Stringer;535991]My memories of Ceylonese radio was of the frequent public service appeals on behalf of some charity that raised money to treat/prevent "wision-blurring trachoma".

In the 1950's, Ceylon Radio endlessly played a Sousa march (El Capitan) as their signature tune - can still hear it, ringing in my ears - As this came in loud and clear, it was confirmation of the approaching island. That, and the lovely spicy smell on the breeze long before the mirage of palm trees took on firmer lines..... Some way offshore, the rickety looking catamarans with bent spars and tatty sails would be seen racing along through the whitecaps...

Aberdonian
7th September 2011, 15:44
Hallo shipmates - those of us still steaming....

It's a bit sad that the Bank Line site is drying up. Makes me wonder if it was all a mirage. Somewhere in the memory I recall that a famous philosopher once said " All things that are transitory are an illusion " but I definitely remember laying at anchor at Sand Heads, wondering when, if ever we would get a pilot. Also, arriving at Visagapatam with a full load of grain, badly needed. Then there were weeks spent laying at anchor at Beira, swatting off the Tetse flies. Not to mention sitting on No 4 hatch listening to Isa Lei played by guitar wielding natives in the Pacific islands before we sailed away....

Fond memories, made sweeter by the passage of time.

We had just anchored off one of the Islands in the evening when, out of the darkness a launch approached. Seated on the raised foredeck were four garlanded maidens who entertained us, first with the lovely Isa Lei, then with the more sophisticated classic, “How Much Is that Doggie In the Window?”

In the after-end of the boat, dressed in whites and reminiscent of some latter-day Lord Jim with his retinue, was a tall man who came on board and stayed with the Old Man for a while. Later, I was told that this person was no less than “King” Buchanan. 55 years later, I still wonder what his position was in the Islands.

On that particular voyage, we had called at Niukalofa, Lifuka, Vavau, then Suva and Apia.

RayL
12th November 2011, 19:44
Here's a little query that someone in this forum might be able to shed useful light on:

The whole new crew, myself included, had joined the ship in Hamburg in Oct 1966 and I recall that we visited a couple of German ports before sailing to Gravesend.

It may have been in Wilhemshaven that we were visited by a photographer who systematically worked his way round the ship taking an official photograph of us all individually. I think it was done for the port authority.

I'm not clear what the purpose of it was, but I do recall that the result was excellent and I was wishing that I could have had a copy of each one as a memento but this was not possible.

Given that I have no photograph of myself in my uniform, and that the Germans are famous for their methodical record-keeping, I've often wondered whether those precious photographs exist to this day - languishing unvalued, and quietly rotting in some repository in Germany. Does anyone know: (a) what their purpose would have been, and (b) how I might begin to track them down?

eriskay
12th November 2011, 20:25
Extract from an 1950s local newspaper seen in a local newsletter :

Captain John R. Dickinson died suddenly at his home, 1 Polo Avenue, Troon, on Saturday. Born near Southampton in 1887 he had resided in Troon for the past twenty-five years. He served for thirty-seven years with the Bank Line, Ltd., of Glasgow and captained tankers during the last war. Latterly he was joint manager of the Bank Line. He retired in 1952 because of ill health. His main hobby was bee-keeping, a subject of which he had great knowledge. Captain Dickinson whose wife pre-deceased him nine months ago, is survived by two daughters.

Alan Rawlinson
6th August 2012, 07:37
It may well have been a mirage, but looking back, I definitely got more from the Bank Line, and the Bank Line experience, than it got from me. Would like to record my grateful thanks here.....

DURANGO
6th August 2012, 11:00
It may well have been a mirage, but looking back, I definitely got more from the Bank Line, and the Bank Line experience, than it got from me. Would like to record my grateful thanks here..... I was never with Bank line Alan but I have to tell you that those times I constantly dream of must have been a mirage just as when I keep thinking I was in those old Royal Mail line ship,s plodding up down the west and east coast,s of South America or the numerous times that I imagine that I sailed to Aussie and Kiwi and how on earth could I have afforded to sail in and out of all those far eastern ports no no I,m a day dreamer it never happened how could it have ,take a look around the world none of the places I thought I visited exist,s but whatever the truth is there are certainly a lot of day dreamers about best regards Dave

Alan Rawlinson
6th August 2012, 14:24
I was never with Bank line Alan but I have to tell you that those times I constantly dream of must have been a mirage just as when I keep thinking I was in those old Royal Mail line ship,s plodding up down the west and east coast,s of South America or the numerous times that I imagine that I sailed to Aussie and Kiwi and how on earth could I have afforded to sail in and out of all those far eastern ports no no I,m a day dreamer it never happened how could it have ,take a look around the world none of the places I thought I visited exist,s but whatever the truth is there are certainly a lot of day dreamers about best regards Dave

Hallo Dave, and greetings from Cornwall,

Maybe not Bank Line, but we are in the same boat , so to speak! ( Was in many of the same mirages - were there any ' old slags' in yours?)

Saw a description the other day in a classical book which I felt described me a bit too accurately.....

" A drunken philosopher, (amateur in my case) who wastes the day away soliloquising"

DURANGO
7th August 2012, 19:42
Hallo Dave, and greetings from Cornwall,

Maybe not Bank Line, but we are in the same boat , so to speak! ( Was in many of the same mirages - were there any ' old slags' in yours?)

Saw a description the other day in a classical book which I felt described me a bit too accurately.....

" A drunken philosopher, (amateur in my case) who wastes the day away soliloquising" I have to admit that I had to look up what soliloquising ment and when I found the answer I thought to myself Davy boy it,s you to a T , I shall have to practise the pronounciation so that I can slip it in to conversations when I am on a roll boring to death one of the few freinds that I have left who can stand listening to me go on about my life at sea from the age of 15 [ lied about my age ] to 27 at that time I saw what was happening then decided to call it a day , I do beleive that lady luck plays a part in our lives being in the right place at the right time for instance ,I am 70 in a few days which I have found comes in handy when I,m telling a yarn because I dont have to feel embarrsed that I am repeating myself anymore , as I said I never sailed with the Bank line being that I was an a.b. , but I do remember way back in the early19 61 I sailed with an old a.b .who was in a Bank line ship for a very long voyage I can still remember him telling me what a great trip it was but one thing that has always stayed with me was when he mentioned the state of the ship he reckoned the old man and the mate where in fact sacked because she had not seen a lick of paint for ages he may have been spinning me a yarn who knows . Because I was able to splice wire ,when I left the sea I got a job as a lift engineers mate and after 5 years I got my fitters ticket [ those days are long gone ] although I only ever had to do a long splice in a rope in all those 32 years that I spent working on lift,s to be honest I got the job in the first place through a freind of mine who put my name up but when the manager found out I could splice he was well impressed so the merchant navy was good to me even when I reluctantly gave it up ,about 12 years ago late 90,s I would think I happened to be working on a lift in London the name of the building was Royal mint court as I was putting the lift into position to work on it I noticed a reception area and above the double door entrance was the name Andrew Weir and in the foyer was a wonderful model of the 4 masted barque Olivebank so now I,m realy interested I asked the lady on reception if during my lunch break would she mind if I took some details of this fine ship , I am interested in building ship,s models and this looked as if it would be a nice project , so some time later there I am sketching away and all of a sudden I felt someone standing next to me it was a tall man in a black overcoat he was looking at the receptionist as if to ask who is this and what is he doing ,I thought to myself hello I have dropped the receptionist in it so straight away I was on him , telling him how much I admired the model of the Olivebank and that having spent most of my younger life at sea I had berthed alongside many Bank line ships all over the world , it did not take much working out for me to realize that this was someone high up in the company , the first words that came out of his mouth to me where " come with me and then I am going to throw you out " [ that is true his exact words ] so I followed him through the office passing beautiful models of conventional bank line ships then we get to his office it turns out he was the MD and he was retiring in the near future I think he told me he only had a few weeks to go before he retired anyhow there I am in his office all red leather furniture and there on the wall was a beautiful painting of the Olivebank sailng from a port in China so now there,s me and the MD of the Bank line chatting about ships anyhow on the way out, there we are looking at all these splended models which he was very happy to chat with me about ,thinking back it was strange but in no way did I feel uncomfortable talking to him because we where both talking about a subject that we both had in common but when I think back it must haved seemed strange to all the office staff watching their MD walk into his office with some scruffy lift engineer , anyhow when I was leaving the lady on reception [ her exact words ] said to me " I have worked here for years and he has never spoken to me" , it,s a strange old world Alan best regards Dave .

John Dryden
7th August 2012, 20:33
Nice tale Dave.However I wouldn,t recommend speaking your new word when you,ve had a good drink!

DURANGO
8th August 2012, 07:11
Nice tale Dave.However I wouldn,t recommend speaking your new word when you,ve had a good drink! Now come on John you dont think I am going to waste a word like that when I have had a drink ,but just a thought I wonder where all those beautiful models ended up , I can only imagine where the site of one of those models would have taken you old Bank line boys especialy if you had spent a long time in her for myself there would have been a vacant stare as I sailed away in to those wonderful sea,s of my mind ,often fleeting memories of 50 years ago come back I still have a vivid memory of crossing the pacific in the old Mystic and the 2nd mate waving to me from the wing of the bridge when I was on foc,sle head look out telling me to knock off we had not even been releived by the 4 to 8 but it was already daylight best regards Dave .

Alan Rawlinson
8th August 2012, 07:50
I have to admit that I had to look up what soliloquising ment and when I found the answer I thought to myself Davy boy it,s you to a T , I shall have to practise the pronounciation so that I can slip it in to conversations when I am on a roll boring to death one of the few freinds that I have left who can stand listening to me go on about my life at sea from the age of 15 [ lied about my age ] to 27 at that time I saw what was happening then decided to call it a day , I do beleive that lady luck plays a part in our lives being in the right place at the right time for instance ,I am 70 in a few days which I have found comes in handy when I,m telling a yarn because I dont have to feel embarrsed that I am repeating myself anymore , as I said I never sailed with the Bank line being that I was an a.b. , but I do remember way back in the early19 61 I sailed with an old a.b .who was in a Bank line ship for a very long voyage I can still remember him telling me what a great trip it was but one thing that has always stayed with me was when he mentioned the state of the ship he reckoned the old man and the mate where in fact sacked because she had not seen a lick of paint for ages he may have been spinning me a yarn who knows . Because I was able to splice wire ,when I left the sea I got a job as a lift engineers mate and after 5 years I got my fitters ticket [ those days are long gone ] although I only ever had to do a long splice in a rope in all those 32 years that I spent working on lift,s to be honest I got the job in the first place through a freind of mine who put my name up but when the manager found out I could splice he was well impressed so the merchant navy was good to me even when I reluctantly gave it up ,about 12 years ago late 90,s I would think I happened to be working on a lift in London the name of the building was Royal mint court as I was putting the lift into position to work on it I noticed a reception area and above the double door entrance was the name Andrew Weir and in the foyer was a wonderful model of the 4 masted barque Olivebank so now I,m realy interested I asked the lady on reception if during my lunch break would she mind if I took some details of this fine ship , I am interested in building ship,s models and this looked as if it would be a nice project , so some time later there I am sketching away and all of a sudden I felt someone standing next to me it was a tall man in a black overcoat he was looking at the receptionist as if to ask who is this and what is he doing ,I thought to myself hello I have dropped the receptionist in it so straight away I was on him , telling him how much I admired the model of the Olivebank and that having spent most of my younger life at sea I had berthed alongside many Bank line ships all over the world , it did not take much working out for me to realize that this was someone high up in the company , the first words that came out of his mouth to me where " come with me and then I am going to throw you out " [ that is true his exact words ] so I followed him through the office passing beautiful models of conventional bank line ships then we get to his office it turns out he was the MD and he was retiring in the near future I think he told me he only had a few weeks to go before he retired anyhow there I am in his office all red leather furniture and there on the wall was a beautiful painting of the Olivebank sailng from a port in China so now there,s me and the MD of the Bank line chatting about ships anyhow on the way out, there we are looking at all these splended models which he was very happy to chat with me about ,thinking back it was strange but in no way did I feel uncomfortable talking to him because we where both talking about a subject that we both had in common but when I think back it must haved seemed strange to all the office staff watching their MD walk into his office with some scruffy lift engineer , anyhow when I was leaving the lady on reception [ her exact words ] said to me " I have worked here for years and he has never spoken to me" , it,s a strange old world Alan best regards Dave .

Hi Dave

Love the story............

Who ever the guy was , the fact that he had never acknowledged ( or even spoken to) the girl on the reception desk - it says it it all for me.

My son worked in those offices in the operations department at the Royal Court , ( with all the lovely ship models) and the financial trading departments were the flavour of the month, with ships very much in second place. Not sure how grandad Andrew Weir would have felt about that.....

garry Norton
8th August 2012, 08:14
I seem to remember Dave Barlow was in Lae in 1990's

DURANGO
8th August 2012, 22:59
Hello Alan , I,m still trying to get around to building the Olivebank ,I have lost the drawing that I sketched all that time ago so I will have to look out for a decent painting to work from , to be honest I found the man who showed me the painting of the Olivebank to be a very pleasant person as I say he was very happy to chat to me about ship,s and show me over the models of ship,s that had most likely been scrapped or sold out of the fleet by that time in fact I had to make my exscuses to leave as I had a lift to repair otherwise I think he would have been quite happy to chat on as I would have been , I,m sure that during our conversation he said that Bank line had only built ships in the u.k up until our ship yards started to close and as I say because I never sailed in the Bank line I never realy knew to much about the company it was only when he started to tell me about the routes that their ships served that I realized wherever in the world there was a port or a safe anchorage then there is a very good chance that a Bank boat would have been there at sometime or other , in my 12 years at sea I have travelled quite a bit and been to some out of the way places but I had to sail with with numerous companys to do it ,I have to say it is very sad to see another of our great shipping companys make that final voyage which must have been heartbreaking for everyone involved best regards Dave .

Alan Rawlinson
9th August 2012, 07:37
Hello Alan , I,m still trying to get around to building the Olivebank ,I have lost the drawing that I sketched all that time ago so I will have to look out for a decent painting to work from , to be honest I found the man who showed me the painting of the Olivebank to be a very pleasant person as I say he was very happy to chat to me about ship,s and show me over the models of ship,s that had most likely been scrapped or sold out of the fleet by that time in fact I had to make my exscuses to leave as I had a lift to repair otherwise I think he would have been quite happy to chat on as I would have been , I,m sure that during our conversation he said that Bank line had only built ships in the u.k up until our ship yards started to close and as I say because I never sailed in the Bank line I never realy knew to much about the company it was only when he started to tell me about the routes that their ships served that I realized wherever in the world there was a port or a safe anchorage then there is a very good chance that a Bank boat would have been there at sometime or other , in my 12 years at sea I have travelled quite a bit and been to some out of the way places but I had to sail with with numerous companys to do it ,I have to say it is very sad to see another of our great shipping companys make that final voyage which must have been heartbreaking for everyone involved best regards Dave .

Dave, Re the ' Olivebank ' - there are some nice photo shots of her under way with sails up, and they are online. I also have copies which could email to you if interested? One is a quarterview, i.e. from abaft the beam, which is quite attractive.

Going back to the offices ashore, and the general question of attitudes to staff, I feel I could write a book on this subject, but would'nt bore you with my views. I was fortunate enough not to work for many years in UK shipping or Port Offices, but enough to get a flavour of the rather snooty British style of management.

Instead, I had the good fortune to spend many happy and exciting years working with the Swedes for example, and there one of the most important people in the organisation was the girl on the front desk which doubled for a switchboard. Her name was Maud, (come into the garden) and wherever you rang in from around the world, there was Maud's reassuring and comforting tones.

Elsewhere in these threads you will see discussions about the demise of the Bank Line, but to summarise -

Events, e.g. containerisation, overtook the company, which was less suited than others perhaps to adapt. The option of joining one or another giant consortium was on the table, but the identity and unique character of the Bank Line services and ships would have been lost anyway.

Another factor was the change of direction and interest by the owning family and board. It was their prerogative.

I am philosophical about it anyway, seeing the change as inevitable as night following day! It was a wonderful era and an amazing experience for all our chums on this site. Nostalgia was never so strong!

DURANGO
9th August 2012, 17:30
I would very much appreciate a photo of the Olivebank Alan when you get a chance , I was always under the impression that she was Bank line,s first ship [ shows how much I know ] but looking further into the history of the company it seems it was the Willowbank a barque rigged iron ship I,m going to have no chance of getting a picture of her the closest I can find is a ship named Trongate again barque rigged so I may give that a go as well ,the over the side coulors of the Trongate appear to be grey but I can look further into that thanks again best wishes Dave .

Stumps
9th August 2012, 18:44
As one oif my nephews has said to me on a few occasions , 'you sail along in your own little world . You don't socialise much with us , you don't ask for any favours, nor help and keep yourself to yourself' - 'Yes' I replied , it's a lovely world , so leave me with me memories mate , that's all I ask' .

Durango , I wonder if that was Vincent Weir as could'nt imagine his brother , Roy, the Second Lord Inverforth ,,whom tragically died early would not have spoken to the receptionist at sometime. He would speak to all staff shore and seagoing however Junior they were.