Why Brocklebank's?

fred henderson
30th January 2006, 18:54
The Brocklebank section of the site has far more threads than any other shipping company. I have never had the privilage of building a Brocklebank ship and as far as I can remember have only been on one in my life. I do not want to offend you guys, but I recall a neat, but very ordinary cargo liner. Yet the company seems to have generated a great deal of emotion in those who served on their ships.
I am sure that many members are as interested as I am to know the reason for your passionate attachment to the company. I think it is great that you feel this way, please tell us why?


30th January 2006, 19:36
I am sure you have heard the anthem "Simply the Best!"

30th January 2006, 19:39
Seriously, oldest established liner company, but bum route, safe, solid well built and well run ships, some very handsome too, staff well looked after, at least that is my experience, I am sure many posters will agree (or disagree).

John Leary
30th January 2006, 21:49
My career with the company was relatively short and I never sailed with anyone else. For a radio officer it was an excellent company to work for in that there was no bull, the radio supers were real gents and they always encouraged a "can-do" attitude.

ian jackson
31st January 2006, 18:04
I don't know about the others but I had a great time and was looked after well by the company from 1968 to around 72. SHips were ships, some better than others , best fun seemed to be on the older ships. My best trip for laughs was on the Maipura a 1950s build. I don't agree with one of the previous remarks ref bum runs. I ended up all over the place especially the States, South Africa, Middle East, India. Even did S America and Japan. Good feeders. Good days

Ian Jackson

Jim S
31st January 2006, 23:12
I hope you know what you have started with this thread.
I agree with the sentiments of Jim Pottinger ( I am sure the "bum route" quote was done somewhat tongue in cheek.)
I was with Brocklebank from 1962 until 1967.At that time the company was 19 ship strong (17 turbine steamers and 2 motor ships) Unlike companies such as Blue Flue, Clan, and Ellermans this meant for an almost "family like" company - sure it had it share of nutters and chancers but on the whole a decent enough staff. Whether sea going or coastal, reliefs were always available and should anyone have needs say to stay on the coast or have extended leaves for study or compassionate reasons I believe the company went out of its way to accommodate. At that time at least up to the closure of the Suez Canal, one knew what a voyage would entail, 3 to 4 months extending to 5 months if the voyage extended to the USA. Compare that to some similar companies particularly those like Blue Flue, Ellermans and Port who participated in the MANZ run. Time in port in Calcutta or Colombo was lengthy which meant that time for maintenance was not an issue and allowed quite a lot of free time. It may be a small thing but I never heard the Engineer's Alarm sound on any Brock ship that I sailed on

michael james
31st January 2006, 23:49
Seriously, oldest established liner company, but bum route, safe, solid well built and well run ships, some very handsome too, staff well looked after, at least that is my experience, I am sure many posters will agree (or disagree).

I agree with Jim above, it was one of the best companys to sail with, it had a long tradition and history with a “family run firm “ attitude towards its staff.
I was with the company from 1957 to 1971 – the best 14 years of my life.
This instance is a good example of why ex Brocklebank staff hold the company in such high esteem. In August 1966 I was on Mathura transiting the Suez Canal northbound, the ship was not due to stop at Port Said just drop off the pilot and head off for the USA. Approximately an hour before we were due at Port Said I received a telegram saying my Father had passed away in the UK. Brocklebanks stopped the ship in Port Said and made all arrangements for me to leave her and fly home direct – everything laid on and paid for, I am not saying that some other companys would not have done the same for a middle ranking third mate in similar circumstances, that caring attitude encourages loyalty and a sense of belonging. I was extremely grateful and still am.

MikeJ (*))

John Rogers
1st February 2006, 02:56
What great testimonials to a company,don't get no better than that. I missed the boat on that company.

Stuart Smith
1st February 2006, 09:33
I agree with all of the above sentiments, as I found the found the Company fair and square in all that it did.
I recall that when I put in my notice to leave, along with several other time served apprentices of my year, we were asked to attend a meeting in the Cunard/Brocklebank Board Room in Cunard House and asked why we were considering leaving, quote, "the best Merchant Marine Company in the world". One of my reasons was that I had met a young lady and we wanted to get married and she wasn't keen on me being away for 3 to 4 months at a time. What a fool I must have been as that particular romance was dead in the water even before I had actually left the company, but the wheels of resignation had been set in motion and being pig headed I went through with the deed. At this meeting the company had set out their "exciting plans for the future" which included the aquisition of Moss Tankers and their routes and that we may well be asked to form the crew on these ships. I think that even though I could have changed my mind, after the romance was dead, and stayed with Brock's it was the thought that I might well be serving on tankers that made me go through with resigning. I felt very bad that I was letting the Company down after they had invested their time and money in me. I wasn't proud of what I did.
For 2 or 3 years I very much regretted my decision and more than once thought about re-applying to return to the sea. It was the seamans strike of 1968? that cooled my ambitions to return and indeed, in my opinion, did more to utterly destroy the Merchant Service that I had known and loved even though it was only 5 years of my life.
Subsequently, when I looked at shipping news matters and saw the Service begin to fragment from what I had known I realised that maybe I would have had only a few more years before I would have been faced with making another decision about my future.
Getting back to the subject of the thread,........ I felt that Brocklebank gave me the opportunity to discover other worlds outside of Luton and at the same time treated me like a man and future gentleman, fed me well, paid me ok and above all gave me the chance to sail on some handsome ships and meet some fine people who I was happy to call Mates.
So endeth the sermon.

Tony Crompton
1st February 2006, 12:17
[QUOTE=Stuart Smith]IOne of my reasons was that I had met a young lady and we wanted to get married and she wasn't keen on me being away for 3 to 4 months at a time. What a fool I must have been as that particular romance was dead in the water even ]

That is the same reason I left Brocklebanks only we have now been married for 44years. When I said I was not coming back after 2nd Mates they did not even acknowledge my letter.
Tony C

michael james
1st February 2006, 15:50
Tony C.
I am sorry that you had that experience , most unlike them !

Derek Roger
1st February 2006, 16:12
Brocklebanks in addition to being the oldest company was a private one too owned by Sir John Brocklebank until the merger with Cunard when he became chairman of Cunard .

1st February 2006, 16:26
I had already verbally agreed to join Marconi as a Radio Officer when Brocklebank contacted me for an interview. I met their Radio Superintent, Ben Lonsdale, in Paddy Henderson's offices in Glasgow and was accepted on the spot - one of my better life-changing decisions. Better pay than Marconi, family atmosphere on the ships that I sailed on and, most importantly, I was a real member of the crew. As a Marconi R/O you were always an outsider and, at that time (1963), you were likely to find yourself on a dud ship stuck on the Indian coast for two years or on some rust-bucket because the depot clerk had taken a dislike to you.

Some Brocklebank ships were better than others but never once did I ever feel that I just wanted to get off. In retrospect, it was a great privilege to have worked for Brocklebank when I did and my only regret is that I didn't stay a bit longer.

All the best,


2nd February 2006, 20:15
I have only ever been at sea with Brocklebank, and the saddest day for me was when I left. Below is their letter to me when I resigned and it made it even harder.


http://img305.imageshack.us/img305/8475/brock7it.th.jpg (http://img305.imageshack.us/my.php?image=brock7it.jpg)

john g
10th February 2006, 13:48
They always treated you like a human not a number on the sea going staff register. The approach was to just get on with the job without much fuss, the disipline was always there but it tended to be self regulating.As an apprentice there were rules about booze but if you acted sensibly you got your fair wack and more.I remember in Colombo harbour the 2/0 from a Blue Funnel coming on board (mahout)with his airs and graces and being completely ko'd by the fact we had a bar with draught beer , air conditioning , and apprentices had bar acccounts for ale . Maybe another point was the crew Brocks were well thought of in Calcutta and crew tended to reappear on vessels. The food was pretty good and the chief steward always seemed to listen to moans and groans as I mentioned before officer rank was there but everyone seemed to talk....well established company with old fashioned values maybe (Brocks had bars Cunard had wardrooms !)

11th February 2006, 21:13
I remember in Calcutta as a fifth engineer on the MV Luxor being cold and went into breakfast in the morning wearing my Blues only to be stared at by everyone including the Captain who were wearing Whites, still no one made a comment.

Come lunchtime I thought I had better wear my Whites, feeling good I entered the dining saloon only to be confronted by everybody including the Captain in Blues. You could have cut the silence with a knife until the R/O said rather loudly, Barclay do you always have to be different from us. This broke the silence and we all had a good laugh.


20th February 2006, 15:28
Best Company that I ever worked for including shore jobs. (Applause)

3rd March 2006, 22:10
From the time I first discovered ships I always wanted to join T&J B's, I think the picture of Maidan in my Wonder Book of Ships is what did it. I never regreted it on day of my time with them. Yes some ships were better than others and in many cases the old ones were the best, I have very fond memories of the old Markhor. There was an atmosphere on a Brocks ship that I never found elsewhere, I can recall visits to P&O and Ellermans in Calcutta that left me cold. My guess is that in size Brocklebanks was just right, it wasn't often that you went on one of the ships in your 'half of the draw' and could not find someone you knew. The fact that we went to the same places all the time helped as well. We did some mad things but we were always on the ball when required. The company always treated us as valued individuals and not as somthing necessary but not very nice as was the case in some larger outfits. When I was there the company was still Brocklebanks and none of the Cunard influence was visable. The only other outfit that was almost as good was Bibby's which still is a family concern. It was sad day when Brocklebanks disappeared for good. The British Merchant Navy was the worse for it.