Begona

Fairfield
2nd October 2004, 17:33
Here/s a shot I took of MONTSERRAT/S running mate in Southampton in 1973.In the black looked very smart.

FILIPVS
21st April 2011, 03:00
Hi folks...

I live in Vigo so I have these 2 pictures of the "Begoņa" and "Montserrat" visiting the city.
The aerial view is the "Montserrat" in 1961. The other picture of the Begoņa I do not know the date.

The difference between the two vessels is "Montserrat" had a deck less. You can apreciate this in the pictures...

They were sailing in the route Southampton, Vigo, Tenerife, Port of Spain (Trinidad), La Guaira (Venezuela), Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Kingstown (Jamaica), Curaįao (Dutch Antilles) and back to Spain.

Regards

johno2449
21st April 2011, 18:44
Happy days. In my day (1969 -74) these ships arrived in Southampton carrying mostly Galicians who worked in the UK catering and domestic sector and Jamaicans who had settled here and had been visiting home. The port authorities sometimes boarded by tender in order to ensure a quick turn-round, most formalities being completed between Cowes Roads and Southampton. The Fundador was good.

asturbama
18th January 2012, 02:33
I was in the Begoņa in Oct 1974 when was adrift for several days in the middle of the atlantic. When in Tenerife having engine trouble was said whole not sail due to the nature of the damage but pressure from more than half of the passengers coming from Southampton destined to Kingston Jamaica forced the captain and the Trasatlantica Espaņola to sail to La Guaira Venezuela and then Kingston we did not make it. The engine died and there was a fire trying to restart it. And on October 12 after drifting for several days without electricity not food. My mother kept my brother and I alive thanks to tubes of condensed milk she had.bough in Tenerife and bottles of water she manage to get from the waiter that used to serve our table prior to the trouble. we were rescued and towed by the towboat Oceanic that came from Cape Verde. The towboat would not tow us to La Guaira or kinston because all the passengers would have been put on quarantine due to the risk of diseases. Intead they towed us to Barbados where no quarantine was would be issued, and then via airplane to Venezuela. Many of the Jamaican-British passengers revolted not wanting to leave all their baggage in the ship to be send via merchant ship. I don't know the outcome of that situation because our mother took us on the first.chance they had a.taxi to the airport and then to Venezuela. My father was frantic in Venezuela not having any news of us and the ship, all they told him there was no communications with the ship. I was 10 at the time and was a very traumatic time for me. I hope someone that was on the Begoņa then could contact me to talk about those moments. My email astursella@2005yahoo.com

R58484956
18th January 2012, 12:10
Greetings Asturbama and welcome to SN. An interesting story you have told. Bon voyage.

FILIPVS
6th May 2012, 16:42
I was in the Begoņa in Oct 1974 when was adrift for several days in the middle of the atlantic.

According my information, the ship was not drifting too much time. Before the sttopage, the ship have had many problems in the boilers, sailing at reduced speed during days. For this reason, as precautionary measure and beforehand, the Captain required one tug to escort the ship (german tug Oceanic). So when ship finally stopped, she was in a very isolated area of the Atlantic with no commercial routes near, but the salvage tug Oceanic was only 200 miles away.
I think that the tug could reach Begoņa's position in less than 24 hours.

johno2449
28th September 2012, 20:21
I ate a delicious spicy stew with rice for lunch in Southampton. One of my colleagues told the purser (whom we always referred to as "Napoleon") how we were all enjoying the meal and asked him what it was. He replied "Horse stew".

Sharon-T
18th October 2012, 10:15
My father sailed on the Begona in 1960 from Jamaica to Southampton via Vigo, spain. He told me fascinating stories about the passengers and treatment meted out to him. Thanks for the forum

TIM HUDSON
18th October 2012, 10:59
Hi there Filipvs
Check out my pic of Begona in Gallery, manoeuvring at Las Palmas 1962. Taken during my first deep sea voyage. Nice looking ship.
rgds Tim

dbrown
17th December 2012, 14:01
I was in the Begoņa in Oct 1974 when was adrift for several days in the middle of the atlantic. When in Tenerife having engine trouble was said whole not sail due to the nature of the damage but pressure from more than half of the passengers coming from Southampton destined to Kingston Jamaica forced the captain and the Trasatlantica Espaņola to sail to La Guaira Venezuela and then Kingston we did not make it. The engine died and there was a fire trying to restart it. And on October 12 after drifting for several days without electricity not food. My mother kept my brother and I alive thanks to tubes of condensed milk she had.bough in Tenerife and bottles of water she manage to get from the waiter that used to serve our table prior to the trouble. we were rescued and towed by the towboat Oceanic that came from Cape Verde. The towboat would not tow us to La Guaira or kinston because all the passengers would have been put on quarantine due to the risk of diseases. Intead they towed us to Barbados where no quarantine was would be issued, and then via airplane to Venezuela. Many of the Jamaican-British passengers revolted not wanting to leave all their baggage in the ship to be send via merchant ship. I don't know the outcome of that situation because our mother took us on the first.chance they had a.taxi to the airport and then to Venezuela. My father was frantic in Venezuela not having any news of us and the ship, all they told him there was no communications with the ship. I was 10 at the time and was a very traumatic time for me. I hope someone that was on the Begoņa then could contact me to talk about those moments. My email astursella@2005yahoo.com

Hi my name is David. I was also on the Begona in 1974. I am the eldest of then five children for my mother who was on the boat when it left Southampton on 10th September 1974. My father stayed back in London as he had not sold a couple of houses he had.

I was ever so glad to finally hear from someone who was actually on the boat back then. I am still looking for pictures of the Begona but so far am unsuccessful.

I was 15 years old at when I entered the boat. My youngest brother was just two years old. My recollection is the boat was a Spanish liner whose original captain was not on board as he told his bosses he didn't think the boat would actually make the journey to the West indies. We set of on 10th September 1974, went to Spain, Tenneriffe and then set off across the Atlantic. Three days later the boat not only broke down, but started taking in water and listed. We ran out of food, water and the large fams that were on the three lower decks stopped spinning. This meant that below decks were so hot and uncomfortable, that many brought their mattresses to the dinning room and other places where they could sleep. We did that a few nights too. There was a lot of choas during this time as lots of people had children and babies and there was no food or water made available to them. The racial segregation of black and non black restaurants added to the already stressful situation. My mother struggled to get food for us and especially my two year old brother. He was still on bottle at the time and I remember the moment he took it out of his mouth and threw it in the ocean.

An SOS was sent out and the Oceanic (which was then the largest tug boat in the world) picked up our SOS and came and towed us to barbadoes. The first thing they did was give all the children a bowl of porridge which went down well after days of not eating properly. The Oceanic took three days to get us to barbadoes. It took another three days to fly out all the passengers to their various destinations. We flew out to Jamaica on the third day. We had two large crates on board which we eventually received. I witnessed other crates in the large holding areas on the boat damages and many things scattered. they were held behing large giant bars so no one could actually reach some things, but others were actually at hands reach.

Funny point. My dad had a minibus whcih he brought over from the UK when he eventuall came over to join us in Jamaica. The minibus kept breaking down and we (the kids) nicked named it begona.

It was a time I will never forget. My mother who is still alive, started writing a book about the experience. it is still to be published. I can be contacted on email: lwcc1uk@yahoo.co.uk if anyone wishes to contact me regarding their experience of pictures of the Begona.

FILIPVS
18th December 2012, 13:01
My recollection is the boat was a Spanish liner whose original captain was not on board as he told his bosses he didn't think the boat would actually make the journey to the West indies.

In Madrid there were contacts with Cunard to buy the FRANCONIA in order to substitute the old Begoņa. Finally no purchase agreement was signed with Cunard... and Begoņa was not retired.

So, the company told the Captain that Begoņa had to be provisionally repaired and make one more trip...
The Captain was in time to go home for rest, so the chf officer took the command of the ship in Vigo.

Regards and thanks to Tim for the photo!!!(Thumb)

FILIPVS
9th January 2013, 10:21
Hi there

Well, some years ago last Begoņa's Captain (Mr Carlos Peņa Alvear) wrote his professional memories. I attach here a picture of the book's cover whith one Begoņa included in it (this paint was made by the Captain I think). The book was published in Spain and in reduced quantity. But I have one, so If anybody want ask something about book's contents, pls do not hesitate in ask here. I will translate to english all info that you need.

Samsette
4th April 2013, 06:56
Did any nation, other than Spain and Holland, convert the wartime-built Victory type ships into passenger ships?

FILIPVS
10th April 2013, 00:26
Did any nation, other than Spain and Holland, convert the wartime-built Victory type ships into passenger ships?

Also Italy. In fact, the ss"BEGOŅA" was the ex-CASTEL BIANCO (1957) and she was, together CASTEL VERDE, part of the SITMAR (http://www.simplonpc.co.uk/Sitmar.html) fleet before being adquired by Spain. Both ships were Victories converted in liners

Samsette
10th April 2013, 06:25
Thanks for that, Fil.

FILIPVS
10th April 2013, 16:26
Thanks for that, Fil.

Glad to help. I forgot to mention six Argentine vessels, all of them Victory type ship converted in emigrant ships.
After WW2 Argentina opened doors to emigration from Europe. About five millions of europeans went there (mainly from Italy and Spain). And these ships were adquired to be employed in this service and were converted in italian shipyards. The ships were:

CORDOBA ex-Nyv Victory
MENDOZA ex-William and Mary Victory
BUENOS AIRES ex-Smith Victory
SANTA FE ex-Gustavus Victory
TUCUMAN ex- La Crose Victory
ENTRE RIOS ex-Rock Hill Victory

All were part of COMPAŅIA DE NAVEGACION ALBERTO DODERO (http://www.histarmar.com.ar/BuquesMercantesArgAnt/CiaArgdeNavDodero-06-1947.htm).

ben27
12th April 2013, 03:06
good morning filipvs,yesterday.00:26.re:begona.i have watched your clip re:compania de navigation.very informative.great photos.and historical content.great post,p.s your English is o.k.i don't think many menbers speak Spanish?have a good day,ben27

KatyG
28th July 2013, 12:30
My father sailed on the Begona in 1960 from Jamaica to Southampton via Vigo, spain. He told me fascinating stories about the passengers and treatment meted out to him. Thanks for the forum

Hello Sharon-T, my Father also sailed on the Begona in 1960 and I would be grateful if you could share some of your Father's stories with me as I do find history very intriguing. My late Father passed in April of this year and I would love to hear from others who also had parents that travelled on the Begona in 1960.(*)) I am new to Ship Nostalgia and I am loving it already.

MauriceHall
7th January 2014, 06:22
This is a fascinating forum. I travelled with my parents from Southampton to Kingston in January 1969 on the Begona. I was amazed to find a picture of the ship in this forum and I have some memories of the journey. Both of my parents have now passed on so it fills me with great nostalgia to hear stories of what happened to that venerable ship. I don't know when it went out of service, but this ship and the Montserrat were famous in Jamaica for taking people to and from England as they emigrated back and forth between the former colonies and the "Mother Land."

KatyG
7th January 2014, 09:35
Hello Maurice, I am not always on the site due to time constraints. Is it possible that I could supply you with a contact number and I can hear what information that you have you. Not only do I like to hear about history about the Begona but also to share your parents experiences of what they endeavoured when they came to England. Kat

FILIPVS
21st January 2014, 00:33
Begoņa was a really little ship. Here we can see her in Tenerife between two giants!! But she was the best liner of Spain during years.

She was transfered to Cia Trasatlántica Espaņola on 16th march of 1957. Her first captain under spanish flag was Jesus Meana Brun. Her firtst trip was Barcelona-Genova-Naples-Coruņa-Vigo-Tenerife-La Guaira.
During first years she had white hull. Later she was painted in black (also the funnel) which was the company colour from XIX century.

In 1958 she called in Southampton for first time. She was the first spanish liner calling in that port in 20 years!! The trip was Southampton, Bilbao,Santander,Coruņa,Vigo,Cadiz,Las Palmas,,Tenerife,,LaGuaira,Cartagena de Indias,Kingstown,Curacao,,LaGuaira, Trinidad,,Tenerife,Vigo,Santander and Southampton again. Tge capacity was 830 pasengers in an un ique class. On main deck there were two saloon and dinner room. There was a swiming pool on the stern. All cabins were for two, four or eight persons with bathroom (and air condition installed in 1962).

In 1965 she was in charge of salvage of norwegian cutter Mary Norman in front of Grenada (antilles) being the crew disembarked in La Guaira and sent to Norway by the embassy of such country.

In 1970 she carried one monument of Simon Bolivar...

FILIPVS
21st January 2014, 14:43
Begoņa 1957 ex-Castel Bianco 1947 ex-Vassar Victory 1945 (photo)

purvisgary
22nd July 2014, 21:45
are their any photos of the ship Entre Rios or Rockhill Victory ?Glad to help. I forgot to mention six Argentine vessels, all of them Victory type ship converted in emigrant ships.
After WW2 Argentina opened doors to emigration from Europe. About five millions of europeans went there (mainly from Italy and Spain). And these ships were adquired to be employed in this service and were converted in italian shipyards. The ships were:

CORDOBA ex-Nyv Victory
MENDOZA ex-William and Mary Victory
BUENOS AIRES ex-Smith Victory
SANTA FE ex-Gustavus Victory
TUCUMAN ex- La Crose Victory
ENTRE RIOS ex-Rock Hill Victory

All were part of COMPAŅIA DE NAVEGACION ALBERTO DODERO (http://www.histarmar.com.ar/BuquesMercantesArgAnt/CiaArgdeNavDodero-06-1947.htm).

David Buff
2nd November 2014, 01:56
Hi Forum
I am happy I found this blog as I have been long searching for fellow passengers of the ill fated final voyage of the "BIGONA" that queen of the Atlantic sea to exchange experiences.
My experience began back in 1966 when my late Grandmother traveled from Port of Spain, Trinidad to Southampton, England to take care of me, 2 years old at the time. In 1966 I accompanied my Grandmother on the return trip to Trinidad and then went back to England in 1968, needless to say I was to young to remember those early voyages and I guess they were uneventful since I never heard any stories to the contrary.(Thumb)
In 1974 my Mother was "divinely inspired" to emigrate back to the land of her birth along with me 10 and my two sisters 2 & 3 at the time. My Father was to follow Christmas of the same year after finalizing the sale of the house and business. Prior to securing passage with full payment the sailing was postponed twice due to the vessel being repaired in dry dock. During that time they (my parents) put our Stoke Newington home on the market. By September when a buyer began the purchase it was announced that the ship was finally ready for what was to be her final trek across the Atlantic. My mother proceeded to purchase passage but by this time all the lower fares were sold out and only cabins above deck were available for a premium price of course... but little did she know that this would turn out to be the greatest blessing when the tide turned after disaster struck upon leaving Tenerife.
On September 27th 1974 we along with approximately 800 souls departed Southampton to the shouts and tears of joy from friends and relatives to what was to become an EPIC journey. As the custom was back in the day we also had all our earthly possessions neatly packed in 6 large crates and two trunks. New furniture and household appliances in three, food stuff in one and my fathers tools and other used and personal items in the last two. (more about these at the end of this tale) The trunks accompanied us in the cabin with a view (Gleam)(Gleam) and the crates were in a large shaft in the middle of the ship. I could see my family jewels through the very large prison bar like en-closer from certain stair wells which were really out of bounds to adults but prime exploring turf for a young adventurer.(Thumb) It was this same adventurous curiosity which gave me a unique vantage point for what was to unfold in the coming weeks.

Tune in to part 2 for my recollection of the "Middle Passage" I would love to hear more from others to enhance my understanding of the events that unfolded.

David Buff
3rd November 2014, 17:12
Hi all
Unfortunately from my research I cannot find recollections of the events that truly encompass the full story and by "full story" I mean the emotions like Joy, Fair, Despair or any that capture the heroics of the Captain- Jose Luis Tome Barrado (please excuse the lack of accents for the Spanish names) and his crew 120 strong. Nor do they capture the prays of the 800 plus passengers or the anxiety of expectant family and friends at their respective destinations in Venezuela, Trinidad, Jamaica and other islands on which the ship did not call but had natives on board. And how about some respect for that Faithful old Lady- The BEGONA 29 Years old at the time, for decades she had survived war as the Victory, ferried countless Australian migrants as the CASTEL BIANCO and who can underestimate her role in shaping the immigration of Spain and England with countless migrants criss crossing the Atlantic from the respective Mother Lands and there past and present colonies as the "BEGONA."

In an age where Trans-Atlantic travel via jet planes is as easy as boarding a bus it is hard for some of the younger generations to truly appreciate what our for parents went through to secure a better life for us and the BEGONA played her part in this rich history- Thanks Transatlantic{Trasatlantica} her owners from Spain for your Vision.(Thumb)

To those unsung Heroes who sailed on that Massive Powerful tug THE OCEANIC (the largest in the world at the time) Thank you for coming to our rescue and literally finding "a needle in a hay stack" and providing us with much needed bread, water and light as well as the tow to Barbados. It might have been all in a day's work for you guys but to us you were God sent... Thanks

No Tribute would be complete without thanking GOD for sparing the lives of the entire cast and crew on board in 1974 when in the middle of the hurricane season(Cloud) we sat in the middle of the Atlantic with a big hole in the middle of the haul slowly sinking to what could have been a watery grave. Again thanks to GOD not one life boat was launched and all on board were saved.

My Name is David and I was there and survived to tell the tale.:rolleyes:

Stay tuned for intriguing part 3 (life on board)

David Buff
4th November 2014, 04:51
Hi All
This segment is dedicated to all who were too young to remember, too old to care and to those who have been longing to know what the real scoop was- Just what really happened in the Mid Atlantic four Decades ago??
Well the journey started on the 27th Oct. 1974 When 800 + passengers, 120 crew and Captain Jose Luis Tome Barrado boarded the Bigona in Southampton, England and set sail for the West Indies with scheduled stops in Vigo, Spain and Tenerife before crossing the Atlantic to Kingston, Jamaica, Port of Spain, Trinidad and La Guaira, Venezuela.
Apart from the fact that the voyage had been postponed twice prior to this date due to repairs been carried out in dry dock none of the passengers could have suspected what would unfold in the coming weeks. Possibly the ships Regular Captain- Captain Alvear Carlos Peņa had a premonition because after pleading with his company (Transatlantica) to postpone the voyage until everything was ship shape and they paid him no heed, he took his vacation which was due and his second in command took charge.

Among the throng of excited Passengers was a young mother 29 at the time her 10 year old son and two daughters age 2 & 3. It was probably just coincidence but worthy to note that the two ladies- the BIGONA and Mother were the same age. You probably figured it out by now- the boy was me and no one could have been more excited and ready for adventure.

We were escorted to our cabin on the port side upper deck a modest home away from home for the journey. It had a double bunk full toilet and bath and a nice big oval shaped port window that could open for fresh air even though the cabin was air conditioned. Later this feature would prove to be our saving grace. By Most standards the BIGONA was of modest size 455' long by 62' wide but what she lacked in size she made up for in features.

She had a beautiful swimming pool in her stern bounded by a nice recreational area, several dining rooms, lounges and a cinema where among her amenities. I would like to state categorically for the record that no area of the vessel was segregated by race - she was outfitted and marketed as a single class vessel. For obvious reasons a ticket for a cabin above deck cost more than one below but they were all fitted out basically the same - there were 2,4 & 8 person capacity cabins. In order to avoid chaos groups of cabin numbers were assigned different dining areas but the menus were the same and all the dining areas were beautiful and clean with their gleaming white table cloths and silverware on each table, the service was 5 star. I REPEAT no racial segregation for any areas on the vessel.

My personal favorite pass time outside of exploring every nook and crany of the ship was watching people shoot skeet's... PULL. There was lots of night life too but I was too young to participate so i can,t comment on the after dark activities save remembering happy people passing by my port hole window. By night I slept but by day I was the "Great Indiana Jones of the High Seas". From the crack of dawn to sun down it was my time... yea baby! It was this said spirit for adventure which led me to witness two off the most game changing events of the voyage.

From the Bridge to the engine room and all points in between the crew new this little curly haired explorer. I would go chat with the captain and even though my Spanish was English and his English was limited we communicated just fine. Little did I know that later on my knit with the captain and crew was going to be worth its weight in gold for my family and me.

Part of my daily routine was to watch the water foam and go by as the ship cut through it so when we left Spain the drop in speed was noted but I thought nothing more of it at the time. When we left Tenerife the drop in speed was much more noticeable and confirmed that the ship was not 100% but I didn't care I got to see more dolphins.(==D)

That's all for now folks till the next installment "the Middle Passage"

David Buff
5th November 2014, 03:44
Well folks
For those who have followed me on this journey to this installment you are in for a treat so strap on your life vest and enjoy the voyage.

It was a beautiful sunshine glowing, fresh breeze blowing morning October 3rd 1974 when to the thunderous BORRN....! of the BEGONA's fog horn we sailed into Tenerife's picturesque harbor aglow with the colors of the rainbow.(Jester) This scene was in stark contrast to the Monotone cloud covered dreary looking Southampton port we had sailed out of about a week past.(Cloud)

We joined an excited bee line of passengers heading down the gangway to mingle with the natives of this delightful little town, once on the ground it was shopping and site seeing. My Mother took the opportunity to buy a post card (as was the custom before instant messaging) stamped and mailed it to her big sister in Trinidad. I suspect she didn't realize that the mail service of the day depended on the same vessel she was on to get her card to its final destination. So the message read in part " Ship limping may arrive a few day's late". No wander young folk use terms like "Snail Mail" when referring to our very efficient... mail era.

After a beautiful stop over it was time to say Bon-voyage to Tenerife and head out into the big blue Atlantic. Oct. 4th early morning big commotion on deck, angry passengers mobbing the Captain...I was too young to venture into such a situation so it was only after reading someone else's blog that the true nature of the hostilities was revealed.(Cloud) And it all adds up because what I do clearly recall is guards were posted at the entrance to the Bridge and Captains Quarters from then on. Of course all the crew knew the curly head little explorer was no threat to the Captain as a matter of fact we were friends so my visiting rights were never curtailed by the guards. By the way the commotion was set in motion because the Captain wanted to end the journey there believing the vessel would not make the trip due to the mechanical issues but the majority Jamaican delegation would have none of that so they pretty much forced his hand... a decision they must have come to regret in the ensuing days.(Frogger)

After we left Tenerife it was easy to see from the small wake at the aft of the vessel that we were not even going half our normal speed but for the time being we were moving....Yea! Then came that faithful morning Oct. 6th as my custom was I was up at the crack of dawn pairing over the balcony, we were motionless because the water had stopped speeding by. While my gaze was fixed on the dark blue water a loud Todd... was heard and I saw with my own two eyes - a large green fire ball whooshed out from the side of the ship below the waterline. My instant thought was that we were under attack from a submarine and a torpedo had just burst through our hull. I quickly scurried up to the bridge were for the first time there seemed to be pandemonium and the Captain could not talk to me. I then ran down many flights of steps in route to the engine room but was turned back by the ships mechanics that were hastily running up the stairs. Something big was going down.... The Ship.... literally. I ran to our cabin to tell my mother. There was no message over the loud speakers but everyone knew the unthinkable was taking place but to this day I believe I was the only person out of the 1000 + souls on board that actually saw the moment when disaster struck because I do not recall any one else looking over the side when the flash of the fire ball shot out and disappeared as fast as it came.(Ouch)(EEK)

Till next time the saga will continue with the next installment (The Middle Passage 2)