City Of Oxford

Fairfield
21st October 2004, 14:11
John Brown built for Ellerman in 1948 and was Sir John/s "yacht".Taken in 1975 departing from Glasgow.
She was scrapped in 1978 as UNION ARABIA.

Chouan
8th June 2007, 11:41
Nice looking ship, but horrible to sail on, I was told. Really poor accomodation, and the bizarre requirements of Sir John and his favourite Master to take into account.

charding
3rd November 2011, 00:30
I did my first trip as aprentice on the City of Oxford in October 1970 when we sailed from Liverpool to S Africa and Mozambique. We popped into Southampton on the way to pick up Sir John Ellerman, his wife and a group of friends and delivered them to Capetown. No cargo was loaded or discharged in either Southampton or Capetown, just the owner and his companions. The detours must have added a couple of days to the voyage.

Sir John was a very private man and the boat deck was completely surrounded by canvas screens to protect his modesty. We were allowed to use the internal stair to reach the saloon for meals within a very tight timeframe so we wouldn't bump into the owner but at all other times we had to use the external ladders.

F C O'Neil RD RNR was the master and he was a strange man. I also did my first trip as 3/0 on the Oxford with F C O'Neil again the master. He had no great regard for me.

Ron Stringer
3rd November 2011, 07:37
Sir John was a very private man and the boat deck was completely surrounded by canvas screens to protect his modesty.

Apparently that was his normal way of travel between the UK-SA-UK. He took over the entire passenger acccommodation on one of the 12-passenger ships and the ship's complement were kept away from that deck.

F C O'Neil RD RNR was the master and he was a strange man. I also did my first trip as 3/0 on the Oxford with F C O'Neil again the master.

A strange man as you say and a miserable shipmate. On the City of Lucknow he relieved Bernard Theodore Wortley for one voyage. Everyone moaned about BTW but they were all very relieved to have him back.

He had no great regard for me.

.... or anyone else other than himself.

Having those two in succession soured my view of Blue Ensign masters for some years afterwards.

andy88up.
4th November 2011, 13:37
Sailed on City of Oxford from April 1962 to April 1963, my final voyages as apprentice. We did the East Africa run, then next trip out to Calcutta to take up the Canada-India run. One of my favourite ships despite Capt T Lovell, who was worse than the RNR Capts. I sailed on five of the 12 pass. ships, on Manchester and Coventry with JRE.
RNR Masters I sailed with were EHD Routledge, TM Williams, both Manchester,
BT Wortley on Ottawa, RS Steel on Exeter, FC O'Neill on Coventry and PE.
Possibly more, but I certainly had my fill of them.
Went up the P. Gulf with BT Wortley in the summer of 65 as 2nd mate on the Ottawa, and he actually relaxed some of his RNR rules, but objected to me wearing red socks with my khakis.
Andy.

John Gurton
4th November 2011, 17:48
He had no great regard for me.[/QUOTE]

Join the gang !
1st day on board I was 1 minute late blowing the whistle at 0800 for the flags to go up. Downhill from there.
Said I was wasting my time doing a moon sight on the meridian one afternoon.
Last rant (pay off day )was when I switched the ensign from the gaff to the stern whilst in the locks at Hull and not when secure alongside.
Certainly glad to pay off, even got to my pals wedding reception that evening, whoop whoop !!!
I heard he was diabetic, which didn't help I'm sure.

Union Jack
4th November 2011, 19:13
Went up the P. Gulf with BT Wortley in the summer of 65 as 2nd mate on the Ottawa, and he actually relaxed some of his RNR rules, but objected to me wearing red socks with my khakis

If I may be allowed to drop in, John's tale couldn't help reminding me of the time when we had the Commodore Naval Forces Gulf (CNFG) embarked for a trip to Karachi. CNFG was leaning over the port bridge wing as we left Bahrain, wearing khakis as a former aviator, whilst the rest of us were in whites, when the port lookout, an ordinary seaman, was heard to say to him, "Excuse me, Sub, but don't let the Jimmy (the First Lieutenant) catch you wearing wearing those purple socks"! What the Commodore thought or said about the matter is not recorded but, curiously enough, but very shortly afterwards the First Lieutenant made a broadcast welcoming him on board, emphasising that CNFG could be recognised by the thick stripe on his shoulder straps .....(Ouch)

This broadcast notwithstanding, the rest of us all referred thereafter to the Commodore as the "thick-ringed Sub Liieutenant"! (Thumb)

Jack

Ron Stringer
4th November 2011, 19:54
Just checked my DB and see that I actually sailed with F.C. O'Neill twice on the City of Lucknow, both coasting round the UK after deep sea trips with B.T Wortley.

I see I also sailed with another Master on her on the UK coast but can't read his signature. Does anyone recognise this man?

andy88up.
5th November 2011, 16:18
Hi Ron,
My first thoughts are that I recognise the signature as that of Capt. R Frame, (Dicky). I coasted with him once, on the City of Exeter in 66, but he didn't sign my DB, as I was on the deep sea voyage to follow.
Regards, Andy.

andy88up.
5th November 2011, 16:23
Hi Jack,
Great story about the purple socks. As a poor 2nd mate, I was reprimanded for wearing the red socks, and didn't dare do so again that particular voyage.
Regards, Andy.

Ron Stringer
5th November 2011, 18:46
Hi Ron,
My first thoughts are that I recognise the signature as that of Capt. R Frame, (Dicky). I coasted with him once, on the City of Exeter in 66, but he didn't sign my DB, as I was on the deep sea voyage to follow.
Regards, Andy.

Thanks Andy. I have no recollection whatever of him. However we were coasting so the OM would have spent most of his time dealing with shore-side wallahs of one sort or another and we would not have seen so much of him as we would have done deep sea.

Nova Scotian
6th November 2011, 13:10
I remember the City of Oxford in Durban during the early seventies. I was on the City of Winchester at the time. If I recall correctly, the blue ensign was replaced with a red ensign whenever the master was away from the vessel.

woodend
6th November 2011, 14:20
One comment neither Sir John nor said Master ever interfered with the Pilot, you were introduced on boarding and left to get on with it!

funnelstays
5th December 2011, 01:40
Hi Ron,
My first thoughts are that I recognise the signature as that of Capt. R Frame, (Dicky). I coasted with him once, on the City of Exeter in 66, but he didn't sign my DB, as I was on the deep sea voyage to follow.
Regards, Andy.

I concur I sailed with Captain Frame in 1973 on the City of Canterbury/Cap Cleveland/City of Adelaide

westy57
1st April 2012, 15:43
Regarding comments about Capt F C O'Neill. I did my first trip to see as a deck cadet on the City Of Oxford in Sept 1969 (It was the usual autumn trip to take JRE to South Africa). He never spoke directly to the cadets as he would tell the 3/0 or 2/O to tell the cadet or 'snotty' what to do. I also did my last trip with him on the City of Liverpool in 1973. I found him to be a totally different character when you were the officer of the watch. I had some some very interesting conversations in the evenings with him when he came up to do his night order book. At least you knew where you stood with him - much better than some that I met later at sea!!

Pat Kennedy
1st April 2012, 19:08
As stated in the initial posting, this ship was Sir John Ellerman's 'yacht'. Apparently he sailed in her every year to spend a few months in East Africa.
I was driving the crane at no 4 hatch while loading her in Birkenhead, sometime in the late 60s, when word came that Sir John was arriving the following day. Meanwhile a furniture van pulled up beside the ship and a grand piano was landed on the quay. The dockers put a rope sling on it and I hoiked it up onto the after end of the boat deck.
The following morning some Ellerman functionaries appeared on the quay and unrolled a red carpet from the shed gate to the bottom of the accomodation ladder.
Then they waited by the shed gate to greet their boss.
After a bit, a stooped elderly chap appeared from another gate and scurried across to the ship and was up the gangway like a rat up a drainpipe, to the consternation of the welcoming committee.
Sir John, for it was he, disappeared into the accomodation without a backward glance. his uniformed chauffer followed with a couple of cases and a cage with some rats in it. It seemed rats were his main interest, his ships and their crews came a long way behind.
regards,
Pat(Jester)

Tim Gibbs
6th April 2012, 18:49
Did my "steam time" the 'Oxford in, I think, 1970 and my final tip as C/E in 1972 on the coast on her and got caught up with the burning of the British Embassy in Dublin.
Sir John was strange but not entirely without compassion as he allowed the vessel to divert to give medical assistance to the Esso Ulidia which had suffered a boiler explosion off the west coast of Africa. His wife was very charming - spent several happy hours in her bathroom try to fix the electrics which she seemed to often manage to flood with water!

andy88up.
7th April 2012, 13:11
In the 50's and 60's, Ellermans had 14 twelve passenger steamships, of which 10 were of the City of Oxford class,(1948-50) and 4 were of the City of New York class. (1947)
There were always 4 of them on the South Africa Run, and JRE sailed on whichever one coincided with his travel dates.
I remember he went South on the City of Chicago in 1960, and had the Captain alter course to chase porpoises in the S Atlantic. This was reported in the daily papers. He came North on the City of Manchester in the spring of 1961. Also the City of Coventry in 1966.
The City of Oxford was mainly employed on the Canada-India run then, as I know from my time there. She would have come into her own in the 70's as the last steamer in the Ellerman group.
12 Passenger steamers were Hull, Pretoria, New York, London. (older)
then Birmingham, Brooklyn, Chicago, Coventry, Liverpool, Manchester, Ottawa, Oxford, Perth, and Philadelphia. Whichever one he sailed on was his private yacht for that particular voyage.
Andy

andyjp
27th July 2012, 11:18
Hi there. I made my first trip to sea on the "City of Oxford" in early 1973. It could have been my last as it was not a particularly pleasant experience.

We picked up Sir John in Cape Town and brought him back to Southampton, calling only to drop him off then off to Hull to discharge the cargo.

I remember Commodore O'Neil well and the strict rules that were applied while the owner was aboard. I think it was his last voyage (Sir John's) and he died shortly afterwards.

I remember the third Mate well, Angus, I think his name was, he kept me sane and told me to have at least one more trip because the City of Oxford was not typical of life at sea with Ellermans. He was right and I went on to have a career with Ellermans until 1985, I have continued in the Merchant Navy until the current day.

There were some characters on board, I remebmber an Irish Carpenter, A Doctor who liked his pop and the Welsh Mate.

As a first trip apprentice life was pretty uncomfortable, but it was the launching pad of my career and so now I can look back at it without too much ill feeling.

Ron Stringer
27th July 2012, 18:01
When I joined the "City of Lucknow" (a steam turbine vessel) in Birkenhead in 1962, her accommodation had already been converted from carrying 12 passengers to 25 navigation cadets and their instructors. Built in 1946, she was originally one of a class of five approximately 10,000 gross tonnage (500-foot long, 64-foot beam, 30-foot draft) 12-passenger ships constructed immediately post-war for Ellerman Lines; the others of the class were City of Khartoum, City of Swansea, City of Poona and City of Carlisle. I was told that prior to the conversion she had frequently been used by Sir John for trips to S.A. I don't know if any of the others in her class were also used by Sir John.

I left her in 1964, on return to the UK following a RTW trip (a sort of abbreviated MANZ run missing out NZ) but some 6 months later she was sold out of the fleet. I think that she may have ceased to sail as an apprentice-training ship at the end of the voyage when I left. She traded for a further 8 years before being broken up in Taiwan.

If it was smooth running that Sir John was seeking, he couldn't have chosen a better ship.

As an aside, can anyone offer any information as to where and when her conversion was made to an apprentice-training ship?

andy88up.
27th July 2012, 23:18
Hi Ron,
I went to sea in 1959 and the Lucknow was a cadet ship then. I managed to avoid her, but did sail on her sister ship in 1960 and 1961. (City of Durham) The passenger accommodation was mothballed then.
Carlisle, Durham, and Lucknow were steamships with diesel auxilliaries, whereas Khartoum, Poona and Swansea were motor vessels, and went to Ben Line in their latter years in the late 60's.

Regards, Andy C.

Tim Gibbs
28th July 2012, 05:24
Ah! City of Poona - how could one forget! I did a trip on her in 1966 as 3/E, I think. Best discribed as character forming.

Ron Stringer
28th July 2012, 08:48
Carlisle, Durham, and Lucknow were steamships with diesel auxilliaries, whereas Khartoum, Poona and Swansea were motor vessels, and went to Ben Line in their latter years in the late 60's.

Regards, Andy C.

Thanks for that, Andy. I had always thought that they were all of a class and were all engined the same. Mind you I never got aboard any of the others, our paths never crossed. Went aboard the Karachi and two of the Big Four, where things were very different indeed.

stoker
22nd August 2012, 11:34
Hi Ron,
.
Carlisle, Durham, and Lucknow were steamships with diesel auxilliaries, whereas Khartoum, Poona and Swansea were motor vessels, and went to Ben Line in their latter years in the late 60's.

Regards, Andy C.

I coasted on the Swansea in '69, as 2/Eng. she was then the Benkitlan,
We had moved into the Passenger accommodation, I had a nice cabin, I get mixed up with what ship had what these days but I do remember the mushroom scavenge pump between nos. 3 and 4 cylinders, I can't imagine the overall length of the crankshaft, probably twice as long as today's engines of the same horsepower.
One thing I can't forget, the ammonia fridge plant at the top of the Engine Room, never a blocked nose with one of those about!. Most importantly a good crowd, happy days!.

Tim Gibbs
22nd August 2012, 13:04
That centre scavenge pump was something else! I remember going down the Red Sea and sailing through a huge cloud of flies or ants. Part of this black cloud was drawn into the ER through the skylights in steps of about a foot at a time - in time with the strokes of the scavenge pump! Pity there were no mobile phones or YouTube in those day!
Another memory of that pump - I seemed to spend a lot of time inside it fixing the valves and I always checked and double checked that I had the turning gear fuses with me!

A.D.FROST
22nd August 2012, 13:13
I coasted on the Swansea in '69, as 2/Eng. she was then the Benkitlan,
We had moved into the Passenger accommodation, I had a nice cabin, I get mixed up with what ship had what these days but I do remember the mushroom scavenge pump between nos. 3 and 4 cylinders, I can't imagine the overall length of the crankshaft, probably twice as long as today's engines of the same horsepower.
One thing I can't forget, the ammonia fridge plant at the top of the Engine Room, never a blocked nose with one of those about!. Most importantly a good crowd, happy days!.

6cyl.Barclay Curle/Doxford(Thumb)

Chris Field
27th August 2012, 02:29
Re the J.R.Elleman memories earlier, I was apprentice on "City of London" between 1954 and 55- one trip to/from S.Africa we carried two really nice older ladies. One was Lady Ellerman- a nice gentle soul who even shouted us lads a beer on occasion- quite unlike her hubby by the sound of it. The other was the wife of one of those S.African families that owned half the world's diamonds - Mrs. Oppenheimer?- she spent most of her day on the boat deck knitting clothes for her new granddaughter in UK, my occasional job was to rescue the ball of wool heading for the ship's side as we rolled.

DocEvans
30th March 2014, 01:39
I was ship's surgeon on the City of Oxford for one voyage out to East Africa in late 1973. It was at the time of the oil crisis and we had come back at half speed– the supply of wine only just lasted. Freddie O'Neill was the captain and his wife was on board as well. We had 12 passengers, some of whom did the whole round voyage. Sir John Ellerman had died the previous year. I remember that Kerry was 2/0 and Chris was 3/0. Great experience and memories, particularly ashore in Mombasa and at the Sunshine club.

Paul Evans

Andy Lucas
16th April 2014, 11:45
I sailed on the Oxford in '71 as 3/0 and had my 21st on there, Capt (Liverpool) Roberts made a point of making all spaces available to us - which as we were fully crewed for Sir John we could get Haircuts, Massages and use of the Verandah Cafe ( with Barman ) - Padda Tennis court on Flush Hatch No. 3, not forgetting the Swimming Pool ! The only thing we couldnt use was the blue plastic liner for the pool so with the canvas liner only it was a weird experience swimming underwater at night! On the Calcutta run, with Tim Seaman C/O

Michael Taylor
16th April 2014, 13:41
Checking my discharge book and see I was C/O on the Oxford for a coastal voyage Sept/Oct '72. We had passengers and if I remember we spent most of the time checking out the new fangled oil rigs