King Alfred

24th July 2007, 21:19
i was wondering if anybody might have a picture of the union castle ship the King Alfred.I think she would have been sailing sometime in the 60s/70s.

nobby s
25th July 2007, 16:14
Hi Ryan. I'm pretty sure the ship you are trying to trace doesn't exist. If it does then it isnt or wasnt with the U/C line. The nearest I can even imagine would be the "Winchester Castle". Winchester being where King Alfreds statue stands. Can you come up with any more info???

non descript
25th July 2007, 16:39
Chris, the only King Alfred that I know of from that era was the Bulk Carrier owned by British & Commonwealth, launched 02.04.68 and delivered in September 1968 - she was 55,120dwt and built at Eriksbergs at Gothenburg. She traded almost exclusively in the trans-atlantic coal and ore trades.

25th July 2007, 18:12
I think you are right,i'm looking for the ship for a mate who sailed on her.he said she was union castle, i will get back to him to look in his discharge book, then get back to you.

Bruce Carson
25th July 2007, 18:54
The Union Castle and its associated companies (Houston, Scottish Shire, Natal, King, etc.,) merged in 1956 as the British & Commonwealth Shipping Co. Ltd.

Locking Splice
25th July 2007, 19:10
Hi Chris,

She does exist, probably like many the Discharge stamp will be Cayzer Irvine, their were quite a lot of Union Castle lads on their bulkers and most of them would say just Union Castle because of the collective companies under their flag. On the pool we always thought of them as Union Castle, however too the purists thats probably wrong. Will keep looking.

Best Regards


Brian Dobbie
25th July 2007, 19:25
The King Alfred does exist, I sailed on it in 1970. She traded between Japan and Australia at that time.
Bulk carrier with a large B&W down below.
I think the model used to be in Lowestoft College, least it was when I did the STCW95 Survival Course.


nobby s
25th July 2007, 21:55
I stand corrected. As pointed out by Tonga there was a "King Alfred" under the flag of British & Commonwealth. Being a purist as stated by Locking Splice, to me only ships ending in 'castle' are of the U/C line. I do apologise and will mend my ways. By the way I believe B&C were phased out in about 1973 , is that correct?

Brian Dobbie
26th July 2007, 09:12
I left B&C in 1975 and they were still going.
The Scottish Eagle was in the Falklands business in 1983 and I think she was managed by B&C.
So not really sure when they finally finished.
No doubt the information will be available from a SN memeber


Locking Splice
26th July 2007, 09:24
Hi Chris,

Have found a B&W photo of the King Alfred, its not brilliant however sure Mick will be happy with it. Will send it later.
Launched 1968 and had two different names that year Hemsefjell and Angelus prior to going under the King Line Flag (Cayzer Irvine) that same year.
Hi Nobby not having go mate, just really saying that for most seaman we just knew our ships under well known companies names despite having a different name sometimes stamped in your book, an example in mine is Munroes of Liverpool, however the discharge is stamped The St Vincent Shipping Company, another amongest several in my book is the Dart Line the stamp says Tynedale Shipping although Bibby and Bristol City Line as well.

Best Regards


26th July 2007, 18:40
The Cayzer family were very shrewd when it came to finance and business.

Some time before 'Black Wednesday' (October 1987) they sold all their interest in B&C, which by than had become more of a finance institution than a shipping company. A few weeks later, the bottom fell out of sterling, there was a massive stock market collapse, and UK left the ERM.

Later on, I'm not sure of the details, a B&C subsidiary called Atlantic Computer Leasing collapsed in spectacular fashion; it was the biggest corporate collapse in UK business history at the time.

It was a sad end for a (formerly) renowned, solid, profitable and well run British shipping company.

I'm sure I will have got some of the details wrong, but the full story will be available somewhere on the web for those that are interested.



PS From Miramar Ship Index : ref 6812857

2 Apr 1968 : Launched as ANGELUS, renamed HEMSEFJELL (Owners : Olsen & Uglestad, Oslo),
1968 : sold to King Line (B&C) London 'KING ALFRED'
1983 : sold renamed LUO FU SHAN

No disposal details recorded.

non descript
26th July 2007, 19:12
Andy is entirely correct, the move was impecable in terms of timing, as can be see in some detail from this obituary to Lord Cayzer from The Independent

LORD CAYZER was an aristocratic businessman of the old school, a tall, distinguished sportsman who proved to be immensely shrewd at business, noted for his flair, his excellent timing and taking the long view. As a result he left a fortune certainly well above the official estimate of pounds 285m.Throughout his life he was a notable spokesman for the shipping industry, although he sensibly shifted much of the family money out of shipping in the 1960s and 1970s. Cayzer's grandfather, Charles Cayzer, founded the Clan Line, owners of what became a 100-strong fleet of ships, most of them tramp steamers sailing round the Cape of Good Hope to India and the Far East. Cayzer's father August was created a baronet in 1904. Nicholas Cayzer - or Sir Nicholas Cayzer as he was known from the age of 10 in 1921 until he was given a life peerage in 1982 - naturally went to Eton and Cambridge. Equally naturally he started work for the family shipping line in 1931 when he was only 21, becoming a director seven years later. So far so orthodox. But in the 63 years until he finally retired as chairman of the family holding company - by then called Caledonia Investments - he had successfully weathered the transformation of the family business from shipping to a diversified industrial group. (He remained president of the family business until he died). In the early part of the Second World War Cayzer served in the Army but was soon deploying his managerial talents in organising convoys. After the war his first major coup came in 1955 when, as vice-chairman of the Clan Line, he master-minded Clan's take-over of the Union Castle Line, best known for its fleet of speedy mail liners running between Southampton and Cape Town, thus creating a group, British & Commonwealth Shipping, with 100 vessels. His success was the greater because his unsuccessful rival was Harley Drayton, at the time one of the most feared of City financiers. After taking over the chairmanship of B & C on the death of his uncle Lord Rotherwick in 1958, Cayzer led the family's retreat from shipping, putting the family fleet into a notably successful joint venture, Overseas Containers, and investing in a number of unrelated businesses. These included British United Airways, a successful independent airline, the private Wellington Hospital in St John's Wood and Gartmore, an investment management firm named after a family estate in Perthshire. But Cayzer's biggest coup came with the growth of a series of broking and investment businesses within British & Commonwealth. B & C was run by the entrepreneurial John Gunn whose daring business tactics ran against the caution habitually practised by the Cayzer family. Luckily (or cleverly?) the Cayzers decided to sell out of a group which they no longer controlled and did so, receiving pounds 428m for their stake, which represented four-fifths of the family's assets. Their sale was superbly timed, coming only three days before the stockmarket crash of October 1987 and only a short time before the virtual collapse of B & C. Typically, Cayzer bought back control of Exco, the money brokers which had been the foundation of B & C's financial portfolio, for a mere pounds 20m five years after the collapse. Despite the family's shift away from shipping Cayzer retained an interest in the industry, especially in Liverpool - the home port for the family fleet where he was chairman of the Steamship Owners' Association. He also acted as President of the British Chamber of Shipping and the General Council of British Shipping, and when he was elevated to the peerage by Margaret Thatcher in 1982 he took the title Lord Cayzer of St Mary Axe - the street in the City of London most closely associated with the shipping industry. The elevation was in recognition of his steadfast support for the Tory Party. He had been chairman of the local Conservative Association in Chester, a town where his uncle had been MP before the war. More importantly he was a generous donor to the party and a fund- raiser through a mysterious body called British United Industrialists. William Nicholas Cayzer, ship owner and businessman: born 21 January 1910; Bt 1921; created 1982 Baron Cayzer; married 1935 Elizabeth Williams (died 1995; two daughters); died 16 April 1999.

Copyright 1999 Newspaper Publishing PLC

26th July 2007, 23:02
Tonga, thanks for this.

I have now printed it and placed it into my copy of "A Victorian Shipowner" with the Daily Telegraph version and the obit of Captain Hart.

I knew they'd sold out soon before Black Monday, but didn't remember it had been that close !

I joined B & C in 1970, and left in 1978, and thought it strange all the copies of 'Clansman', the house magazine, that I saw had few references to shipping, but a lot for the other parts of the empire.



27th July 2007, 16:17
King Charles
In addition to previous posts.
Launched by Eriksbergs M/V A/B, Gothenburg as ANGELUS . sold whilst being fitted out and renamed HEMSEFJELL. Whilst still being fitted out sold again and on 09/01/1968 was completed as KING ALFRED. In 1977 she was transferred to Houston Line Ltd. 29,419gross tons. 713 x 97 x 42 feet

yes it had an 8cyl bang and wallop engine, 12,000bhp

i have a black and white photo in a book if you want i can scan it and send it.

27th July 2007, 19:22
hi banni,
would much appreciate a photo,got one of locking splice ,could do with a couple more.
many thanks

2nd August 2007, 22:02
King Charles
In addition to previous posts.
Launched by Eriksbergs M/V A/B, Gothenburg as ANGELUS . sold whilst being fitted out and renamed HEMSEFJELL. Whilst still being fitted out sold again and on 09/01/1968 was completed as KING ALFRED. In 1977 she was transferred to Houston Line Ltd. 29,419gross tons. 713 x 97 x 42 feet

yes it had an 8cyl bang and wallop engine, 12,000bhp

i have a black and white photo in a book if you want i can scan it and send it.

Hi any joy with the pic of the king alfred.
Cheers Chris

24th September 2007, 16:28
Hi all.

I served on the Alfie in 1981.

She was sold about 1983; she'd been laid up in KGV, London with the King Charles. I saw the Charles in Tilbury, November 1983 whilst I was on the Scottish Eagle in the dry dock there.

Cayzers' last Red Ensign ship was the Scottish Eagle; sold to Greeks on 1st May 1986 in Southampton & renamed Seamagic. I was Cayzers' last 3rd Engineer of the UK fleet. Not nice, being handed the dreaded 'brown envelope'.

The final ship owned by Cayzer, Irvine was the Speedster Universal, which was sold in September/October 1986. I was there too. (Was someone trying to tell me something?).

Hope this helps.

Mark Coultas

26th September 2007, 15:03
There are three good photographs of the KING ALFRED in the book CLAN LINE by John Clarkson, Roy Fenton & Archie Munro. Although the book is mainly about Clan Line, other units of the B & C fleet are also mentioned & illustrated. These include Union-Castle, Scottish Shire, King Line. The book only came out a few days ago & is really excellent.

25th February 2008, 22:17
Any Body Remember King William
I Served On This Ship 76 Port Headland To Kure/kobe

Anbody Any Photos Thanks

1st July 2008, 19:03
Trever i was in the engine room on the king william murph i also helped manage the bar on her we had some good times on that run murph

20th December 2008, 19:52
I sailed as 3rd Mate on the King Alfred in '81 or '82 on the N Atlantic to Europe grain/coal runs. Also had a very enjoyable trip which included a 5 week dry dock in Malta.
Comfortable ship and a pleasure to sail on. Other King Line (British & Commonwealth or Cayzer Irvine) ships of that time included the King William, King George, King Richard (Elbe Ore) and King Charles.

22nd April 2009, 23:18
Any Body Remember King William
I Served On This Ship 76 Port Headland To Kure/kobe

Anbody Any Photos Thanks

I did the maiden voyage from Bilbao. I did a trip from Port Headland to Kobe on the King William and paid off there followed by a flight to Tokyo and home. Other ships were King Alfred, Reina del Mar, King James, Edinburgh castle, Windsor Castle, Southampton Castle and King Charles. The worst ship was the King James as nothing stayed in one piece for long.

27th June 2012, 21:05
Did a few trips on the Alfred ,Brazil New Orleans-Lisbon run,could get very warm in the crew quarters when the a/c went down the James was a pile of crap could be intresting when opening hatches

Archie Paice
7th February 2013, 14:36
I remember the m.v. King Alfred very well. She was built in Gothenburg as a Bulk Carrier for a foreign concern, in 1968. She was bought whilst still on the stocks by British & Commonwealth Shipping Company (Clan Line). I joined her on the stocks as Purser. I stored her, Food and Furnishings and sailed on her on her Maiden Voyage. Archie Paice.

Chris Isaac
25th February 2013, 18:29
Attached is a pic of King Alfred

16th September 2014, 10:28
i was wondering if anybody might have a picture of the union castle ship the King Alfred.I think she would have been sailing sometime in the 60s/70s.

Where MV King Alfred was in 1971 / 72:

6/11/71 Dunkirk (France)
8/11/71 off Shoeburyness ( UK) (awaiting orders)
24/11/71Tubarao (Brasil) Load Iron Ore
21/12/71 Hamburg (Germany)
8/1/72 Seven Islands (Canada) Load Iron Ore
15/1/72 Baltimore (USA)
26/1/72 Destrehan (USA) Load Grain
14/2/72 Rotterdam (Netherlands)
21/2/72 Belfast (N.Ireland) Drydock
15/3/72 Narvik (Norway) Load Iron Ore
21/3/72 Antwerp (Belgium)
5/4/72 Tubarao (Brasil) Load Iron Ore
12/4/72 Fernando de Narona (Sick Man)
23/4/72 Port Talbot (South Wales)
29/4/72 Madeira (Sick Man)
8/5/72 Tubarao (Brasil) Load Iron Ore
23/5/72 Rotterdam (Netherlands)
26/5/72 Dover (UK) (Dutch Pilot off)
6/6/72 Port of Copal (aka Palua) (River Orinocco, Venezuela) Load Iron Ore
14/6/72 Baltimore (USA)
20/6/72 Norfolk (USA) Load Coal
3/7/72 Port Talbot (South Wales) (Yes - Coal to the heartland of the Welsh Coalfields !)

nigel roberts
24th February 2015, 11:04
Anybody remember Nigel Roberts, I sailed on the King Alfred around 1971 as a steward. Joined her in Japan with a 2nd cook who's nickname was Jeronimo.

8th January 2016, 15:47
Hi I sailed on the king Alfred in 1977 I remember as we were in Alabama at the time when Elvis Presley died. We spent 4 months or so going to and fro from Tampa to Alabama taking Iron ore and Grain.
I paid off during that time.
My name is Andrew Grassby

Labby Doos
1st October 2017, 11:59

Discharging Coal in the early seventies, possibly 71-72. NO1 Dravo removing a Crawler from the Ship's Hold.