Philip Grant
26th July 2016, 15:02
I was lucky enough to travel as a passenger on Elders and Fyffes banana ships between England and Tiko in the Southern Cameroons as a child in the latter 1950's. My experiences as a passenger were obviously very different to those of the crew! The ship I particularly remember was the SS Chirripo - I still have a postcard of her. Another ship I recall was the Pacuare which had a reputation for breaking down. I think my mother had a bit of a 'crush' on a Captain 'Archy' Thomson! I remember a trip back to England with the famous naturalist and author Gerald Durrell and his collection of animals including an unfortunate chimpanzee called Cholomondly (or something similar) that sadly (or sensibly?) chose to jump overboard rather than face a life of captivity in the Channel Islands. I remember the ship purposefully running aground to navigate the Tiko River - (I thought it was a mistake!) On another trip I remember being hoisted over the side in a wicker basket onto a lighter in Victoria Bay.
I recall 'shipping green' in the Bay of Biscay. My Mother suffered badly from seasickness - she had to learn the hard way never to be sick over the windward rail...
On one trip my Mother and I had to be taken off the ship somewhere along the Manchester Ship Canal because I had bronchitis - as the ship carried only 12 passengers, there was no doctor, so the last minute decision was made that it would be too risky to sail into the tropics with a sick child. The hold had to be reopened and our 'not needed on the voyage' luggage had to be retrieved, obviously at considerable inconvenience and no doubt a few curses! I spent the next three weeks in Liverpool Children's Hospital.
On one occasion my Mother thought I had fallen overboard because I had 'disappeared' for rather a long time - and at the same time a crew member had thrown the rubbish overboard with a 'splash'! I think she nearly had the ship stopped in a panic before I was found in the galley being entertained by the cook!
I remember the tarantula spiders that came aboard with the bananas. My Mother dressed a dead one up in a tiny Scottish kilt, placed it in a box and presented it to Captain 'Archy' Thomson (a Scott) as a joke!
Those trips as a child left me with a lifelong love of working ships and the sea - thank you to all those Elders and Fyffes officers and crew who made them so memorable!
While going through some old family albums I came across some evocative pictures which I will post in batches...

Philip Grant
26th July 2016, 15:06
The first picture is of my Mum, two older brothers and myself on Tiko wharf after arriving in West Africa for the first time on SS Paquare in February 1957

Philip Grant
26th July 2016, 15:21
Mum and myself aged 4 on the deck of the Paquare February 1957

Philip Grant
26th July 2016, 15:27
A series of photos of SS Chirripo leaving Tiko in 1958

Philip Grant
26th July 2016, 15:30
What life was like for the passengers!

Philip Grant
26th July 2016, 15:35
My sixth birthday party in Bota Southern Cameroons West Africa - note the cake is a representation of an Elders and Fyffes banana ship!

Philip Grant
26th July 2016, 15:37
SS Chirripo

Philip Grant
26th July 2016, 15:41
If anyone has any other recollections and stories from those voyages to and from Tiko I would be grateful to hear them - does anyone remember a Captain 'Archy' Thomson? Or those trips with Gerald Durrell? Or putting a sick child ashore at Liverpool? :-)

26th July 2016, 17:24
Re your attached picture of the Pacuare had me digging out my books as the joggled plating indicated she may have been German build. Which indeed she was having been built as a fruit carrier for a Hamburg outfit in 1935 and named Pelikan. War prize, renamed Empire Alde at Brunbuttel 46.
Source Jordan's "The Worlds Merchant Fleets 1939"

Julian Calvin
26th July 2016, 20:25
Hi Philip,
Posted a pic of Tiko wharf/port some time ago in ports section of gallery

27th July 2016, 02:11
Enjoyed hearing your recollections!