Elder Dempster/Ocean Group/OCL

Alan Rawlinson
27th November 2016, 11:58
As a regular contributor to SN. (Mainly the Bank Line section) I am amazed how few references there are to the Ocean Group or to OCL. OK, OCL was an amalgam of lines, but there must plenty of ex seagoers from that period on the ' baby bay' boats and later. If a moderator is reading this - I would like to have opened a new thread for OVerseas Containers Ltd, but the rules appeared not to allow any more lines to be added?

Re Elder Dempster, although never at sea with them, I had a roll as Unit Load Co-Ordinator in the 70's when an effort ws being made to unitise. Was familiar with all the ships, and spent a lot of time in Lagos/Apapa including the big port congestion period when there were hundreds of ships waiting outside of Lagos. It ws the infamous time when stories abounded of bizarre happenings. Cement ships being sunk in situ. A ship with tons of import beer berthing after months, only to find the holds full of empty cartons! I could go on.

My ebook called ' Any Budding Sailors? '. has a chapter on OCL days, mainly on the terminal shinnanigans at Tilbury, and also some humourous tales about my time in UKWAL on the Elder Dempster payroll, when Blackstar Line of Ghana and Nigerian National Line were part of the conference lines to West Africa. Happy days!

chadburn
27th November 2016, 19:18
You didn't load the bulk Guinness flasks did you Alan on Elder Dempsters vessels like the " Sokoto"?

Duncan112
28th November 2016, 08:11
Yes Alan, I agree there should be a separate section for OCL and what it metamorphosised into - possibly the reason it got forgotten is that initially it was a joint venture and fell under the various owners - P&O eventually being "Last Man Standing " so to speak.

There is a very active Bay Boats Group on Facebook and a retired staff group SCARA https://sites.google.com/site/ponlheritage2//scara

Alan Rawlinson
28th November 2016, 18:27
You didn't load the bulk Guinness flasks did you Alan on Elder Dempsters vessels like the " Sokoto"?

No, but it sounds interesting! Quite honestly, although a Bank Line man of old, I was full of admiration for the struggles on ED ships with the timber trunks and the degree of improvisation that was necessary. Incidentally, for those wanting a flavour of this fascinating nod demanding trade, the book ' Palm oil and small chop' by John Gobble is a great read. John was mate in the trade.

Alan Rawlinson
28th November 2016, 18:43
Yes Alan, I agree there should be a separate section for OCL and what it metamorphosised into - possibly the reason it got forgotten is that initially it was a joint venture and fell under the various owners - P&O eventually being "Last Man Standing " so to speak.

There is a very active Bay Boats Group on Facebook and a retired staff group SCARA https://sites.google.com/site/ponlheritage2//scara

Hi Duncan

Yes, I'd fogotten about SCARA that I'd heard about from a mutual friend ex P&O.

My connection with the Baby Bays was loading them at Tilbury in the early days, after the 1970 strike when they were diverted to load and discharge over in Europe. We had a lot of fun, also told in " Any Budding Sailors?" I had a lot of success with the dock workers, coaxing them to ' get on with it' especially on the night shift. I would do a deal with the foreman to load x amount of containers ( usually a lot more than they would normally) in exchange either for an early finish or approval for them to watch porno movies in an empty 40ft container. When this happened the radio would often crackle, and I would hear, " Come on down here Al, we think it's you on the screen"! Happy days.

Roger Turner
4th December 2016, 20:22
Hi Duncan

Yes, I'd fogotten about SCARA that I'd heard about from a mutual friend ex P&O.

My connection with the Baby Bays was loading them at Tilbury in the early days, after the 1970 strike when they were diverted to load and discharge over in Europe. We had a lot of fun, also told in " Any Budding Sailors?" I had a lot of success with the dock workers, coaxing them to ' get on with it' especially on the night shift. I would do a deal with the foreman to load x amount of containers ( usually a lot more than they would normally) in exchange either for an early finish or approval for them to watch porno movies in an empty 40ft container. When this happened the radio would often crackle, and I would hear, " Come on down here Al, we think it's you on the screen"! Happy days.

Amazing how viewing tastes change.
I remember loading/discharging an ED ship at Tilbury. Circa 53-62
Rain stopped play.
Dockers retired aft to the crew mess room to view the newly introduced afternoon TV
It was surprising to see these hairy anatomied dock workers sitting round utterly engrossed in "Bill and Ben the flower pot men"
perhaps there was something odd with these characters sexualities!

seagem (Cornish)
5th December 2016, 10:00
Re OCL - Take a look at:
https://sites.google.com/site/ponlheritage2/p-o-nedlloyd/1837-1996-the-parent-companies/ocl-history-book
for 'British Box Business - A History of OCL', which I found to be an good read, although the price had risen to £25 incl. It made an excellent follow on from Marshall Meeks 'There Go the Ships'.
Re Tilbury - I did four trips on Ebani 1967-68. It was a bleak place in winter and a nearby pub, The World's End', seemed aptly named.
There was a Stella Maris, where we seemed to have the measure of the fruit machine in so far as we never left with less than we wagered, minus a beer or two. The crew of a Haine boat (originally Cornish too) were on their last run ashore before a probable two year absence and, eventually, the chairs and tables started flying. We stood back and watched the fun. The padre was a lightly built Irish guy but seemed have minimum trouble, collaring two at a time and flinging them out of the door.
Memories!

Alan Rawlinson
6th December 2016, 15:33
Re OCL - Take a look at:
https://sites.google.com/site/ponlheritage2/p-o-nedlloyd/1837-1996-the-parent-companies/ocl-history-book
for 'British Box Business - A History of OCL', which I found to be an good read, although the price had risen to £25 incl. It made an excellent follow on from Marshall Meeks 'There Go the Ships'.
Re Tilbury - I did four trips on Ebani 1967-68. It was a bleak place in winter and a nearby pub, The World's End', seemed aptly named.
There was a Stella Maris, where we seemed to have the measure of the fruit machine in so far as we never left with less than we wagered, minus a beer or two. The crew of a Haine boat (originally Cornish too) were on their last run ashore before a probable two year absence and, eventually, the chairs and tables started flying. We stood back and watched the fun. The padre was a lightly built Irish guy but seemed have minimum trouble, collaring two at a time and flinging them out of the door.
Memories!

Thanks for the book leads - I find it hard to pay over £20 for a book, but there's usually a way to get hold of a copy with a bit of persistence.

Very familiar with Tilbury docks (of old) having worked on 3 different terminals, OCL, West Africa terminal, and Swedish Lloyd. (Brostroms) and plenty of stories in the memory bank.

On the OCL BERTH (39 berth) we worked the ' Baby Bay' ships and those of the consortia which included Hapag Lloyd and Messagerie Maritime, which the dockers christened the ' Micky Mouse ' boats as they had a large MM on the hull. When the first Haag container ship arrived, some dockers brought in German helmets and paraded up and down the quay goose stepping and giving Hitler salutes. Not sure anyone on board had a clue what it all meant. There are more anecdotes in my book " Any Budding Sailors".

Around 1976 the Ocean Group leased the big West Africa terminal and all the ships with their variety of import logs and produce shifted over there from the bevy of wharves which had previously comprised the West Africa terminals. In my day, the MD was a big character called Bill Barrett, who was a bit of a tiger. I would be invited on his luncheon soirée's which could lead up to nightclubs in London. ( If we were lucky). I can recall getting home about 2am after one of these lunch breaks!

When the posh new West Africa terminal opened the manager was Sandy Stevens, who became a good friend of mine. Sadly, he died after a year or so, and with short notice.

Alan R. (Also in Cornwall - near Falmouth)