Butlers

Shipbuilder
12th March 2012, 14:58
I have noticed that on plans of several BI ships (Chanda - Chupra - Sofala) they have cabins designated "Butler!" Is that the BI equivalent of Chief Steward, as there are no C/Stwd cabins shown?
Bob

Ron Dean
12th March 2012, 15:40
I have noticed that on plans of several BI ships (Chanda - Chupra - Sofala) they have cabins designated "Butler!" Is that the BI equivalent of Chief Steward, as there are no C/Stwd cabins shown?
Bob
Shipbuilder, - If it's the SS Chanda & SS Chupra (both built 1906) or even Sofala (1937 - 1955) we are going back to the days of the Raj.
I could be wrong but I can well imagine that in those days, wealthy passengers did travel accompanied by their butlers.
I'm interested to hear what other forumites think.

Ron.

JoeQ
12th March 2012, 16:03
Don't know about BI but in Bank Line we had an Indian Chief Steward know as the Butler

Shipbuilder
12th March 2012, 16:07
Ron,
The Chanda & the Chupra are the 1944 editions, Sofala was 1937! Sofala was tiny little thing, less than 2,000 grt and didn't carry passengers anyway. The othere two carried 24 each. The Butler cabins in Chupra & Chanda are between the doctor and the clerk, with the cadets beyond. There are no C/Stwd cabins designated!
Bob

Shipbuilder
12th March 2012, 16:14
Joe,
I think that is most likely in the above BI ships as well, although they may not be Indian. There is a Clerk as well, and an office between Butler & Clerk with doors from both opening into it, so it suggests they were both part of the ship's company rather than travelling with passengers. I thought maybe the Butler was the equivalent of chief steward and the Clerk the equivalent of purser, with a common office.
Bob

James_C
12th March 2012, 17:27
Bob,
Butler was indeed the alternative term for Chief Steward.
In fact if memory serves, 'Butla' was the Hindi term for such a person, as defined in the 'bible' (Malim Sahibs Hindustani), therefore it seems perfectly logical that BI used the Hindi term for the rank.

ian fears
12th March 2012, 18:53
i was r/o on chupra when it went to scrap a very enjoyable time for me, in my short time at sea bi were the best , however at that time i dont recall any cabin being marked butler the ch steward was not indian he came from scotland

Shipbuilder
12th March 2012, 18:54
Jim,
Thanks for confirmation. I never sailed with Indian crew, only UK - Phillippino & St. Helenan, thought the butler may have been the c/stwd.
Bob

Ron Dean
12th March 2012, 19:44
Jim,
Thanks for confirmation. I never sailed with Indian crew, only UK - Phillippino & St. Helenan, thought the butler may have been the c/stwd.
Bob
Bob,
I,m sure you're spot on. I googled "Indian steward butler".
Wiki came up with :- "The role of the butler for centuries has been that of chief steward".

Ron.

notnila
12th March 2012, 20:56
In Tripoli Commonwealth War Graves,there is an MN grave of a Ships Butler.I cant remember the name of his ship.

LouisB
12th March 2012, 21:06
Bob,
I,m sure you're spot on. I googled "Indian steward butler".
Wiki came up with :- "The role of the butler for centuries has been that of chief steward".

Ron.

On some of the long gone RFA's on Far Eastern station there was a Butlers pantry and a call system although the wiring had been removed.

Upstairs Downstairs maybe? Happy days.


LouisB

eldersuk
13th March 2012, 00:41
Paddy Henderson's 'Prome' and 'Salween' carried butlers on the Rangoon run. I think they were the equivalent of Chief Steward.

Derek

millwall dock
13th March 2012, 01:23
In Stricks in the early 50's the Butler carried out the duties of the Chief
Steward

John Briggs
13th March 2012, 02:30
I sailed in BI from 56 to 65 and the Chief Steward was called the Butler!

Shipbuilder
13th March 2012, 08:08
Thanks for all the replies. It seems to be pretty conclusive now, the butler was the c/stwd. I suppose in later years, the title was dropped in favour of c/stwd.

The worst title change I came across was when I was flying out to join a Silver Line bulker in '76 (I had just joined the company from B & C), and one of the group told me he was the "handyman!" When I said that I had never heard the title before, he said "We were once called carpenters!"

Bob

Ron Stringer
13th March 2012, 09:55
On an Ellerman ship with Indian crew we had a European Chief Steward and an Indian Butler/Butla. The latter was head of the catering crew, as the Serang was head of the crew on deck.

randcmackenzie
13th March 2012, 22:55
In some of the Indian crews I sailed with, we carried only a Butler, who performed all the duties of Chief Steward.

I can't remember what it said above his door.

In some others there was a British Chief Steward and no butler.

B/R

Cisco
14th March 2012, 00:29
Stanvac only had butlers.... I think butlers and C/Stwds were around at the same time..... possibly butler was a rank more commonly encountered on ships/in companies that spent all their time 'east of Suez' with indian crew ... as Clan Line didn't have butlers.

Baulkham Hills
14th March 2012, 02:45
Hi,

I recall an old Indo-China master called Dave Durban who came "up through the hawsepipe". After the Chief Stewards were removed he was shuffling down the alley way with provision inventory sheets saying that when he started at sea the master was god but by the time he got to be master they had made him into a butler. He was not impressed about this and from then on he described himself as " the Butler"

Cheers

tom e kelso
16th March 2012, 19:48
A bit late in the day with this contribution. As a generalisation, up until sometime in the 1950's the heads of the Catering staff on BI ships, other than KENYA, UGANDA, and the troopships, were engaged in Bombay/Calcutta, and these Indian (and some Pakistani) nationals were designated and signed on as "Butlers", to all intent and purposes, they were the Chief Steward and reported to the master (BI: Commander), [Their assistant, in effect ,the Second Steward/Storekeeper, was designated "Munshi", while the locally engaged "Writer" was often referred to as the Kuranni"]. The latter was responsible for the preparation of port papers (in less demanding days!), crew accounts of wages in respect of deductions etc, and often in the preparation of cargo manifests. Most if not all post WW2 BI cargo ships permanently on the Home Line trade ex-UK carried a Purser with officer status,(vice a "writer") engaged in the UK. Butlers/Clerks, to me seemed to belong to an elevated Petty Officer status, with vis-a-vis other PO's i.e. carpenters, plumbers, fitters, etc, perhaps, because they wore the Company's iniform In the 1950's Pursers (Clerical) were progressively put through a catering course run by Joe Lyons, and were subsequently placed in charge of the Catering department. These, so qualified, then, could progress to Purser positions on the passenger/troop ships Similarly, some "locally engaged" Butlers and Clerks after attending similar courses in India were re-designated as Pursers/Chief Steward and were principally appointed to BI ships employed on vessels on trades managed by Calcutta managing agents

[With apologies for any inaccuracies regarding a rather turbulent time!)

Tom
.

jactaa
22nd March 2012, 18:53
i was r/o on chupra when it went to scrap a very enjoyable time for me, in my short time at sea bi were the best , however at that time i dont recall any cabin being marked butler the ch steward was not indian he came from scotland
Ian,
I have recently been re-reading the diary I kept during that ballast voyage to Hong Kong where 'Chupra' was scrapped in Junk Bay. In command was Robin Philips, accompanied by his wife and three daughters. They all travelled on to Australia.
Don

China hand
22nd March 2012, 19:29
When I was in Bank Line, we always called the Ch. Steward Butla sahib.

Ron Stringer
22nd September 2012, 21:23
Just checked my information on the Indian crewed ships that I sailed on and found that although on the "City of Lucknow" we had both a Chief Steward and an Indian Butler/Butla, on the "Regent Pembroke" we didn't have a Chief Steward, just an Indian Butler. On the maiden voyage the Butler was W. Rodridguez, Goanese.

Barrie Youde
22nd September 2012, 21:33
Well, well, well. Thank you for all of this. I had not previously heard of anybody being called a butler at sea. I only ever knew Chief Stewards. But it all makes sense.

joebuckham
22nd September 2012, 21:42
Thanks for all the replies. It seems to be pretty conclusive now, the butler was the c/stwd. I suppose in later years, the title was dropped in favour of c/stwd.

The worst title change I came across was when I was flying out to join a Silver Line bulker in '76 (I had just joined the company from B & C), and one of the group told me he was the "handyman!" When I said that I had never heard the title before, he said "We were once called carpenters!"

Bob

bob, as carpenters ( chippies ) became harder and harder to come by in the late 60s, early 70s we used to have in his place an ab who was called ab handyman, usually picked out on signing on and paid a little extra for his title

joe

makko
23rd September 2012, 03:17
Very interesting thread! Thanks Bob for kick starting it and everyone for their contributions.
Rgds.
Dave