Brocklebank deck apprentices

6th March 2006, 19:42
Does anybody recall two we had on Maihar.
One was tall with fair hair with a name like Espley or Esplen
The other we nicknamed Gad, not sure why.

6th March 2006, 20:17
Which Maihar? and when?


6th March 2006, 22:55
I remember Ray Espley very well. I met him when he was uncertificated 4th Officer on the Maidan in 1961, so he must have been on the older Maihar, 1918 vintage. I know Ray lives somewhere in the Manchester area. Could possibly get his address if interested.
Tony Greenwood

Tony Crompton
7th March 2006, 12:56
Ray Espley was my best pal on HMS Worcester. He lived in Manchester at the time and his father was senior master in Manchester Liners. I stayed with him in the holidays and it was our "Treat" to have a ride up the MSC on his father's ship. It really was a treat for 15 year olds mad keen to go to sea.

I left Worcester before Ray and often wondered why he went into Brocklebanks. "Followed you there" he told me later!!! I met Ray in Calcutta a couple of times during our apprenticeship but lost touch after second mates.

I caught up with Ray again in 2000 at the "Worcester" millennium dinner and am now regularly in touch, indeed he came to stay with us last November and we went to Trafalgar Celebrations on HMS "Trincomalee".

Briefly Ray left Brocks, did some time in MacAndrews (though our paths never crossed), was a very young Master in Saguenay Shipping, was for a time in the administration side of Liverpool Pilotage. He then emigrated to Cananda and was for many years Nautical Advisor to a large Montreal law firm. I met him again in Canada on a whirlwind visit. He is now retired and has returned to UK and lives in Plymouth.

I attach a Pic taken in London MN Hotel in front of a model of "Masirah"_ Ray on the right and myself left. Very different to the tall fair haired lad we remembered!
Tony C

10th March 2006, 19:09
Sorry to be so vague, it was on the good ship Maihar (I) vooyage 94

10th March 2006, 19:13
Time certainly flies!
I would have never recognised him, I did recall that his father was captain somewhere
Thanks for the memories.
PS which hotel is the model in?

10th March 2006, 20:39
I was on the voyage before yours,I think I was the only deck apprentice on that voyage.I see from the records that you visited Massowah and Ceuta,where are they I don't recall?


11th March 2006, 13:54
Massawa is in the Red Sea, the hottest, miserable, and most horrible port I ever was in, some of us spent most of the nights on deck and in and out of the fridge handling room!
Ceuta is in Morrocco just opp. Gib. we called there for bunkers.

11th March 2006, 14:07
Massawa is that where the fuzzy wuzzy were.?

Tony Crompton
11th March 2006, 14:40
PS which hotel is the model in?

Was in the Merchant Navy Hotel, Lancaster Gate , London.

Now closed but no idea what happened to the model.
Tony C

michael james
11th March 2006, 17:45
Massawa is that where the fuzzy wuzzy were.?

Close. Just a bit north - Port Sudan ! Another port to avoid if possible

11th March 2006, 22:13
Massawa, one of the ports for Ethiopia. Went there as sprog on Mahout, early part of the year 1965. Paddy Jackson, master, remarked that Massawa was the hottest port - may well be true of the normal Brocklebank run. Even in March it was heating up quite nicely.

Ron Stringer
12th March 2006, 09:35
On my first East Africa trip on Ellerman's City of Lucknow we 'enjoyed' Port Sudan, Assab and Massawa without the benefits of air-con. In memory those ports all seem much of a muchness. At one of them I remember the mission had a swimming pool with water such a vivid shade of green that only the bravest would venture in; those that gave in to temptation in the horrible heat and did take a dip, suffered terrible earaches for weeks afterwards.

I remember the 'fuzz-wuzzy' wharfies arriving with their long spears and then turning-to to work cargo in their one-piece clothing (rather like a dusty gymslip with a shawl) and bare feet. The long wooden 'combs' sticking out of that mass of hair looked very incongruous when seen from above when they were working down the holds.

I remember one of them being treated by the mate after having a toenail torn off by some moving sling of sacks. Raw iodine was poured onto the bleeding mess and a bandage wound round it. Big smiles from the patient and back he went to work. Had it been me, I think it would have taken them a week to drag me down from the mast top.

They appeared to believe that winches had only two speed settings, stop and full speed. As a result a wire broke and snapped back, hitting one winchman on the head. The mass of hair didn't fully protect him (no hard hats for anyone on board in those days) and a four-inch gash was opened in his scalp. Same treatment, same bottle of iodine, same results - big smile and handshakes then back to work. No wonder General Gordon had a hard time supressing them.

We only did that one 'East Africa via Suez' run but I must say it wasn't one that I would have liked to have repeated.


12th March 2006, 12:22
On the trip mentioned on Maihar we did Massawa, Djibouti, and Assab.
The first two were much about much, stinking hot, Assab was better as the pier just stuck out from the shore and there was a good breeze blowing.
Djibouti had a swimming pool as mentioned, I think it was OK then. We called at Port Sudan homeward, loading dates etc, I recalll seeing the melted dates in burst bags squirting out between the toes of the "fuzzy wuzzies"
At Port Sudan a couple of passenger ships moored close by, and I will always remember the astonishment on thier faces when they watched us running along the boat deck and disappearing in the depths of the Maihar's swimming pool aft of the funnel. They did not expect to see a proper built in pool on a 1917 vintage tall funnelled ship!

Derek Roger
12th March 2006, 22:51
Any of you lot remember the Roof Top Gardens ??
Assab I think or may have been Massawa . Definitly a very hot port .

13th March 2006, 08:41
ASSAB, Aaaaaaaahhhh the niff of the place! Jewel of the Red Sea, all previous descriptions are true but nobody has mentioned that the Fuzzy Wussies use Cow dung in their hair as a sort of fixant so that it never gets into their eyes.
A lady Passenger on the Staffordshire (1956) leaning over the rail watching the unloading activity remarked to her husband "Darling Dont these CHAPS smell awefull"--Dear, Dear,Me!

Cheers Peter

13th March 2006, 15:27
Ceuta (*))
I am sure the Moroccians will love you as it is part of Spain (abeit on the Moroccian coast)

michael james
13th March 2006, 22:38
Peter, You may well be right about cow dung being used but the main ingredient was animal fat (lard) as a sort of brylcreem, as a consequence the first shift in the early morning was just mildly "pongy" but by 2 pm close encounters were definately something to avoid !!!!

Djibouti On the outskirts of the town was a large French Foreign Legion barracks, and the soldiers were often to be seen around town, very smart and extreemly fit, quite incongruous in such a dilapidated and scruffy place.

8th April 2006, 14:12
Any of you lot remember the Roof Top Gardens ??
Assab I think or may have been Massawa . Definitly a very hot port .

It was Masawa

Tony Selman
8th April 2006, 18:47
It was indeed Massawa. On my first trip on Matra in 1964 I can well remember the Chippy in particular, but others were involved as well, in really getting me geared for a great night ashore in Massawa at the Roof Gardens to meet some "genuine" Ethiopian Princesses. This was my first real night ashore somewhere really "foreign". We had loaded in Rotterdam and passed through Suez but this was a proper run ashore. It would have been in March 1964 and it was stinking hot with the famed (?) Brocklebank air cooling system heating up the cabins nicely. I have no idea what the temperature was when a group of us went ashore but it was way hotter than anything I had ever experienced before and for that matter I hadn't experienced anything like the Roof Gardens either.
The end result of the night is not for publication on a family board but I have never forgotten the Roof Gardens.

A bit further down the Red Sea on the same trip we went ashore in Assab, which if you haven't been there is a truly appalling port, and I remember being amazed by some of the older hands telling me to take 4 bars of Brocklebank soap ashore for bargaining purposes with the local ladies. They were quite correct and I have never before or since heard of such a commodity being used for this purpose. You might just perhaps have understood had it been Lux but Brocklebank soap was virtually impossible to raise a lather with on board, so God Knows how they got on. :D

8th April 2006, 19:26
Massawa -what a place. I remember one night when we went ashore to the Rooftop Gardens after a "few" beers on board. After several glasses of exccedingly rough red wine, one of the apprentices decided to dance on top of the bar. Unfortunately he'd forgotten about the large three bladed fan quietly going around above the bar! He got whacked on the head by one of the blades which promptly broke off. The now unbalanced fan went into self destruct mode and wrecked itself while he rolled off the bar semi-conscious and onto the floor. Fortunately no permanent damage to the apprentice and we all scarpered sharpish.

On another occasion one of the officers was accosted by a very large and black lady touting for "business". Said officer stated that he wasn't a suitable customer as he was suffering from a dose of the pox (he lied!). The aforesaid lady stuck a ham-like hand between her ample bosoms and retrieved a large old-fashioned iron key, grabbed him by the hand, and tried to drag him off saying "'Dat's allright Johnny, I's got it too!"

Wouldn't have missed it for the world.

noel grayson
2nd September 2006, 00:29
Massawa is in the Red Sea, the hottest, miserable, and most horrible port I ever was in, some of us spent most of the nights on deck and in and out of the fridge handling room!
Ceuta is in Morrocco just opp. Gib. we called there for bunkers.

Couldn't agree more regarding Massawa, certainly the worst port I ever visited

Roger Bentley
8th September 2006, 08:56
Hi Nobby, Glad to see you active on the site. Salaams, Roger B

8th September 2006, 15:16
I was told by Elder Dempster men that bars of soap and boxes of detergent were ideal currency on the West Coast.

Dave R

14th September 2006, 15:23
Soap was accepted currency at Vizag too for the ladies that loaded the iron ore in baskets, but only to watch them stripping off to wash under a hydrant on the quay. However they got a bit fussy and turned up their noses at the big blocks of carbolic, had to be Lux!
The Ch. Steward ( the late Jim Sunners, rest his soul, who apparently died somewhere in West Africa with ED I think it was) arranged for one of the more nubile to sneak aboard and allowed her to take a proper shower aboard, complete with all the soaps and scents, and gave her a long roll of brightly coloured cloth to make up as a sarong. She was like a queen when finished, and as far as I know that was all there was to it. Just a thought, how did he come to have a roll of cloth in his cabin?

Derek Roger
14th September 2006, 23:20
Port Sudan was one of the best places in the world to "snorkle " "Dive " still is probably . Mind you none of the red sea ports were bad for Diving if that was your interest .