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Bankline in the 50's....

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  #51  
Old 28th August 2009, 21:44
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John Campbell John Campbell is offline  
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Went to Point Fortin. All the excitement of a full cargo of drummed bitumen has already been discussed so no need to elaborate. We too, were thought of as 'golden boys' because we were on the newest ship. Nothing could have been further from the truth!
My first trip was the similar to yours Alistair but on "Southbank" in 1953. It was terrifying being down the hold tasked with rejecting leaking drums of bitumen and having to confront these huge black men who were not willing to handle any drums destined to be returned. I had a wonderful break from that hellish job as myself and the Ffth Engineer both developed infected smallpox jag site sores (blood poisoning) and were hospitalised at the Shell hospital. It was heaven - dusky young nurses in starched uniforms and iced water on tap. Food great and the Fiver and I were soon on the way to recovery and wondering how long we would be ensconsed in this paradise when on the fifth day in stormed Capt Smith and started roaring like a bull about our skiving etc and we accompanied him back aboard. He gave me 1 as a sub to go ashore with the lads to enjoy the first taste of VAT19 or was it VAT17 memory dimms.
JC

Last edited by K urgess; 28th August 2009 at 21:46.. Reason: Quote fixed
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  #52  
Old 28th August 2009, 23:31
David E David E is offline  
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Originally Posted by John Campbell View Post
My first trip was the similar to yours Alistair but on "Southbank" in 1953. It was terrifying being down the hold tasked with rejecting leaking drums of bitumen and having to confront these huge black men who were not willing to handle any drums destined to be returned. I had a wonderful break from that hellish job as myself and the Ffth Engineer both developed infected smallpox jag site sores (blood poisoning) and were hospitalised at the Shell hospital. It was heaven - dusky young nurses in starched uniforms and iced water on tap. Food great and the Fiver and I were soon on the way to recovery and wondering how long we would be ensconsed in this paradise when on the fifth day in stormed Capt Smith and started roaring like a bull about our skiving etc and we accompanied him back aboard. He gave me 1 as a sub to go ashore with the lads to enjoy the first taste of VAT19 or was it VAT17 memory dimms.
JC
John
Same place:same memories. Was there in the "Myrtlebank" early in 1950. The other disadvantage was the amount of dunnage laid down between each layer of drums and the stacking and removal after discharge. Apps got elected for that job.

It was Vat 19. In later years, in Fyffes, we clubbed together to get a supply in Port of Spain each trip-one or other of us went ashore on the" Vat 19" run.

Regards
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  #53  
Old 29th August 2009, 01:04
rcraig rcraig is offline  
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Point Fortin

And just to give you a cheap thrill....should the picture of the bitumen barges actually be attached..
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  #54  
Old 30th August 2009, 16:03
Charlie Stitt Charlie Stitt is offline
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As Apprentice in the 50's one of my favourate jobs had to be painting out the Butlers store room, we knew the Butler had made a careful list of all the stores but that did not stop us helping ourselves to the dried peaches etc, can't think why we thought they were so great at that time. On the Westbank we went a bit too far and half inched a tin of red salmon. By the time we got up to the study with this loot, the sharp eyed Butler had discovered the tin missing and come to me pleading I give it back to him in exchange for other goodies as the red salmon was the Captain Sahib's private stores. Yes we did quite well in that deal if I remember right. Can't remember ever being told to paint out where the bonded stores were kept, wonder why ?
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  #55  
Old 30th August 2009, 19:36
Joe C Joe C is offline  
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Charlie,remember Pt Fortin when loading the usual bitumen for N Z.Shared the quay with an American ship.Their crew were threatening to strike over the quality of their washing powder.Our bar soap and buckets seemed to work O K. Amused ourselves after work spearfishing from a stage for garfish,not for sport,for supper.For some strange reason I've kept a cargo plan coloured in beautifully by the 2nd mate.We were regular visitors to the"Shell Club"swimming after dark (sharing the pool with frogs).So if any cruisegoers ask "Have you cruised the Carribean?"I reply yes,then shut up. Joe C
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  #56  
Old 31st August 2009, 22:20
rcraig rcraig is offline  
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Funny how I can remember a great deal....perhaps not accurately.....of my first trip but very little of the old Glenbank, and the others.
I particularly remember going down on the train with my fellow apprentice Gordon Bruce both from Aberdeen for my first trip and meeting up by chance with a lad also from Aberdeen who happened to be joining a Chapman ship, which was also berthed at Bromborough and for some reason we went with him before going to the Eastbank.
We had no idea what to expect of course and our first experience of any large ship was the Chapman heap.
We walked along and then under steam operated cranes dated c. 1890's with water dripping down in the gloom towards a rusty tub flying high and empty.
Not a light was to be seen and we climbed up the very steep accommodation ladder to the deck. The only light on deck was the weak loom coming from distant dock lights. We walked along the deck piled high in parts with what seemed like piles of ash. All hatches were open. Not a living soul on this dead ship was to be seen.
We began to wonder with great misgiving if this is what we could expect.
Down aft we saw the flicker of a yellow light and we eventually traced a solitary watchman huddled over a paraffin light. The atmosphere and scene was like a Victorian film set (I know, I know, they did not do films then but you know what I mean).
After that, arrival on the Eastbank could only be seen as an improvement.
Often wondered what happened to the poor guy who joined that bum boat. It seemed a long way from Percy F. Westerman and his stories of patrol suit clad cadets with telescopes under the arm like wot we experienced with Andrew Weir.

Last edited by rcraig; 1st September 2009 at 09:54..
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  #57  
Old 1st September 2009, 15:38
rcraig rcraig is offline  
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Pt Fortin and bitumen

Lest we forget! Oh, the fun of it all.
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Last edited by rcraig; 1st September 2009 at 15:47..
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  #58  
Old 1st September 2009, 18:38
Charlie Stitt Charlie Stitt is offline
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Super photo Ray, I must have looked down on a similar scene as this, some 54 years ago, wow!. So much dunnage you could say your cargo was bitumen and timber.
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  #59  
Old 2nd September 2009, 00:06
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Alistair Macnab Alistair Macnab is offline  
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All that dunnage with a bitumen cargo! We discharged at Port Okha, Bombay, Madras and Calcutta and, of course, as was the normal thing before environmental considerations were thought of, the dunnage and the bitumen residues were tossed over the side between ports. As a first trip apprentice with red hair and a complexion to go with it, a morning spent on deck sorting out the odd clean plank from the rubbish was a warm job under the Indian Ocean sun (or was it the Arabian Sea?) Anyhow, my sunburn was extraordinary and the large bags of fluid that formed over the burns was horrible to look at and even more horrible to experience. The other guys were used to sun exposure and had the skin type to keep them from much harm.
This taught me to not be a hero and work on deck without a T-shirt and to always wear a bandana around my neck and a peaked hat over my forehead.
Ahhhh! The white man's burden!
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  #60  
Old 2nd September 2009, 08:26
rcraig rcraig is offline  
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Funny how inaccurate these photographs are. Never seem to quite match my memory.
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  #61  
Old 2nd September 2009, 09:28
Charlie Stitt Charlie Stitt is offline
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I don't know what you mean by inaccurate Ray, that photo is spot on
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  #62  
Old 2nd September 2009, 09:31
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correspondance courses never seemed to reach us,but it looks as if every app had to spend time down the holds at point fortin rejecting damaged drums .

jim
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  #63  
Old 2nd September 2009, 18:13
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I was never with Bank Line, but really enjoying reading your pasts. Whilst sitting my tickets in Belfast,I seem to recall the company being referred to as the Belfast Shipping Co., something to do with the number of Mates/Engineers originating from Nth.Ireland!! Perhaps Charlie would remember this? Colin
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  #64  
Old 3rd September 2009, 08:45
rcraig rcraig is offline  
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Calcutta and gunnies

Remember these hot steamy mornings with the barges alongside, the customs officers in their droves? Loading gunnies for weeks on end?
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Last edited by rcraig; 3rd September 2009 at 08:45.. Reason: punctuation
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  #65  
Old 3rd September 2009, 09:59
Charlie Stitt Charlie Stitt is offline
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Awful hangover, thumping headache from drinking that local brew the night before. Was it worth it?? Yeah, who is going ashore with me again to night?
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  #66  
Old 3rd September 2009, 10:50
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Once in Kidderpore in the late fifties the third mate and I caused a certain amount of havoc with these barges. We had a certain babu who at about three in the morning would shout out in the alleyway right out side my cabin instructions to the bargees as to what hatch they should manouevre their craft loaded with these gunnies. The 3/O and I had acquired a certain amount of Hindustani and he managed to get enough of it to imitate the twang of this dhoti clad individual. He got hold of his megaphone and bawled out completely erroneous orders causing a great commotion and vociferous bawling and shouting before order was restored. It was wrong of him to do it but it certainly gave us a right good laugh at the time.
Those quality control weights and measures brigade all dressed up in whites and epaulets were another memory.
JC
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  #67  
Old 3rd September 2009, 13:04
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Hi here is me as 3/0 on ISIPINGO playing at being sparks.
jim
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  #68  
Old 3rd September 2009, 14:47
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Alistair Macnab Alistair Macnab is offline  
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With reference to the three Bank boats berthed alongside each other in King George Dock, Calcutta in the gallery section and 'exchanging gunnies' from one ship to another. This exercise was fortunately not done too often but when the end-of-the-month came round and there were not enough Bank boats to place on the various berths (to East Africa, the River Plate, West Africa (EDs) and WCSA) it was necessary to have a physical ship 'on berth' to accept cargo for all these Lines in order to keep the obligations of the Conference otherwise an Indian-flag or fighting third-flag ship could take up the cargo instead.
Hardly ever were there not a sufficient number of Bank boats in Calcutta but once or twice it happened and the one that was in port was obliged to load for everywhere then pass the appropriate cargo on to another Bank boat when available.
Do you remember always sailing about the 10th of the month which was permissable with the previous months dated Bills of Lading? The only exception was an extra sailing on the 25th of the month to East Africa, a throwback to the Indian-African Line and the India-Natal Line.
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  #69  
Old 3rd September 2009, 14:54
rcraig rcraig is offline  
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That's interesting. We did the B.A-India run for the best part of a year and the photographs are of the only instance of triple lying that we were involved in. As an apprentice I was unaware of the reason why it was done.
As I've said elsewhere, the dominant feeling when involved in this exercise was the fear of a transfer over to the Isipingo.

Last edited by rcraig; 3rd September 2009 at 14:55.. Reason: typing
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  #70  
Old 3rd September 2009, 15:19
rcraig rcraig is offline  
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John,

I don't know when you first met up with the custom lads. They were, when first I arrived in Calcutta ('52), all Anglo-Indian who had been used by the Brits for most of the lower managerial jobs in the railways, customs, and other government type jobs. With the gaining of independence they were being rapidly pushed out of these jobs, understandably, and were falling on hard times. By the time of my last trip to Calcutta, c. '55 my recollection is that they were either much diminished in numbers or even substantially gone. What is your recollection, or anyone else's?
Many of them clung on to their perception of an unknown past, speaking in an accent with a strong resemblance to Welsh influenced English, in a very old fashioned public school style with "old boy", "chap" etc., dropped quaintly into their conversation. They were very conscious of their status, but also conscious of their precarious position as they were not greatly loved by the populace as far as I could see. I felt quite sorry for them although they could be pedantically nit-picking. They were just washed away in the inevitable changes.
They were in those early days very much part of the Bank boat scene and memories
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  #71  
Old 3rd September 2009, 15:57
Hamish Mackintosh Hamish Mackintosh is offline  
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Originally Posted by Alistair Macnab View Post
Compared to some of you I'm a newby only starting in 1953 but that's the early 50s too, so I shall consider myself as part of this distinguished group.

My first ship was the maiden voyage of the "Fleetbank" joining in Belfast at the shipyard. The taxi took me down to the ship from the agents and when I told him the ship's name, he said "That'll be a Weir ship" I thought he said 'wee-er' ship so my heart sank but when I got to the gangway, I thought she was enormous!

Other apprentices were Tom Pierce from Troon in Ayrshire (I was from Dundonald in Ayrshire) and Peter Cross from Romford (?) in Essex. Both were in mid-apprenticeship as opposed to me who had come direct from high school.

We sailed about two weeks later to Point Fortin, Trinidad to load drummed pitch for India. On the way across the Atlantic light ship, the sadistic Mate sent me down the lower fxl store to tally stores. The bow was rising and falling like a lift/elevator operated by a madman and the occasional thumps as it plowed into a hard one was pretty frightening for someone who had never experienced anything like it before. As for the smell of paint and tarred rope..... it was all I could do to keep my breakfast down. But I did although my ears were stuffed up with the continual variation in air pressure that the violent pitching produced.

As mentioned, the Mate was a sadistic b.st.rd, he created dramas as a teaching tool. One time, when I had been in a masthouse checking something and locked the door behind me, he later called my out, dragged me to the masthouse and opened it without a key. He said I hadn't locked it. I said I had. He spent four hours bollocking me on the necessity of checking doors
after turning the key just to make sure. I was dumbstruck. No one had ever spoken to me like this sod. But I've never locked a door since, on land or sea, without checking to see that it is secure!

All this within the first week of going to sea.

Well, needless to say, I am still around. Altogether, I was 29 years with Bank Line but I shall never forget my first few days with old whatsisname. Can't bring myself to reveal the identity of this sadistic so-and-so.

Went to Point Fortin. All the excitement of a full cargo of drummed bitumen has already been discussed so no need to elaborate. We too, were thought of as 'golden boys' because we were on the newest ship. Nothing could have been further from the truth!
Alistair! If you are ever again in touch with Tommy Peirce ask him if he knows what became of his cabin mate on the "Ivybank", a huge lad from Paisley, name of "Jock"Wylie (?). We on the lower deck would speculate on who among the Apps would "make" it, and poor "jock' was very low in the ratings, as was the senior, a John Appelby Le Barber he left us in Auckland to sit his ticket in India(not by his own choice I may add) he must have made it ,as he was spotted some years later as mate on a" Flattie" at Dunstan,cheers H
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  #72  
Old 3rd September 2009, 16:12
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Originally Posted by rcraig View Post
John,

I don't know when you first met up with the custom lads. They were, when first I arrived in Calcutta ('52), all Anglo-Indian who had been used by the Brits for most of the lower managerial jobs in the railways, customs, and other government type jobs. With the gaining of independence they were being rapidly pushed out of these jobs, understandably, and were falling on hard times. By the time of my last trip to Calcutta, c. '55 my recollection is that they were either much diminished in numbers or even substantially gone. What is your recollection, or anyone else's?
Many of them clung on to their perception of an unknown past, speaking in an accent with a strong resemblance to Welsh influenced English, in a very old fashioned public school style with "old boy", "chap" etc., dropped quaintly into their conversation. They were very conscious of their status, but also conscious of their precarious position as they were not greatly loved by the populace as far as I could see. I felt quite sorry for them although they could be pedantically nit-picking. They were just washed away in the inevitable changes.
They were in those early days very much part of the Bank boat scene and memories
Yes Ray -my recollections mirror yours. I was told that they were the legacy of the British (Welsh) men who built and ran the great Indian Railway system. They were fascinating to listen to and watch and I was led to believe that they had a hard time of it after Independence.

We had our own Anglo Indian the famous Bank Line Third Engineer - Stan Sweeney - to whom we correspond at Christmas. He now lives in London where he worked in Bury St. for a time I think. He has the same accent being from Darjeeling I think.
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  #73  
Old 3rd September 2009, 19:21
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Alistair Macnab Alistair Macnab is offline  
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I sailed with Stan Sweeney on, I think, the "Carronbank" (1960 - 1962) on the Oriental African Line. Stan was a great shipmate and always the life and soul of any party. He eventually went ashore in the London office and was responsible for engineroom stores. I think most of us eventually thought of him as one of us and his Anglo Indian origin became totally unimportant.
That was then, this is now. Today anyone with mixed heritage is usually taken for granted as likely to be in the majority rather than in the minority.

Another Anglo Indian was engineer, Pete Arrowsmith. I sailed with him on the "Inchanga". but he was around in other Bank boats for a number of years.
By the way we all loved the lilting accent and tried to master it!
I often wondered what the "licensious measurers" were doing and what it was for!
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  #74  
Old 3rd September 2009, 20:27
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Indian Custom Declarations

Another recollection in connection with India was being given the task of compiling the Custom Declaration Form which had within its voluminous columns all sorts of weird things like declaring how many cutlasses we had on board as well as having to list how many gallons of paint etc, Forms that were never changed for years- India adopted the British Civil Service practices with gusto and those babus with their chitties and stamps live on I am told.

Another memory was when loading gunnies was Capt Gale boarding at about 0800hrs accompanied by a troop of supers, serangs and assorted dhotie clad babus accompanied by the ships Master and Mate going from hatch to hatch and issuing endless rollickings, which was passed down the ranks, if any cargo or stowage problem had come up. Not being of high enough rank to join this daily routine I was never party to what actually was said but from the looks on apprehension on the Mate, s and old man,s face they must have dreaded these morning routines.
JC
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  #75  
Old 3rd September 2009, 23:40
David E David E is offline  
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Originally Posted by rcraig View Post
John,

I don't know when you first met up with the custom lads. They were, when first I arrived in Calcutta ('52), all Anglo-Indian who had been used by the Brits for most of the lower managerial jobs in the railways, customs, and other government type jobs. With the gaining of independence they were being rapidly pushed out of these jobs, understandably, and were falling on hard times. By the time of my last trip to Calcutta, c. '55 my recollection is that they were either much diminished in numbers or even substantially gone. What is your recollection, or anyone else's?
Many of them clung on to their perception of an unknown past, speaking in an accent with a strong resemblance to Welsh influenced English, in a very old fashioned public school style with "old boy", "chap" etc., dropped quaintly into their conversation. They were very conscious of their status, but also conscious of their precarious position as they were not greatly loved by the populace as far as I could see. I felt quite sorry for them although they could be pedantically nit-picking. They were just washed away in the inevitable changes.
They were in those early days very much part of the Bank boat scene and memories
They seemed the main part of an incredibly complicated Customs system that must have been a relic of the Raj.With a radio,leaving the Forresbank in Bombay and crossing to Calcutta by train,I remember I had to take the radio to the Customs House and hand it over. Customs then shipped it over to Calcutta where it was returned.
They could be unpleasant when mob-handed.For some,unexplained reason, "Inchanga" was searched every trip for about a year when we arrived in Calcutta. 20-30 Officers each time would treat the crew as a sub-species,particularly if they found any gold.Very unpleasant.

All part of the memories. I enjoyed the two years I had on the India-Africa run-some of the best times I had

David
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