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With the extensive fleet disposal between 1970 and 1981, no fewer than 60 Bank Line ships were sold out of the fleet for further trading that reduced the employent of sea staff to only a handful of ships.

Someone has mentioned in another thread that this was a momentous upheaval in many a personal career path and though it might be painful to reveal emotions of betrayal, unfairness and alarm, with the passage of time it might be interesting to read how other people coped with the reality of the redundancy.

There will be differing reactions dependent upon the age of the individual at the time of being let go. Obviously cadets who were not rehired and senior masters and chief engineers who lost their job will have reacted differently .

This will be an interesting review!

I shall start the ball rolling: I was made redundant on my birthday in July 1980 with a phone call from someone in the London office with whom I had never met, to tell me that my services were no longer required.
That was it! On the scrap heap at 43!

Thinking that a future sea career was now closed to me I did what any self-respecting mariner would do....I bought a pub..... and moved my wife and very young family back to Scotland from the United States.

The pub was actually a country hotel in the Scottish Borders, so not only could I while away my declining years with a jar of two in congenial company (I was the sole outlet of a microbrew and also retailed other regional 'real ales') we had letting rooms, a coffee shop, a beer garden and a formal silver-service restaurant.

In the summer months I made out like a bandit but for the remaining six months out of the eight that were left, I took a bath. Realizing after three years that I was going broke slowly but surely (the quarterly VAT bill was a killer!) I hired myself out to a Far Eastern full container operator in their London office just entering the transatlantic trades. This was a lucky break for me as it got me back into the business I knew best.

To cut a long story short, my employers sent me to the USA, so I sold the hotel and repatriated my family to New Jersey, then Virginia then back to Houston. Since then I have worked for a marine terminal operator and stevedore, an import-export trading firm and finally at the Port of Houston where I became president of the Port Bureau, the chamber of commerce and liaison between the public port authority and the many private sector businesses that make the port of Houston such a successful and growing operation.

Nevertheless, I retired at 70 and now lecture at the University of Houston two days a week on Logistics and International Commerce, and on Negotiations and Ethics. This should hold me until my faculties are not up to the job!

There! You have it. An original dash to the top at Weir's (I was very ambitious), crash landing, almost financial disaster, then up from the ashes!

I hope there are many good tales of successful regeneration to tell!
 

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I suspect Alistair meant this thread for those who suffered redundancy from the Bankline, and not those of us who departed voluntarily. It must have been a huge blow, especially to Master's who had sunk all their time and effort into their seagoing careers. I have heard bitter comments from 2 of them myself. Although I never experienced redundancy, I did have a major bankruptcy when running a division of a shipping/offshore group abroard in 1986. It was telex in those days, which went to all the worldwide offices, came from the owner, and read............

'' Dear X

As you may know we have lost the struggle for survival after a long battle. Therefore please regard yourself as on your own after today. It has been enjoyable working with you, and I wish you good luck and goodbye. ''

Great! I had children at private schools, accommodation, etc etc but I did survive - quite well actually - but that is another story.

Going back to Bankline, they always seemed to be very light on the personal touch in the head office, and very remote. This is based on personal experience plus what I have heard from others, not to mention Alistair's grim experience. It seemed to be a case of ' long distance communications ' and no particular warmth towards the vital key members who kept the whole show on the road...

Redundancy or just plain moving on, the Bankline experience stayed with us all and shaped a lot of subsequent events.
 

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I was, and I am, still unsure of what the Bank Line experience consisted. It certainly meant that I did not find myself at a disadvantage when looking for other marine employment. But then, at the end of the '50's you could virtually choose your company and routes, within reason, because of the shortage of mates, etc.
However, no other period of my life has been quite so evocative in bringing back memories irrespective of whether or not they were always enjoyable. Certainly the whole sea-going background is one that has been of great value to me and still contributes to my income and interest even now.
It is a thread which has run through an army career and indirectly led to accelerated promotion there, and financed my period as a student at university before becoming a lawyer operating primarily in the offshore and maritime area before specialising in that for many years on behalf of the state and now in consultancy and lecturing.
As an aside, one of the recent arguments regarding offshore working patterns was related to the "two weeks on, two weeks off" practice and whether or not the time off actually should include the holiday time as well, instead of being a separate extra. I take pleasure ( rather childishly, I know) in recounting that we had a "two ,on two off" process as well over 50 years ago in Bank Line, that is, 2 years on, and 2 months off.
And in showing a photograph of me as an apprentice chipping overside as an illustration of the "marginal" advances made in health and safety practice over the years.
Doug Scott, who was a senior apprentice on my first trip, will not be aware that I still refer to a particular "man lifting" operation at the base of the steep banks at Rosario when he had to be hoisted to the top of the mast as an example of how he wished to employ total control over the operation by hoisting himself by hand in the bo`sun`s chair thereby ensuring that he had no control or communication problems and minimised risk.
In other words, he did not want some damned fool of a first trip apprentice getting a riding turn on the barrel whilst trying also to stop the winch and coming down in two halves.
But where did all these guys go from the large number of ships sold off by the company? I heard of very few going into the North Sea where there was a lot of work available.
 

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Made redundant from Harrison Line in 1983 - think we were down to 6 ships at the time and there'd been 29 when I joined in 1973. Tried to get a job ashore as an engineer but was usually told I was over-qualified or the employer thought I wouldn't settle ashore.
Ended up on the pool and did a trip with Regal Shipping - was promoted there as they'd had a lot of poor engineers from the pool and were surprised to get someone who knew one end of a shifter from the other. Unfortunately, the ship was sold while I was on leave and I was back on the pool.
Did one trip with Buries Markes - covering for someone on study leave - but it was clear there was no permanent job there.
Didn't know what to do next but was put in touch with someone who'd left the building industry to study hospitality management - the person who put me in touch knew of my interest in food and cooking. Took voluntary redundancy from the pool and became a student for three years. Did a years placement at the NEC and they offered me a job when I graduated. Left after 3 months because of the scale of fraud I discovered.
Had several jobs after that, including a spell as a 'consultant'. Was eventually invited back to lecture at the college I'd studied at and stayed there for 13 years. Eventually fell foul of management as I argued against corners being cut.
In the meantime I'd studied for a master's degree in tourism at Birmingham Uni so ended up as a tourism lecturer at Westminster University in London. After two years a vacancy came up at The University of Gloucestershire, teaching at their Cheltenham campus. From there I could actually get home each night (West Midlands) instead of working away from home most of the week. Moved there and have now been there over 5 years, teaching Hospitality Management, Event Management, and Tourism.
Quite a change for an engineer but you'd be surprised at the skills and knowledge gained at sea which still stand me in good stead.
 

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You are discussing redundancy or voluntarily leaving Bank Line. Perhaps I fit into a third category,involuntarily leaving.After a year at KE VII then completing my apprenticeship I became short sighted (after a far east run,it makes you wonder about those old wives tales)failed the eyesight test and was told I could take my 2nd Mates cert and have it stamped "failed eyesight".Maybe I should have, but you can imagine I was not in the right frame of mind to do this at that time.I tried the P L A who were not interested and I also tried to find work in Mombassa on the way home with no success.So, somewhat peed off, I started again,this time in the motor trade which to be fair, paid the mortgage every month,but I must say that after retirement in 2001 I wouldn't go back for all the tea in China.Did my nautical experiences help in my subsequent career? I'm certain it did.Did I mention I did my National Service as a Wireless/DF Operator in the RAF,the morse came in handy and in my early motor trade "career" flogging motors, the yarn-spinning skills were invaluable!
 

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Since leaving Bank Line I have been a firefighter, hotelier, roughneck on the North Sea oil fields, truck driver, yacht club and golf club manager, insurance loss adjuster and had several periods of unemployment,low paid varieties of work etc and I guess my sea going experience held me in good stead, as I always managed to at least get on with folk, even though I didn't set the world on fire! Tried a few times!
If you can get on with your fellow man it makes life a hell of a lot easier and on the long trips with Bank boats you had to learn the hard way..

I now contract to the NZ Earthquake Commission (self employed) who treat me very well and I have been doing this now for nearly 5 years (3 to go before I am allowed to get the pension, if there is one then!). I never thought I would be making my dollars from disasters, but there ya go.
Thanks to both Donaldson and Bank Line, great companies, great teachers, now both deceased.(Pint)
 

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Made redunant from Bank Line in 1979, got the letter in PNG whilst 3rd Mate Cloverbank (Capt Collinson). There were plenty of jobs with other outfits at the time and so I wasn't too worried. Joined Stevie Clarkes for a three month trip and stayed for 8 years. The writing was on the wall however, so after getting my Masters I left and went to do a degree in Physics, (wish I'd done law!) ended up doing teacher training, now head of Science and Psychology at a secondary school in West ***bria. Do I miss the sea? Does a fish swim
Ian Bl.
 

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Only a passing acquaintance with Bankboats (25% of my seagoing career) and the lack of more experience of cruising with Bankline was really me shooting myself in the foot.
Did an electronics ticket and after that no more cruising and lots more boredom.
Given the chance would I do it any different?
Not too sure, maybe a couple more cruises before doing the electronics.
At least I wasn't there to see it die slowly from strangulation. (Sad)

Left before they had a chance to push.
Got into computers via cash registers. Made redundant several times. Owned two companies. Settled for the peaceful life designing and building electrical control panels for someone else after a foray into HVAC systems for oil platforms.
 

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Choice of Career

The 1970's and 1980's were a strange time across the board shipping wise. not only did the UK MN die, but my father who had spent most of his time since the 2nd WW, working for Manchester dry docks. Experienced decisions being made, such as which MDD yard to close Ellesmere Port or Manchester. Ellesmere Port yard got the chop, when just about everybody felt that this was a wrong decision, even Tommy Bell, Extra Chief ticket, the yard manager included! For a considerable period the Manchester Ship Canal seemed to be dying from the Manchester end, where as Ellermans, Stricks, Harrisons etc, plus many petroleum related vessels still transitted to shell stanlow or ICI Runcorn, along with ships taking cars for sale from the Vauxhall plant at EP. The Manchester Liners decision to not use the canal anymore I think was the final nail. In some ways my farther was fortunate, he opened a company with his cousins called Thomas Knight Ships Riggers, which effectively replaced MDD, doing the same work, apart from the ship repairs, the floating dry dock had been removed! So exactly as they had tried to tell everyone, there was still work on the first section (Eastham to Warrington), including removal of funnels, masts, radar masts etc, from ships transitting the canal to avoid them hitting the trip wires, which in those days preceeded the various bridges on either side. I tend to think at this point I should put in the Imagination is more important than brains quote! In some ways I had probably learned much from my farthers experience, even though at the time I did not realise it. The change that resulted with the MN death did not effect me so much, because in many ways age, was on my side. I was only in my mid 20's in 1978, and I am not convinced I ever saw myself remaining at sea forever. If I had been 45, not 25, I am sure it would of been much more difficult. The moral off this story is that whatever you train for, choose a job that is likely to be there forever, undertaker, civil servant or an MP!
 

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With the extensive fleet disposal between 1970 and 1981, no fewer than 60 Bank Line ships were sold out of the fleet for further trading that reduced the employent of sea staff to only a handful of ships.

Someone has mentioned in another thread that this was a momentous upheaval in many a personal career path and though it might be painful to reveal emotions of betrayal, unfairness and alarm, with the passage of time it might be interesting to read how other people coped with the reality of the redundancy.

There will be differing reactions dependent upon the age of the individual at the time of being let go. Obviously cadets who were not rehired and senior masters and chief engineers who lost their job will have reacted differently .

This will be an interesting review!

I shall start the ball rolling: I was made redundant on my birthday in July 1980 with a phone call from someone in the London office with whom I had never met, to tell me that my services were no longer required.
That was it! On the scrap heap at 43!

Thinking that a future sea career was now closed to me I did what any self-respecting mariner would do....I bought a pub..... and moved my wife and very young family back to Scotland from the United States.

The pub was actually a country hotel in the Scottish Borders, so not only could I while away my declining years with a jar of two in congenial company (I was the sole outlet of a microbrew and also retailed other regional 'real ales') we had letting rooms, a coffee shop, a beer garden and a formal silver-service restaurant.

In the summer months I made out like a bandit but for the remaining six months out of the eight that were left, I took a bath. Realizing after three years that I was going broke slowly but surely (the quarterly VAT bill was a killer!) I hired myself out to a Far Eastern full container operator in their London office just entering the transatlantic trades. This was a lucky break for me as it got me back into the business I knew best.

To cut a long story short, my employers sent me to the USA, so I sold the hotel and repatriated my family to New Jersey, then Virginia then back to Houston. Since then I have worked for a marine terminal operator and stevedore, an import-export trading firm and finally at the Port of Houston where I became president of the Port Bureau, the chamber of commerce and liaison between the public port authority and the many private sector businesses that make the port of Houston such a successful and growing operation.

Nevertheless, I retired at 70 and now lecture at the University of Houston two days a week on Logistics and International Commerce, and on Negotiations and Ethics. This should hold me until my faculties are not up to the job!

There! You have it. An original dash to the top at Weir's (I was very ambitious), crash landing, almost financial disaster, then up from the ashes!

I hope there are many good tales of successful regeneration to tell!
Hi Hamish,
I had always assumed you had gone directly to the Houston job from Weirs!Quite a suprise.
I left 1979 after about a years dallying because a wife could not bear the long voyages.Although the powers that be had known,there was no hint that most would be made redundant so I resigned,luckily directly into a waiting job as a deep sea pilot.
I was then with Hammonds agency at Dover for 25 years retiring 1995.
Regards,
Ben Masey
 

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I left Bank Line after getting Masters in 1967. I had a private pilots licence and wanted to drive hovercraft and two year trips made it difficult to attemd interviews. I joined British Rail Isle of Wight ferries to be 'on the spot'. Made Master in less than a year and then turned down a hover job (Luckily - they had a lot of redundancy, too!) During my thirty-five years (often seven days a week in the summer season) in the ferries I taught motorcycling from beginner to advanced rider level and ran a team of instructors in the New Forest area. I examined Part One of the motorcycle test for the Ministry of transport. I started diving and that led to my becoming a part time lifeguard at several of my local council pools for more than a decade as well as some years as duty officer (also part time) at the same rec centres. Not being fully occupied I occasionally cut the grass and helped rear a family.
Oh, yes, I did get divorced once the kids were grown. You don't have to be at sea for that.
Andy
 

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Never got it handed on a plate.

While you guys were enjoying the good life, dressed in nice crisp shirts etc, I was slaving away at a bit of development work. This photo in 1979, shows me at our caravan park development site, on one of my REST days from working on the ferries. As you can see from this photo, I was so busy working, I had no time for ANYTHING else. [=P]
 

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HA! I am in distinguished company indeed then! From the age of 12, I KNEW that I wanted to go to sea as an engineer. Bank Line offered me the chance in 1978 and "saved" me from signing up with the RN. As a cadet I went first to Glasgow, the Training Officer hated me (I was scruffy...but good at the sums hehe!) at sea, my first Chief Eng and Skipper hated me (I was scruffy...but good at fitting bits together), sailed on the Ivybank, Shirrabank (Her last voyage) and the Troutbank as cadet) and back to South Shields for 3rd phase...same story...too scruffy.

My first trip as Junior Eng was on the Forthbank, flew from London out to New Caledonia to join her as one of the Junior Engs had "injured" himself and had to fly home...He seemed OK to me, carrying a huge suitcase down the gangway as he paid off..

Anyway, I completed that trip on the 12-4 watch with a 3rd Engineer called Kit Cooper...what a trip :))

I then joined the Corabank in Hull, bound for HongKong in December 1982. I got a big brown envelope delivered to me in the duty mess, opened it and couldn't understand what it was saying. I took it to the Chief for some help and he took me up to see the skipper, I am sorry but I can not remember his name, The skipper read through the contents and looked told me that he was very sorry and that I didn't have a job...I was devastated!

Anyway, I took a bit of comfort from the fact that the skipper quit too. He later told me that he had been offered a job a surveyor and had been considering it for some time, and that my redundancy made his mind up for him.

After wasting several months trying to get back into the Merchant Navy (Class 4 certificate meant I could sail as 2nd on Oilfield Standby Boats...horrible), I took a job as a valve technician in Aberdeen, working offshore. My goodness! What a shock! No Watch keeping no cameraderie and something called Health & Safety. Took a bit of getting used to, especially not having the crew to tidy up behind me (remember, I was the scruffy one!).

Well, by a not terribly direct route, I now run my own valve service and curiously, ship surveying company out in the UAE and I LOVE all of my Bank Line memories. I couldn't go back to sea now, but I still love working on ships and doing my little surveys.

I wouldn't change my time with Bank Line for anything and I was saddened to read the report of the last Bank Boat going to the wreckers at Chittagong.
 

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Kit Cooper maker of model engines - a good guy - sailed with him on the tenchbank early 1980s - i have visions of him walking along the beach in Durban - a beach full of the beautiful people soaking up the sun - in a pair of grey flannel trousers - black shoes and a long sleeved white shirt - not a care in the world - i trust he is keeping well
 

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I received my brown envelope as I was standing outside the exam room for class 3 principles of Nav exam - what a shock - It stated that I was one of 50 Cadets who would not get a 3rd mates berth on completion of cadetships (1979).

The only job I could get was as AB on MOD(N) tugs in Plymouth - eventually made it to senior Master and Admiralty pilot.

In 2003 when tired of politics contractorisation and cuts in the MOD I left to work on Anchor Handlers which reinvigorated my nautical enthusiasm.

I now work as a Marine Warranty Surveyor / Tow Master / Offshore Marine rep, which I find challenging but rewarding, every job is different.

Still grateful to Bank Line for giving me a start at sea and the character building training that has given me a satisfying career in the marine industry.
 

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Indentured to Bank Line in 1957 and worked my way up to Chief Officer but in 1971 emigrated to South Africa. Was appointed to Weybank, joining in Durban, and paid off 9 months later in Liverpool. Went to London to get my ticket home and was informed by them that future uncertain so would no longer be contracted. On returning home worked on South African coast for a while but my heart was deep sea so in 1973 joined Safmaine as Chief Officer. Promoted to Master in 1976 and stayed there until retirement in 2001. Now doing community work (unpaid); whenever possible my wife and I take off camping through South Africa's National Parks which is a wonderful experience. Still remember Bank Line with affection for in 50's and 60's loyalty was very much a double edged sword with companies employing personnel who, in turn, continued to work for them through thick and thin. In 70's everything changed and shipping companies made their guys reduntant as fast as possible in favour of cheap labour. Pity, for years later a lot of companies realised the mistake they had made but by then it was too late.
 

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Redundancy was a shock from BankLine, especially after two great Superintendency postings overseas - in many ways never really got over it, as life with Weirs was more a "way of life" than just a career job.
Period of time with United Arab; then Neptune Orient before getting the Marine managers position in Jamaica - which was a lot like New Guinea, but the cricket was better !
Returned to the UK and after life in the Post Office returned afloat with Sealink and finally United European Car Carriers in Command until retiring in 1999 and able to return to Australia to live for six months every year in Summer and spending the rest in Europe with my motor-home.
Still meet many ex BankLine folk here and there and lots of happy memories.
Ozedev
 

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What varied and interesting careers many of you chaps have had compared with the majority of pen-pushers and civil servants. Most of you could write a very interesting autobiography !!
 

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I received my brown envelope as I was standing outside the exam room for class 3 principles of Nav exam - what a shock - It stated that I was one of 50 Cadets who would not get a 3rd mates berth on completion of cadetships (1979).

The only job I could get was as AB on MOD(N) tugs in Plymouth - eventually made it to senior Master and Admiralty pilot.

In 2003 when tired of politics contractorisation and cuts in the MOD I left to work on Anchor Handlers which reinvigorated my nautical enthusiasm.

I now work as a Marine Warranty Surveyor / Tow Master / Offshore Marine rep, which I find challenging but rewarding, every job is different.

Still grateful to Bank Line for giving me a start at sea and the character building training that has given me a satisfying career in the marine industry.
Hi mil511mariner nice surprise to read your experiences post Weirs. I took voluntary severance in 1983 and also joined the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service (RMAS); however, I was lucky enough to join as a direct entry Master (MSO III D) and posted to Rosyth. Did the two years obligatory tug and harbour craft work and then opted for seagoing vessels, mainly moorings and fleet trials as MSO II D. Wonderful ship handling experience, fascinating work experiences and all totally different from MN practice (no Merchant Shipping Acts just MOD Regs). Spells on the Clyde and Pembroke Dock. Seagoing Vessels: Kinloss, Uplifter, Goosander, Pochard, Garganny and Salmaster. It was great being Master without the commercial pressures. Then Bath as MSSO (Ops) and eventually MSO I D and into project management and marine superintending. Thence to Forth Ports as Assistant Harbour Master and VTS Manager and after 7 years to the UKHO as editor of Sailing Directions - a nice wind down to retirement.

Of course the RMAS is long gone. All contracted out to Serco-Denholm.
 
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