Heavy Lift Ships

Without wishing to be too pedantic and not wishing to criticise anyone, I would just like to make the following comment. Mr. Peck in his letter in the April edition regarding heavy lift ships states that some companies did not use Stulken derricks because they could not transit the Manchester Ship canal. However, while I cannot speak for other companies, the Harrison Line vessels that I mentioned in my letter with the exception of the Adventurer and the Craftsman could in fact all reach Manchester docks, by lowering masts, jumbo derricks and their Stulken derricks, I did this transit many times myself on the Trader and also on the Historian. As your readers will I am sure be aware, most ships had to lower masts and jumbo derricks for this transit and many also had to have the tops of their funnels removed too including the larger Harrison ships. Also may I thank Mr. A. D. Frost for correcting my mistake in thinking the Adventurer was the first British ship equipped with a Stulken Derrick.

Don Wood

Tyne Tanker Tableau

I enjoyed your article ‘Tyne Tanker Tableau’ but there is one error. The article stated that in 1961 the world’s largest tanker was Sepia at 66,790 dwt. In 1968 I joined Naess Sovereign as 2nd mate. She was 95,134 dwt, built at Nagasaki in 1961. I understood that in 1961 she was the world’s 3rd largest oil tanker, the two larger ones were, I believe, Universe Apollo and Universe Daphne.

David Booth

Ellerman Laundry

Your May issue story ‘Memorable Ships’ by Norman Middlemiss promoted me to write this email.

I followed in my father’s footsteps to become shipping representative for Taylor & Ward’s Laundry, Southcoates Lane, Hull. We were contracted to every shipping company, British as well as foreign. I started working with my father in 1959 following ‘Two of Brothers’, as they were called, for national service. The next one took over from the last one in days of Pit, Prop and Timber ships. Some ships staying eight to ten weeks unloading. I estimate that by the time I was forty I had done business with every nationality in the world. When I retired at 66 I must have boarded approximately 80,000 ships.

As it was rated as one of the best laundries in the world, it made my father and my jobs easy. My father was known as Jerry and we worked on all the Ellerman ships. The big four which docked in London, the Port Elizabeth, Exeter, York and Durban to discharge cargo and passengers but saved the laundry for Hull with approximately 12,000 pieces of linen. We would also wash and pack Sir John’s own ships linen to store it on whatever ship he was going on to Cape Town. This would contain about 2,000 pieces of items such as sheets, pillows, towels and table linen. On one occasion there was no ship coming to Hull so I had to take it to the the City of Adelaide which was docked at Middlesborough ready to travel to London. He had his own Purser and Stewards who we knew very well. In one of your issues many years ago, regarding a young assistant Purser’s first voyage and the Purser was William ‘Bill’ Lake. He was from Hull and a good friend of mine and my father’s. When my father retired Bill would leave 100 cigs with the head boy for him. There must be lots of retired Stewerds and Pursers who remember ‘Jerry’ as they had nicknamed him. I could go on forever more regarding Sir John, like when he caught the Quartermaster asleep on the Chesterfield sofa. The steward would be selling the Sobrine cigs they were all different colours. It was a sad day when containerisation took over.

Peter Jackson

Empress Of Scotland

Another outstanding and well researched article by Mr Middlemiss on this historic vessel Empress of Scotland. I applaud you Norman for your depth of knowledge and the passion with which you write. This article is particularly inspiring.

Many of the ships on which you write were part of my growing up in Barbados during the 1950s and 1960s. I remember being very impressed when I first saw Hanseatic alongside in the port for the first time. I think that was 1962 and I have little B&W photos of her. She was a most handsome ship and only later did I come to appreciate and understand about conversions and the history of this fine vessel. But even so I was still as a 12 year old struck by her imposing bridge front and elegant funnels. I also later learned from the older generation of Barbadians that as the Empress she had been a frequent visitor too.

I was immensely fortunate in that I was always allowed on board (can you imagine that, alone and not even a teenager!) and my main goal was to get a postcard or two of the ship! Which I almost always succeeded in achieving! It was the beginning of a lifetime passion of collecting postcards of ships. Today the collection is vast and the cards obtained during these years are especially precious to me. I can picture my father sitting patiently in the car at the foot of the gangway waiting for me to come back clutching the sought after cards!

Sadly none of this could happen today and many ships wouldn’t have cards and certainly would not give them away!


Anyway I digress. Your history of this great ship makes brilliant reading. The thought of that impressive array up of liners at Fremantle is inspiring. I may be wrong but I’d be surprised if the Queen Mary went alongside there. I’m thinking she waited at anchor?

Thank you for this and many other informative articles Norman!

Roger Emtage

Bristol Shiplovers Society

As you will no doubt imagine we in the Bristol Shiplovers Society were very pleased to see your feature on the Bristol Steam Navigation Company in the November 2017 ‘Shipping’ magazine.  Our Society was established as long ago as 1931 and although commercial shipping has now moved down river we still meet twice a month in Bristol from September to May for interesting talks on maritime topics, covering both the Royal and Merchant Navies, and in fact anything water or shipping related. To add variety occasional meetings feature other topics such as local railways and aviation. In the summer we also arrange visits to places of maritime interest.

From September this year we will move to a new venue at the Royal British Legion Club Whitchurch Branch, Staunton Lane, Whitchurch, Bristol, BS14 0QF.  Details of our programme of meetings and events are on our website www.bristolshiplovers.co.uk. We extend a very warm invitation to your readership to come along; membership is £16 a year. We hope that you will join the Society, but visitors are always welcome, admission £3.

Bernard Mennell

Victory 1

I wanted to make a correction on your May 2018 issue. The photo you show as the Victory I, is actually the casino ship Victory I (ex-Dayliner), owned by Victory Casino Cruises, not the cruise ship Victory I (ex-Cape May Light) owned by Victory Cruise Lines. An easy mistake to make as both ships have the same name and owners have such similar names.

Richard L. McGregory


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