BLUE FUNNEL
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INTRODUCTION
HISTORICAL GUEST BOOK
CUNARD LINE
P & O and ORIENT LINERS
UNION-CASTLE LINE
ANCHOR LINE
BANK LINE
ELLERMAN LINES
GRAND OLD LADIES
BLUE FUNNEL
PORT LINE
CHRISTIAN SALVESEN
PUFFERS-"AULD REEKIE"
PORT OF LONDON-1962
SAGUENAY TERMINALS
"FAREWELL" UGANDA
BRITISH INDIA LINE
BULLARD KING'S NATAL DIRECT LINE
ZIM PICTORIAL
RFA TANKERS
BROCKLEBANK MEMOIRS
WHITE EMPRESSES
CLAN LINE
ELDER DEMPSTER
MANCHESTER LINERS
BLUE STAR GALLERY
ELDERS & FYFFES
CHRISTENSEN CANADIAN AFRICAN LINES (C.C.A.L.).
C.C.A.L. GALLERY
TRAMP STEAMERS & LIBERTY GALLERY PLUS CANADIAN BUILT "FORTS"
FREEDOM FREIGHTERS
TANKERS
CANADIAN NATIONAL S.S. GALLERY.
BOWATER GALLERY
HARRISON LINE (Mini Gallery)
THE THREE "DELS" & DELTA CRUISE LINES
MISC. CARGO ETC.
WEATHER SHIPS (BRITISH & NORTH AMERICAN)
RADIO OFFICER NOSTALGIA
R/O GALLERY
FOUR YEARS OF FUN WITH ANCHOR LINE by Ian Walker
"A SEAGOING SAGA" - Trevor Inman
ALAN SHARD - WARTIME MN REMINISCENCES
CAPT'N PETER ASHCROFT, EXPLOITS OF
SEA STORIES & OTHERS
AIME'S STORY & PICTORIALS
MEMOIRS OF A RADIO OFFICER
RELATED SITES

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"ALCINOUS" - Painting by Robert Lloyd.

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"TALTHYBIUS" - Courtesy Chris Pownall

Chris Pownall sailed as a junior engineer with Blue Funnel in 1967 aboard the 'TALTHYBIUS" on voyage #43. 
 The picture above was taken in the Klang River,  Port Swettenham.
  During a trip to the China coast he and other shipmates were involved in a somewhat hair-raising situation with the Chinese authorities in Shanghai.  He has recently completed his memoirs which include this story amongst many others.  For further information Chris may be contacted at < pownall27@btinternet.com>

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Courtesy Albert Corelli

Above, a fine picture from Albert Corelli of the World Ship Society.   The 'CHARON' is pictured here entering Keppel harbour from the Singapore Roads.

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From a colour transparency by Paul Boot - Courtesy SM

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ALFRED HOLT

"Alfred and Philip Holt conceived the founding of The Ocean Steam Ship Company in the garden of their father's Liverpool home.  They saw this as the greatest adventure of their lives and because the Odyssey was for them the finest adventure story ever written they gave Homeric names to all their ships.  They were courageous technical innovators:   they had the vision to embrace the whole Far East in their quest despite the initial lure of China:  they demanded the highest standards of personal responsibility to match their own self-reliance and to underpin their refusal to escape through insurance the consequences of their errors and misfortunes:  and they loved and inspired with their own sense of humanity the brotherhood of their creation. 
We may all be grateful for this inheritance and proud to have adapted and enlarged it in a fashion that our predecessors would have understood and approved.   And in recognition of our indebtedness we preserve the signature which they adopted as the embodiment of that spirit of selfless and anonymous service which has always animated and still binds together our whole company".
 
Alfred Holt
1829-1911

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The following text extracts were taken from the August 2003 edition of SHIPS MONTHLY. Articles and images are from the collection of Roy Fenton. Some of these images are copyright and should not be copied or forwarded without the express permission of the originator.

Alfred Holt was fascinated with steam engines as a boy, and served an apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer with the Liverpool & Manchester Railway.  At the time,  the steam locomotive represented the cutting edge of technology,  using boiler pressures much higher than those employed in marine and stationary engines.  In 1851 a recession in the railway business led Holt to join Lamport & Holt,  the shipping business of his older brother George.  He involved himself in fitting the engines in the company's ORONTES which he accompanied on her first voyage to the Mediterranean.
 
In 1852, at only 23, he had the confidence to set himself up in Liverpool as a consulting engineer.  But his horizons were broader, and Holt became part owner of the steamer DUMBARTON YOUTH.  She was not exceptional,  and her main claim to fame is that Holt gave her the first blue funnel.  With finance from family members,  a small fleet was built up to trade with the West Indies.  Competitiion proved too intense so Holt looked to UK-Far East trade although,  because of the huge distances involved,  the sailing ship was seen as unassailable in this trade.  Holt proved this to be spectacularly wrong.  With money from the sale of the West Indian ships,  Holt formed the Ocean Steam Ship Company which ordered three steamers from Scotts of Greenock: AGAMEMNON,  AJAX and ACHILLES.  With their compound engines and the high-pressure boilers with which Holt was familiar from his locomotive engineering,  the ship's coal consumption was low enough to allow profitable voyages to China under steam.  These cargo liners were amongst the most significant ships ever built and with them Holt made a major contribution to shipping history.

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Above and top left the Lifeboat Training School at Vittoria Dock,  Birkenhead in which all eligible personnel were trained to become certificated Lifeboatmen.   Top Right,  the Seamanship School at Odyssey Works,  Birkenhead,  where all pre-sea training and training for EDH and AB certificates was undertaken for both Midshipmen and Deck Ratings.   At noon each day at sea the Master,  Officers and Senior Midshipman determined the ship's latitude by observation of the sun  (No GPS here!)

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Top left - the wing for residential training.  Bottom left - Instruction by a Senior Midshipman.  Top right - Classroom study,  the subject - Chartwork.  Bottom right - The library for quiet study & reference.

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Above, a Georgian bedroom aboard ULYSSES in 1913,  a high standard of First Class accommodation.

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Courtesy F. Leonard Jackson - SM APRIL/97

Blue Funnel's cadet training ship DIOMED (V)  (1956/7,980 grt) berthed at Vittoria Dock,  Birkenhead

To many, Alfred Holt's Blue Funnel Line was the finest shipping company of them all.  It certainly did build fine ships,  had noble traditions of service in war and peace,  and set standards by which other companies were judged.  But adulation needs to be tempered with realism,  as the company had times of brilliant achievement and periods when it seemed to have lost the plot.

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ADRASTUS - Courtesy Malcolm McLeman

These two pictures are from the collection of Malcolm McLeman who sailed as radio officer with Blue Funnel.
ADRASTUS was built in 1954, of 7,859 GRT, 487 feet in breadth and had a service speed of 16 knots.

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Courtesy Malcolm McLeman

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Courtesy Jim Charnock - SM AUG/03

The Perseus class ship ATREUS (1911),  seen at Portsmouth loading for the Far east,  had a long career with Blue Funnel until sold for scrap in 1948

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

H class ship HECTOR (1950/9,718 grt) passes beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge in this official postcard.  She was typical of Holt's post-war passenger vessels.

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Author's File

Above, PELEUS, built in 1949 of 10,093 grt, had a service speed of 18 knots. Here she awaits a berth off the Liver Building in the Mersey.

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Courtesy |Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

When Glen Line was acquired in 1935,  its fleet was in urgent need of new tonnage.  Holt's naval architects designed a superb new class of motorships,  the first of which was GLENEARN (1938).  With a few modifications,  they were the basis of the numerous A class with which Blue Funnel Line was re-equipped after World War II.  Several built for Glen served Blue Funnel during their careers.  GLENGYLE of 1939 became DEUCALION,  seen above in 1970, for a few voyages before being broken up.

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

The NESTOR class cargo liners built for Australian services used high pressure temperature steam in turbines.  It was an attempt to reduce the size of the engines and so increase carrying capacity,  but the ships needed specialist engineers to operate them sucessfully.   The 1952 built NESTOR later carried the names GLENAFFRIC and ORESTES,  and in 1971 was sold to Greek owners as AEGIS DIGNITY, being broken up at Whampoa in 1973

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

Above,  the NESTOR of 1913 had a long and busy life.   During World War I she was a troopship for the Australian Expeditionary Force,  and in World War II evacuated British children to Australia.   She completed her final round voyage to Australia in 1950 and was broken up at Faslane.  This photograph emphasises the size of her funnel,  probably the biggest ever painted in the famous blue!

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

The launch of CALCHAS (7,639 grt) is seen above from Harland & Wolff in 1947.  The first A class ship,  she was launched by the wife of Lawrence Holt,  a direct descendent of Blue Funnel's founder.

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Picture of 'PERSEUS' by JIM CHARNOCK - SM AUG/03

Poignant memories outlined by Roy Fenton above will,  no doubt,  revive many great images of the reader's experience of this once great company............

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

The eight Liberty-types Holt bought in 1947 were a surprising choice for a company so proud of its naval architecture and marine engineering:  basic,  steam-driven tramps built quickly by the thousand.  The important factor was the price:  at 135,000 pounds each they were a bargain compared with the 670,000 pounds asked for a new ship.   Painted in Blue Funnel colours they looked smart,  as evidenced above by TROILUS.   She gave 11 years service before being sold and was broken up in 1963.  Perhaps crew being assigned to TROILUS might not have been too happy with the accommodation which must have been spartan to say the least.

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

The 30,038 grt Panamax bulk carrier HELENUS was built in 1973 for Rea Ltd,  an Ocean subsidiary.   In 1978 she was converted into a car carrier,  as shown above,  for a five-year charter in Kawasaki funnel colours.   Sold in 1983,  she became the Cyprus flag SEAFARER and in 1988 reverted to a bulk carrier.

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

During the Trojan war Stentor was a Greek herald with a voice as loud as that of 50 men combined according to Homer.   Blue Funnel's fourth STENTOR was one of a pair of  fast motorships laid down for the Ministry of War Transport to carry heavy items of equipment to the Far East.   They were bought at the end of the war for 673,000 pounds each and completed to Holt's specification.   In 1958 STENTOR moved to Glen Line ownership and became GLENSHIEL, reverting to STENTOR in 1963.   In 1975 she suffered the indignity of having her name truncated to TENTO to release the name for a younger vessel whilst she sailed to Kaohsiung for demolition.

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

TANTALUS was one of six Victory class turbine steamers bought in 1946 from the US War Shipping Administration.  In contrast to the Liberties that were bought in some numbers by British owners,  only 14 Victories came under the Red Ensign.   Built in 1945 as MACMURRAY VICTORY, she first became POLYPHEMUS for Holt's Dutch subsidiary,  being renamed TANTALUS on transfer to the British flag in 1960.   In Greek mythology, Tantalus was the son of Zeus who made the mistake of divulging the god's secrets to mortals.  As punishment he was plunged up to his neck in water with a laden fruit tree just out of reach.  His name is the origin of the English word tantalise.
In 1969,  after a short period laid up, TANTALUS was sold to Rethymnis and Kulukundis, renamed PELOPS under the Panamanian flag,  and loaded with a cargo of scrap metal for the breaker's yards of the Far East where she was cut up for scrap.  It has been suggested that the name Pelops was actually given to the ship before she was sold by Holts, rather than after.  Whoever gave it knew their Greek mythology.  Pelops was the son of Tantalus,  sacrificed by his father to the gods and chopped into small pieces.

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

Although the first priority after World War II was rebuilding the company's cargo-carrying fleet,  eight passsenger ships were added to the programme.  Their design was clearly based on the A class but with steam turbines to give them the necessary speed.  Four H class turbine-driven ships were built along similar lines to the P class for the Liverpool-Australia service.   Reflecting the importance of Australia's food exports,   the H class had more refrigerated space but carried slightly fewer passengers.   Second of the class,  JASON (10,160 grt), was completed in 1950 by Swan, Hunter and Wigham, Richardson Ltd. at Wallsend-on-Tyne.
In 1960, JASON carried the Australian Equestrian Team from Sydney to the Olympic Games in Rome.  A paddock was created on one of the hatches to allow the horses to be exercised.  This had some mythological resonance as the Greek hero after which the ship was named,  leader of the Argonauts,  had been brought up by a Centaur.   Along with other lines,  Blue Funnel abandoned passenger carrying in the 1960s,  allowing big savings on catering staff.   Blue Funnel's fourth and final JASON was broken up in 1972.

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

A Centaur was a half-man half-horse who dwelt in Thessaly, a myth supposedly arising from the expert horsemanship of the region's natives.  Blue Funnel's third ship of the name became associated with another quadruped,  the sheep.  CENTAUR was completed in 1964 by John Brown & Co. of Clydebank for the Singapore to Fremantle service as a replacement for the CHARON and GORGON.  She was very carefully designed for the trade,  able to carry 190 passengers amd 4,500 sheep at 20 knots.
Despite misgivings about her 2.5 million pound cost, CENTAUR proved very popular with regular passengers.  She was withdrawn from service in 1981 and,  during the Falkland's war of 1982,  was chartered by the St. Helena Shipping Co. Ltd as a substitute for it's requisitioned ST. HELENA.   Many regretted that she did not remain on the service.   In 1985 she was sold to China and was renamed HAI LONG and, after 1986,  HAI DA.  Her thick masts were vents for the sheep carrying holds.

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

The MEDON, above, of 1923 was Blue Funnel's first motorship  and her Burmeister & Wain diesel proved so successful that the company built few steamers thereafter.   MEDON was one of the company's many losses during World War II,  torpedoed by the Italian submarine Reginaldo Giuliani in the Atlantic on August 10, 1942.   MEDON's entire crew got away in her 4 lifeboats,  and had mixed fortunes.   Boat No. 1 was rescued after 8 days by the Panamanian steamer Rosemount.   Boat No. 2 was rescued after 35 days by the Portuguese steamer Luso.   Boat No. 3 was rescued after 36 days by the British steamer Reedpool,  but she was herself torpedoed on September 20th, 1942.   The 16 MEDON survivors plus Reedpool's crew took to the boats and were rescued the next day.   Boat No. 4 was rescued after 7 days by the Norwegian motor vessel Tamerlane.   Thus MEDON's entire crew survived,  some after many weeks in a boat,  others after experiencing the horrors of a second sinking.

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

In June 1949,  during the last stages of the Chinese communist revolution,  the 1947-buiilt A class Mark 1 ANCHISES was on her way from Woosung to Shanghai on the Wangpoo River when bombed by Chinese Nationalist aircraft.  Flooded in the engine room she settled by the stern in shallow water.  When towed up river for discharge she was once again bombed,  but this time without damage.  After discharging ANCHISES was towed to Kobe,  Japan for repairs.  Renamed ALCINOUS in January 1973 she was broken up in Kaohsiung in December 1075.

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Author's File

GORGON was a cargo passenger motorship built in 1933 for service between Singapore and Australia.  Early in 1942 she sailed from Melbourne with troops to reinforce the garrison at Singapore.  During the Japanese attack on the colony she was continuously bombed but was spared serious damage.  On February 11th it was apparent that the remainder of her cargo was not going to be discharged,  she sailed with many refugees on board.  Attacked by aircraft,  the captain reported that only the extreme manoeuvrability of GORGON saved her,  but this almost certainly hid the skill and coolness with which he handled her.  GORGON again survived bombing by the Japanese whilst in Milne Bay, New Guinea,  on April 4th. 1943.  The air attack was in response to the first Allied successes of the war against the Japanese when the Australians stopped their advance to Port Moresby.  Six of GORGON's crew were killed,  and so she was so severely damaged by fire that she had to be towed to Brisbane for repairs.  After a long and eventful life, GORGON went for scrap in Hong Kong during 1964.

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

The arrival of LAERTES (above) and LYCAON in 1976 was something of a surprise,  two sisters from the Kherson Shipyard in the USSR.  They were the result of the inability of British yards to meet Blue Funnel's urgent demand for extra container capacity,  and the USSR's eternal desire for hard currency.  Both were chartered by the Ministry of  Defence for use during the Falkland's campaign where they proved their worth.   Most Russian 'civilian' designs had the ability to carry heavy military equipment.  LAERTES was sold in 1983 and lasted until broken up in 1998..

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

All three ships of the ALCINOUS class were completed for Dutch subsidiary Nederlandsche Stoomvaart Maatschappij Oceaan (NSMO).  ALCINOUS, the first, was transferred to the British flag in 1950 and was renamed PHEMIUS as seen above.  She was broken up at Hong Kong in 1957.

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

First of the class, AGAMEMNON  (above) was requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1939 and converted into a minelayer,  later becoming a recreation ship and requiring an extra funnel.  Returned to the company in 1946 she was demolished at Hong Kong in 1963.

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Courtesy Albert Novelli - SM AUG/03

Above, ADRASTUS, a Mark IV A class ship, catches the evening sun at Singapore in 1960.  This version of the class had a lengthened poop to accommodate a pair of deep tanks.  ADRASTUS was transferred to NSMO in 1961,  went briefly to Elder Dempster in 1974,  then returned to China Mutual the same year before being sold to Cyprus to be renamed ANASSA.  She was broken up on Gadani Beach in 1981.

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

PRIAM, the first of the Priam or Super P class,  was seen as the ultimate in British cargo-liner design.  She had an inauspicious start to her career,  being delivered from Vickers seven and a half months late,  and then being beaten to each port in Malaya and Singapore on her maiden voyage by the latest Ben Line ship.  Sold in 1979 to C.Y. Tung and renamed ORIENTAL CHAMPION, she was damaged in 1985 and demolished.

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Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM AUG/03

The TYNDAREUS ws a batch-four BELLEROPHON laid down in March of 1914.  On the outbreak of war her construction was delayed in favour of warship building and it ws almost two and a half years before she was completed.  During her 1917 maiden voyage from Liverpool to Yokohama,  she hit a mine and began to sink.  All on board were saved and TYNDAREUS survived to be repaired.  During World War II,  she was again a troopship and in 1949 was converted to a pilgrim ship making voyages each year between SE Asia and Jeddah.

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Author's File

Above, three of the ships trapped in the Suez Canal for eight years in the seventies.  Left to right the 'LEDNICE', the 'MELAMPUS' (8,511 grt) and the 'AGAPENOR'.  The 'MELAMPUS' was built by Vickers Armstrong at Newcastle in 1960 and was owned by the Ocean Steamship Company, while the 'AGAPENOR' (7,654 grt) was built by Scott's of Greenock in 1947 and,  at the time,  belonged to the China Mutual Steam Navigation Company.   Both ships were registered in Liverpool.

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"AENEAS" Courtesy Ray Simes

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"AJAX" Courtesy Ray Simes

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"ASTYANAX" Courtesy Ray Simes

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"LYCAON" Courtesy Ray Simes

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"MARON" Courtesy Ray Simes

FOR BLUE FUNNEL FANS.
 
The following memorabilia is from Doug. Jackson who now lives in Brisbane, Australia.
 
"My Mother and I travelled from South Africa in July 1948 on the 'NESTOR'.  I have a Childrens Tea Party  invitation from the ship with the names of all the children on the voyage and the menu for the event.  It is dated 24 July 1948 and the captain was E. W. Powell,   M.B.E.
 
I also have a menu from the 'DIOMED' dated August 7th. 1951. My father served in the R.A.N from April 1939 to August 1948. (HMAS Nestor and other 'N' Class destroyers) and left the service as a two badge PO Stoker.  He then worked on merchant vessels, one of which I believe was the 'DIOMED'. Both menus were found among his effects long after his passing. The Captain at that time on the 'DIOMED' was R. Singleton."

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