P & O and ORIENT LINERS
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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

Michael Gold of Moruya, south east Australia has provided the following excellent site referencing P & O.
<seadogs-reunited.com.au>

Marine artist Robert G. Lloyd has created this beautiful scene below aptly named 'TWILIGHT ON THE THAMES'.
The Royal Yacht VICTORIA & ALBERT III passes astern of P & O's classic turbo-electric liner STRATHAIRD in the Thames at Gravesend.

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Painting by Marine Artist Robert G. Lloyd.

The launch of the Orient Liner ORSOVA from the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard of Vickers Armstrong Ltd. at noon on Thursday, 14th May 1953 marked the final stage of a post-war development programme based on 'the shape of things to come'.  It could be said that shipbuilding history was made that day since the ORSOVA was the first large liner to be built without conventional masts and,  more importantly,  she was the first vesel of her size to have an all-welded hull.   It was the beginning of a new era of prefabrication which is taken for granted today.

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Author's File

The ORSOVA's story really starts in 1951,  when the contract for this new,  29,000-ton passenger liner went to the Barrow-based shipbuilders which was no surprise as the company had built eight of the nine Orient liners that had entered service since 1924.   In the early fifties she was the largest post-war liner constructed in England and it was her unorthodox appearance which caused a great deal of comment at the time.  As well as being designed without a mast,  the outline of her funnel,  with its 'Welsh Hat' extension,  was the subject of much adverse criticism.  However,  as the latter had been specially planned to prevent the nuisance of smoke and smuts on the passenger decks,  the travelling public were interested to see whether the theory would work in practice.  The funnel was also rigged to carry the radio aerials and halyards.

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Courtesy P & O - SM JAN/96

The ORSOVA arriving at Tilbury for the first time on March 10th. 1954

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Courtesy P & O - SM JAN/96

Assisted by local tugs the liner is seen here passing through the entrance lock into Tilbury Docks.

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In 1955 the P & O Group operated over 50 passenger liners.  This dropped to about 30 in 1965.   At the end of the sixties P & O's Far Eastern service ended with the transfer of the CHITRAL to the Eastern & Australian SS Co.  The following year saw CHUSAN make her last call at Bombay.   The 1970s were a period of rationalisation and consolidation.   The decline in the passenger fleet was reversed in 1974 when P & O purchased Princess Cruises of Los Angeles.   The company is still also very active with a modern cross channel ferry fleet.

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Courtesy Duncan Mackenzie - SM FEB/03

P & O's SURAT  (1948/8,925 grt)  was built by Barclay Curle & Co. Glasgow.   In 1968 the company commenced a west about 'round the world service from the UK arriving in Yokohama,  Japan in 31 days.   Renamed PANDO HEAD for this service,  the rapid increase in containerisation saw her withdrawn and sold to Thomas W. Wood Ltd. of  Inverkeithing for demolition in 1971.

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Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection

STRATHMORE was built by Vickers Armstrong at Barrow for P & O in 1935.   23,580 grt,  629 ft. overall.  Geared turbines,  twin screw, 20 knots.  Passenger accommodation was for 445 1st. Class,  665 Tourist.  Route was between UK and Australia.  She was sold in 1963,  renamed and eventually used as a pilgrim ship and hotel in the Far East.  This fine old lady was broken up in 1969.

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Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection

It is over 40 years since the ORIANA made her maiden cruise which was a short 5 day trip to Lisbon.   She was built at the yard of Vickers Armstrong in Barrow-in-Furness and launched in November 1959.  Never described as a 'beautiful' ship she nevertheless endeared herself to many repeat passengers to the Far East.  The after 'flower pot' funnel was a dummy and served as a housing for engine room exhausts.  ORIANA was powered by a two shaft arrangement of double-reduction geared turbines.   These units developed 65,000 BHP to maintain a service speed of 27.5 knots.   She was designed to carry 658 1st. Class and 1,496 Tourist class passengers.

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Courtesy Laurence Dunn - SM FEB/86

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Courtesy Edward Pagett Tomlinson - SM FEB/86

ORIANA is seen leaving Barrow for her trials on November 4th. 1960.

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Photo Andrew J. Lovell - SM MAR/86

A dynamic night time view above of ORIANA berthed in Sydney.   Invitations for local residents to party aboard ORIANA were a popular feature of the company abroad suggesting a hedonistic lifestyle for passengers and crew members alike.

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Print obtainable from Andrew Dibben Designs, Norwich, England.

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Claude Meldrum Collection

CANBERRA was built by Harland & Wolff at Belfast and commisioned in 1961.  44,807 gross tonnage,  813 ft overall.  Turbo-electric machinery placed aft.  Twin screw,  27.5 knots.  Accommodation on the U.K-Australia service for 596 1st. Class and 1,616 Tourist passengers before conversion to a single-class cruise liner.   She was the last P & O liner to be built.

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Courtesy Ted Scull - SM JAN/86

Above is seen a typical Crossing of the Line ceremony which took place around the Bonito pool of CANBERRA while the ship steamed through the Java Sea at 23 knots.  The outdoor setting was much like an amphi-theatre of the ancient world,  and the treatment that the cruise director,  Phil Raymond,  ordered for his poor victims,  including Deputy Captain Gibb,  recalled to mind the messy tortures the Romans meted out to the Christians.  In the modern day scenario,  the poor souls were thrown to the bears,  in the ship's pool,  rather than to the lions!  It's not only Neptune's victims that suffer.   The Indian crew had to mop up the considerable mess created by all the spilled 'blood'  (red confectioners sugar). 

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ORCADES - Courtesy Southampton City Museums.

ORCADES (I) had been built by Vickers Armstrong at Barrow and she was launched by Mrs. I.C. Geddes, the wife of one of the Orient Line managers, on Tuesday, December 1st. 1936. She was handed over to her owners in mid-July 1937 and in the following month made her maiden voyage, a 26 day Mediterranean cruise. The 'new' ship was an improved version of the celebrated ORION of 1935. She had accommodation for 463 first and 605 second class pssengers and her single-reduction Parsons steam turbines, which drove twin screws, gave her a service speed of 21 knots. In her two yers service before the outbreak of war she was a very popular ship, both on line voyages between London and Brisbane and on cruises from London and Southampton. During 1940, 41 and 42 the ORCADES carried troops to all theatres of war and, on October 30th, 1941. she left Liverpool for a voyage which would last for seven months.
When the ORCADES left Liverpool on a grey day in the early autumn of 1942 for a voyage to South Africa, it was to be her last, for on her return passage in October 1942 she fell victim to a U-boat. In late August 1942 four German submarines had left their home ports bound for the busy sea lanes off Capetown. Their mission, which was code nanmed "Operation Polar Bear", was to create havoc for Allied shipping to and from the Cape, but they were under orders not to engage in action before October 8th. 1942.

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Courtesy Mike Lennon - SM JULY/87

Orient Line's first new post-war liner was the ORCADES,  completed in 1948.   She was laid up at Southampton in October 1972 and broken up at Kaohsiung four months later.

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Photo James L. Shaw - SM MAR/89

The 27,623 grt ORONSAY is seen in Hong Kong with junks clustered alongside.  

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Courtesy Mike Lennon - SM JULY/87

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CHUSAN in Yokohama - Courtesy Don Chapman

Twin ships indeed.  The CHUSAN above and the HIMALAYA.  The CHUSAN made her last call at Bombay in 1970.

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Photo Mike Lennon - SM JULY/87

The turbine steamer HIMALAYA is shown off Gibraltar in the 1960s.   She was built at Vickers Armstrong in Barrow in 1949 and broken up at Kaohsiung in 1974.

HIMALAYA again below.  Then, a British liner in a British colony.

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Photo James L. Shaw - SM MAR/89

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Author's File

Mid-century styling of the less exaggerated sort and aerodynamic funnel design,  characterize the P & O company's beautiful ARCADIA seen above steaming through the Suez Canal in the fifties.

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Courtesy Malcolm Reid - SM JULY/87

Seen above on her final sailing from Sydney to the breakers in 1979,  the ARCADIA was completed by John Brown's Clydebank Yard in 1954.

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ARCADIA AT COLUMBO - 1958 - Author's File

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Author's File

A once beautiful and typical sight from the now distant past as seen in London in the mid-fifties.   The Orient liners ORION and (left) ORONSAY await a full passenger list for a trip to Australia and beyond.   In the mid-twentieth century,  masts dwindle to vanishing point.

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Photo Laurence Dunn - SM JULY/87

An attempt by P & O in 1968 to reorganize part of its cargo service to the Far East met with little success and was abandoned after only three years.   Seven vessels were involved in this service,  all with the prefix "Pando",  including the Pando Cape as seen above which was built in 1954 as the BALLARAT.

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Courtesy A. Duncan - SM JULY/87

Built by Vickers at Barrow in 1928,  the ORFORD served as a troop transport in WWII.   She was bombed by German aircraft off Marseilles in 1940,  beached and burnt out.

In 1986 came two major announcements for P & O.  The first was the acquisition of the interests of the Ocean and the British & Commonwealth Group's interests in the OCL container consortium.  That meant that P & O now controlled the whole OCL fleet of about twenty large container ships at that time.   OCL was renamed P & O Containers Ltd. on January 1st. 1987.  A further announcement was made towards the end of 1986 that P & O intended to make a takeover bid for European Ferries,  the parent company of Townsend Thorensen.  In 1987 P & O's 150th anniversary year saw three large ro-ro ferries  (and three other vessels) entering service.  They joined what was probably the most varied fleet of ships to fly the P &O flag.
 

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Courtesy Laurence Dunn Collection - SM JUNE/87

I hope the reader has enjoyed these 'windows of the past' with regard to this fine company.  Often the P & O logo appears on transport trucks and containers which are poignant reminders of  what has gone before.  Many other fine British companies that traded with the Far East have all suffered a similar fate.   Unfortunately, material is somewhat scarce with regard to other companies trading similar routes throughout the last century,  such as the New Zealand Shipping Company and British India etc. etc.

THE GUEST BOOK MAY BE FOUND AT THE FOOT OF THE  "INTRODUCTION" PAGE.

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