BROCKLEBANK MEMOIRS
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CUNARD LINE
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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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"MAKRANA" in Galveston 1966 Courtesy Ray Simes

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"MATHURA" West Float, Birkenhead 1966 Courtesy Ray Simes

Thos. & Jno. Brocklebank (Brocklebank Line)

Founded in 1801 as Thos.& Jno.Brocklebank, Whitehaven, with one sailing ship, the company traded mostly with coal. With the abolition of the Hon. East India Company's trading monopoly to India in 1813, Brocklebank entered the India trade, which became its mainstay field of operation, but the company also traded to North and South America and to the West and East Indies. In 1819, the company moved from Whitehaven to Liverpool which became its terminus port. A London to China Treaty Ports service began in 1858 and in 1860 regular services to Brazil ceased.

Although the Suez Canal opened in 1869, Brocklebanks continued to operate sailing ships to India via the Cape for another 30 years. Its first steamship was built in 1889, but sailing ships were also operated until 1901. In 1906, Brocklebank invested in Shire Line (David Jenkins & Company) and transferred five ships to this company which ran sailings to Japan.

Jenkins was bought out in 1907 by Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, who now became partners and in 1911 purchased the remainder of the shares in the Shire Line. The same year, Brocklebanks sold its shares to members of the Cunard board of directors and the same year, Cunard purchased Anchor Line and Anchor-Brocklebank Limited was formed. Tyzack & Branfoot's Well Line of Sunderland was taken over in 1916.

During World War II, the company lost many ships and owned only eleven in 1945, but the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947 brought stringent trading regulations by these countries and Brocklebank's trade to this area was more than halved. The closure of the Suez Canal from June, 1967 to January, 1971 following the Egypt - Israel War caused ships to make a 5,000 mile detour in both directions round the Cape of Good Hope and this, together with containerisation ultimately led to the end of Brocklebank trade to India.

In 1968, Cunard-Brocklebank Limited was formed and ships were pooled between the two companies, but financial losses continued and the last two Brocklebank liveried ships were sold in 1983 and the company disappeared.

Many thanks to Ted Finch for his assistance in collecting this data. The following list was extracted from various sources. This is not an all inclusive list but should only be used as a guide. If you would like to know more about a vessel, visit the Ship Descriptions (onsite) or Immigrant Ship web site.

Routes:

Sail 1800-1901

  • Whitehaven / Liverpool - West Indies
  • Whitehaven / Liverpool - Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru.
  • Whitehaven / Liverpool - Canadian Maritime Provinces.
  • Whitehaven / Liverpool - Calcutta - Durch East Indies.
  • Liverpool / Birkenhead - Colombo - Bombay - Karachi.

The India routes slowly took over and the others were discontinued.

Steam

  • 1901-1983 Liverpool / Birkenhead / Manchester - Mediterranean ports (cargo) - Suez - Calcutta plus Singapore and East Indies.
  • 1905-1914 Antwerp - Suez - Singapore - Shanghai - Kobe - Yokohama.
  • 1906-1911 London - Malaya - Singapore - Hong Kong - China - Japan.
  • 1911-1939 Glasgow - Liverpool - India (Anchor-Brocklebank)
  • 1916-1968 UK East Coast ports - Suez - Colombo - Madras - Calcutta (Well Line)
  • 1971           Bombay and Karachi calls ceased.
  • 1968-1978 US Gulf and East Coast ports - South Africa - India / Middle East
  • 1970-1983 South America - South Africa - Middle East / India and world wide tramping.

The above information concerning this famous shipping line was obtained and included with the kind permission of Sue Swiggam & Ted Finch of THE SHIPS LIST.
Comprehensive information regarding this and other lines may be seen at http:/www.theshipslist.com/ships/lines/brock.html

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Courtesy Laurence Dunn Collection - SM APRIL/92

Above, a cargo ship of 10,630 tons deadweight, the MARKHOR was built for Thos. & Jno. Brocklebank Ltd,  Liverpool, by Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd.,  Linthouse.

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MATURATA - Courtesy Michael Meredith.

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Courtesy Malcolm Donnelly - SM MAY/03

Brocklebank's MAHANADA (8,971 grt), pictured in the Clyde, was built in Port Glasgow in 1943 and renamed CORONA when sold to Panama in 1967

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Courtesy John McGinty

The MAHRONDA, pictured above, was built in 1947. She was of 8,537 grt, 505 feet in length, single screw steam turbine with an average service speed of 15 knots.

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Courtesy Roger Fawcett 'MAHSEER'

The 'MAHSEER' of Brocklebanks was built in 1948, of 8945 grt, was a steam turbine vessel and had a service speed of 15 knots.

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Courtesy Roger Fawcett 'MAKRANA'

The 'MAKRANA' was also built by Wm. Hamilton & Co.  She was 8765 grt, also a steam turbine ship and seen here in the Clyde around 1960

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Courtesy Roger Fawcett 'MANGLA'

The 'MANGLA', above,  of Thomas J. Brocklebank was built in 1959 by Wm. Hamilton & Co., Port Glasgow.  She was 8865 grt, a steam turbine vessel and seen here passing Port Said in 1963

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Brocklebank's "MARKHOR" Author's File.

The 'new' above and the 'old' below.
The MANIPUR was built in 1945, 8,569 grt. was 505 feet in length, a steam turbine, single screw and with a respectable service speed of 15 knots

S.S. MANIPUR Author's File
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Originally founded in 1770 by Daniel Brocklebank in Massachusetts the Brocklebank Line was considered to be the oldest deep-sea shipping company in the world.
Daniel Brocklebank was born in the Cumberland village of Morland in 1741, the son of the village rector. He served an apprenticeship in one of the shipyards in the port of Whitehaven, which, in those days, was a thriving centre of shipbuilding. His two sons, Thomas and John, took over the business when Captain Brocklebank died in 1801.
In 1819 a move was made by Brocklebanks away from their beginnings at Whitehaven creating a new headquarters at Liverpool. Ships were being built in Cumberland at that time, registered at Liverpool and usually sailing from the Mersey.

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Courtesy Duncan Mackenzie - SM MAR/98

The steamship MAHSEER (8,495 grt,) was built in 1948 by Wm.Hamilton at Port Glasgow.   She was broken up at Karachi in 1975.

The following material was kindly provided by John McGinty, an ex Radio Officer who sailed with this fine company in the early sixties after graduating from the James Watt School in Greenock.

For the first few years of my life I was brought up in a Caledonia Railway-owned house in Coatbridge, near Glasgow. We had no electricity but we did have a radio designed by John-Scott Taggart, built by my father. H.T. was supplied from a large dry battery with L.T. for the filaments provided by an accumulator. To ensure fairly continuous operation we had two accumulators, one of which was always on charge. My interest in radio was sparked!

As a young boy and teenager still at school we took many trips on the steamers plying the River Clyde. At that time (late 40s & early 50s) the River Clyde was still an important ship-building centre and had many docks engaged in the import and export of a wide range of goods. I was fascinated by the variety of ships and the exotic ports of registry.

With an interest in radio and ships, it seemed a natural progression to become a Radio Officer in the merchant navy. To attain this goal I attended the James Watt Memorial School in Greenock from September 1961 until March 1963 and gained the 1st. Class PMG and MOT Radar Maintenance certificates. I provisionally agreed to join Marconi but Brocklebank offered me a position and I accepted.

I thus found myself in London in April of 1963 to join the SS MAHSEER/GZSV (8,961grt) which was loading for Calcutta, as a 19 year-old Second R/O. Our sailing was delayed for 24 hours as the Chief Officer had suffered a concussion when a railway wagon flap was dropped on his head just before we were due to sail and an immediate replacement had to be found.

We sailed late at night the next day and the 1st R/O gave me the pleasure of sending the opening TR to North Foreland Radio/GNF. Half way through the transmitter stopped working! We quickly fired up the emergency transmitter (yes, it was ready in about 6 seconds!) and finished our traffic. It turned out that a connection had broken on the keying relay of the IMR39 MF Tx. The next morning we were in the English Channel and only a few minutes into my watch when there was an SOS signal. Fortunately for me, the casualty was in the Baltic and there was no need for us to get involved. The rest of the trip passed without any notable mishaps apart from the lessons which every first tripper learns.

During a later voyage on the MAHSEER I resprayed the Marconi Electra and Mercury receivers which were looking distinctly sick with over 20 years accumulation of nicotine which was impervious to washing and polishing. The method was crude but the results looked great - white paint, black paint and some funnel blue mixed together and applied with a 'flit gun' (usually used for fly spray!). The equipment looked 'brand' new again and certainly better to look at then the original nondescript camouflage brown!

My next ship was the SS MAKRANA/GWWV of 8,753 grt. She was much newer that the MAHSEER and had all IMR equipment aboard. Again, the trip was to Calcutta and the big bonus was getting home in time for Christmas. Not long before we arrived back there was the usual large pile of Ship Letter Telegrams and Interflora orders to process due to the Christmas rush. I recall Portisheadradio/GKL given my QRY45!

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SS MAKRANA - Courtesy John McGinty

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SS MAKRANA - Courtesy John McGinty

The MAKRANA/GWWV above, was built by William Hamilton and Co. of Port Glasgow in 1957. She was of 9,745 gross tons and 497 feet in length. The MAKRANA was eventually sold to the Papalio Group in 1971 and renamed AEGIS GLORY, then the AEGIS ETERNITY. She was broken up by Chinese mainland breakers in April of 1974. This was by far and away the best ship I sailed on. Great accommodation and good radio equipment.

After that Christmas I joined the MANAAR/GZYJ in Middlesbrough for a short coasting trip to the continent as acting 1st R/O. That was a real baptism of fire. Rough weather, flaky radar and a useless direction finder.

The next trip was again to Calcutta, this time on the SS MAHRONDA/GDNB as 2nd R/O again. The radio equipment was a mixed bag of Marconi receivers, IMRC transmitters and even a home made 500 kc/s guard receiver. That trip should have taken three and a half months but took the best part of 7 months due to berthing delays and a dock strike in Colombo.

This was indeed a memorable trip almost being gassed by the smell from a rotting deck cargo of dried fish, an alcoholic 1st. R/O who smoked Burmese cheroots which gave off the most appalling stench and a leaky antenna trunk which produced short circuits every time it rained!

The MAHRONDA was built by William Hamilton & Co. in Port Glasgow in 1947. She was eventually sold in 1969 and registered in Cyprus as the LUCKY. Not so lucky as it turned out. She was severely damaged by fire in Rotterdam on May 14th 1970 and arrived in Split, Yugoslavia under tow in December of 1970 for demolition.

Equipment on the MAHRONDA included the infamous Redifon R50M main receiver, IMRC HF transmitter and an abominable home-made standby receiver for 500 kc/s. An interesting voyage though. I was still 2nd R/O and the 1st could have single handedly won any alcoholic olympic contest! A travesty of missed watches, log book pages torn out and messed up abstracts (accounts).

We took on board a deck cargo of dried fish in Jeddah for delivery in Colombo. When we arrived there was a dock strike so we ended up at anchor outside 4PB on full watches waiting for a berth to discharge. Meanwhile the fish started to rot. The stench was really overpowering and large white maggots started to appear so we had to sail offshore and 'deep six' the lot. All together, we hung around outside 4PB for six weeks of waiting. I also seem to recall that we had a longer than usual stay in Calcutta for some reason. What was originally scheduled as a 3 to 3 and a half month voyage lasted 7 months!

The SS MALAKAND/GOFP to Calcutta was my first foreign-going trip single-handed. The equipment all operated from a bank of 24 volt batteries and seemed to be handed down 'cast-offs' from all the other ships in the Brocklebank (GWZM) fleet. The main receiver was Redifon's R50M but the stand-bi Marconi CR100 was a superior set and was used as the main receiver. There was a single Marconi RELIANCE which served as the main AND emergency transmitter with a Siemen's SB286 for HF. The direction finder was a wonderful piece of antiquated gear made, I think, by IMRC. It had a single rotatable loop operated by a wheel hanging from the deckhead in the chart room and had a TRF receiver. Needless to say, trying to determine the NULL and operate the reaction control simultaneously was 'interesting', to say the least. The highlight of the MALAKAND voyage was a major radar fault which turned out to be water in the waveguide at the scanner after a severe tropical storm at Gan Island in the Indian Ocean. That was fixed after removing the entire scanner assembly from the radar hut on the monkey island and resoldering the defective part of the waveguide. Thankfully everything worked OK afterwards.

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SS MALAKAND - Courtesy John McGinty

The MALAKAND was obviously a basic wartime design with no forced ventilation, just cowl ventilators and an old-fashioned cast iron central heating system with radiators. I had the pleasure of possessing a cabin right next to a steam winch on the starboard side at number 3 hatch. This proved a real 'pain' in port. Having said that it was probably one of the happiest ships I sailed on.

The radio room was on the bridge deck behind the chartroom and could only be reached by outside ladders, no internal staircase so you got the full benefit of whatever the weather was doing going on and coming off watch. When I came off watch in the evening during the 8 to 12 and the 'old man' was standing by with the 3rd. mate, he used to brew the tea on the bridge while I took a turn on the wheel - no auto pilot on 'the good ship' MALAKAND. It was brilliant in the tropics when stinking hot at night. I would keep my 500 kc/s watch sitting out on the bridge wing with the 'phones on the end of a long lead and write up the log 'by moonlight'

Happy days, indeed.

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SS MATURATA - Courtesy John McGinty

The MATURATA was also built by William Hamilton in 1955. She was sold to become the MALDIVE EXPLORER, LANKA SINNA, OCEAN TRUST and APAI SAMUT before being broken up in Taiwan in 1972. I made one short coasting trip on her to remove and refit the radar pedestal for transit of the Manchester Ship Canal.

Below is a picture of the radio room aboard ALAUNIA/GFQH. The memories I have of trips on the ALAUNIA and ANDANIA mostly involved the amount of ice and weather traffic I used to copy, particularly in the ice and fog seasons. As you can see, the Oceanspan was adjacent my right ear so the changing note of the HT dynamotor when the transmitter was keyed made a useful CW monitor.

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"Officers & Gentlemen" below following 'Board of Trade Sports', hence the caps! The author is centre.

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During my time with Brocklebank, Cunard's ALAUNIA and sister ship ANDANIA were running between the U.K. and the U.S.A. with Brocklebank R/Os manning the radio room. I did three trips on the ALAUNIA and one on ANDANIA.

Winter on the North Atlantic was a daunting place to be in a severe storm and I thought that the fellows who manned the weather ships 4YA, 4YB, 4YC, 4YD and 4YE had to have the worst job of all.

There wasn't much of note about these trips except to mention the Marconi Radiolocator IV radars. These were prone to problems with the PPI time base which tended to intermittently get lost on it's way up to the scanner and back. Oh yes, and one of them actually caught fire, thankfully as we were sailing up the Thames on the way home.

The ALAUNIA and ANDANIA were fitted with IF R/T (a.k.a. 'fishfone') on the bridge and operated from 24V batteries. I don't recall these having been used at all. The V.H.Fs were Marconi Nautilus which seemed to be prone to intermittent 'funnies' which were usually fixed by removing the valves one at a time and cleaning the pins. Fortunately, this wasn't too much of a problem as the American pilots all carried VHF 'handhelds' for communicating with tugs. etc.

My time at sea was an experience that I wouldn't have missed and I left in 1966. Following a short spell as an instrument mechanic in a steel mill I joined Honeywell as a system test engineer in the embryonic computer business. I later joined Digital Equipment Company as a computer field service engineer and worked for them for almost 30 years in a variety of engineering and management posts being made redundant and retiring in 2000.

I have held an amateur licence since 1978 and am currently a senior morse examiner. I'm not as active on the air as I would like to be due to other competing interests. I operate almost 100% CW and also help teach a new U.K. Foundation Licence for aspiring newcomers to the hobby.

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