Branch Meeting Reports for 2005


January 2005


                               It is with sadness that we report the death of one of

                                            our faithful members, Frank Miles.

                     We shall miss his knowledge and immaculate photography.

                A picture of a liner taken at Vancouver will forever remind us of him.


At our meeting in January Roy Kittle presented part two of his presentation “The New Waterway in the early ‘70s”. Part one in November had already set the scene and we knew we would be in for a nostalgic evening.Photos were mainly taken in the Rozenburg area with some at the Hook. These were the days when there was no Europort and little or no vegetation or industry along the banks of the canal. Work on Europort had started and many dredgers were active on the waterway in preparation. Some liner and cruise ships of note were the Hanseatic ex Shalom, Randfontein, Nieuw Amsterdam, Statendam, Australis (ex America), and making return to her homeport, Achille Lauro, ex Willem Ruys. The majority of tankers were of the centre island type, vessels such as the Shell’s Dutch flag Vivipara.There were still a good number of wartime standard ships trading and one such example was the American-built VC2-S-AP3 Class Victory Ship, Indian Merchant, (ex Lewiston Victory). Also featured were a couple of real old timers, the Gyda C of 1920 and the Nederland of 1914. Also a reminder of old coaster types was Everard’s Chant, Auspicity of 1944.Roy also showed pictures of unusual ships and some with strange trades such as the small ship with a large funnel that was used to burn hazardous waste in the North Sea, a practice now banned. A now defunct “trade” was carried out by the Dutch weather ship Cumulus, superseded by technology. A stranger to the New Waterway was a Japanese whale factory ship destined for repairs or refurbishment. A further rare picture was of Otto Hahn, one of the only three nuclear powered merchant ships ever built. The NS Otto Hahn was configured to carry passengers and ore and made its first port call in Casablanca in 1970 and continued to operate under nuclear power until 1979. Regular callers were ships of the Danish East Asiatic Line and Swedish Johnson line and naturally Holland America Line. We thank Roy for showing us a unique collection of photographs from his collection accompanied by a well-researched commentary. We look forward to a further look into Roy’s collection later in the year.


February 2005

As usual at February’s meeting, we judge the entrants to our annual slide competition for the Colin Viney Trophy. These are slides restricted to those taken in 2004. The six slides that the members decide are best will be entered into the Douglas Ridley Chesterton Slide Competition, which attracts entrants from branches in the South and East of England. Due to other commitments and illness the attendance was slightly down but we had five contestants. The entrants were, David Berg, Tony Hogwood, Roy Kittle, Ray Smith, and Ian Wells. The slides were taken from all round Europe; Turkey, Falmouth, Tilbury, The New Water Way, Norway, The Ghent Canal and Terneuzen. There was an equally varied subject, including ferries, bulk carriers, container ships, tugs, dredgers, warships, and tankers. During the break the scores were totted up and Roy Kittle was declared the overall winner. Six slides were also chosen for the area competition and included one from each contestant. The evening then concluded with each entrant introducing his slides and we thank them for an entertaining and challenging evening with its usual high standard of entries.


March 2005

Ray Smith spent a week during September last year in Istanbul, a trip organised by the Thames Ship Society.North western Turkey is divided by a complex waterway that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea. The channel passing between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara is the Bosporus. Istanbul is positioned at the south end of the Bosporus. The Sea of Marmara is connected to the Aegean Sea by a channel called the Dardanelles. Istanbul straddles the Bosphorus Strait with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. The elegant suspension bridge completed in 1973 linking Europe and Asia can be seen in some of Ray’s photos. The port of Istanbul technically encompasses the entire length of the Bosporus. A large part of the Port of Istanbul is located on the Asian side of the Bosporus at Haydarpasa where the quays total 6,522 ft in length. The port is protected by two breakwaters with an overall length of 5,607 ft. Up to six medium sized vessels may be accommodated simultaneously, and cargo operations may be made direct to and from wharves or railway trucks. Depth alongside quays varies from 19.7 to 32.8 ft. Other berthing facilities at Istanbul, located on the European side of the Bosporus, include passenger vessel piers, a coal handling facility, and a cargo terminal. The TSS had organised two seven hour cruises from Istanbul. The first was to the ship construction and repair yards at Tuzla and a visit to the container terminal at Hydaparsa on their return. Tuzla is to the East of Istanbul on the Sea of Marmara. The second cruise was through the busy anchorages to Ambarli on the European side in the Marmara Sea (around 10 miles from Istanbul).There were of course many pictures of the ubiquitous ferries that ply across the Bosphorous, seemingly unaffected by the two road bridges. There were also pictures of two rail ferries still in use across the Bosphorous, however there were an increasing numbers of “fastcat” type ferries operating.One of Rays pictures showed the four remaining Fairfield built ferries laid up in the harbour probably never to carry passengers again. Ray also included a good number of his favourite tugs. Of the larger ferries many had former lives in North European waters, such as the Destiny ex Rodri Mawr and the Caledonia, an ex Truckline vessel. The Bosphorous sees a large variety of shipping including bulk carriers, oil and chemical tankers, gas carriers, heavy lift ships, livestock carriers, fishing vessels, container ships and cruise ships. The latter included Royal Princess, Insignia, Costa Marina and Costa Mediteranea during Ray’s week. The many coasters seen were often ex Russian that are now under the flags of former USSR states, Korea or Cambodia. The Tuzla shipyards are teeming with unfinished ships some built locally others bought part completed from other yards. There are many slips and floating drydocks with ships being completed and repaired. The shipping in some places was so dense that photos of all the ships there was not possible!On their trip to Ambarli there was some dispute over the hire boats entry into the harbour especially as there were so many cameras on display. However by the time the dispute was amicably settled, everyone had taken all the ships that they had wanted to take. All too soon it was time to return home to have the dozens of rolls of film developed.Our thanks go to Ray for his excellent and informative show, and we look forward to the fruits of another excursion with the TSS.



April 2005

On Monday April 4th we showed the slide presentation “Port of Vancouver” compiled by the local branch of the World Ship Society. This showed ships in the area over the past couple of decades from both Vancouver and the Fraser River.The Port of Vancouver is the largest port in Canada and ranks number one in total foreign exports in North America. It is a safe, year-round, all-weather, naturally deep harbour that requires no dredging. Situated on the Pacific Rim, just north of the Canada/US border, places Vancouver in a prime geographic location.The Port of Vancouver is comprised of 25 major terminals the majority of which are centrally located in Vancouver's Burrard Inlet, with two terminals located at Roberts Bank in Delta, 35 km from Vancouver's city centre.Fraser River Port is located at the mouth of the Fraser River, where the river meets the Pacific Ocean, south of Vancouver. It offers a complete range of services at terminals equipped for container and breakbulk handling, and services for the coastal forest industry. It is also the largest autoport in Canada. The Fraser River Port Authority administers Fraser River Port.Although bridges now span the Burrard Inlet passenger ferries still ply between downtown Vancouver and North Vancouver as well as the occasional vehicle and train ferry. The presentation showed the wide spectrum of ships to be seen in the area: bulkers; tankers; containerships; car carriers; wood products ships; tugs; ferries and cruise ships. There were many shown of Princess Cruises including the older ex Cunard, Dawn Princess and Fair Princess. Also shown were Regency Cruises Regent Rainbow (ex Santa Rosa), Regent Sea, (ex Gripsholm) and Regent Star (ex Statendam), and then from old Holland America to New Holland America with pictures of Maasdam, Rotterdam and Ryndam. Another older cruise ship of interest was the Daphne built in 1955 as Port Sydney. Many photos were taken from Prospect Point and a similar position on the other side of the river depending on the time of day. There were also “aerial” pictures to remind us of our late member, Frank Miles, who spent a lot of time in Vancouver photographing ships, in particular from the Lion’s Gate bridge. Frank won many a slide competition with photographs taken from the bridge. Also of interest were older preserved ships such as the 1922 steam tug Master once owned and renovated by the Vancouver branch WSS, and a private yacht, the ex Falmouth tug St Eval. The Show ended with some naval ships, the USS Tripoli and the HMCS Winipeg.Our thanks to Vancouver branch for compiling the show and creating a well researched commentary.


May 2005

Our May meeting was held on May 2nd which coincided with May Day Bank Holiday and contributed to a lower than usual turnout. As is usual on these occasions we plan a “Members Evening” and Tony Hogwood and Ian Wells brought some of their slides along to entertain us.Tony presented ships seen on some of his recent forays to Europe in search of ships. We were shown some of the coastal ships seen in Norway on a trip to Bergen, but the majority were taken in the Keil Canal and the New Waterway. This included a good mix of all ship types from tugs to container ships and bulk carriers to cruise ships. Ships of note were the 442,000 deadweight ton TI Europe recently purchased from the Hellespont Group, which is one of four unique three million barrel ULCCs.Nearer home Tony showed us the Zen Hua 6 delivering container cranes to Felixstowe, and in the Thames, at the Tate & Lyle jetty, the John P which was originally the Govan built Lord Byron, and then back to the continent with the ex-ferry now cruise ship Van Gough.In the second half Ian showed us ships at Tilbury in 1982, the basis for his forthcoming show to be presented to the Swansea branch. These included a lot of old favourites and it was good to see the Alexander tugs again. Visiting ships of Pakistani, Indian, and Russian ownership were particularly prevalent at that time. It was interesting to note that a large proportion of the ships shown were either still trading or had only gone for scrap in the past couple of years. Notable ships were the Royal Odyssey, ex-Shalom that sank on the way to the breakers, the Almeria Star of 1976, (later renamed Avila Star), and now trading as Ice Bell. Ian ended his show with a sequence of photos of the Russian cruise ship Baltika leaving Tilbury Landing Stage. Our thanks go to Tony and Ian for presenting a good selection of ship types to please all, and well-researched commentaries to accompany them.



June 2005

We were pleased to welcome back Ken Larwood from Whitstable to our meeting on the 6th June. This was Ken’s third visit to the branch, the last being in July 2003. Out of the many slide shows that Ken has compiled from his vast collection we were delighted to see “Roebuck to Sealink - Stena”. This is a pictorial history of the British Rail ferries that have linked mainland Britain to its islands and to the near continent over the past seventy years. The show took a chronological path from "Roebuck", which served on the Weymouth to Jersey route in 1925 through to the "Koningen Beatrix" on the Harwich to the Hook service until the late 1990s.Ken had obviously visited many ports throughout the UK with photos of representatives from many routes. It was good to see some of these older pre ro-ro ferries such as "Falaise" and "Arnhem", and then the early stern loading ferries such as "Lord Warden". Also interesting to see were the various ferries for railway rolling stock, particularly our own "Essex Ferry" from the Harwich route, later layed up in the Blackwater estuary.Progress was charted by the funnel colours starting with a yellow/buff with a black top through to the opposing arrow (or barbed wire) emblem and then to the “galloping maggot” of Sealink. Also covered were the Sealink partners, the French SNCF, the Belgian RMT, and the Dutch Zeeland Company. The show is accompanied by a very comprehensive history of each ship and their subsequent names and fate. Ken’s visits to the Mediterranean helped with photos of ex British ferries now working there. This show is an invaluable record of railway company ferries and we thank Ken for coming to share his excellent show. 


July 2005 


PATER layed up in the old Colchester docks and being used as a houseboat.  

IMO No 4903236 built 1969, Ex Oilman 

Photo Courtesy David Berg 9/7/05 


 After an absence of nearly two years we were pleased to welcome Derek Sands to our July meeting. Derek showed us slides that he had taken on the river Colne in Essex over the past 20 plus years. These were mainly of coasters carrying bulk cargoes of aggregates, grain, and fertiliser, or cargoes of timber. There was also one reefer, a novel ship for the Colne, and also the tugs, which were on hand to assist in towage and turning in the narrow waterway. One ship that was based in the Colne for a time was the wartime built Vic coaster Victual. The river is only navigable for an hour or so either side of high tide and Derek remembers seeing as many as seven or eight ship movements on a tide from his vantage point of the riverside pub at Rowhedge!Most members were unaware of how busy this river had been in its time. The only operational port today is Brightlingsea on St Osyth creek and is at the most seaward end of the Colne where it meets the River Blackwater. The main cargo for the two or so coasters a week is the export of scrap. In recent history the port has been used during strikes for the import of coal and steel, but is probably most remembered for the often-violent campaign to stop the export of live animals in 1995.Further up river was the aggregates berth at Arlesford where the “Prior” boats load. One of the busiest ports on the river was Wivenhoe where bulk grain and timber were handled. There were also several shipyards here, probably the best known being Cook’s Yard which built many barges and coasters but went into voluntary liquidation in 1986 with the “Lord Nelson” and “Kilmourne” still incomplete.The port closed in 1989. We next “visited” the port of Rowhedge across the river from Wivenhoe that was also busy in its day, handling bulk cargoes and timber, Rowhedge Ironworks, which closed in the mid sixties, was also a busy yard which built some mid-sized coasters. Then into Colchester and the Hythe itself. During Derek’s visits in the 70s and 80s he had seen up to 14 coasters alongside at one time. Cargoes consisted of effluent, timber, bagged fertiliser, bulk grain, animal feeds, bricks and oil products. Brick exports were from the Molers at Moler Quay. The vessel mainly engaged in this trade, Moler Venture was built at Wivenhoe. Probably one of the largest ships regularly using the river was the effluent carrier from Haven Quay, which could accommodate two or three other vessels, but was not the most pleasant when during effluent loading! Other photos showed ships alongside at Colchester Dock up to the Pertwee berth. By 1999 commercial traffic up to Colchester Hythe and the wharves at Rowhedge and Wivenhoe had declined so much that Colchester as a Port was no longer viable. On 14th April 1999, M.V. ‘Ruhrort’ of Duisburg brought the last cargo up the River Colne to Rowhedge Quay and after nearly 2000 years as a port an Act of Parliament closed the harbour in 2001.We thank Derek for coming to show us his unique collection of slides taken over many years and for his lively and interesting commentary.


August 2005

 Our August meeting was held on Monday 1st and featured a DVD compiled from slides taken by our member Roy Kittle in and around the London Docks from 1957 to 1980. We were able to display these courtesy of Alan Chapman from North West Kent Branch who brought along his LCD projector and laptop computer. We were also pleased to welcome two new members and two members who have not attended for some time, taking our attendance to over twenty. Roy transported us back to when the London Dock system made the Thames a thriving and busy river, and you could obtain a dock pass, until 1972, and visit the docks and photograph ships alongside. These were days before heightened security, and days before “Health & Safety” regulations. Roy would ride his trusty motorcycle and sidecar combination and visit the West India and Royal Docks on a Saturday and Tilbury on a Sunday.We made a start in the West India Docks and then on to the Royal Docks with visits to shipping in the River on several occasions, unfortunately time did not allow us to complete the journey to Tilbury but we will be able to enjoy this on another occasion. At the West India docks Ben Line, Ellerman Lines, Clan Line, and Common Brothers stirred many memories with photographs of the ships they owned. The mercy ship Doulos was also shown, dating from1914 and still in service today! Also pictures of Harison liners, Union Castle ships and a shot of GSN Co.’s Royal Daffodil laid up before her scrapping in the Netherlands in 1967. A picture of BI’s Kenya paying off before scrapping was particularly evocative.We were treated to pictures of ships of the Holder Brother’s Duquesa, and Hornby Grange and a rare shot in London Docks of the Manchester Lines, Manchester Commerce. All those companies that those of us of a “certain age” remember so well were featured in this show, Cunard; Blue Star; Blue Funnel; Shaw Saville; British India; Elder Dempster; Ellerman; Royal Mail and P&O to name just a few. Foreign lines were not neglected with representatives of Holland America; United Netherlands and U.S. Lines.Photographs of the docks during the 1966 seamen’s strike showed the docks to capacity with many ships doubled up alongside each other. Not many of us in the late fifties and early sixties could see an end to this cavalcade of shipping visiting our doorstep here on the Thames. If we had we would all have a classic collection of slides like those shown on this DVD. Thank you to Roy for all those weekends in the docks taking pictures, and to Alan for coming with the necessary equipment to display them.  


September 2005

At our September meeting on Monday 5th we were pleased to welcome back Peter and Christine Ives. Peter and Christine visit us in September and share the visits they have made during the year. This year they visited New Zealand and Australia over the Christmas/ New Year period. This is the summer “down under” but they were a little disappointed with the weather. The shipping they thought was not up to expectations but certainly gave us a good insight into the shipping scene down the east coast of both islands during their two week stay, such that the slides taken in Australia will make up another show!They started their tour in Auckland where we viewed the cruise ship Sapphire Princess paying a visit. Also shown were the naval ships in the Devonport Navy Dockyard including the old Leander class frigate Canterbury and the replenishment ship Endevour. Peter then took us to Marsden Point oil refinery, the only refinery in New Zealand, near Whangarei where just one tanker was berthed. We were then taken down the east coast visiting Whangarei which imports clinker for the local cement works , Tauranga where there is a container port and bulk carriers visiting the timber wharfs as well as visitors to the chemical works. Napier has a refer container and timber and wood chip berths. Also shown was an ex UK life boat identified as the Waveney class lifeboat John Fison from our own Essex port of Harwich. We then visited Wellington prior to the journey across the strait to Picton on the south island. Here we saw the memorial to the loss of the Wahine. At Picton we were shown a lifeboat from the Mikhail Lermentov another victim of this dangerous coast. From Picton we moved to Port Nelson, Timaru and Lyttelton , (port of Christchurch) which has a container berth RoRo facilities, and bulk terminals for fertilizer, oil and coal exports. Our last port of call was Port Chalmers (Dunedin), which handles containers and bulk wood chips. Our journey was all the more appealing for the magnificent scenery viewed throughout. It was also interesting to note the high level of fishing being carried out from the majority of ports compared to the ever declining British fishing fleet. We thank Peter and Christine for interrupting their busy life schedules to share their holiday with us. We look forward to the fruits of next years trip and to seeing this years visit to Australia in due course.


October 2005

At our October meeting on Monday 3rd, we had a welcome return visit from Mike Jackson. We were treated to journey to many parts of the world as Mike told us of his career at sea and showed us an excellent selection of slides. Mike was a Radio Officer and was employed by the radio company rather than a shipping line, but although ships and shipping lines came and went he was predominantly employed on bulk carriers. He took us on a journey that took in so many parts of the world that we felt we had circumnavigated the globe several times.The story started with Sugar Line and trips from the West Indies to the UK. It was then to Japan to pick up a new ship, Canadian Pacific's Pacific Logger, which was to be on a regular run from the West Coast of the US to Japan. Mike showed us what a precarious load that a deck cargo of logs can be. The securing cables and chains often needed adjustment and tightening and loss of logs not uncommon. There were also pictures taken from the top of the cranes of the ship in heavy weather - "not rough just a heavy swell", we were told!Grain was the cargo in a service between Australia and Bangldesh, whilst the most eventful seemed to be a trip to Finland in the winter with a cargo of coal from Philadelphia. Pictures of frozen seas were a remarkable sight. Soon the German Icebreaker was on the scene making a passage possible. The decks and gear were covered in ice and when it came to unloading the coal this too was frozen solid. Mike served on the three ships Nosira Madeleine, Nosira Lin and Nosira Sharon, and briefly touched on ships we had seen on previous shows from Mike. His time on "Sharon" showed how much better a deck cargo of packaged timber was, compared to logs. We then paid visits to America both north and South, Poland, France, Morocco and the Sudan.We also were shown several T2 standard types that had been modified almost out of recognition. and some interesting shots of Victory and Liberty ships of the American reserve fleet. During the Iran / Iraq war Mike was in the Gulf and showed us pictures of ships that had been attacked and some that had sunk. Our journey ended in India and Sri Lanka. Our thanks to Mike for making the return trip from Dover to show us his slides and giving a first-rate commentary to this exceptional collection.


November 2005





At our meeting on Monday 7th, we were treated to an illustrated talk on the Italian Navy by our branch “Italian” specialist Andrew Smith. This was a talk adapted from a lecture originally given to the Bristol Naval meeting. This focussed on the period from their entry into the Second World War in June 1940 to the armistice in September 1943. Andrew gave us a chronological history starting back in the twenties when many of the warships Italy had or were projected were conceived. At the entry to the war Italy had the world’s 5th largest fleet and the second largest submarine fleet. Andrew gave us the background information as to why certain warship types were promoted and others not. The war, according to Mussolini, would not start until the mid forties, ample time to make his preparations. Hitler however had other plans! After Italy joined the war Mussolini was convinced it would only last a few months, and heavy spending on long-term capital ships was not justified. The perceived threat and requirement was for the Army and Air force with the Navy trailing in third place. The planed conversion of the two liners, Augusta and Roma to aircraft carriers was thwarted by the Air force who wouldn’t have a carrier borne aircraft available for some years. However conversion slowly proceeded and became carriers that only flew planes off but did not allow them to return. Taranto and the battle of Matapan gave reason for the Italian fleet to remain in harbour, but by late 1941 fuel stocks for the fleet were running low also. Over 2000 ships were taken up from the merchant marine, mostly small, with about half dedicated to minesweeping duties. Andrew covered submarine development and the miniature submarines and the later conversion of a large number of submarines to specialist cargo carriers. The development of landing craft was also discussed and the requisition of such craft as Venetian waterbuses to army personnel carriers! We thank Andrew for his hard work in compiling the commentary and creating the slides for his most interesting talk.


December 2005

We held the branch AGM at our December meeting, the minutes of the previous AGM held in November 2004 were read and approved and the chairman secretary and treasurer gave their reports. Roy Leach retired from the position of Vice Chairman after many years of loyal service. Committee member Robin Butcher was proposed and seconded for the position. After a vote, the following members form the 2005/6 committee; chairman, David Brown; secretary and treasurer, Ian Wells; vice chairman Robin Butcher, and committee members, Roy Leach , Andrew Smith and Ray Smith. During the year Ted Raven stood down as auditor due to his move to Suffolk.(We have since learned of Ted's death on 20th December). Ray Smith and Tony Hogwood take his place. We understand that Ted is not well at this time and we wish him well. We try and keep our AGM short and this proved no exception and we handed over the rest of the evening to Ian Wells who showed us Part One of his collection of slides, “Tilbury Shipping 1994”. 1994 was an interesting year at Tilbury as it was a year when PLA policy changed allowing single trip voyages into Tilbury. This meant a greater variety of ships and shipping companies visiting the port. Ian showed us some of these visitors and also some of the regulars. Ian had at this time started keeping voyage details of various bulk carriers and first to be shown was the Unithai that was picking up a consignment of six small ferries. Also comprehensively covered was the wind assisted bulk carrier Irazu. The wind assistance was only of use on certain journeys in the world but due to a drop in the price of fuel and the high maintenance cost of the computer controlled sails, they were later removed. Another regular shipment to Tilbury is newsprint, which is shipped from Norway, this time in Lys Skog. There were also ships at the cement berth, the scrap berth and the reefer terminal which has now been sold for other use.We thank Ian for his accomplished commentary and ship research, and we look forward to Part Two in January.