January 2008  


Our January meeting was held on Monday 7th. During any other business Robin Butcher thanked the members for their generous donations and purchases in aid of the RNLI during 2007. There was also some discussion on the local WW2 MTBs & MGBs that were built and subsequently either bought for further use or abandoned. This interest was generated by our contact with Shaun Morgan who is proposing to collect information and add a MTB section to his web site. It is hoped we can share information and keep our friends in the WSS Small Boats section involved.As always, January is a members evening, and we were pleased to hear some further information and slides from Ian Wells who’s interest is in bulk carriers visiting Tilbury. Ian described visits to OLUJA, XANADU, GREGOS, VITATRADER and CHIOS GEM, and retold some stories from the captain and crew.After the break Tony Hogwood showed slides of a trip to Norway on the PRINCESS of NORWAY and showed ships in Newcastle, Stavanger, Haugesund and Bergen. These included warships, ORSVs, tugs and coasters. Notable were the passenger cargo SANDNES of 1950, the OCEAN NOVA an expedition ship on a voyage to Greenland, and Color Line’s PRINCESS RAGNHILD. Tony also showed slides of a visit to the New Waterway. These included Bibby Line’s general cargo ship HERTFORDSHIRE, Carnival Cruise Line’s ARTEMIS (ex ROYAL PRINCESS), STENA BRITANICA, and BP Tanker’s BORDER TARTAN. Our evening was curtailed by a slide jam in the projector. However, we thank both Ian and Tony for a splendid evenings entertainment.




February 2008  


February’s meeting has traditionally been devoted to the annual slide competition for the Colin Viney Trophy. Six slides judged to be the best would go forward into the Douglas Ridley Chesterton Slide Competition. This competition has been running for many years and takes in WSS Branches in the South and East of England but it has been decided due to lack of entrants that the competition hosted last year by the Mid- Essex branch at Ingatestone would be the last. This is mainly due to the move towards digital photography. The entrants to this years Mid - Essex competition were; Ray Smith, Tony Hogwood, David Berg, Roy Kittle and Roy Leach. The majority of these entrants will be moving over to digital this coming year so it has been decided that this will be the last slide competition to be held at Ingatestone, however we hope to continue with some form of photographic competition as demonstrated by our intent to buy a digital projector*. The subjects varied from tugs to container ships to cruise ships and ferries, and as always the high standards of photography made scoring difficult. Our thanks to Robin Butcher and David Brown for the mental arithmetic during a slightly longer than normal interval break which gave us a result on the night. Following the break the 30 ship’s details and histories kept us occupied for the rest of the evening.* At the time of writing this report, the branch has purchased a digital projector.




Competition Results    





Roy Kittle  








David Berg








Ray Smith








Tony Hogwood2691



Roy Leach2614



Best Slide in competition, with 47 points Roy Kittle with the Reefer ALICANTE CARRIER


2nd best Slide in competition, with 46 points David Berg with the Contaner ship LEXA MAERSK     















The Colin Viney Trophy, won this year by Roy Kittle (left),


 pictured with David Berg, who was runner up.






March 2008


At our meeting on Monday March 3rd Roland Whaite showed us a large selection of slides taken by himself and others of shipping in the waters around Greece. Roland became “hooked” on ships following a visit to Southampton at an early age and saw the last remaining four-funnel liner AQUITANIA. His interest in Greece started with a cruise around the islands aboard the converted Fairmile MTB, SMALL WORLD 1. Since 1971 he has made at least 15 return visits. Ship photography, Roland explained, was and is not always easy or advised as the Greek authorities believed that anyone taking photographs of ships or ports is either a Turkish spy or a terrorist! Finding ships histories is not always easy due to the transliteration of Greek into English.Greece has at least 70 islands served by ferries and Roland did an exceptional job in showing a large number of these. The show however was by no means restricted to ferries, with a good selection of other vessels; coastal traders, tankers, tugs and cruise ships. At times there was almost a quiz atmosphere, identifying the large number of ex northern European ferries that work or had worked in the area. We spotted several VIKINGs, and Belgian Line vessels and the local Harwich / Hook ST GEORGE. Other second hand ships came from the Antipodes. It seemed that when all these ferries had reached the end of their life in the Mediterranean they were sold on to China and Indonesia (if they hadn’t foundered, caught fire or been laid up).Starting in Corfu with cruise ship visitors and ferries to mainland Greece and across the Ionian Sea to Brindisi, we moved around the islands taking in as many as possible. These included Patras, Kefalonia, Volos, Samos Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, Cyclades and Roland’s very favourite island Naxos. Mainland visits were also made to Thessalonica, the Corinth Canal and to Athens (Piraeus) where we saw pictures of the trots of laid up vessels.We thank Roland for taking the time to visit us and imparting his vast knowledge of the ships that have and continue to sail in Greek waters.




 April 2008  


 We were privileged to welcome Noel Grayson to our meeting on 7th April. He gave us a short history of his career in the shipping industry starting 60 years ago with Brocklebank Line. He told us of voyages to India, the Seychelles and the making of the RAF air station at Gan Island. He illustrated his talk with stories and anecdotes of his trips. He achieved his Master’s Ticket in 1958 and sailed for six years as Chief Officer. Family commitments took him to a shore job in 1964 but he did regret not sailing at least one voyage in command. He worked in various office positions in London but British shipping was under some turmoil in the lat 60s and early 70s and he took a job stevedoring in the Royal Docks, lasting three years. He then took up the position of Port Captain for Universe Tankships whose tankers (considered supertankers at the time and having a loaded draught of 84 feet) plied between Kharg Island (Iran) and Bantry Bay. Further career moves bought him back to Brocklebank as Port Captain Tankers. This was short lived and he was made redundant at the age of 48. He then secured a position with the P&I Club until he retired. He also gave us a history of the Brocklebank line that started at Whitehaven in 1801 with one sailing ship and went on to be a major trader with India. Voyages often lasted many weeks and could last up to five months if the voyage incorporated a return to the UK via the USA. We were able to use our new digital projector for the first time to display Noel’s collection of postcards and photographs, which had been scanned and put on to a DVD. We are very grateful to Noel for coming and presenting an absorbing evening of personal reminiscence, images and history.




 May 2008  


Our May meeting is always a members evening, coinciding as it does with the bank holiday. We took the opportunity to use our newly acquired digital projector to show some films of London Docks and the Thames taken during various decades of the last century. This was an evening of nostalgia viewing docks long since redeveloped and ships long departed




June 2008  








 We had nearly a “full house” at our June meeting when Andy Skarstein presented an illustrated talk on his time with Clan Line in the mid to late 1970’s.This was a typical voyage from the UK to Cape Town via the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal on the general cargo ship CLAN MACINDOE. She was a vessel of 7,395 g.r.t. built in Glasgow by John Brown’s in 1959. She became GULF HERON when sold in 1979. Because of foggy conditions, the voyage through Suez was delayed, but being anchored off the Port Operations Building at Port Said gave a good opportunity to photo some of the local ferries, dredgers and tugs, and then the ships approaching in the north bound convoy. One of the largest of these was the 1973 built NEDLLOYD DELFT of 58,716 grt. Andy also showed us pictures of the passage through the canal and of the war damage in the town of Ismailia on the Great Bitter Lake. First port of call was Al Aqabah in Jordan where it was explained that due to its nearness to the Israeli border ones navigation had to be good so as not to create an international incident! Further calls were made at Djibouti where units of the French Navy were present, Dar es-Salem, Macala, Beira, Maputo (Laurenco Marques), Durban, East London, and Cape Town.These ports were busy with ships of all types and nationalities but it was surprising how many were U.K. built. Ships prefixed KOTA of the PIL line were also quite prolific. It was also interesting to see a large number of elderly craft within port installations. A large proportion of tugs were still coal fired, and one bucket-dredger originally built in Glasgow and working in East London dated from 1925.Andy’s photos also covered pictures of the dock hinterland at various ports. One of particular interest was of locomotives on the narrow gauge railway at Durban, at least one of which is now running on the Welsh Highland Railway in North Wales.Andy was also present in East London to photograph the last voyage of SA ORANGE and WINDSOR CASTLE from the port. He was also in Cape Town to witness the final departures of both AUSTRALIS and REINA del MAR whilst on his first trip at sea on ROTHESAY CASTLE.The evening was most enjoyable with a lot of audience participation, and we thank Andy for braving the awful weather and the M25 to come and give his excellently researched presentation.




July 2008


At our July meeting we put our new digital projector to good use and showed some interesting older films of cargo ships around the world and some film of more modern bulk carriers and container ships under way in some heavy seas.




August 2008





    A panorama of Erith waterfront.



We were pleased to welcome members from across the water (North West Kent Branch) when Alan Chapman gave us a presentation titled “A Thames Summer”. When Alan retired, his colleague’s gift of a digital camera brought him back to photography. Alan lives only a short distance from Erith riverside and gave us a show reviewing the area, the ships that visited and the ships that passed by during the summer of 2007. The presentation was displayed via a laptop computer and digital projector. Part one of the two-part show was a description of the area from Jenningtree Point in the west to Crayfordness radar station in the east. At this point Gravesend VTS hands over to Woolwich VTS and is some 15 miles from London Bridge. Alan showed current pictures of the area and commented on what used to occupy the site. Whilst some areas have been modernised and spruced up, much of the older wharves and piers of Erith’s industrial past have been left derelict and are slowly decaying into the river. Those that remain are ADM Erith specialising in Vegetable oils particularly rape seed oil, British Gypsum (CEMEX (UK) and United Marine Aggregates both handling bulk sand and gravel. The Deep-water wharf is now known as “the pier” and has an occasional visit by a coaster. Erith has a large and flourishing yacht club with the ex Norwegian ferry FOLGEFON as a clubhouse. On the Essex side CEMEX and Hanson Aggregates have wharves specialising in bulk sand and gravel. Fords transport cars and car parts to and from their jetty at Dagenham on a three ship a day ro-ro service to Vlissingen, which is operated by Cobelfret. Also on the Essex side are large landfill sites where much of London’s non-recyclable waste is deposited. The waste is bought to the area by tugs towing a string of purpose built barges. Part two featured the visiting and passing ships. In earlier times this was a vantage point to see all the ships bound for the East and West India docks, the Royal docks, Surrey Commercial and Millwall docks and all the jetties beside the river. Today, however, the river is not so busy with international trade but it is still full of activity. The largest cargo vessels passing were bound for Tate and Lyles Sugar Refinery at Silvertown and included PONTOMEDON, ALINDA, DOXIA and ALYCIA. Passenger ships ranged from the 17,000 grt SILVER WIND to the BALMORAL and the PRINCESS POCAHONTAS. The fleet of Cobelfret ro-ros were shown as were many of the sand suction dredgers that service the sand and gravel wharves. Also pictured was the coaster JAMES PRIOR owned by JJ Prior of Fingeringhoe who have been transporting aggregates to London by sea from their quarry at Fingeringhoe near Colchester for over 70 years. London visitors also included the replica East Indiaman GOTHEBORG and warships HMS ARK ROYAL, and the Belgian Navy’s ASTER and WESTDEIP. Small craft included many tugs and and ancillary boats such as the PLA bed profiler NORMA the survey vessel YANTLET and the HMG’s BENFLEET. Frequent visitors to the edible oil terminal included STAR ARUBA. The transhipment of oil from Erith to Jurgens at Purfleet is a common journey which whilst a relatively short distance of 4 miles by sea replaces many road tanker journeys of 10 miles. We are grateful to Alan for his visit and for assembling this very interesting and informative presentation.




   Coaster FALCON alongside Erith Deep Water Jetty


September 2008

At our September meeting we were plesed to welcome back Peter and Christine Ives following their latest visit to Australia and Indonesia during the Christmas and New Year period 2007 / 2008. The first half of the evening featured movie images of ships entering and leaving the port of Newcastle NSW. Newcastle is the largest coal export harbour in the world, exporting 80.2 million tonnes of coal worth A$5.3 billion in 2005-2006. Peter’s pictures were mostly of bulk carriers about 50,000 grt or below and a good selection of tugs. These pictures were mainly taken from the road leading to Nobby’s Point not far from where PASHA BULKER grounded in June 2007. At this port the pilot is flown in and picked up by helicopter.Peter then moved North to Townsville in Queensland. Townsville is a holiday destination but is also a processing and refining centre for this mineral rich area of northeast Australia. This port handles exports of Meat, Molasses, Zinc, Copper, fertiliser, bulk sugar and logs. Lead-silver bullion mined at Mount Isa and partly processed near Townsville is sent to MIM's Northfleet (UK) plant for subsequent refining. Large quantities of nickel / cobalt ore mined in New Caledonia, Indonesia and the Philippines are imported to feed the large nickel refinery in Townsville. Also shown was HMAS TOWNSVILLE, the last of the Fremantle class patrol boats gifted to the City of Townsville by the government for use in the local maritime museum.Following the break we were shown the port of Surabaya, which is Indonesia’s second largest city, and the capital of the province of East Java. It is located on the northern shore at the mouth of the Mas River. The island of Madura is a short ferry trip across the Madura Strait from Surbaya. This stretch of water is teeming with ships, mainly small coasters but some larger ferries. The majority were anchored presumably waiting a berth or a slot in the local shipyards. Spotted was a familiar channel ferry under Indonesian colours.Most of the Ferries sported slogans in the vein of “I love Indonesia”. The coasters carried their own crane and were obviously visitors to many a port or wharf without any gear. Our last shots of Surbaya was the old dock with many traditional wooden ships lying two or more against the quay. Cargo was being loaded and discharged by hand or by onboard cranes. Our thanks to Peter and Christine for once again journeying to Essex and showing us the shipping delights of their foreign travels


October 2008

At our meeting on October 6th we showed the Firth of Forth Branch tape slide talk “Going Forth” made in the late 1980s. Our commentators took us down both sides of the 40-mile long navigable seaway. They gave us an insight of the history of the many inlets, harbours, piers and quays with the aid of maps and old photographs. The variety of commodities handled over the years ensured that no ones favourite ship type was neglected. Our thanks to the Firth of Forth Branch for their research and inclusion of many rare photographs of ships from the past, all adding to a very nostalgic evening.    


November 2008  

 At our November meeting we showed a dvd compilation of pictures made by Albert Novelli of Manchester branch covering a cruise from Southampton to Vigo, Lisbon, Lanzarotte, Tenerife, Recife, and Funchal aboard “ORIANA” in Jun2004. At Lisbon we saw the salvage tug FOTIY KRYLOV which Mid-Essex branch visited in the 1980s whilst at Tilbury. At Lanzarote Albert photographed the wreck of “TELAMON” ex Lambert’s “TEMPLE HALL”. The dvd also portrayed a good cross section of ships from pilot cutters to cruse ships, and tankers to warships and also included many of Oriana’s public rooms and a visit to the bridge.


December 2008

On Monday 1st December we held the branch AGM. The minutes of the previous AGM held in December 2007 were read and approved and the chairman, secretary and treasurer gave their reports. After a vote the current committee were re-elected en bloc for a further term in office. The following members form the 2009 committee; chairman, David Brown; secretary and treasurer, Ian Wells; vice chairman Robin Butcher, and committee members, Roy Leach, Andrew Smith and Ray Smith. Ray Smith and Tony Hogwood were adopted as joint auditors. In “Any Other Business” the situation at Chatham was discussed and we were relieved to hear that the facility had at least a one-year reprieve. David Brown then gave two short PowerPoint presentations. The first was of the shipping encountered during a brief stay in Liverpool and trip to the Isle of Man in 2006. The second was a series of photos of the events of 11th December in Southampton, QE2’s last departure into retirement at Dubai. After the break we had several short films on Glasgow, the river Clyde and the Clyde side shipyards.