December 2013

At our December meeting we held our AGM. The chairman thanked the officers and committee for their help and support during the year and also the faithful membership for attending meetings throughout the year. The treasurer reported that our finances were found to be sufficiently sound that no increase in the monthly meeting contribution was thought to be necessary for another year.

The Officers and committee were unanimously re-elected for a further year.


Current Committee:

Chairman: Robin Butcher

Secretary: David Brown

Treasurer: John Hampson

Vice Chairmen Jerzy Swieszkowski and Ian Wells

Honorary Auditors: Ray Smith and Michael Vincent

Committee: Andrew Smith, John Raven, John Harrison, and Ray Smith


The remaining part of the evening was taken up with a presentation by Ray Smith of pictures taken during his three day visit to the Kiel Canal in May 2013. We were amazed to see the number of ships that transit this waterway in the course of such a short time. Ray showed us a good selection of bulk carriers, tankers, and feeder container ships, coasters and tugs. Our thanks to Ray for his excellent photography and well researched commentary.


November 2013

At our November meeting we welcomed Derek Sands from Haven Ports Branch who gave his presentation “A Cruise on the Marco Polo”. The show certainly brightened up a dreary November evening. Derek’s cruise was a last minute booking in October 2012 after the company handling his original holiday ceased trading. However, he was most impressed in the way his booking was handled by Cruise and Maritime, even though he had not been issued tickets. He was also very pleased with the ship both, in cleanliness and comfort. The destination for his 14 day cruise was Portugal, North Africa and the western Mediterranean. The ports visited, among others, were Lisbon, Tangier, Palma Majorca, Cartagena, Valencia and Gibraltar.

The type of ships seen was most varied, ranging from a tug towing a drilling rig in a gale through the Bay of Biscay to cruise ships, ferries and tugs. Also featured were container ships, bulk carriers and tankers. Gibraltar was a very busy area with many ships calling to be fuelled by one of the many bunker tankers based there. Derek also took shore trips in most of the ports of call and showed us many interesting views of the local area. Derek was impressed with the ships relaxed atmosphere and highly recommends it.

Our thanks to Derek for his visit and we look forward to another show sometime in the near future.


October 2013

At our October meeting on Monday 7th we welcomed Krispen Atkinson who gave his presentation “Cornish Ports”. Krispn, a native of Cornwall, showed in the first half, pictures of the port of Truro, shipping on the Truro River, River Fal, Carrick Roads, The Penryn River and the Helford River, including ships laid up over the years. Krispen had sourced pictures mainly from his own collection and with some early postcard views.

Truro at the turn of the last century had wharves close to the present city but as the size of ships increased and the need to dredge the river increased the wharves gradually moved downstream. The wharf currently in use is south of Truro’s flood barrier. The layup facilities in the Fal are now considerably less due to the extensive fish farm south of the King Harry Ferry. Krispen then took us south to the ports around the Lizard peninsula. These included the tiny port of Gweek at the head of the Helford River which is home port for “Seacore” a company involved in deep drilling at sea and a large pleasure boat centre. Porthousetock also featured, where coasters use the wharf to ship stone from the nearby quarry. Ships pass close to the Lizard at Coverack and can be observed quite closely, but they have to avoid the mainly submerged Manacles Rocks where many ships have come to grief.

In the second half, after the break, Krispen concentrated on the Port of Falmouth, the third largest natural harbour in the world. With pictures from old postcards he showed the development of the port, describing the history of the refitting and repair facilities. These docks and dry docks handle car carriers, ferries and Royal Naval ships. Falmouth also handles local cargos such as fertilisers. The bunkering facilities are also ideally situated to service a large variety of ships at the busy western end of the English Channel. The port also sees a number of cruise ships that call to visit the area.

We thank Krispen for coming to give us his highly interesting and absorbing presentation about a topic that he is so obviously passionate about. We look forward to seeing his next show on the china clay ports.


September 2013

We welcomed Peter & Christine Ives to our September  meeting. They told us of their visit to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba in 2012. Their ship was the 34,000 grt Thompson Spirit built in 1983 as Nieuw Amsterdam for Holland America Lines. They joined at Sharm El Sheikh and took in the towns/cities of Safaga, El Sokhna and Eilat.

Our usual video show was given over to stills as Peter had a video camera “malfunction” just as he boarded ship. “Malfunctions” of the projection equipment also marred the evening but we were able to see a good number of ships. The range of ships included tankers, LNG carriers, products tankers, car carriers, bulk carriers, tugs, ferries and trip boats. In Safaga, those with a naval interest had some views of patrolboats, submarines, and frigates. There seemed to be some offloading or lightening of vessels at sea particularly LNG carriers. There were also a large number of uncleared wrecks in the area, some of which, Peter had difficulty in researching. We look forward to seeing them again next year for another of their shows and thank them for taking the time to visit us from Rochester.


August 2013

At our August meeting we welcomed Alan Chapman who showed us a selection of the many photos he had taken during the period July 11th to September 13th 2012. These showed what a huge “behind the scenes” organisation was involved in staging the Olympic Games in London just centring on the activities in the Thames. The security of the games focused on HMS Ocean which coordinated security matters and was moored off Greenwich for the entire summer.  The security also drew in the police boats not only from London but from both Essex and Kent.

Accommodation for the games was provided by GEMINI and BRAEMAR which had cancelled at least one of its regular cruises. Such was the huge requirement for coaches to serve the event, BRAEMAR was used as accommodation just for coach drivers.

Alan took several cruises to view and photograph the abnormal activity on the Thames also including many ships going about their normal trade. These trips were on PRINCESS POCAHONTAS, BALMORAL on one of her last sailings in the Thames, and on KINGSWEAR CASTLE which proved to be one of her last seasons in the area before the move to the river Dart. Ships seen included those at Coryton, Northfleet, Tilbury, Purfleet and Dartford dock sides. Many tugs featured, including those of the Cory fleet removing London’s rubbish to the landfill and incinerator sites on the Essex side of the river. The Thames’s water quality, reduced by the increased use of the river, was maintained by the oxygenation vessel THAMES VITALITY. The import of sand for various large building programmes in London continued with photos of SAND FULMAR, CITY of LONDON and SAND FALCON, as did the disposal of spoil from London’s Cross Rail Project with exports of soil/spoil from Becton to Northfleet for onward transhipment by the ‘HAV boats to Walasea island.

Many luxury yachts made their way to visit the games and included ILONA, OSPREY, DENIKI, SEA BLUE Z, the 9,900 ton mega yacht OCTOPUS and DANEBROG the Danish Royal Yacht.

The Tall ships event ‘Sail Royal Greenwich’ was staged in the Thames between July 25th and August 12 and featured in Alan’s photos. These included Brigs, Ketches, Top Sail Schooners, Gaf Rigged Schooners and Barquentines many of which were pictured under sail. Several of these were offering cruises and Alan (at great expense) was fortunate enough to secure a trip. Also featured were several Thames sailing barges and surprisingly, a Chinese Junk.

Our thanks to Alan for coming and showing such a remarkable selection of photographs taken during such an eventful time for London also to Keith Simpson for bringing Alan following an accident with his hand.


July 2013

Our July meeting held on Monday 1st featured the sequel to the Sid Belham slide show that we viewed in March, and concentrated on ships of the 1970’s and 1980’s.  Sid obviously devoted much of time visiting far flung ports, harbours and waterways of Great Britain, and more often than not having great weather. Don’t know what he would have made of the past couple of years! Destinations ranged from the Channel Isles to Dundee and Ireland to Harwich. Pictures for everyone were featured, ranging from cargo liners, reefers and tankers to coasters, hovercraft, tugs and sailing barges, and even a car carrier! Classic cargo liners such as FLINTSHIRE, CLAN MACIVER, SUSSEX and FALABA received comments as did Union Castle’s, SOUTHAMPTON and GOOD HOPE CASTLEs. Nearer home were pictures of coasters that visited our local port of Maldon including one still trading in the Thames area as NIGEL PRIOR. Sailing barges at Ipswich and the MARGARET at Colchester also gave our locals some memories. Ferries of the time were featured with examples SENLAC, VORTIGERN, NORMANNIA, SCILLONIAN, LORD WARDEN, BEN MY CHREE, EARL WILLIAM and PRINZ OBERON being displayed during the show. One surprise was the local Gravesend to Tilbury Ferry, KEPPEL of 1961 which is reported as still working as a pleasure craft in Malta. Three conversions caused some comment and surprise with ABEER DELTA (ex Stephenson Clark’s STEYNING) being “aged” to appear in the film Raiders of the Lost Ark as BANTU WIND; the former ELIZABETH BOWATER as WIMPEY SEALAB and at Southampton, the former OVERSEAS COURIER was shown as FSB01 (Floating Supply Base 01). Bird class BP tankers were shown laid up at Barry in 1976. Our thanks to Dave Menzies of the Bedford branch for supplying the slides; to Jim McFaul for digitising them and maintain the very high standard of Sid’s photography and fpor supplying the comprehensive notes that accompanied each slide. We would highly recommend either of these two shows that record a time before ships around the UK became gargantuan.


June 2013

It was good to have Ken Larwood with us again at the June meeting, a real trouper in coming all the way from Whitstable despite feeling a little under the weather. Ken’s show was entitled “Ships of the New Millenium” and we were treated to some excellent slides taken mainly in Dover and on the Medway and Thames depicting ships of all types that had steamed into the year 2000. As always each ship had been thoroughly researched with data and history provided.


May 2013

Our May meeting was a members evening where we showed two films bought along by members. One was of a voyage on the bulk carrier Saga Horizon on a voyage from Brake to Yokohama via the East Coast USA, Brazil and the Panama Canal.

The ship loaded lumber at Brake in Germany for the ports of Newhaven, Baltimore, Savannah and Port Canaveral. Between Newhaven and Baltimore the ship passes through the Delaware – Chesapeake canal where masts have to be shortened due to the many low bridges.

Saga Horizon then proceeds to Brazil to load wood pulp and aluminium ingots for Japan. There is then the passage through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific. This long journey allows the crew to perform many maintenance jobs on the ship. The film ends in Yokohama where the aluminium ingots are unloaded.


The second film, set in the mid-1950s, documented the surf boats of Accra. These small native craft crewed by 11, (10 paddling and one steering) carried cargoes from the off-shore anchorage to the beach. Because of Ghana’s poor infrastructure and lack of harbours and docks at the time, all imports and exports were carried in this manner. Everything from bagged cement to cars were brought across the surf to the beach, with exports of cocoa taken on the return trip. Up to two tons could be carried ashore by a single boat. Larger items were carried by lashing two "canoes" together. Cargoes are now loaded and unloaded in the harbours of Tema and Takoradi.



April 2013

Our April meeting was a Members Evening as it coincided with a bank holiday. We first watched a film about the loss of the Costa Concordia in January 2012 which showed how she struck the reef on her port side yet ended up wrecked on her starboard side. We were informed of the method and proceedures of her salvage. The ship is scheduled to be removed in the the autumn of 2013. This was then followed by images of about 100 geared bulkers taken by our member Ray Smith during 2012. The evening ended with a preview of some digitised slides taken in 1976 by our former chairman, the late Captain Edwin Gregson, with a view  to making a PowerPoint presentation of his voyage from Falmouth to Australia via America on TROPIC (on charter to Shaw Saville & Albion from Johnston Warren Lines Ltd). 




                                 Geared Bulker ALITHIA                                                       TROPIC in Dry Dock

                                                                                                                                       at Falmouth



March 2013

 Our March meeting was one of pure nostalgia with the showing of a PowerPoint presentation featuring the excellent photographs of the late Sid Belham. Many of Sid’s photographs were left to the Bedford Branch WSS and have been made into shows for the WSS Slide Show library. Jim McFaul had scanned the slides and supplied the commentary. Our show was of those taken in the 1960s and 1970s. The slides quality and colour had not seemed to have deteriorated over the years or suffered being digitised and members commented on their excellent composition. Sid must have travelled around the country over this period taking photos at ports large and small. A large cross section of ships including passenger ships, ocean going freighters, coaster, tugs, ferries, tankers, warships, Trinity House vessels, bulk carriers, reefers, and some early box boats, a selection to please all. Ships in London’s Royal Docks showed how busy these were at that time. Ships of the Royal Mail, Shaw Saville & Albion, Federal, Ellerman, Houlder, Elder Dempster, and Ben Line were seen here. Down at Tilbury Landing Stage the Russian Mikhail Kalinin and the Swedish Suecia and Britannia were seen. Further round the coast were ships at Portsmouth, Southampton, Weymouth, Portland, Bristol, Barry, Preston and the Isle of Man. Ships on the East coast were seen on the Humber at Scarborough, Ipswich and Harwich. This thoroughly enjoyable show was appreciated by all members and we are looking forward to seeing part two covering the 70s and 80s later in the year. Our thanks to Bedford Branch and Jim McFaul for a very enjoyable evening.


February 2013

 Our February meeting is traditionally our digital photo competition for the Colin Viney Trophy. Slides have been rapidly overtaken by digital photography and now we use our digital projector. One new departure this year was that one entrant submitted colour prints which were scanned into digital for projection. This seemed to go well as none of the judges spotted any noticable difference    David Berg, David Brown,  Ray Smith and Michael Vincent submitted their best six images from 2012 for judging by the members. The selection included images from Tilbury to Terneuzen to Tuzla. During the break scores were totalled, followed by the entrants giving information on their pictures. Our 2013 trophy winner was Ray Smith making it a quartet of wins, but there was only eight points between Ray and runner-up David Berg. Ray also took best picture with a fine image of MARCO POLO taken at Tilbury landing stage on the afternoon of the South East Social and Quiz  in November.





PhotographPointsShip NamePOSITION
Image 1-137ORIANA=10
Image 1-243THV PATRICIA=2
Image 1-335MARCO POLO 
Image 1-433SHEILDHALL              
Image 1-534WAVERLEY
Image 1-637OCEANA=10



PhotographPointsShip NamePOSITION
Image 2-233WILLY  T
Image 2-431SD SEAHORSE
Image 2-537

SMIT JAPAN               

Image 2-632BUGSIER 6     



PhotographPointsShip NamePOSITION
Image 3-141ARKLOW  REBEL5
Image 3-440PATANI=6
Image 3-537WEC VAN GOGH=10



PhotographPointsShip NamePOSITION
Image 1-137ABU ROEES=10
Image 1-240ALITHIA=6
Image 1-338IZMIR BULL=8
Image 1-444MARCO POLO1
Image 1-537PONTADYNAMOS        =10
Image 1-643SA AGHULAS=2



January 2013

We were entertained at our January meeting by a PowerPoint presentation made by our member Roy Kittle which made this a "Gem" of a meeting. Sadly for health reasons Roy cannot attend meetings and we miss Roys' superb ship photography which won many of our photographic competitions. Members always looked forward to Roy's occasional presentations and this was no exception.

The PowerPoint was made back in 2004 and for some reason had never been shown at a meeting. The first part was of ships seen during Roy's early visits to Terneuzen in 1973. The second half was from his collection at the same venue in 2003 and demonstrated the great changes that had come about in thirty years!

Many vessels had cranes and derricks with only a few dedicated box boats to be seen. The majority of containers being carried as deck cargo on vessels like the West German Hanau Horngolf and Regenstein and the Dutch Alkmaar . Also a treat to see were classic centre island tankers such as the Dutch Gulf Italian and the British British Curlew. it was also interesting to note that the majority of ships were built in Europe , Germany , Holland,  France and Britain leading the list with a few from Finland, Japan and the USSR.

By contrast the second part devoted to 2003 more and more ships had been built in Turky, Japan, Korea, China, and Poland, with some still retaining a crane or two. Large for their time, at around 35,000  gross were container ships OOCL Belgium, MSC Sabrina and Dal East London.

Ro Ros tugs and product tankers also featured in this fascinating record of ship development. Our thanks to Roy for compiling this PowerPoint for our enjoyment.