At our December meeting we held our AGM chaired by Ian Wells. He and Secretary David Brown gave their reports on the branch activities during the year. The treasurer John Hampson, was unable to attend due to ill health. An increase in our room hire fees and a perceived drop in attendees prompted a raise in our monthly meeting contribution from £2.00 to £3.00. David Brown agreed to handle the treasurer’s job temporarily until a replacement was found. Ian wells spent time to impress on the meeting the importance of getting new people to attend our meetings.


The trial of the 7:30 p.m. meeting start time of was generally agreed and will now be our official start time


The Chairman Vice Chairman and Secretary were unanimously re-elected for a further year and the Treasurers position remains vacant. Other Officers and Committee members were re-elected en bloc.


Current Committee:


Chairman: Ian Wells


Secretary: David Brown


Treasurer: Vacant


Vice Chairman: Jerzy Swieszkowski


Honorary Vice Chairman: Robin Butcher


Honorary Auditors: Ray Smith and David Berg


Committee: Andrew Smith, John Raven, John Harrison, David Berg and Ray Smith.


The remainder of the evening was taken up with a film about the rise and fall of the Clyde Puffers from their beginnings as a motorised barge on the Forth and Clyde Canal through their seagoing career to the current efforts being made for preservation.



At our November meeting we showed the latest PowerPoint presentation from Mid Essex. Titled London Docks 1972 Part 1 and featured the scanned slides from the Ian Wells collection of ships and activities in the London docks and the Thames in early 1972. This is a unique collection shows ships and docks working the “old way” before the impact of containers. The first few slides typified the show with PORT NEW PLYMOUTH arriving on a snowy day in January and entering the locks to the Royal docks. Ian was able to photograph ships in the docks and the river during his breaks from work with the PLA and, as this show demonstrates, is an exclusive view of ship working on the Thames at that time. Apart from favourite liners from the well-known shipping lines of the time, there were also a good selection of coasters, tugs, dredgers, lighters, energy company colliers and a “Bovril boat”. Thanks to Ian for the photos and for the script which highlighted the life of the ships, one or two of which are still in existence! Thanks also to David Brown for compiling the PowerPoint. We are now looking forward to March next year when we will see the continuing story in London Docks Part 2, followed by Part 3 in the autumn.




We welcomed Steve Spouse from North West Kent to our October meeting.  Steve showed us various ship types seen on the Thames over the years starting with a selection of Warships including HMS Illustrious, Invincible, Bulwark, Kent and Duncan, the Dutch LPD Johan de Witt and Kashima a Japanese cadet training ship alongside Belfast.

The ex PLA tugs LORD WAVERLEY and LORD DEVONPORT built in 1959 and 1960 were shown and compared to the more modern SD SHARK, ZP BEAR and SD SEAL. We then saw views of Harwich Navyard and Felixstowe well before the Felixstowe dock was infilled for a new container terminal.

 There followed a collection of Steve’s photographs taken from various often high, vantage points giving an unusual view of many recognisable landmarks and ships.

Other ships displayed included the coaster BERT PRIOR the bulk carrier CLARE at the Tate & Lyle jetty, ROYAL VIKING STAR at Greenwich the early container ships ACT 8, CHURCHILL, and REMURA BAY.  St HELENA was shown passing through Tower Bridge and some early pictures of the construction of the Thames Barrier. Steve concluded his tour of the Thames & Medway through the years with several ships waiting recycling in the Medway creeks.

Our thanks to Steve for his visit with an interesting and varied show.



On the hottest day of the year branch members enjoyed a pub lunch and a River Blackwater trip from Maldon on the VIKING SAGA  to further celebrate our 500th meeting.

At our September meeting Peter and Christine Ives gave us an interesting presentation of ships seen in Piraeus during their visit in May 2015. The first ship of interest was the preserved Liberty ship HELLAS LIBERTY, formerly the ARTHUR M HUDDEL. Launched in 1943 she was converted in 1944 to a pipe carrier for the PLUTO oil pipeline to Normandy. She returned to normal trade for a year and then was laid up. In 1964 she became a cable layer support ship for 20 years. She was transferred to Greece in 2008 and, after renovation opened to the public as a museum ship. Peter was able to visit the ship and took many photos both inside and out. Nearby was the restored armoured cruiser GEORGIOS AVEROF, a Pisa Class warship built in Italy in 1909. She was present during the Balkan wars of 1912 and the Second World War. She became a museum ship in 1984 although is still commissioned in the Hellenic navy. Other shipping in the port included many ships laid up awaiting repair or scrapping. A large number of ferries operate from Piraeus to the many Greek islands and whilst many were of newer design there were still a few “favourites” from the UK and near continent recognised. Tugs were plentiful and many could be recognised as ex Norther European. Peter concluded the evening with video of his visit which included HELLAS LIBERTY; GEORGIOUS AVEROF; EL SALAMAH a 12,000 g r t private yacht once owned by a Saudi prince; the cruise ship COST ROMANTICA; the ex-cross channel ferry HENGIST docking in true Mediterranean fashion stern on to the quayside, and further shipping underway in the harbour.

We thank Peter and Christine for their continued visits to ports and high density shipping areas and look forward to their fruits in the future.



At our August meeting we showed the WSS slide show “Great Lakes Voyage 2011”. This was compiled by John Gunning following his trip on C COLUMBUS (15,067/1997). Beginning at Chicago the ship visitied various ports on the five lakes ending up in Toronto. C COLUMBUS is one of the few big cruise ships that is narrow enough (21.5 M) to transit the St Lawrence Seaway. The journey took in the various lock systems which drop/raise ships some hundreds of feet. Lakers were seen aplenty along with barges, tugs and “salties”. The number of lakers however has dropped by half over the last 50 years. Our thanks to John for the images and the script. 


C COLUMBUS Registered in Nassau 15,067/1997 MONTREALIS 17,674/1962 passing the Detroit skyline
REDHEAD 22,792/2004 descending the ladder of locks ST CLAIR 27,482/1976 


Haven Ports Secretary, Derek Sands, gave us a good account of his trip from Harwich to Hamburg, Amsterdam and Antwerp aboard Fred Olsen’s Braemar in April 2015 showing firstly those ships seen on the North Sea. Ships alongside the Burchardkai Container terminal in Hamburg followed by other shipping in the river which included tugs, the museum ships CAP SAN DIEGO, RICKMERS RICKMERS, STETTIN and the cruise ship AZURA in dry dock. They were fortunate to secure the services of PRČ€SIDENT SCHAEFER, a preserved customs launch, for a further tour of the dock system. More ships presented themselves on route to Amsterdam via the Elbe and through the lock at Ijmuiden. A number of bulkers and tankers were seen around Amsterdam and a boat tour of the city’s canals was taken. Next stop was Antwerp where a large variety of ships were seen. Many thanks to Derek for sharing his voyage with us. We look forward to his next visit.




Our June meeting was a Royal Navy evening and concentrated on ships and operations during World War 2 thanks to some archive films. One film viewed the range of combatant ships and described some of the early actions of the war.  Battleship supremacy was giving way to the Aircraft Carrier where several deck landings were seen by a variety of aircraft. The principals of the convoy and the menace of the U boat war were discussed as was the day to day routine aboard Her Majesty’s Ships including the issue of grog, now just a memory.



At our May meeting branch members gave short presentations on a variety of subjects. David Brown explained how late member Vic Baxter had solved a mystery picture. This was quickly identified to be a wartime picture of P&O’s STRATHNAVER at Suez. Vic had managed to identify the ship, the location the approximate date and its purpose.  John Raven gave us a brief rundown of his life as a sailmaker in Maldon accompanied by some photos of the sail loft and its machines and tools. Whilst not a harsh life it certainly tested the hands and knees, and along with the minimal facilities of heating, lighting and washing it was not what youngsters would expect today.  John started work from school in 1957 and retired only a few years ago.  A lifetime in one job is a rarity these days! Clive Cooper related some stories of his time at Seabright’s Wharf, Creekmouth on the Thames which originally served the Lawes Chemical Company before Seabrights took over. They concentrated mainly on chemicals including fertilisers served by mainly small bulk carriers. When the nearby River Roding was fitted out with a flood barrier the wharf silted up and would occasionally promote the sticking of a ship to the mud giving the ship-owner and the wharf some anxious moments on an incoming tide! John Harrison showed us some images of his cruises over the past couple of years on AURORA, ORIANA, and MARCO POLO including images of sun rises, sunsets and the midnight sun. David Berg scanned some of his early slides taken in the 1970s and 80s including STEPHAN BATORY, AZERBIDZHAN & MIKHAIL SUSLOV at Tilbury landing stage and ships at Bristol, the Solent and Harwich including ST HELENA (1) and ST NICHOLAS.




Following the successful showing of SeaTube last year we were pleased to be able show John Luxton’s internet compilation, “SeaTube 2”. This followed the same format with films as diverse as a tour of the Chanel Islands ferry CONDOR LIBERATION, the IOM ferry LADY of MANN and the Channel Islands Ferry SCILLONIAN. The birth of ORIANA, UNITED STATES, and DISNEY FANTASY, complemented the demise of TORREY CANYON, HMS BARHAM, WILHELM GUSTAOFF and HMS THETIS. A section on Paddle steamers, Hovercraft and the beach scrapping of WINDSOR CASTLE and PACIFIC PRINCESS finished off an entertaining and informative evening, a potpourri of shipping with something for everyone. Thanks John for your hard work, we look forward to SeaTube 3 sometime in the future.



Member and regular photo competition winner Ray Smith gave us a memorable evening with a selection of photos from a recent four day visit to Genoa, one of the busiest ports in Italy. Many of these were taken on local ferry trips in particular the ferry to Voltri and to Portofino and San Frutosa. Movements in the port are frequent, ships only staying for about 24 hours. A large number of ships can be seen during only a brief stay.  Ships pictured covered a large variety from small local ferries to large fast ferries serving as far away as Sicily. Cruise liners also make calls along with the sad sight of the COSTA CONCORDIA. At the time Ray visited she was alongside the harbour breakwater but has since been moved inside the harbour for demolition.

Also featured were harbour related - tugs, oilers, border patrol and police vessels and barges. There were a good number of container ships, bulers and tankers to be seen.  

Ships associated with the local Maritime museum included the replica galleon NEPTUNE constructed in 1985 for the film Pirates and the submarine NAZARO SAURO (518) were shown but time did not allow a visit to the museum. Our thanks to Ray for his photography and for the ship research required for his commentary.




February 2016

Our February meeting is traditionally the photo competition for the Colin Viney Trophy.  Pictures must have been taken in the previous calendar year and may be digital, slide or photograph. Slides and photographs are scanned for incusion into a PowerPoint presentation.  David Berg, David Brown, John Raven, and Ray Smith submitted their best six images for judging by the members. The selection included images from Malta to Terneuzen  and from Southampton to the English Chanel. During the break scores were totalled, followed by the entrants giving information on their pictures. Our 2016 trophy winner is Ray Smith, with only 14 points between Ray and runner-up David Berg. Ray's pictures of  the tug BRUGGE and the tug KARIN were joint best pictures .


Click HERE to view the images entered int the competition.



Listed below are the score details of each image and each set.


PhotographPointsShip NamePOSITION
Image 1-1 58 BRUGGE1=
Image 1-2 46 DARYA BRAHMA13=
Image 1-3 50 DELFT SEAWAYS11
Image 1-452 HILDA KNUTSEN10= 
Image 1-5 58 KARIN1=
Image 1-6 52 SEA CLOUD 27=
TOTAL316                                              FIRST



PhotographPointsShip NamePOSITION
Image 2-2 45 COSTA RIVIERA17=
Image 2-336 WELLSERVICER24
Image 2-444 SALINA BAY19=
Image 2-5 39


Image 2-637BBC CAMPANA23
TOTAL250                                               FOURTH



PhotographPointsShip NamePOSITION
Image 3-146 AIDABELLA13=
Image 3-244 JADE19=
Image 3-346CUAUHTEMOC13=
Image 3-446CMA CGM RABELAIS13=
Image 3-553ARCADIA5=
Image 3-651LIV KNUTSEN10
TOTAL286                                               THIRD


PhotographPointsShip NamePOSITION
Image 4-145 ADELINE17=
Image 4-2 55 TRACER3=
Image 4-4 52HAGEN7=
Image 4-5 55ANSAC PHOENIX3=
Image 4-6 53 SMIT PANTHER5=
TOTAL 302                                               SECOND


January 2016

Our January meeting marked our 500th meeting as a branch at Ingatestone and was duly celebrated with cake and wine. Our inaugural meeting was in December 1972 and has been held on the first Monday of each month, with just a few missed meetings due to poor weather, ever since. After reminiscing on former times we concluded the evening with a showing of “London Docks 1957 to 1980” which was produced in 2004 by Roy Kittle. Roy sadly died during 2016 and this was a fitting celebration of his life. We had shown the early part of this presentation, which extends to about 450 images, covering the West India docks, Millwall Docks and the Royal Docks back in 2005.


On this occasion we concentrated on the ships seen further downstream including those in and around Tilbury Docks. We were transported back to an earlier age when an annual weekend dock pass could be obtained to photograph ships anywhere in the PLA system. This all stopped due to heightened security in 1975. Roy’s slide collection is now lodged with the WSS Photo Library so we are all fortunate that the time Roy devoted to travelling up and down each side of the river on his motorcycle and sidecar each weekend taking pictures of the many ship types to be seen on the river and in the dock systems are still able to be enjoyed today.