I WAS MOST interested in the article on the Orient Line’s ss Orford in the August 2013 issue of Sea Breezes.
One part of our multi-faceted business in Grimsby was as a ships’ outfitter and uniform supplier. Before the war, during off season Australia runs, a number of Orient Line vessels (other companies too) sailed from nearby Immingham Docks on Midnight Sun Cruises to Norway. Passenger trains would run right up to the vessels berthed on the outer jetties. Our firm had a concession from the ship’s captain or purser to trade onboard the vessels because the quick turnabout did not allow shore leave for the crew.
I remember as a young lad, about 8 or 9 years old, being taken aboard the Orford or Orontes. Family members were allowed on board as day visitors (I have a number of photographs of some of my family on board), but my memory is of one teatime being presented by a steward, a huge tray of assorted fancy cream cakes, but I could only select two. What a decision to make! The memory of that tray full of delights has remained with me all these 75 years, and a greater fondness for the Orient Line. I remember we had ship postcards, most of the Orient Line vessels, and still have copies of the letters signed by the captains and pursers granting permission to trade on board. I had many other souvenirs of those vessels which were sadly lost in the intervening years.
I’m not sure if those Midnight Sun Cruises returned after the war, although I think not. As well as the Orford and Orontes I believe the Orion was part of those pre-war cruises as well as the Orcades. Thank you to Murray Robinson and Sea Breezes for bringing back memories of so long ago. Now living in Oxford, I still miss the port of Grimsby and Immingham and visiting so many ships of every nationality.
Flat 19, Vicarage Court
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