I read, with interest, Sea Breezes February and March 2018 articles “Shipping Services between Europe & Australia”, by Martin Orchard who joined Port Line as a freight clerk in 1966 and continued in various shipping rolls in Australia from 1969 to his retirement in 2005.
I served as Engineer Cadet in 1962, to Senior 2EO in 1975, with BI and P&O, including several voyages to Australia and one to New Zealand. Then, as Shift Engineer and Assistant Container Terminal Engineer at Southampton Docks, from between 1976 to 1980. Therefore, I’m interested in both the history of shipping and the development of containerisation though, regrettably, the bulk of the household name UK merchant navy companies disappearing by 2006 into the mega size container operator Maersk Line. I emailed Martin to say that, although I served with BI and P&O, I had an interest in Port Line as my aunt was the daughter of Thomas Royden. Thomas Royden was both a director of Royden Line and of Cunard.
Between 1818 and 1893, Royden Shipbuilders, Liverpool, built 262 ships. Those that were not sold were operated by themselves. A book on Royden shipbuilding is awaiting publication. Several of the ships were chartered by Tyser & Co. In 1914, 25 steamers from Tyser Line (8), Corry (5), Royden (3) and Milburn (9) were amalgamated as The Commonwealth & Dominion Line Ltd. In 1915, Royden sold seven ships of their Indra Line to the Blue Funnel Line. In 1916, Cunard acquired D&C. The Milburn ships were named after ports, and the others were renamed after ports, but D&C was not known as Port Line until 1935. Thomas Royden was chair of Cunard from 1922 to 1930, and continued as a director of Cunard, D&C and then Port Line until his death in 1950. Martin replied by recommending I procure a copy of the 376 page book The Tyser Legacy: A History of the Port Line and its Associated Companies by Ian Farquhar. Although published in New Zealand, I bought a copy from Preston, UK based ‘Ships in Focus’. The book gives fascinating details of the development of shipping, particularly in New Zealand from 1881.
I visited New Zealand for four weeks, together with my wife, on the MS Hurunui as 2EO in 1973 after the restructuring of P&O owned companies into divisions. We called at Wellington, including a weekend trip to Rotorua by myself, my wife and two first trip JEOs; then Christchurch, Dunedin and New Plymouth. We ended the voyage at a scrapyard in Pusan, South Korea. The ship, just 25 years old, was a casualty of containerisation, although on the trip in ballast to Korea we maintained the original trial speed.