I WONDER WHETHER some of your retired BP Tanker readers and others might be interested in the photograph below.
A strikingly beautiful water colour which I have recently been fortunate enough to buy, by William Minshall Birchall (1884-1941) an American Marine Artist who spent most of his life painting scenes in and around the ports of Great Britain. One of his finer paintings executed in 1927, set at what was called “The Narrows” with North Shields Fish Quay and the Tyne Entrance Leading Lights in the background, and in the foreground one of the iconic twin funnelled steam paddle tugs and a foyboat at the Shields buoys.
Unfortunately the photograph doesn’t do the painting justice at all. She seems to be depicted in ballast rather than down to her marks, as it is most unlikely that she would be leaving the Tyne with a cargo of oil! The vessel depicted is one of several very similar sister ships built for BP around that time at Palmers, Vickers, and Swan Hunter’s on the Tyne, in an effort to build up their fleet as the transport of oil was taking over from coal worldwide.
British Governor, built at Swan Hunter 1926/27, I think she was oil fired, and one of BP’s last steam reciprocating engined vessels, as three years earlier BP had taken delivery of British Aviator from Palmers, their first (experimental) diesel tanker. Governor survived the war and was eventually scrapped in 1953.
My friends and I have searched for a photograph of her on the internet but with no success. Plenty pictures of other contemporary BP Tankers but not Governor. Is there anybody out there with a photograph I wonder, or is this the only image of her in existence?
ROBERT S HUNTER
2 Westoe Hall, Westoe Village
South Shields Tyne & Wear, NE33 3EG
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