View Full Version : Bovril Boats

Jim Bartlett
25th September 2011, 07:19 AM
I am not an ex merchant seaman (an ex Royal Marine actually) but a writer looking for personal stories, anecdotes, working hours and patterns, any facts and figures really regarding the 'Bovril Boats'. I have some of the basic facts about the last three vessels working up to 1998 but I'm really interested in the human angle. I would be most interested to hear from any of you who served on these craft or their predecessors, either via the forum or to my e-mail.

25th September 2011, 09:49 AM
Welcome Aboard Jim!
There is one thread on site HERE (http://www.merchant-navy.net/forum/f67/my-ships-john-richardson-2423/),in which member John Richardson lists some ‘Bovril boats’ as amongst his ships served on.
I see John hasn’t been active on site since April of this year,but of course he may still be looking in.
Perhaps if you click on his name you can send him an E-mail or Private Message…..
Plus there is a 3-page forum on the 'Bovril boats' on the SHIPS NOSTALGIA (http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=6258&highlight=bovril&page=3)site. 
Best Regards

25th September 2011, 09:53 AM
A couple of my pilot colleagues used service in these vessels as a stepping stone into the London Pilotage.
Despite the nature of the cargo, they were very clean and well run.

Albert Bishop
25th September 2011, 04:38 PM
Sorry to show my ignorance, but what the he** were the Bovril boats????? Albi.

Keith at Tregenna
25th September 2011, 04:49 PM
Sorry to show my ignorance, but what the he** were the Bovril boats????? Albi.

As far as I can tell, the Bovril Boat was a scatalogically descriptive slang term used to describe the specially designed sewerage dumping vessels, also known as "Sludge vessels",[1] that operated on the River Thames from 1887[2] to 1998. Their task was to remove London's sludge waste from Beckton and Crossness for disposal on the ebb tide at sea, at Black Deep, an extremely deep part of the North sea located fifteen miles off Foulness, on one of the main approaches to the Thames Estuary. Similar boats operated on the Manchester Ship Canal and the Tyne.

Bovril Boats - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bovril_Boats)


Willie Saunders
25th September 2011, 05:19 PM
They also operated out of Belfast, and the s/s Shieldhall,which worked out of Glasgow, is now preserved at Southampton and is the last operating sludge vessel afloat.I have seen her described as a cargo vessel, but she would be a tanker actually, and the exact nature of her cargo was glossed over, as she did take trippers down Southampton water, though I dont know if this is still the case.

25th September 2011, 05:26 PM
I don't know why people didn't just call them S * *T boats !! No need to dress it up,it's a perfectly natural by-product of we mammals and others.
Only spellcheckers don't seem to like the word!

Jim Brady
25th September 2011, 06:02 PM
They brought the sewage,for want of a better word from Manchester down the canal and they were supposed to go out to the Bar and discharge this cargo.They were well observed by way of the draught of the ship raising as the ship got off New Brighton.As far as I am aware the bottom of the hull opened and the sewage was discharged.I believe that they started discharging as soon as the entered the Mersey with the sole intention of turning around and getting back into the canal on the same tide.Our beach here was covered in all kinds of S**t they used to talk about the Mersey Goldfish.Since then a sewage pipe was built from Manchester to Liverpool (near the L'pool meet up)and a sewage farm built.The Mersey has now returned to a clear river were fish including salmon can be caught.

25th September 2011, 11:29 PM
Went for an interview in 1967 for the sludge vessels on the Thames, interview by a 2 man team on the London Inner Council. They had advertised the jobs in National papers, and if remember correct the advert read M.N. Officers now is your chance to work a 40 hour week. I travelled overnight from Newcastle to London to save on rail fare, and spent all morning walking around London trying to kill time until the afternoons interview.However I had not read the small print on advert and it said preference would be given to anyone who through ill health etc. could not go deep sea. It was obvious to me that the positions had already been filled and they were just going through the motions for appearances sake. When asked how I could afford to move to Southern England, I replied if they thought that I couldnt afford they were obviously paying too low a salary, this didnt go down too well, I had to argue for my train expenses. I was not impressed. Regards J. Sabourn

Keith at Tregenna
25th September 2011, 11:40 PM
Bovril is the trademarked name of a thick, salty meat extract, developed in the 1870s by John Lawson Johnston and sold in a distinctive, bulbous jar. It is made in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, owned and distributed by Unilever UK.

Bovril can be made into a drink by diluting with hot water, or less commonly with milk. It can also be used as a flavouring for soups, stews or porridge, or spread on bread, especially toast, rather like Marmite. (Vegimite).

The first part of the product's name comes from Latin bos meaning "ox" or "cow." Johnston took the -vril suffix from Bulwer-Lytton's then-popular 1870 "lost race" novel The Coming Race, whose plot revolves around a superior race of people, the Vril-ya, who derive their powers from an electromagnetic substance named "Vril."



Tony Morcom
26th September 2011, 12:00 AM
sounds to me like those boats were very aptly named! As for bovril with milk the very thought beggars belief:eek:

Lou Barron
26th September 2011, 12:31 AM
hi jim and just as i and my mates use to go swimmiing the mersey mind you in them days the river was not the cleanest of water ways the last time i saw the river in 1993 it looked a lot cleaner its like the otago harbour years ago itbwas not very clean but now its a lot cleaner could it be the lack of shipping

Neil Morton
26th September 2011, 06:09 AM
I think Bovril was what we used to serve as beef tea to the bloods at 1100 hours, it came in an urn,(not a greek one) in the public rooms.But getting back to the thread I have never heard of such a vessel; thanks for enilightening me. As a kid I used to swim in the Thames halfway between Kingston and Hampton Court Bridge on most summer Sundays having ridden there on my push bike. The depths were inpenetrable and I used to come out a strange shade of yellow.Maybe a Bovril boat had passed by,(or several).:eek:

happy daze john in oz
26th September 2011, 06:10 AM
Sorry to show my ignorance, but what the he** were the Bovril boats????? Albi.

Like the OXO boats but not so square????? similar in shape to the Marmite ones!