View Full Version : Welcome to Common Brothers Forum

Roy A Swan
3rd June 2015, 06:24 AM
Thank you Brian Probetts for promptly opening this forum at my request.

Looking forward to hearing from fellow Commons guys and sharing some laughs and experiences.
I joined Iron Ore as a fresh faced cadet in Glasgow 1961 and left as a rather wrinklier Chief Officer in 1973. A good company for all round experience on a variety of vessels. A good old fashioned Newcastle family firm of 3 generations, I felt like touching my forelock when Mr. Elliot, Mr. John or Mr. Sandy deigned to speak to me !
Commons were mainly managers but did own a variety of vessels over the years.
A very good book called "The Trades Increase" is available and gives details of all ships owned and managed. The final name of the company was ' Forex' after a succession of mergers and takeovers.

Main management in my time were 'Border Boats' (BP tankers with Tartan Funnel), Bisco Iron Ore Carriers and Kuwait Oil Tanker vessels.

I enjoyed Borders Keep, Terrier and Pele, Daghestan, Afghanistan, Woodburn ( 21 months including big grounding in Singapore), North Devon, Warbah ,Al Sabiyah and Al Funtas. A mix of crews, Indian, Chinese, Somali and of course the usual UK mix of Geordies, Scots, irish and Welsh. Always good for a punch up after a few jars ! I even watched the skipper and an AB swinging at each other on the wharf. Happy Days !

Des Taff Jenkins
3rd June 2015, 06:38 AM
Hi Roy.
Welcome aboard hope you enjoy yous stay, some good tales and banter goes on, don't be alarmed if it gets a little bit rough, it's only mess room talk generally. Look forward to your posts and some tales. I;m sure you will find someone who has sailed with Common Brothers.
Cheers Des :th_thth5952deef:


3rd June 2015, 08:46 AM
Hi Roy always kept to the more elite Tyneside shipowner the likes of Runciman and Dalgliesh. However did know the mate on the Dhagestan about 1965 a bloke called Gerry Screen. Cheers JS

vic mcclymont
3rd June 2015, 08:57 AM
25% owned by B&C.

3rd June 2015, 08:59 AM
Thank you Brian Probetts for promptly opening this forum at my request.


I even watched the skipper and an AB swinging at each other on the wharf. Happy Days !did you ever come across arthur pegg an engineer who was with border boats like his father before him ....out of south shields ...did an 11 monther on the riseley with him .....a good bloke but seemingly came off watch up the gulf in a border boat ...drank a can sitting on deck .....squashed the can and then said ....effit and just jumped over the wall...ship came about ..but never found......on the risley the old man stopped all beer for the crew only officers got it ......i was 2nd steward amd there was always a few cans off arthur for the boys a good shipmate ...rest in peace regards cappy

3rd June 2015, 10:32 AM
Cappy there was one skipper on one of the stand by boats in same company I was in carried his own survival suit, the company certainly didn't supply in those not too far distant days. It was said he had been in one of the specialist services SAS or something, whether true or not don't know. Had a habit on passage out to whatever location they were bound for of pushing the M.O.B. Alarm (Man overboard Alarm ) jumping over the side without telling anyone. I would class him in a line of nutters I have known at sea. Would not have fancied his chances if with a crowd he didn't get on with. As he did this when on watch by himself or had a yearning to depart this world I don't know, he got the usual warnings and sacked. Apart from his own life which he had an obvious disregard for, he was leaving his place of duty and endangering every man on board. On long ocean passages it was often usual to have at least one man suffering from severe melancholy and one had to watch out for any Sign of, once when ,mate on the Pennyworth this old seaman brought his son down to the ship when joining as deck boy and came up to me and asked I keep an eye on him. We did 2 trips up to Murmansk from Liverpool, each time the lad was sick from leaving the quay to getting back, after the first trip his old man came down and I told him I didn't think his son was very happy with the sea life, he insisted he carry on, which the kid did to please his father, coming back to Liverpool the second time his father came down to ship and I again said the same and also I was worried about the mental state of the boys health. He very reluctantly took the lad off the ship, and know the kid was very pleased to get off. We will never really know how many have taken their own lives as is so easy at sea, and know of at least a couple of other occasions where there was doubt in my mind as to cause of death. Cheers JS

Red Lead Ted
3rd June 2015, 02:23 PM
Jim, Cappy, You must have come across the mighty Quinn, Martin King Spoke of the Empress boats, I only ever saw one guy stand up and go toe to toe with him, Quarter Master Jimmy Turtin, Great bloke Jimmy sailed with him twice E.O.Canada and as Bosun in a Palm Boat I happened to mention the night it happened and I witnessed it, Terry lad the bigger they come the longer they fall and never forget it lad Terry.

Jim Brady
3rd June 2015, 02:52 PM
I remember Martin hunting me down on the Britain when I was bell boy, I emptied the purser's rosie over the side on the boat deck.The problem was I was on the weather side so there was quite a bit of paper scattered about the boat deck which his men had to clean up.Jimmy Turtin I sailed with him on the Salinas,I lost a bit of respect for him as him and Joe Bennett reputedly worked this little quiet AB over because he wouldn't lend them money,well that was the story.I did see the AB and he had had a pasting.

Jim Brady
3rd June 2015, 03:27 PM
The story was Terry this AB (I think I remember his name but I wont mention it)didn't leave an allotment,did'nt need a sub as most probably had pay off from last ship lived in the Sailors Home when back in Liverpool.As soon as leave was up ship out most probably with money from last pay off.As far as I am aware he slid off ashore on his own,complete loner.Story was Turton and Bennett asked him for money he refused and they beat him up.I had a bit of an argument over this with Ernie Turton once in Waterloo,he was talking of his brother Jimmy.

Roy A Swan
4th June 2015, 08:44 AM
Thanks Terry, always enjoyed a night ashore in Liverpool, (and Shields, Glasgow, Hull, Dublin etc.) Fortunately my legs are longer than my arms so not too many punch ups. Love the Scouse accent and humour. After a few jars some guys fight, some sleep but the rest of us sing.

Peter F Chard
5th June 2015, 08:34 AM
Roy, I feel I should know you -- were you connected at some time with the Nautical School in Auckland. The school was located in the old Union Steamship Building on Quay Street. I was located right next door in the old Customs House in the Marine Department and worked as an Engineer surveyor looking at boilers and pressure vessels and ships. A few names you may recall -- Jimmy Gladwin, Peter Wenden, Colin Wickham, Dennis Brosnan, Jim Micklejohn, Bill Wise. Hope to hear from you, regards Peter Chard in Auckland.

Roy A Swan
24th June 2015, 07:44 AM
Hit Peter, Yes I do remember you well. I think last time I spoke was on the wharf at Gaunt St. about five years ago, I think you were looking at Boularibank which a mate of mine Brian Whiteman was sailing on. I started in Willis St, Wgtn school with Miller- Williams in 79 then moved to Auckland in 1980. 70 this week I am retired but still doing the Masters/Mates exams and travel around a lot doing various consulting. eg Just back from a week in Kiribati and Timaru this week. Yes, i remember a few of the names from the good old days. Keith Bainbridge, Brian McCallum and Paul Harper you may know are still at the school.
Good to hear from you again.

Captain Kong
29th June 2015, 04:33 PM
Regarding Martin Quinn, I sailed with him a few times, On The France, and Britain, He was Bosun on the Canada when she burned in January 1953, He was in tears then in the Caradoc. shouting , "Give me six good men and I`ll save the ship."
The Fire Service had taken charge.
I was in the House of Scouse in Montreal and Martin went to the Gents. Four Canadian Dockers, with their hand hooks on their shoulders followed him in.
The screams were terrible, and a lot of banging then it all went quiet, Kinnel they`ve killed Martin. we all muttered. Then Martin walked out and sat with the Chippy and a Bosuns Mate again and carried on drinking. The Dockers didn't come out.
Hard man was Martin. I never argued with him.
If you were a good Seaman on deck he never bothered you.

30th August 2018, 08:19 AM
Hi Roy

Are you still flying?


Roger Emmins

Frances Robinson
12th June 2019, 11:40 AM
Harry Scott died on 19 March 2019. He was born and brought up in Burnhope, County Durham.

Harry was in the Merchant Navy. He sailed on a number of tankers, some of which were for a firm locally known as Common Brothers (but actually called Lowland Tanker Company Limited) and also for Nothern Petroleum Tankers and hunting (Eden) Tankers between 1964 and 1966.

I am looking for men who might have sailed with him.

16th October 2019, 10:28 PM
Hi Roy

Remember me. Are you still flying?

Roy A Swan
5th February 2020, 07:13 PM
Hi Roger, I see you have two posts to me. Sorry about delay but I rarely open this site as so few entries. Quite a few seem to have nothing to do with Common Bros. I am sorry, old age creeps up, your name is vaguely familiar but can't place it. Touch blue, give me a clue ! Where were we together, ship, school, pub ? What was your position. Of course I have so many past students and shipmates hard to keep track. I am still doing exams and some teaching but finish in June when I am 75. No, I don't fly now. It was on my list of things to do more of in retirement but my best friend died in a light aircraft crash a few years ago which means I have some family opposition to doing it. I will keep an eye open for reply Roy

Steven Mills
2nd September 2020, 07:58 AM
Hello Everyone
It was 50 years ago this month that I joined Commons as a lowly deck cadet. Ships I sailed on were Border Reiver, Simonburn, Kazimah, Border Shepherd, Nimos, Sirine. (happy days)
All the best

15th October 2020, 04:06 PM
Was on Border Fusilier first trip in 1964/5. You were 3/0?. Later on the Al Funtas where I think you were too. Apprentice to Chief Officer eventually on the Caribbean Enterprise, Venture, Progress and Endeavour. Redundant in 1979. Retired from sea in 2004.