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Thread: Does Anyone Remember Those Days in the 50's

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    Default Does Anyone Remember Those Days in the 50's

    Does anyone remember those days in the 50's before the proliferation of container ships did away with the majority deep sea cargo ships? This company, Asiatic, used to operate such ships, generally around India and the Far East. I was only with them for just over a year, but got quite attached to the ship I was on, the Rajah. Unfortunately very shortly after we arrived back in Calcutta from the UK we ended up on "the Coal Run" . Up and down the East Coast of India loading coal in Vishakapatnam and offloading in Colombo, Calcutta or Chittagong. Apart from watchkeeping, I seemed to have my hands constantly in sugar soap or using the ubiquitous chipping hammer for you know what.

    At that time the port of Colombo could only handle a handful of ships at a time, so consequently we were very often anchored off in the roads for quite a number of days. That gave me and the other apprentice, whose name now escapes me, but was always referred to as "Ginger", plenty of time ashore. He was in the last year of his apprenticeship and seemed to know all the haunts in all the ports, good and bad. In Colombo we often went to Mount Lavinia Hotel to swim, it seemed idyllic, but I learnt a very valuable lesson on my first visit, I got too near the rocks and almost got swept out to sea on the rip tide that swept around them. I was a fairly good swimmer but it took me what seemed an eternity to swim the few yards back the rocks and then cling on for dear life.

    Sometime after I left, the company was taken over by P&O cargo, though I'm not sure when. Recently I've been trying to trace what happened to the ships in the fleet and to gather any memorabillia from the company and that time. It gives me something to do in my old age. Anyway if there's anyone out there with any tales to tell, I'd love to hear them.

    Antony (Bennie) Blackburn

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    Default Re: Does Anyone Remember Those Days in the 50's

    Anthony, I would willingly post a link to the folowing site but am incapable of doing so. If you google 'The Ship List ' it will take you to the home page of a site. Click on 'Fleet Lists' and a page will open with a list of shipping companies. Scroll down the page and click on Asiatic Steam Navigation Company and you will find a complete list of the company ships and what happened to them (Including the Rajah) Plus a little history on the company from its foundation in Liverpool in 1878 until its takeover by P&O. Good luck with your search J.W.


    Added Link for this reply

    TheShipsList: Passengers, Ships, Shipwrecks

    Asiatic Steam Navigation Co. (theshipslist.com)
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 6th December 2020 at 07:16 PM.

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    Default Re: Does Anyone Remember Those Days in the 50's

    Thanks John, I'll certaintly do that. I'm only just getting to grips with two tin cans and a bit of string when it comes to technology but I sure will have a look.

    Again thanks a lot

    Antony (Bennie) Blackburn

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    Default Re: Does Anyone Remember Those Days in the 50's

    hi Antony....if my memory is still holding up, the last of the Asiatic fleet was absorbed into Hain-Nourse in 1961/62. Think the last 2 ships built for Asiatic were Nurmahal and Nurjahan. I believe that Turner Morrison's in Calcutta/Kolkata, who were Asiatic's managers there, are still in existence in one form or another. There are one or two good histories of Asiatic on the 'web.
    Cheers.
    Mike.

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    Default Re: Does Anyone Remember Those Days in the 50's

    Senior Member and Friend of this Website

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    Default Re: Does Anyone Remember Those Days in the 50's

    Hi Mike, Thanks for the very useful information. If Asiatic was absorbed into Hain-Nourse in 1961, I wonder what there approach would have been to the existing crews, especially those under indenture, like I was. As I understood the situation at the time, shipping operations, using smaller vessels were under increasing pressure and even as I left college to go to sea, there were signs on the horizon that the future lay in container shipping and tankers. When I found out that the ship I was on was to be used for tramping coal in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, I knew after 6 trips, it wasn't for me. Still I have a soft spot for the firm that gave me a break. How else would I have got to swim in the Indian Ocean at Mount Lavinia in Ceylon!!

    Thanks again for info

    Antony (Bennie) Blackburn

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    Default Re: Does Anyone Remember Those Days in the 50's

    Ahoy me Hearty,

    Thanks for posting the links, I've been really pleased with all the help pushed in my direction so far. I hope sooner or later that I can help others on this site in a similar way at some not too distant point in the future

    Antony (Bennie)Blackburn

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