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Thread: A few memories before they completely fade.

  1. #1
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    Default A few memories before they completely fade.

    It’s about April 1964 and i’ve just got a job as a steward’s boy on the British Rail ferries out of Dover for the busy summer season, but couldn’t start just yet as they weren’t that busy
    I got a temporary job working as a casual labourer for George Hammond unloading ships at the western end of Dover harbour, and was filling in time. I’d been thinking of going “deep sea”, but wasn’t allowed to until i’d turned 16 so i was very happy to get on the ferries and find out about a life at sea and how it felt.
    I’d been expelled from school early in the year after being a habitual truant and my parent’s were very upset as they had always wanted me to have a good education and be what they thought was a success.
    Working on the docks unloading small cargo ships was not their idea of being successful, but i loved it and my father was astonished at the money i was making. I was on the wharf before 6 a.m. queuing up with big strong men and waiting to be picked out by the boss who Just said you, you, you until he had his requirement for the day. I remember being rejected for about 2 or 3 days and then one day he said you and that was it - I was in, worked hard some days from 6 a.m. til 8-9 p.m. but could end up with over 30 pounds in my pocket for a good week. My father was working night shifts at the Co-op bakery and earning 11-12 pounds so i was rolling in it for a couple of months. This was the swinging 60’s and i spent most of my money on clothes and drink when i could sneak into a pub.
    So now its June and i left the dock work for the ferries and quite a large drop in pay but very happy to feel the sea beneath my feet.
    During the season crews would work 12 hours on then 24 hours off. The 12 hours allowed for 4 channel crossings - 2 over and 2 back and then home to bed completely knackered for a big sleep.
    Realised that not much skill was required for my new position which required trying to clean a mountain of crockery and cutlery that never seemed to decrease however quickly you washed things.
    As every one knows the channel could get very rough and these were great and funny times for us 2 catering boys.
    The rougher the sea the less people fancied eating and George and i would get a bottle of Port and retire to a vegetable? locker and drink ourselves into a stupor. If that was an outbound trip we would be in a real mess for the return trip and looking at the piles of washing up he would say to me “open the porthole and we would dump tray loads of cups saucers plates knives forks spoons and serving dishes into the channel. We did this many times and i know other crews were doing likewise so a great fortune in catering gear is laying at the bottom of the English channel.
    I spent 3 months on the ferries and by the end of September 1964 i had turned 16 and had my first entry in my discharge book and could now go deep sea.
    Apparently this 3 months of service was treated the same as going to sea training school so i never needed to go to one of these establishments and just went to the Prescott street pool and got my first real ship, the tanker British Energy.
    To be continued sometime.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: A few memories before they completely fade.

    Enjoyed the read, cannot thank you enough.

    Keith.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Interesting read, cheers Keith.
    "Our veterans did not forget about us .... Let's not forget about them." From Michael Levesque

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    Default Re: A few memories before they completely fade.

    Interesting, Board of Trade wash up as it was known went on UCL ships and no doubt many others.

    The amount of silver, china eta at the bottom of various oceans would no doubt supply just about every house in UK with a full dinner set.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: A few memories before they completely fade.

    I don't know if anyone remembers the old steam hot water geyser in the pantry, well, as peggy on one of my early ships, guys were moaning about getting the *two bob bits*, and as peggy i got the blame, wasn't keeping the pantry clean etc. After much argie bargie, and investigation, some one smelt the water from the geyser. it was rank, so a big look in the top, and floating around inside was some manky meat and a couple of really horrible eggs, it seems that a shore night watch guy, well before i joined, had attempted to cook it in the geyser, bloody idiot, and then could not get it out again, so just left it there. Pretty miserable trip for me, but things improved afterwards, kt
    R689823

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