Nostalgia Corner

Every so often I come across old ship/port pictures of the Solent area, and as there are a few older people like me who look at this site, from time to time I will post an old picture here. If you have any old historical maritime pictures in the Solent area, please post them here.


  1. Re the previous posts on the Romsey, I didn’t realise there were different ones until I looked a little closer. This is a later one that I remember – unless there were significant mods to the earlier one. Note the car on the after deck.

    • I did put a reply to the first Romsey stating and linking photos from this site to two further Romsey at Southampton. This one was built in 1930 by Ferguson Bros, Glasgow for Alexandra Towing. Cost £33,750. Twin compound engine propulsion. Broken up at Lacmots Ltd. at Sheerness 1962.
      In 1940 returned to the Clyde to ferry troops to waiting transports and as an examination vessel. 1941 mined off Milford Haven but repaired. Run down in 1942 off Gourock by Burns & Laird Lines steamer LAIRDSBURN and sunk. 15 persons lost but tug salvaged. In 1943 her first assignment after repair was to be tender to HMS Renown bringing back Winston Churchill from USA. Returned to Southampton in 1945 and assisted in removing the Queen Elizabeth from Brambles Bank in 1947. Code GSKM. In 1956 became oil fired.
      Romsey was actually the stern tug (lead tugs) with Flying Falcon at the launching of the Queen Elizabeth in 1938.
      Replaced in Alexandra fleet by non-tender tug Romsey in 1964, built by Dunston. Renamed 1990 Caribe II and still working in Dominican Republic (IMO 6411809)

    • Agrigentum built 1958 by Ansaldo for Cia Trasporti Petrolio , Palermo. GRT 35794, DWT 50505, 249 x 32 metres. 1966 converted to oil/ore and GRT 41225. Broken up 1978.
      Blue funnel with 3 narrow red bands.
      A later caller at Fawley in 1972 from same company was Sant’ Ambrogio with GRT 126139, DWT 257059.
      348 x 52 metres, huge for the time .. the latest 300,000 dwt VLCC’s arriving at Fawley are 332m long.

  2. I have just converted this slide to digital. It shows a 1992 view of the Mountain Cloud with Sun Essex, Brightwell and Bowstream at Southampton. Mountain Cloud had been bombed a few years before in the Persian Gulf but was rebuilt.

  3. More on Alexandra’s tug/tender Romsey, built 1918 as Rollcall and later named Minotaure in French ownership (not to be confused with the 1930-built Romsey)
    In my continuing quest for the 1918 Romsey’s signal letters, I found this page: revealing her subsequent French name “Minotaure”
    Michael Ginns book “Jersey Occupied, the German armed forces in Jersey, 1940-1945” which I can recommend, has this about our 1918-built Romsey on page 340:
    “Minotaure, built by Ferguson Bros. of Glasgow and registered at le Havre. GRT 889. Weapons One 2cm Flak 30; one 7.92mm le MG 34.
    “Built as an Admiralty ocean-going tug, Minotaure was converted into a passenger liner tender for work at Southampton, and was captured by the Germans at le Havre in 1940. She arrived in Channel Islands waters in 1941, and was used initially as a tug and later for passenger transport. She was reported to be heavy on fuel. On 3rd July 1944 she left St. Helier (Jersey) at 10pm, escorted by four minesweepers and patrol boats, and carrying 500 French Organisation Todt workers, members of their families and a few prostitutes, all of whom were being returned from Alderney to France. In the early hours of the following morning the convoy was attacked by Canadian motor torpedo boats and Minotaure was hit by three torpedoes, one of which blew off her bow section causing a number of casualties; estimates vary, some saying that 25 were killed, others as many as 250. The ship was successfully beached at St. Malo close to la Tour Solidor, later salvaged and returned to her owners, and finally scrapped in 1963.”
    The book “Channel Islands Merchant Shipping 1940-1945” which I can also recommend, published by the Channel Islands Occupation Society includes the same picture that was posted by our Webmaster and a photo of Minotaure taken during the War. In addition to the information above, it adds the following information: firstly, that the MTBs were British, also that two torpedoes struck the for’d saloon and one smashed the rudder. “She remained afloat because her Captain ordered full astern during the attack and by the time the torpedoes struck, Minotaure was going backwards. Her bulkheads remained intact but she was travelling in circles due to loss of steering. Several boats sailed from St. Malo to her rescue and found many of the crew and about half of the passengers killed or wounded. She was towed to St. Malo…”

  4. Tug/Tender Romsey. Carried out tender duties along with the tug Calshot for ships anchored in Cowes Roads. Does anyone know what the flags signify. I reckon they are HMNV but what do they signify. Can’t be the callsign as it would start with G.

    • I agree with your HMNV, Tony, but since they have put the alien flag with “Romsey” written on it on the same hoist, I wonder if the H flag is also being used for its independent meaning “I have a pilot on board.” In that case, the code flags below it would read MNV. British ships’ four-letter signal letters / radio call signs started with either an M or a G in my younger days, and even longer ago than that, ships’ call signs comprised only three letters. We know that Titanic’s radio call sign, and presumably also her signal letters, were MGY, which would tie in with Romsey having just three signal letters also beginning with M.
      I concede that I’m moulding my explanation to fit the picture, therefore I could be entirely wrong.

      • In trying to discover Romsey’s signal letters, I see that a postcard version of the identical image is being sold on eBay by a man in the Isle of Wight.

        Ah! According to a contributor on this website, the call sign of the 1930-built Romsey was GSKM
        I’m clinging to the (possibly deluded) belief that the Romsey shown in the Webmaster’s picture is an earlier Romsey, early enough to have a three-letter call sign.

        • Page 143 of the book “Take the Strain” has a photograph bearing the caption ” Alexandra bought the massive 2600 HP Admiralty tug Rollcall as a passenger tender. She was renamed Romsey in 1922 after being converted to oil firing. Sold to French Line in 1929.

          • As an aside to this topic, Ian is correct re 3 letter code. The M at the beginning actually referred to the fact that the ship’s radio was a Marconi set. It was soon realised that this gave Marconi too much power and to stop this the 4 letter code, with the first two letters designating the nation of the ship was introduced. Flags of convenience have now muddied the system as the call sign is attached to the “convenient” country. Unlike IMO numbers ,call signs do not have to stay with the ship. eg If an owner sells a ship he/she can keep the call sign and the new owner has to apply for another. (to the best of my knowledge Cunard kept the call signs of their ships and re-issued to new builds in the fleet.
            3 Cunard ships had call sign GBTT the final one the latest Queen Elizabeth which only held it one year (now ZCEF2 as registered in Hamilton). GBTT was Queen Mary, then QE2 and finally Queen Elizabeth. Its possible that “Cunard” still have the call sign GBTT or a new build.
            The QE2 is YJVW6 ..registered in Vanuatu.

    • I note that she is carrying a fair number of passengers. While that could just be a shore transfer from a larger vessel, I wonder if it was for viewing some special event, in which case the flags could just be a random selection for decoration.

    • That’s looking at Woolston I think. The church spire makes me think that as when I was a kid , late 60’s, my dad did demolition and her knock down a church that was half way up the hill on the right. Are those sheds on th left the old Supermarine factory ?.

      • Steve is correct ..but pre war. The Supermarine sheds here were bombed, only the design/drawing office was left. (would be off picture to the left). I crossed here daily from 1953 to 1956 going to school. Prior to that feeding the swans that congregated around the two bridges from 1949 to 1951. Free for pedestrians, so had many crossings . (Feeding later banned in 1957 as too many being squashed by ferry ramps … at times 100 swans would be around ferries.. This “bridge” , number 9 , was built in 1900 and retained its 1 steam powered 2 cylinder compound centre-pivot beam engine as had the former ones. Built by Mordey Carney & Co of Woolston, was in constant use until 1964. Sold to Kemps yard on withdrawal, she was due to be transferred to the Medway in 1974 but is believed to have sunk under tow off Selsey. The steam powered bridges were gradually replaced by Thornycroft bridges powered by diesel engines … 2 x 159 hp Leyland Atalanta bus engines. Easy for the corporation to maintain alongside its bus fleet. Floating bridges ceased in 1977.
        As stated, it was Regent Petroleum depot but in my time refuelled by National Benzole tankers … the Ben fleet … Ben Hebden, Ben Hittinger, Ben Johnson, Ben Olliver etc.
        The area to the left of tanks (crane/sheds) became Hants and Dorset bus terminal.
        Finally… “The Woolston Ferry” is a 1977 folk song, by Gutta Percha and The Balladeers.
        If you are ever up in Sholing and you want to go to town,
        Don’t go via Bitterne, that’s the long way round,
        Take a trip across the ferry, take a trip across the sea
        and if you’re pedestrian you can go for free.

        Oh, the Woolston ferry, it doesn’t travel very fast,
        It was never built for comfort, it was built to last.

        • My late Uncle told the story of his experience on one of the floating bridges during an air raid, when it broke down and one of the crew had to row ashore to summon help. I think it was during the hours of darkness.
          Also, years after the war and not long before retiring, my late Grandfather managed to fall into the water after slipping whilst running down the hard in a failed attempt to catch a departing floating bridge.
          Both worked for Thornycroft at the times of their experiences, my Uncle as an apprentice before joining the MN and my Grandfather having left the MN.
          Thank you Tony, for the picture.

          • Between the floating bridge and the banner “Buy British Regent Petrol” appears to be a racing yacht, perhaps a J class, berthed alongside a Thames sailing barge.
            And beside what others have identified as the Supermarine building, am I imagining that I can see the spare floating bridge in the little bay where the spare floating bridge used to be berthed?

          • In 1880 the ferry was still using chains, replaced by cables between 1878 and 1887. Each rope weighed nearly 2 tons and had an average life of nine months in normal use. Each end was attached to a short length of chain that was connected to counterbalance weights housed in chain wells to maintain tension. As the ropes stretched with use, chain links were removed to compensate. As the tide went out the “captain” pulled the cables sideways across the slipways to shorten the overall cable crossing length.
            All the words to the song can be found here
            One of the ferries is still a restaurant at Bursledon.
            There was a spare bay on both sides of the Itchen. The Southampton / Crosshouse side one became the base for the British Rail Hovercraft route to Cowes from 1966 to 1977.

      • I think part of the reasoning was that the officers might doze off if provided with heated and enclosed bridges!

        Most British warships had open bridges until after WW2. This may have been due to the need to maximise visibility in days when all navigation was performed by sextant readings and compass bearings.

        When I used to go to Southend on the Medway Queen, the bridge was entirely open, except for a canvas screen for the helmsman. The main deck was largely open as well and that’s where the majority of the passengers stayed. There was a bar and dining room down below, but these were limited in capacity and cost money.

        It’s difficult to remember now just how tight money was then: we always took sandwiches and thermos flasks and patronising the dining room was out of the question. I can still remember the smell of the lunches cooking whilst eating a cheese sandwich.

  5. Once again following a comment from Richard in Solent Shipping I located this image taken 16th October 1991 of the Monarch of the Seas in Southampton. 25 years ago almost. This must have been one of her early voyages. Scanned from a slide.

  6. Probably taken late sixties at the Southampton Terminal with the Medina in the background. Did you know that the ramp was part of the old Mulberry Harbour and the last time I looked it was still there.

    • What a superb photograph, and well worth clicking on twice to enlarge it to discover that this is Carisbrooke Castle with the ferry Medina (1931 – the Solent’s first diesel-engined ferry, according to Wikipedia) in the background, loading cars via a side ramp.
      If the Red Funnel Wikipedia page is correct for the dates of these two ferries, the photo must date from between 1959 and 1962.
      Thank you for the picture – reminds me of trips to Cowes aboard Carisbrooke Castle or her sisters to visit Solent class lifeboats being built in East Cowes & capsize-tested by Sammy White’s hammerhead crane in W. Cowes around 1970.
      No hi-vis jackets in those days!

  7. I completed this pastel painting of the Pompey Light pictured off the needles. Does anyone have any memories of this vessel used by the CEGB from Porthsmouth to carry coal for power station fuel purposes?

    Any feedback and comments would be much appreciated. Thanks.

    • Hi Jonathan,brings back memories for me. Two of my old pictures on this site at (pompey Light 2 and 3)
      Early teens when they were taken ..moved from b&w to colour. Sadly colour one taken into the sun and Kodak Box Brownie had no settings to tweak. School holiday bakery job at Hamble paid for the film and train to Portsmouth Harbour. Walk round passed Brickwoods to the Camber Quay etc.
      Re your picture .. just realised comparing your painting and my photos …the radar changed. Otherwise appears spot on. I would therefore date your painting date around 1960.

    • I have fond memories of this ship. I used to go onboard it at Portsmouth just to look round. I do not have any pictures of it I took though I have one of the Polden at Cowes which was similar from a distance. The Pompey Light was scrapped in Belgium in October 1968. But it’s sister ship Pompey Power, although sold much earlier may well be still around as the HAMEN. It became that in 1963 afer a previous name in 1960. It was much converted but somehow managed to survive. Do a search in the web for HAMEN ex Pompey Power and there are some good pictures around.

  8. It doesn’t seem possible that it is 48 years since we used to see the ALLARD at Cowes. Built in Holland 1938 as West Coaster , became Mallard in 1950 and Allard in 1964. 361 grt. Was owned by E Cole & Sons (Cowes) Ltd, later Amey Marine Ltd then ARC Marine Ltd. Was converted 1968 to a dredger. Broken up at Northfleet 07.1984. Used to run out of Cowes most days.

  9. Probably many of you have walked past the rusting paddle steamer Ryde, but did you know that the lake it was moored in was once used for a tide mill which is now long gone. Likewise there was also a tide mill at Wootton Bridge.

    • There were also tide mills at St Helens and on the West side of the Medina, on the site that later became the cement mills. Yarmouth mill was once tide-powered but later had steam power. 😎

  10. Excellent article in June’s edition of “Ships Monthly” magazine by one Richard Jolliffe (a frequent contributor here) about his time at sea in the ’70s.
    I suspect he was on the sixth floor of Southampton College of Technology / Higher Education (immediately below the radar scanners) at about the time I was on the fourth floor there. It’s good to see an article in SM by somebody who has actually worked at sea, rather than authors who seem to write about anything and everything, with no experience of their subject.

    • Glad you liked the article. I am sorry to say it is about half of what I originally wrote. I have not yet seen the finished article only going to my local shop this morning to get it! And yes I was on the sixth floor of the college. Twice 1967 to 69 and 1980. Strangely the college became part of my life after sea as my second job was in charge of planning etc for a Paging Radio Network and I and ended up choosing that building for our site for Southampton City Centre.

        • It wasn’t too bad. A very busy ship though. I just wish I had a telephoto lens then. Mind you I would not have been able to have carried all the films I needed! And of course would not have been able to buy a house as all the money would have gone on films!

      • How things have changed since I left the sea in 1982. Our Radio Officers still used WT then, both deep sea and even on cross-Channel ferries (wireless telegraphy with Morse Code.) Now, all that has gone, along with the ROs themselves. Truly the end of an era.
        (For anybody wondering, 4th floor of SCT in East Park Terrace, Southampton, was part of the marine engineering department. One of our lecturers was outraged when the name of the college was changed to “College of Higher Education” because its initial letters reflected those for the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.)

  11. With regard to the current site caption photo, I remember the “Tholstrup” fleet of coasters very clearly.

    They were painted bright orange and used to come into Fawley refinery on a regular basis. They used to anchor off Warsash, just South of the Hamble entrance and close to the “Coronation” buoy.

    This anchorage was regularly used by lots of smaller ships, but doesn’t seem to be active any more.

      • Further re the Tholstrups. – Rasmus Tholstrup a regular caller at Fawley was the world’s first purpose built pressurised gas carrier. Kosangas Channel Islands was a joint venture between Kosangas (Tholstrup family owned) and the Guernsey Gas Light Company to supply gas to the island at St.Sampson. When Rasmus became too small for the trade her 12 cargo tanks were lifted off and installed on the quayside. Five still remain.

    • One great thing about Tholstrups, is that I wrote to them asking for photos etc. in the late 60’s or early 70s. They replied saying that I was welcome at any time on any Tholstrup ship. I bet they dont do that now as Kosan etc.

    • It would appear that this berthing manoeuvre was performed during the high water slack period.

      The tidal stream off Yarmouth is very strong on both the ebb & flood, and I can’t imagine that the Waverley could get in & out safely with any sort of cross-tide running.

      Having spoken to a number of long-term Waverley passengers, it would appear that its officers were a lot more adventurous a few years ago, both in entering difficult ports and in attempting to complete the advertised cruise in adverse weather.

      Over the last 3 or 4 seasons, I have found that unless conditions are well nigh perfect, the cruise will be cancelled or curtailed.

      I also have the strong suspicion that the longer cruises may be cut short on the pretext of bad weather if the passenger loadings are not attractive. For example, in the last 3 years, the Waverley has seldom reached Weymouth from Southampton during its Autumn cruise season.

      To conclude this gripe, the catering standards have become appalling: no proper cooked breakfasts any more, and a very limited dinner menu.

    • This photo clearly shows the very low freeboard of the Hood’s quarterdeck.

      The Hood was being built during WW1 and the battlecruiser losses there persuaded the admiralty to increase the Hood’s armour protection. But the extra weight increased the ship’s draft by over one metre, so that at high speed, the quarterdeck was always awash.

      However, against the Bismark, the increased armour protection was not effective!

      My father, who was in the WW2 navy, once told me that the Hood was always known as a cold, wet ship and there were many cases of tuberculosis on board.

  12. Entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. Shows the wharf on the right where the barges to the Island used to load. I think they were run by Pickfords when the photo was taken, later to become BRS I believe.

    • I initially thought that the caption on the photo was wrong, since HMAS Australia is chiefly remembered as a battlecruiser, and the ship shown is a county class cruiser.

      However there were two HMAS Australias, the second one indeed being a county class heavy cruiser!

      It was launched in 1927, and the return of the Duke of Gloucester from his cruise dates this photo to 28th March 1935.

  13. The Southampton bunker barge Attendant. If you remember seeing this one like me you are as old as I am! The HB on the funnel stood for Hemsley, Bell and Co. I think this must be an early picture showing her with an open bridge, as I believe a cover was added later.

    • Or older!! In my younger days could see Attendant at anchor off Hamble daily. So common that a photo was never contemplated. In competition with Allegheny, Inveritchen (Esso) etc. bunkering Southampton ships. Operated out of Shell, Mex and BP. Launched 1913 from Chatham dockyard as the first of four Attendant Class oilers. End of WW1 only Attendant retained, placed in reserve at Chatham. Sold for scrap in 1935 to P & W MClellan but sold on to Hemsley, Bell & Co for Thames / South Coast bunkering. 1939 requisitioned by Admiralty, based at Scapa. 1941 hit mine off Sheerness. After war returned to Hemsley, Bell and in 1948 chartered by British Mexican Petroleum and operated out of Hamble until 1964 when broken up.

      • The Attendant was one of three similar ex-Admiralty oilers of WW1-vintage employed by Hemsley Bell Ltd as bunkering tankers. The other two, the Hemsley-I and Hemsley-II, were based in North-West England. The Hemsley-II was sold to Greek owners in 1950 and was not scrapped until 1978. The other one, Hemsley-I, was sold to breakers in Antwerp in 1969 but was famously wrecked on the North Cornish coast (Fox Cove) during the delivery voyage to the breakers. Apparently the crew turned left along what they thought was the English Channel but turned out to be the Bristol Channel. They had to climb up the cliffs and knock on the door of a house to find out where they were! 😎

      • I remember Shell Farmer on the buoy to the north of the head of Hamble jetty, in the late sixties / early seventies. Internet reveals that she was converted to a dredger in 1976 and scrapped in 1987.

  14. 1960 .. “Arctic” of Federal Sea Equipment, formerly “Dealbrook” , being prepared at Husbands shipyard for experimental use in Arctic as supply/mothership to smaller tankers. In the early 1960’s the vessel made some re-supplying trips in the Canadian Arctic during the summer, ice free months, to re-supply the radar bases of the DEW line (Distance Early Warning Radar Line to detect Soviet bombers), and other out ports.

  15. VIC 35 entering Portsmouth. Victualling Inshore Crafts (VIC) were commissioned by the Ministry of War Transport built (MOWT) and were divided into two types – the VIC-Clyde buffer and the VIC-Coastal-Lighter.
    Sixty three craft were built between 1941 to 1946 with nine of them equipped with a steam engine, the remaining 54 with a diesel engine

  16. In 1969, the small Swedish LPG tanker Claude, having collided with freighter Darlington in the Channel, was abandoned by her crew and shortly thereafter by her pilot (who supposed the crew must know what was good for them). Claude drifted under reverse power, went aground, then capsized and partially sank under tow. Refloated by Bever and moved to Fawley refinery to have a charter vessel pump off the cargo. But when one hose sprang a leak, Claude was hastily abandoned by that vessel, rupturing all the hoses and pipelines. It was only luck and the courage of a few remaining crewmen that got the valves shut before the gas cloud ignited, for a bleve could well have seriously damaged the berths and refinery.

    LPG tanker CLAUDE (IMO 6711455) being kept afloat by Bever after collision in English Channel 20/9/1969 with Darlington. Built 1967 by J L Meyer; Owner: Trans-Marine AB, Helsingborg;
    GRT 1244, DWT 1588; Length 68, beam 12 metre; Single screw diesel 12 kts
    Renamed: 1982 Caribgas 20 -1988 Eurogas One – 1988 White Star – 1989 Andrea Corsali – 1993 Zhe Ping Ji 151 – 1995 Andrae 1 – 1998 Hao Xia.
    Sold to unknown Belize company in 2001, last record of service 2011.

    • Rather an elegant looking ship. Not a very long life, however. According to French Wikipedia, cable ship Marcel Bayard was launched in 1961 at Le Havre and lost in a fire in 1981 at La Seyne-sur-Mer.

  17. I have just copied this slide to digital. The old Russian passenger liner Taras Shevchenko and Shearwater 4 seen from Fawley refinery on 2nd April 1976. The liner was broken up as Tara in 2005.

  18. Old postcard of Southampton waterfront. The Lido is next to the Ikea Store which is quite a bit inland. I believe the road is West Quay Road. Of course all the sea shown has been reclaimed for the Western Docks.

      • Reply to David Hornsby:
        Closer inspection suggests it may be old bathes in Western Esplanade before the Lido was built in 1892. Pirelli General cable works not built beyond Lido and sea lapped up to Lido, power station and railway until New Docks construction started. Used to have annual school swimming gala in Lido in late 1950’s! Eventually closed in 1970’s.

  19. Another slide picture I have just converted to digital. On 16.10.1975 I was at Fawley on the Esso Scotia. The Greek tanker Stakara sailed. Built 1970 17,485 grt. Lasted until 1999. A tanker with a rounded funnel! They don’t do that nowadays. And a well kept Greek ship.

  20. Blue Circle Cement once had a facility on the River Medina near Newport. A variety of small vessels called there including this one owned by the company the Ferrocrete built 1927. Not sure how long this vessel lasted but I remember seeing this one.

    • Reply to Webmaster: I remember the Ferrocrete well. I saw it at Newport and the quay where the Vesta blades factory is now. If you search “Ferrocrete” on Goggle you get a picture of it going down river at Cowes. I have not listed the link as it was about 20 lines long! Miramar says built 1927 157 grt but indicates it is still around. I suspect that’s lack of information. I had a picture of it at Newport but lost it! I saw it mid to late 60s. Lloyds gives callsign MGSQ. In my Lloyd’s she was listed in 1992 but had gone by my 2000 one. Owned by Greenhithe Lighterage Co.

    • Reply to Webmaster: The Island used to be a very interesting place for motor barge traffic. If I remember correctly the Northwood used to leave Cowes daily at 10 am. I can’t’remember what time the other ones left. And there was the Island Transport barges near the floating bridge. And Vectis Shipping vessels at various places along the Medina. Newport had many barges alongside. And the Williams shipping barges ran from Southampton’s Town Quay. I found out the other day that the Island Transports Shalfleet went out to Barbados and has been massively converted as Melinda II. I used to see Northwood in St Lucia. MFH was converted into Gainsborough Trader which looks nothing like the MFH did. Needles was sold to become a fish farm support vessel in Western Ireland. Murius went to Maldon and was shortened. Such a shame this traffic has almost all ceased.

  21. I have just converted this slide to digital. A very unusual picture. Waverley at Southampton, according to my information on 12.05.1978. And at the Royal Pier! That would have been the first time I ever saw the Waverley and on it’s first voyages down South.

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