Excerpts from the White Star Magazine No. 18 - Volume II. No. 6. - February 1925, Subscription Price for the magazine was Sixpence a copy, or Six Shillings per annum, postage paid. The editor, Mr. Albert G. Linney, kindly included the following in his publication, which allows me to share it with you. "Anyone wishing to reprint any part of the contents of this issue, with the exception of articles reproduced by permission, is cordially invited to do so."
SNAPPERS BY THE SCORE are always to be found aboard the Megantic. This has no significance to disciples of the late Izaak Walton, and the snappers in question are not in cold storage. Last season when the Megantic made her winter pleasure cruises, it was found that over 50 per cent. of the passengers brought their cameras with them, and the expert photographer and the dark room were in constant demand. One of statistical turn of mind calculated that on one cruise 10,500 feet of film were exposed during the voyage and it maybe that this imposing total will be surpassed this winter.
The Megantic is booked to make two pleasure tours from New York to the West Indies before she returns to the White Star - Dominion Canadian service next April. On this fine steamer of nearly 15,000 tons have recently been installed a thrilling collection of swings, rocking - horses, and toys in the children's p1ayroom and the gymnasium, excellently appointed public apartments, spacious promenade decks and commodious staterooms ensure comfort for everybody. The itinerary includes Havana, a trip through the Panama Canal to Cartagena, a tour along the romantic Spanish Main, Trinidad, and return through the Windward and Leeward Islands.
LET ME SPEAK OF THE A.B.C. OF ECONOMY
I refer to the "Big Four" of the Liverpool North Atlantic Trade, the White Star liners Adriatic, Baltic, Cedric and Celtic, all of which have a tonnage between 21,000 and 25,000. They are widely known as among the steadiest sea-going steamers plying across the Western Ocean, and very heavy expense is being incurred by the owners in improving the second and third class accommodation on the Baltic, Cedric and Celtic so as to meet the demand for increased comfort at low rates and thus appeal to folks of moderate means.
In the new second class accommodation cabins will be re-arranged, remodeled, and made more attractive. There will be a spacious lounge, with an oak - block floor for dancing, and the decorations and furnishings will be of the most tasteful character. In the third class quarter's fresh features are a ladies room, smoking - room for men, children's playroom, barbers shop, and a shop for the sale of confectionery and fancy articles. How parents will bless that children's playroom, where experienced matrons look after the youngsters as they dally with rocking horses and picture books and swings.
Purses of the not-too-bulgeous order will now be no hindrance to those who seek to cross the Atlantic in real comfort, and there is evidence that many are studying the A.B.C. of economy in the shape of the vessels referred to in the foregoing lines.
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A MONSTER COLLECTION OF AUTOGRAPHSis the cherished property of Mr. S. C. J. Freeman-Matthews, purser of the Celtic, who has just retired after 38 years at sea, during which he has traveled three million miles. He was the senior purser in length of service, and has been with the White Star Line for 25 years. The bulk of Mr. Freeman-Mathews's career has been spent in the New Zealand service; in the Athenic he has circumnavigated the globe 37 times. The autograph collection mentioned fills 17 big volumes, and among the names therein are those of Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King George and Queen Mary, and the late President McKinley.
"O TO BRING BACK THE GREAT HOMERIC TIME,the simple manners and the deeds sublime; when the wise Wanderer, often foiled by Fate, Through the long furrow drave the plough share straight."
An almost forgotten poet, Mortimer Collins, wrote these lines in 1869, but I quote them because another "Great Homeric time" is in preparation for some lucky people. Under her new commander, Captain J. Roberts, C.B.E., D.S.O., the famous twin-screw Homeric left Southampton for America on January 14th. Ten days later she sailed from New York with some hundreds of wealthy Americans on board for a 13,000 mile cruise from New York to the Mediterranean, the Holy Land, and Egypt. "The long furrow" which she drave merits special attention, seeing that the Homeric is the biggest pleasure cruiser in Mediterranean waters. A fortnight's stay at Alexandria will enable passengers to visit Tut-ankh-Amen's tomb.
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A handbook published in 1862 entitled, "HOW TO SHIP AND DISCHARGE A CREW IN THE PORT OF LIVERPOOL" had a ready sale among ship's captains.
Everything necessary was gone into in this volume in the minutest detail, even directions as to the doors by which to enter and leave the Shipping Office. At the end of this useful guide was given a list of fines which masters could legally inflict on seamen. These include the stopping of a day's pay for the following offences: - smoking below decks; cook not having a meal ready at the appointed time; washing clothes on a Sunday; not being cleaned, shaved and washed on Sundays. The introduction of these clauses into present-day Board of Trade Regulations would hardly prove popular at sea, where Sunday is now the recognised "Make and Mend" day, and the fore-peak the only safe retreat for a smoke while on duty.
In the same way the inducements offered to prospective passengers and emigrants in those days would not carry much weight with the present generation of sea-travellers, though the fares would certainly prove an attraction.
An advertisement of the WHITE STAR LINE OF AUSTRALIAN PACKETS dated 1854, gives a list of fortnightly sailings to Melbourne, and the mention of the skippers' names shows that these men and their records were well known ashore, and the number of passengers carried was usually in direct proportion to their popularity.
The advertisement announces that:
"The White Star is the established
line of new clipper ships sailing regularly between Liverpool and Melbourne
and Melbourne and Liverpool. Return tickets issued at half-fares allowing six
months in the colony. All passengers and luggage landed on the wharf free of
Many fine old clipper ships are mentioned in the list that follows, some of the more famous being:
|White Star (new)
|Blue Jacket (new)
The announcement continues:
"These ships are all new, celebrated
for fast passages, and commanded by men of great experience who take every precaution
to promote the safety and comfort of passengers. Drafts of exchange for any
amount at sight. Carry Chess, Backgammon and Draught boards. Carry Qualified
Surgeons who are paid by the owners for their Services - Carry Chaplains. For
passage, freight and all particulars apply to the owners, Pilkington and Wilson,
Of these, the Shalimar, of 3,500 tons, made her fastest voyage in 1854, when she left the Mersey for Hobson's Bay on November 23, and was off Cape Northumberland in 67 days. On her journey home, despite bad weather, she did the journey in 75 days, a very good passage at that time.
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Another ship built in Boston and launched about this time was the Blue Jacket, which did the voyage across the Atlantic in 12 days and 10 hours. She had several other fast passages to her credit, one of the best being in 1855, when she sailed from Liverpool to Melbourne in 69 days under the command of Captain Underwood. Her name, which nowadays applies only to naval seamen, was then a widely-used term for a sailor, and her figurehead showed a man from the waist up dressed in seaman's rig, consisting of a blue jacket with yellow buttons. This was open at the front, revealing a loose shirt and a large knotted handkerchief, while round the waist was a broad belt with a cutlass hilt. A decorated scroll below bore the words, "Keep a Sharp Lookout."
She was abandoned on fire off the Falkland Isles in 1869, and two years afterwards a part of her figurehead was washed up on Rottnest Island, Western Australia, some thousands of miles away from the scene of the disaster.
Better known than the Blue Jacket and the greatest rival of James Baines's Lightning was the Red jacket, designed by Samuel A. Pook, of Boston, who was also designer of the Game Cock, Surprise and Northern light. She was launched only a few days before the Lightning, and was of 2,460 tons, with a length of 260 feet. The two ships left the American coast for the Mersey with 24 hours between them, the Lightning sailing first from Boston on February 18th, and the Red Jacket, commanded by Captain Elsa Eldridge, of American packet ship fame, leaving New York the next day.
The greatest interest was taken in the race between these two clipper ships, for the rivalry between the Black Ball and White Star Lines was well known all over the world. They both finally arrived in Liverpool on the same day; the Red Jacket beating her rival by 18-1/2 hours, her time being 13 days and 1 hour from Sandy Hook to the Rock Light.
She was named after a famous Indian chief, and her finely-carved figurehead showed an Indian in full war array, complete with headdress and buckskins and painted in vivid colours. The lives of these graceful clippers were very short compared with present-day ships, and in 1870 the Red Jacket was in the transatlantic trade sailing between the Mersey and the St. Lawrence, before going out to serve as a coal hulk at Cape Verde, where she lies to-day.
AMAZING EXPLOSION OF LOTTY SLEIGH
Considering the great amount of shipping using the port of Liverpool in the 'fifties and 'sixties, the number of disasters was surprisingly few. Of these the burning of the James Baines in the Huskisson Dock and the fire of the old Landing Stage (which, incidentally, consisted of the hull of the old Blackballer) were two of the greatest, but even these cannot compare with the amazing explosion of the Lotty Sleigh in 1864. This ship had just returned from abroad, and on the night of January 15th was anchored off the Landing Stage with over 11 tons of gunpowder on board.
Early in the evening the Rock Ferry steamer Wasp, which used to take sailors ashore at 2s. 6d. each, was passing astern of the Lotty Sleigh when she was frantically hailed by the crew. She came alongside, took the entire crew aboard, and had only just got clear when the Lotty Sleigh suddenly blew up. The force of the explosion was terrific, every pane of glass in the Dock Road was smashed, all the lights on each side of the river went out, and pieces of spars from the ship fell around, while her deck-gun was blown on to the sands at New Brighton, several miles away!
The cause of the explosion was due to some paraffin oil which the steward had upset in filling a lamp. The oil had caught fire, and, running through a floor grating, had set the ship alight near to the place where the powder was stored.
Yet, in spite of the extensive damage done, nearby ships were uninjured and no lives were lost in what was the most remarkable gunpowder explosion ever known in the Mersey.
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A DAILY EVENT AT SEA
"Why? Why on earth should I blow up?"
"I beg your pardon, sir; I was speaking to the bugler. Didn't know there were any passengers present. Here is the captain coming down the stairs."
"Good morning, gentlemen."
Three G's sound on the bugle. It is the Captain's Inspection - perhaps the most formal event of the voyage, and occurring at 10.30 a.m. daily. A cavalcade forms, consisting of the captain, chief engineer, the two doctors, the chief steward, and second steward. The inspection begins in the first-class quarters, where some staterooms and suites are visited; the stewards and stewardesses are all standing at attention. Drawing-rooms, smoking-rooms, gymnasium, children's play-room are all viewed. Then the cavalcade dives downstairs.
One secret of an Atlantic voyage-or of any voyage, if it comes to that-is cleanliness, spotless cleanliness; and that is one of the objects of the Captain's Inspection. Another reason, even more important, is to assure "Safety First." All watertight doors are shut and opened again by the men whose sole duty it is to do this in case of emergency, while the cavalcade looks on to see that all is in working order. There are forty-two of these doors in the ship in which I write, not to mention smoke-doors on the upper decks.
"Downstairs "-there is not much difference between "Down" and "Upstairs "-the rooms appear to be similar. Captain and doctors pass their hands along wardrobes, washstands, and bedsteads, to ascertain that everything is spotlessly clean. Sanitary arrangements are carefully tested, drinking water is tasted, and filters are examined.
Passengers regard with awe the procession of gold-laced officers. Sometimes especially in the third-class quarters, caustic remarks are overheard "Them three G's is music ter me ; they ain't 'orses, so I can't lose nothin' on 'em!"
As a contrast to that, one can picture in one of the rooms, even the third-class, a group of young American and Canadian ladies, being personally conducted to see Europe and travelling third-class for Europe and travelling third-class for the fun of the experience, rushing up to the captain for his autograph. Enterprising firms of publishers have provided nicely-bound diaries which are supplied to the said young ladies of these personally-conducted tours. Page two requires the autographs of captain and doctor! The ladies all produce fountain pens-there may be six hundred and fifty of them! Captain and doctors, I must admit rather willingly, make no bones about qualifying for writer's cramp.
The stewards' quarters, or "glory holes," as they are jokingly called, undergo visitation. The name "glory hole," like many seafaring terms, still remains; yet what a contrast with the past! Even I can remember, thirty years ago, in an Indian troopship which was then considered the latest thing in liners, a place that was the "glory hole " or "pandemonium." No carpets, no bunks; men slept in hammocks slung from the deck above; the air was foul, for there was no ventilation, as the "glory hole " was too low in the ship for portholes. Food was littered about. Each man had a blanket-that was all-and most men slept in their clothes. Now let us look at the "glory hole" in this vessel. The modern "glory holes" are rooms which contain, as a rule, about twenty all-metal bunks; some of the rooms are even smaller. The bunks are supplied with clean sheets and bed covers, and electric light has supplanted the oily, smelly lamps.
The hospitals are inspected; here there are five of them. The nurses, in their uniform as stewardesses, stand at attention. We notice, too, that both dispensaries are capitally equipped. The seamen's quarters and the firemen's quarters come in for attention. The captain examines the several menus in the respective kitchens- "galleys" in seafaring tongue. He tastes samples from the dishes; sailors love relish, so that some dishes are well-seasoned, and some are not touched up with it.
"I say, doctor," comes an audible whisper from the chief engineer, "talking about tasting things, do you remember the one about the old man of Tarentum? (I assume that the reference is to an old man of Tarentum, Who gnashed his false teeth till he bent 'em...When asked of the cost... Of what he had lost, ...He replied, ' I can't say, for I rent 'em.')
"Mr. Wren, here is a broken fire extinguisher; are they in your engine-room department? No, sir; at least, I don't think so turning to the chief steward, " Aren't they in yours, or is it the Deck Department? In any case, it shall be repaired at once, sir."
"Hallo, who's here? " The Captain looks up in astonishment. The cavalcade is slowly approaching a large emergency exit in the third class, down below on G deck, in the N section. There are three flights of stairs side by side, leading to the upper decks. The landings are large ones, and ordinarily the place would be deserted, for passengers are mostly on deck playing games. But to everyone's surprise, behold the figure of an American child who has by some means found her way there. She is immaculately dressed; her short skirt is box-pleated, and she wears a jersey. Her legs are bare, so are her arms. Her hair is bobbed and tied at the back with a huge, blue, silk bow. Mademoiselle stands quite complacently with her wide-open eyes gazing upon our majesty.
"How did this child manage to get here? She's a first-class passenger." The Captain turns to the officers, who look on with some amusement. No one replies.
"Please, Mr. Skippurr, I want to see all over your outfit."
"But that's against the rules, my dear. What is your name Marjorie? Do you like it? I call it cute." "Well, Marjorie, you are so like my own daughter that I shall use my discretion, for I don't think you're likely to do any harm."
Hand in hand they solemnly walk back to the first-class accommodation, followed by the officers. Upstairs and downstairs, even to My Lady's (unoccupied) chamber. Pantries are inspected, and we arrive at the first-class galley. This is a large room; everything is run by electricity-kitchen ranges, ovens, the huge boilers; all are simmering with the cooking that is going on. Yet, so perfect is the new system of ventilation, that there is no smell of cooking. All pots and pans are highly polished. The scene is a busy one. The chef and about twenty cooks are dealing with turkeys, geese, grouse, partridges, etc., to say nothing of roast sirloins of beef and other impressive edibles. The men all wear white overalls and the stereotyped sort of white top-hats on their heads- not like the faultless top-hat of Piccadilly, of course, but these cooks' hats are of beautifully-starched cotton fabric.
After some little talk with the imposing chef, the Captain leads his procession out again into the corridor. "What do you think of our chef, Marjorie? Lot for him to watch over, isn't there?
Sure, he's some guy, I guess."
As we pass along, the Captain's eye glances at the little red electric lamps which are dotted about all over the ship, at exits, stairways, and all corners of corridors.
"When do you give the Diesel engines the full load of the lighting, Mr. Wren?
"For an hour every morning, sir; and, of course, for the emergency lights, all night." "I wonder if you can understand it all, Marjorie. It's like this. There are two internal-combustion engines right at the tip of the stern of the liner, both quite independent from steam, or boilers, or the main engines. They are called Diesel engines. No matter what happens, they can immediately be switched on, and they take over all the lighting of the ship and the hoists for lowering and lifting the boats as well. The ship is always a blaze of light, and, if anything does happen, the last shining light to leave it is me. Thank you, gentlemen."
The last word is, of course, with Miss Marjorie.
"Is that all, Mr. Skippurr?
"That's all, my dear. Now off you go to your Mamma."
"Say, Mr. Skippurr, I'll tell the world it's no hardship to be on this ship - and then some.
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THE CALCUTTA SHIPMASTERS CLUB
By GEORGE CECIL
OWING to Calcutta amusements being limited both in quantity and quality, the Shipmasters' Club is indeed a boon to visiting skippers and officers of the Mercantile Marine. The theatres provide comparatively poor entertainment; the local concert-halls cannot be said to echo the sounds of harmony; the climate is usually unpleasantly warm for walking purposes; and sight-seeing, owing to the blazing glare and penetrating dust, is not as interesting and profitable as it might be. Cricket, football, and lawn tennis, as well as golf, do not appeal to the nautical element which finds itself in India; nor, as a rule, are Calcutta's social distractions within reach of the captains whose ships touch at this most cosmopolitan port. But the Shipmasters' Club fills the gap.
Within ten minutes' saunter of the nearest jetty, and a quarter of an hour's drive from the Kidderpore Docks, the club is the joy of the shipmaster and his friends. For the committee is pre-eminently hospitable, and welcomes all sea-faring visitors to Calcutta (irrespective of nationality) who wish to try their skill at one of the billiard tables. A rubber, too, is obtainable, strictly moderate points being a stringent rule, while vingt-et-un, piquet, ecarte, as also innocent chess and dominoes, are played on the broad, shady veranda and in the airy newsroom wherein most of the English monthly magazines and illustrated weekly papers are to be seen. In India pictures illustrating current events are enjoyed in a way which is almost unbelievable "at home," as England is known East of Suez. They form the exile's delight.
A dining-room, capable of seating a considerable number of the members, completes the premises. It is also used as a ball-room, and the excellence of the floor makes it the envy of many a proud official who, not infrequently, is condemned to gyrate on a stretched drugget - poorest of substitutes for the genuine article. The annual ball given by the Club is quite an event in Calcutta's nautical life; invitations are eagerly sought after by all performers on the "light, fantastic toe."
Eurasians, it may be noted, are not admitted within the portals of the Shipmasters' Club. Other Calcutta institutions are less exclusive; and the " up-country station club accepts nearly all applicants provided they are Government servants. But the Shipmasters' Club knows precisely where to draw the line-and very tightly it is drawn. Only the captains, officers, and engineers of vessels lying in the port are eligible for membership. The Viceroy, the Commander-in-Chief and the Bishop of Calcutta might be invited to step in and to savour the Club's famous "corpse reviver" cocktail. The freedom of the Club, however, can never be theirs.
The Shipmasters' Club is seen at its best after the short Indian twilight has given place to a more or less tropical night, members by the dozen putting in an appearance. Cards are in full swing; the merry jest goes round; songs of the sea, amongst them being the old-time chanties, are sung by lusty voices; and, later on in the evening, the whole company makes for the billiard-room, where pyramids, pool, etc., are the order of the day-or, rather, night. The utmost good-fellowship prevails; the sailormen are as one large family.
The native cook knows his job admirably; being capable of serving up the most appetising poached eggs (dashed with anchovy sauce) in India, while he understands the exact amount of crispness required in the frying of bacon. Abdul can turn out an omelet which is a veritable dream, cunningly introducing a soupcon of mushroom flavouring. The coloured artist is skilled in the concocting of various foreign and Indian dishes, such as Hungarian goulash, Wiener schnitzel, prawn curry, and dhal-bat, a vegetable dainty. The prawns, by the way, are procured from the Hooghly River, and they are said to fatten on the corpses of the defunct Hindus, which leave the burning ghat for the water. With all his exotic skill, Abdul rises to the occasion on Christmas Day, providing a turkey, roast beef, plum pudding, and mince pies, which are so well cooked that a superfatted alderman's chef might be proud of the bowarchi's performance. The other domestics are also Aryans.
The more ornamental of the two sexes is not admitted within the portals of the Calcutta Shipmasters' Club - except on Ladies' Nights. Upon these favoured occasions the fortunate fair guests arrive in shoals and in all the enchantment of the airiest and prettiest dresses that the local Paquin can produce. Even in hot weather they dance till daylight is well on its way, or till physical exhaustion unkindly puts a stopper on their capers. Everyone agrees that the members of the Club are perfect hosts.
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Thanks to Captain John M. Anderson for the use of this magazine.
He is documenting the history of Frank B. Howarth, an Extra-Master who sailed
34 years with White Star and retired in 1925 as Captain of the Olympic. Please
contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have any information regarding Captain Howarth and in particular the
three masted barques "Balaklava" "Khimjee Oodowjee" and "Callirrhoe".
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