Presentation Reports 2023-24

It is with great regret we have to announce the passing of branch member Christy MacHale aged 75. Christy was a great friend to us all, a man of very many talents; our condolences go to his wife Sam and all his family.

Our May 2024 meeting was a great night when David Hearn from Wallasey came to talk to us about Liverpool Shipping Lines. David covered most of the big Companies that we all know such as Bibby Line, Cunard, White Star , Canadian Pacific, Harrison Line, Alfred Holt, Elder Dempster and finishing off with Larrinaga Line. David’s explanations were most interesting accomplied by excellent ship photos and wonderful shipping company’s posters. Thank you David for visiting us and we hope to see you again soon.    

John Hooley travelled from Macclesfield to give us his Western Isles to the land of MacBraynes presentation. It was a wonderful evening when John showed us many quite rare images of very old MacBraynes vessels starting with shots of the very unusual 1880 Linnet at Crinan.

Many shots of Paddle Steamers followed and all these came with an excellent commentary from John, we also we saw steam train shots that visited ferry piers during that time.

An interesting section was a description of the British Railways ferry Duke of Lancaster that undertook a cruise around the Western Isles in 1961. After the interval we were told about MacBraynes 1950 season showing more modern vessels bringing us up to date with present day fleet members. A great night John and we look forward to seeing you again next year.   

Our March 2024 meeting was an exceptional meeting. For the first half we welcomed once again Keith Hick from Southport who gave us a wonderful presentation entitled The Dockers Umbrella featuring the much loved Liverpool Overhead Railway. Keith showed us many images of its life from 1893 to 1956. The Overhead was unique and was modelled on a similar system in New York. It enabled workers and visitors alike to travel to work or view the expanse of docks and River Mersey for some six miles from Seaforth Sands in the North of the City to Dingle in the South. Keith talked about its operation, its people and history showing us many fantastic images of all the stations along the route.

After the interval our own Philip Parker kept the evening’s theme by discussing the Liverpool Dock Road after the Overhead Railway showing us examples of steam and diesel locomotives belonging to the Mersey Dock and Harbour Board plus many modes of traffic that were around after the closure of the Overhead. A very good evening was had by all that attended and we thank Keith and Philip for two amazing presentations.   

For our February 2024 meeting we once again welcomed our old friend Iain Quinn from The Coastal Cruising Association of Glasgow. Our members enjoyed Iain’s presentation that centred mainly on Clyde Steamers with some vessels from The Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. that also visited ports on the Clyde. As expected from Iain these included slides of famous Clyde steamers such as Caledonia, Queen Mary II, Duchess of Montrose, Jennie Deans and of course the Waverley. This was yet another great presentation from Iain and we thank him very much for coming to visit us and hopefully we will see you again soon.  

Our December 2023 meeting was a superb evening given by our own Branch Chairman John Luxton. He showed us some nostalgic British Transport DVD Films from the 1950’s era. Firstly we watched the activities of the Atlantic Steam Nav. Co. trading out of Tilbury, Felixstowe and Preston featuring ferries such as the Empire Cedric, Bardic Ferry and Ionic Ferry. Then we watched a film called Ocean Terminal featuring the Port of Southampton. Examples of shipping we saw were the first Queen Elizabeth, Edinburgh Castle, Mauretania, Andes and tug Calshot, all very entertaining. After the interval we watched ferries working out of Dover such as Lord Warden sailing to Boulogne and Norfolk Ferry from Harwich to Zeebrugge. Finally we were treated to wonderful scenes of the River Clyde showing lots of the old ferries and Ports that we know so well. Thank you very much John, it was very interesting looking back all those years ago. 

Our November 2023 was a very interesting evening given by Andy Freeman of the Wallasey Yacht Club which was titled ‘10 Years of Sailing around the World from little yachts to big yachts’. Andy told us he started sailing dinghies when he was about 6 which led him eventually to sail on the Ocean Youth Club ketch, Francis Drake out of Liverpool.

He survived as a Crew member on the tall ship Marques which tragically was lost off Bermuda in the Tall Ships Race in 1984. Then he sailed on the West German training ship, Gorch Fock into Liverpool in 1984, the first Tall Ships event to visit the Port. He crewed on a 57 foot yacht in the 1984/85 Whitbread Round the World Race, now called the Volvo Ocean Race and finally cruised around the South Pacific on a private schooner visiting Pitcairn Island.

All the images Andy showed us of his voyages were spectacular and we must thank him for coming to tell us about his marvellous experiences. After the interval Jim Charnock showed us images of visiting Ports such as Southampton, Felixstowe and Hamburg, thanks a lot Jim.

October 2023

For our October 2023 meeting we were very pleased to welcome Peter Dyer from Southport who gave us a most interesting presentation titled ‘DUKW’s to Water’. He told us that around the late 1990s the last of the red and cream D.U.K.W. Sefton Rescue vehicles was decommissioned. The six-wheel-drive amphibious trucks, used by the Sefton Lifeguards from 1951-1998, were originally designed by the American General Motors Corporation during World War Two to transport goods and troops over land and water. Commonly known as ‘ducks’, the name D.U.K.W. refers to a manufacturer’s code. ‘D’ indicates the model year as 1942, ‘U’ refers to the utility (amphibious) body style, ‘K’ for all-wheel drive, and ‘W’ for dual rear axles.

The veteran vehicles dutifully patrolled the beaches of Southport, Ainsdale and Birkdale for five decades. Their crews of Lifeguards and Sea Rangers were guardians of the dangerous beaches and seas of the Sefton coast. The rescue service never lost a victim, never lost a crew member, and though very closes at times, never lost a D.U.K.W. Wanting to show his appreciation of the D.U.K.W. Sefton Rescue Service, Peter wrote a book in 2020 to share their incredible story using archive images and material directly drawn from the experiences of the heroic crews. Thank you Peter for a most interesting evening.

After the interval Dave Crolley showed us a DVD about the breaking up of HMS INTREPID at Liverpool in 2008 which was most interesting.

North West Ship Show – September 23, 2023

The North West Ship Show was held again this year sponsored by the WSS Merseyside Branch. This event took place on Saturday 23rd September 2023 at the Old Christ Church at Waterloo, Liverpool. Again it was a very successful event and was attended by over 127 members of the public plus 25 stallholders taking up 61tables.

Exhibitors included booksellers, maritime artists, boat clubs and small scale model sellers, postcards and photographs sellers and organisations such as the RNLI was also in attendance. Once again the Catering stall was very busy and well organised by Dot Gibbons, daughter Lindsey and grand daughter Chelsea. Many thanks go to our Committee who spent at lot of time and effort into making this event so successful.

Below is a photograph showing the wonderful church building and the typical layout of the tables on the day, photo by Dave Crolley.

September 2023

Our new season began on Tuesday 12th September 2023 when we welcomed Malcolm McRonald, Vice Chairman of the Friends of the Ferries Association who gave us two magnificent presentations. The first was entitled ‘What a difference a funnel makes’. Malcolm showed us images of various vessels starting with 5 funnels working down to 1 funnel and eventually none at all. Malcolm’s images and explanations were of great interest and he even showed us vessels some of us had never seen before. After the interval Malcolm gave us a brief presentation on recent Fred Olsen Cruise Ships. Thank you very much Malcolm for a great evening’s entertainment and we hope to see you again very soon.