HARLECH CASTLE was built in 1894 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3264grt, a length of 350ft, a beam of 45ft 6in and a service speed of 14 knots. She was completed as an extra steamer in June 1894 and in February 1896 carried the troops who had taken part in the failed May 1895 Jameson raid back from Durban to Southampton. Under Capt Leander Starr the raid was launched from Mafeking upon Johannesburg in an attempt to bring the Transvaal into British South Africa. Starr was imprisoned for 15 months after President Kruger handed him over to the authorities. On 20th October 1899, as HMT 2 she carried the first troops to Cape Town as one of three Castle ships in a convoy of five. She was sold in 1904 to Earl Fitzwilliam , a coal magnate, for an expedition to the Cocos Island, 200 miles off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, and renamed Veronique. The object was to search for Peruvian Inca treasure buried there by the swindling pirates Bennett Graham and William Thompson but after the venture failed Earl Fitzwilliam sold her to a German magnate who took the mail boat home. In 1915 she was captured by the Peruvian Navy and became their supply ship Iquitos and painted brown-grey. Sold to Cia Peruana de Vapores in 1923 for their Callao to Panama service she was renamed Amazonas and finally broken up in 19434.
TANTALLON CASTLE (2) was built in 1894 by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. at Govan with a tonnage of 5636grt, a length of 440ft 4in, a beam of 50ft 6in and a service speed of 17knots. Built for the mail service she was the company’s first vessel to be fitted with a quadruple expansion engine and considered to be a single funnelled version of the Dunottar Castle. In May 1895 she carried a record 384 passengers on her homeward voyage and in the June cruised with Mr & Mrs W.E Gladstone on board to the opening of the Hamburg – Copenhagen – Kiel Canal. Although named by Emporer Wilhelm II as the Kaiser Wilhelm Kanal it is always referred to as the Kiel Canal. She transferred to the Union-Castle in March 1900 following the merger. On 7th May 1901 whilst on a passage from Southampton to Cape Town carrying 120 passengers which included the Governor of Natal, she ran aground on Robben Island in thick fog. When she encountered the fog at 03.00hrs the captain put the engines on dead slow and continued to proceed until at 15.20hrs when she grounded on rocks at the northwest end of the island. Still in thick fog her siren and maroons were heard by the Robben Island ferry Magnet who eventually found her and at 17.00hrs took the passengers and mail off. The next day the Union-Castle vessels Avondale Castle, Braemar Castle and the Raglan Castle together with South African Railway tugs attempted to pull her clear but failed. The Tantallon Castle swung broadside to the rocks, was holed fore and aft and took on a list. As the weather worsened during the following week the ship eventually broke up in the breaking sea. Following her loss the mail service had to be terminated at Cape Town and the Pembroke Castle taken off the Intermediate service to shuttle the mail around the coast. (Photo: World Ship Society Library)
ARUNDEL CASTLE (3) was built in 1894 by Fairfield Ship Building & Engineering Co. at Govan with a tonnage of 4588grt, a length of 415ft, a beam of 45ft 9in and a service speed of 15 knots. She was completed for the Castle Steam Packets Co. Ltd with D. Currie & Co. as managers. She transferred to the merged Union-Castle company in March 1900 and in 1905 was sold to East Asiatic Co. (Det Ostasiatiske Kompagni) of Copenhagen for their Far East service and renamed Birma. In December 1907 she was transferred to their subsidiary company Russian East Asiatic Co. and renamed Mitau or Mitawa (alternative spelling). She was laid up in August 1914 and reverted to East Asiatic and Birma in 1918. In 1921 she was sold to the Polish Navigation Co. of Danzig, renamed Jozef Pilsudski and after a refurbishment was placed on their New York to Danzig service. In November of the same year she was arrested at Kiel for non-payment of the refurbishment cost and ,as the payment was not made, was sold and renamed Wilbo. She was eventually broken up in Italy during 1924.
TINTAGEL CASTLE (1) was built in 1896 by Fairfield Ship Building & Engineering Co. at Govan with a tonnage of 5531grt, a length of 425ft 2in, a beam of 50ft and a service speed of 15 knots. Sister of the Avondale Castle she was launched for the Intermediate service. In September 1912, together with her sister, she was sold to Cie. de Navigation Sud-Atlantique for their Bordeaux to South America service and renamed Liger. In 1921 she was replaced by the Mosella and broken up at Genoa the in 1923. (Photo: from UCPSC 01/31)
AVONDALE CASTLE was built in 1897 by Fairfield Ship Building & Engineering Co. at Govan with a tonnage of 5531grt, a length of 425ft 2in, a beam of 50ft and a service speed of 15 knots Sister of the Tintagel Castle she was launched for the Intermediate service. In November 1899 she was arrested by the contraband sloop HMS Partridge off Inyack Point near Lourenço Marques because it was thought that she was carrying gold to a neutral port from where it could be acquired by the Boers. Fortunately the gold had been cleared and she was released at Durban. On 8th May 1901 she unsuccessfully attempted to tow the Tantallon Castle off Robben Island after she had run aground. In September 1912, together with her sister, she was sold to Cie. de Navigation Sud-Atlantique and renamed Garonna. She was deployed on the Bordeaux – South America service which, by then, was operating weekly. sailings. In 1922 she was replaced by the Meduana and broken up at Bordeaux in the following year. (Photo: UCPSC 02/74)
DUNVEGAN CASTLE (1) was built in 1896 by Fairfield Ship Building & Engineering Co. at Govan with a tonnage of 5958grt, a length of 450ft 6in, a beam of 50ft 11in and a service speed of 15 knots. She entered service as a mail steamship and in 1900 had her yards removed. In 1901, together with the Scot, she carried members of both Houses of Parliament to King Edward VII’s Spithead Review. In October 1902 she hit the breakwater at Cape Town doing some £10,000 of damage. She was laid up at Netley in Southampton Water after being replaced by the Kenilworth Castle in May 1904 and remained there for almost seven years. In 1913 she replaced the Guelph on the East African service but was laid up again in the following year when the Llandovery Castle entered service. She was used to land the first wave of the British Expeditionary Force at Le Havre on 10th August 1914 accompanied by the Norman. She returned to the mail run briefly in 1915 when larger ships were requisitioned for war service but in the October was deployed as a hospital ship with 400 beds. On 20th April 1916 she reverted back to her owner but under government control and in 1917 carried General Jan Smuts, the South African Prime Minister, to England where he joined the War Cabinet. In 1918 she undertook two voyages across the Atlantic from Liverpool to New York for Cunard and in 1919 was chartered to the French Government for two voyages from Copenhagen to Cherbourg to repatriate French prisoners of war from Northern Germany. She was laid up at Netley in 1921 and sold in 1923 to Schwitzer & Oppler for breaking up in Germany. (Photo: from UCPSC 11/96)
DUNOLLY CASTLE was built in 1897 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4167grt, a length of 368ft, a beam of 46ft 4in and a service speed of 14 knots. Completed as an Intermediate steamer in January 1897 she proved to be too small and susceptible to heavy rolling in a cross sea. A story was put about that of all the ships anchored in Table Bay the Dunolly Castle was the only one visibly seen to roll in the gentle swell. She was transferred to Union-Castle in 1900 and was sold to the East Asiatic Co, with the Arundel Castle, in 1905 and renamed Juliette. In April 1907 she was transferred to the Russian American Line for their Libau – Rotterdam – New York service and renamed Arconia but after only four summer voyages she was replaced by the Estonia, formerly Bibby’s Yorkshire, and sold. Purchased by Continental Rhederi A. G. of Hamburg she became the Hittfeld but only until 1910 when she was re-sold to D. M. Los of Pireaus and renamed Eleni. In 1913 she was sold to the National Steam Navigation Co. of Greece, was renamed Ionnina and made her first sailing Pireaus – Kalmata – Patras – New York on 30th October. On 17th December 1917 she was torpedoed by U-156 between the Azores and Madeira.
DUNLUCE CASTLE(1)/RAGLAN CASTLE was built in 1897 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4324grt, a length of 383ft 6in, a beam of 46ft 4in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Dunolly Castle she was advertised as the Dunluce Castle and finally delivered as the Raglan Castle. Transferred to the Union-Castle Line following the merger she was sold to the Russian Government in 1905 for use as a store ship in their war against the Japanese. She was renamed Hanna and prepared for deployment in the Far East fleet. However, before she could sail from the Baltic the Russian fleet was annihilated at Tsushima and so the redundant vessel was sold to the East Asiatic Co. of Copenhagen for their West Indies service and renamed St. Domingo. In 1907 she was taken back by Barclay, Curle as part payment for the Russia and reverted to Raglan Castle. She was chartered to Northwest Transport Co. (later Uranium Steamship Co.) during the summer of 1909 and deployed on the Rotterdam – Halifax – New York service. During 1910 she was purchased by Donaldson Bros. and renamed Pythia for their Glasgow – St. Johns, New Brunswick, Baltimore – Newport News service, sailing on 18th February. In the following year she was sold to T. Dannevig of Sandfjord for use as a whale oil refinery and store ship in the Antarctic, retaining her name. By 1923 she was owned by Hvalangerakties Odd, Thorsten Bryde and Thor Dahl. In April 1929 she capsized at Sandfjord but was salvaged and sold to B. Gundersen of Sandfjord for use as a whaling ship and renamed Ready. After five further years of service she was broken up at Rosyth in the Firth of Forth during 1934.
BRAEMAR CASTLE (1) was built in 1898 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 6266grt, a length of 450ft, a beam of 52ft 2in and a service speed of 15 knots. She was the last 4-masted ship in the fleet and built for the Intermediate service and continued on that route after the merger in March 1900. On 8th May 1901 she was one of the trio of ships that tried to re-float the Tantallon Castle when she went ashore on Robben Island and in 1902 went ashore herself on the Isle of Wight without serious damage. In 1909 she was used for peacetime trooping mainly to the Far East and was given a white hull with a blue band and a yellow funnel. On 6th August she was used to ferry the British Expeditionary Force across the English Channel to France. During Mar and April 1915 she carried the Plymouth Brigade of the Royal Marines to Gallipoli and landed them at Siddil-Bahr and on 7th October of the same year was commissioned as a hospital ship with 421 beds. She acted as a base hospital ship during the Dardanelles Campaign when feeder ships would bring the wounded and, when full, she would sail for Italy. On 23rd November 1916 she struck a mine in the Mykonos Channel when six patients were killed. She was initially beached and then towed to Malta where she laid for three months before she was towed to La Spezia and repaired. After the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed on the 3rd March 1918 the war between Russia and Germany came to an end but the civil war between the Bolsheviks and the Menshaviks broke out and British troops were sent to Murmansk to prevent arms dumps falling into German hands. The Braemar Castle was stationed there as a base hospital ship and because of the cold her decks were boarded up and she became known as Noah’s Ark. On several occasions she was pinched by the ice which was broken up by Russian refugees. In February 1919, after almost a year, she sailed in convoy to Leith carrying sick patients before undertaking one commercial voyage for the company in 1920. She returned to Archangel in 1921 to evacuate wounded, sick and non-Russian medical staff and was the last ship to leave when the port was finally evacuated. In 1922 she carried a British peace keeping force to Turkey during the Turk – Greek conflict and after the Treaty of Lausanne was signed, when Cyprus was confirmed as a British possession, she trooped men there. In September 1924 she made her last voyage as a troopship before being sold for £17,500 and broken up in Italy. (Photo: from UCPSC 11/96)
CARISBROOK CASTLE was built in 1898 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 7627grt, a length of 485ft, a beam of 56ft and a service speed of 16 knots. Completed as a mailship she was the last single screw major ship to be built for the company and was actually outdated by the time she was ready for service. She was also the first in the fleet to have the first class accommodation located amidships instead of in the poop, conforming with the North Atlantic practice of many years. She was never a popular ship and rolled badly. In 1899 she completed the mail run to from Cape Town to Southampton in 14 days 17 hrs and 3 mins, a time only bettered by the Scot. Transferred to the merged company in March 1900 she made the last Cape sailing from London when Southampton became the terminus. In 1910 she was replaced by the Balmoral Castle and became a reserve steamer after only twelve years service but in 1912 was deployed on the East African service via the Suez Canal. On 3rd September 1914 she was commissioned as a hospital ship with 439 beds and acted as a cross channel ferry but proved to be too large in comparison to the number of wounded she could carry so was transferred to the Army for trooping with a capacity for 1500 troops. In January 1915 she carried troops to Alexandria and took a Canadian Field Hospital to Salonika and thereafter ferried troops between Salonica, Mudros and Alexandria. In 1916 she carried troops between Malta and Salonica and in 1918 was used as a cross channel troop ferry once again. During 1919 she served as an Ambulance Transport in the Mediterranean before returning to Union-Castle ownership on 26th August where she was deployed on the mail run until the larger ships were demobilised and refitted. She later transferred to the Round Africa service before being laid up at Netley in 1921 when the Windsor Castle replaced her and was broken up in the following year. (Photo: from UCPSC 04/65)
KOODOO (1) was built in 1875 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 52grt, a length of 65ft 10in and a beam of 16ft. She was completed for use as a tender at Durban where passengers had to be ferried over the bar from ships at anchor in the roadstead. In 1886 she was sold to the Union Boating Co., retaining her name.
FINLAND was built in 1886 by McMillan & Son at Dumbarton with a tonnage of 1363grt, a length of 230ft 6in, a beam of 33ft and a service speed of 10 knots. She was built as the Cape Merchant for the Cape & Natal Merchant’s Line but was purchased by Donald Currie who gave her a ‘…land’ name as she was deployed on coastal trading. Castle names were only given to ships trading out of the United Kingdom. On 26th April 1887, during a voyage from Cape Town to Mauritius she ran aground 16 miles east of Kowie River, without loss of life, and was a total loss.
KINFAUNS CASTLE (2) was built in 1899 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 9664grt, a length of 533ft, a beam of 59ft 2in and a service speed of 17 knots. She was the first company ship with twin screws and her No.3 hold derricks were worked off the foremast and not the derrick posts. Built for the mail run she entered service in September 1899 after a shake down cruise with guests. In April 1902 she gently went aground on the Isle of Wight but was undamaged. On 4th August 1914 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser for service in South African waters when, en route to her station, she took part in the hunt for the German Kaiser Wilhelm de Grosse, a Norddeutscher Lloyd vessel which was eventually sunk on 26th August. She next captured the German sailing ship Werner Vinnen which was carrying coal off the Canaries and dispatched her to Freetown with a prize crew. In the September she captured the German barque Heinz off Port Nolloth, South West Africa before covering the landings of South African troops into German South West Africa and then acting as guard ship at Walvis Bay. In December 1914 the German light cruiser SMS Koenigsberg sailed from Dar-es-Salaam in German East Africa for the Gulf of Aden where she sank the new Ellerman ship City of Winchester. HMS Astreae then went in to destroy the wireless station and the locals unwisely sank the floating dock across the harbour mouth. Deprived of her base the Koenigsberg took refuge in the Rufiji Delta at Satale up the Simba-Uranga tributary from where she raided nearby Zanzibar and sank HMS Pegasus on 20th September. The Kinfauns Castle was part of the force detailed to hunt the German cruiser. In January 1915 she took part in the capture of the German Mafia and Niororo Islands, south of Dar-es-Salaam before proceeding to Durban where she loaded a scouting aircraft. Based on Niororo Island ,with the Kinfauns Castle as base ship, this aircraft was flown by a civilian with a temporary commission, H.D. Cutler, to look for the German light cruiser. She was eventually found but was out of range of gunfire so the Kinfauns Castle withdrew. The Royal Mail ship Trent towed two monitors, Mersey and Severn, from England and the destruction of the Koenigsberg commenced on 11th July. After a second attack the Koenigsberg ceased fire at 13.50hrs and was scuttled at 14.00hrs. The Kinfauns Castle recovered the British wounded and resumed her patrol. In 1916 she reverted to trooping with the first class accommodation being reserved for government officials and in 1919 she returned to commercial employment on the mail service. She carried the Duke of Connaught to South Africa as Governor General in 1919 and on 9th September 1922 rescued the crew of the Hammonia (Hamburg-Amerika Line) when she sank 75 miles east of Vigo after striking an unidentified object. After trooping to the Far East she was laid up at Netley following substitution by the Arundel Castle. In October 1925 she was brought back into service with the Roman to carry the mail when the regular steamers were strike bound and on 17th November departed from Cape Town for the last time. She was scrapped in Holland in September 1927 after being sold for £32,000. (Photo: from UCPSC 19/85)
Eyewitness – The Sinking of the “Hammonia”
(Photographs and Captions by Alan McPhee)
Our lifeboat returning with a load of survivors with yours truly in the bow with arms outstretched to catch life line from deck of the “Soldier Prince”.
“Hammonia” taken just before she sank –
note the lifeboats. The ship in the background is the “Kinfauns Castle”. These photographs were taken from the deck of the “Soldier Prince” with a pocket Kodak and enlarged in Alexandria.
Survivors from “Hammonia” clambering aboard “Soldier Prince”. This lifeboat was stove in a few minutes later and had to be hoisted aboard. Note “Kinfauns Castle” in background.
KILDONAN CASTLE was built in 1899 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 9652grt, a length of 533ft, a beam of 59ft 2in and a service speed of 17 knots. Sister of the Kinfauns Castle she was the last mail ship to be completed for Castle Line before the merger but commenced her career as H. M. Transport 44 for use during the Boer War. On her maiden voyage she carried 3000 troops to Cape Town and in December 1900 was used as a prisoner of war ship at Simonstown. During 1901 she returned to Fairfield’s for completion before undertaking her first commercial mail sailing on 7th December. On 31st October 1914 she undertook an emergency sailing to Lisbon where she loaded 10,000 rifles and 1,000,000 rounds of .303 ammunition which she then took to the Cape to replenish South African troops who were quelling secessionist strikes in the Rand and Johannesburg. On 6th October 1915 she was commissioned as a hospital ship with 603 beds but in the following March she was de-commissioned and converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser and on 21st August 1916 joined the 10th Cruiser Squadron which was based at Glasgow. In 1917, on 17th January, she embarked the British Military Mission headed by Viscount Milner at Oban and took them to Murmansk where the Mission failed to prevent the Russians from negotiating with the Germans for peace. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, when Russia signed a separate Peace Treaty with the Central Powers, was signed on 2nd March 1917 the day the Mission reached Scapa Flow. On her return she undertook convoy duties in the North Atlantic. In December 1918 she was stood down as an AMC and transferred to the work of repatriating troops and in 1919 carried troops to Archangel to quell internal fighting and was the last ship to leave when the Allies withdrew. She then made a single trooping voyage to Shanghai before sailing to Vladivostock where, in March 1920, she embarked 1800 Yugoslavian refugees and took them to Gravosa in the Adriatic. At the end of that year she was refurbished and returned to the mail run where she remained until replaced by the Carnarvon Castle in 1936 and put in reserve. When the building of the Dunbar Castle was delayed in January 1930 she was deployed on the Intermediate run until the May when she was laid up at Netley pending disposal. She was sold in May 1931 for £11,250 and broken up at Stavanger in Norway. (Photo: from UCPSC 11/45)
PENGUIN was built in 1899 by Cox & Co. at Falmouth with a tonnage of 123grt, a length of 90ft 2in, a beam of 19ft 4in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was built as a tender and tug for service at East London. Transferring to the merged Union-Castle Line in 1900 she remained until 1924 when she was sold to the African Wharfage Co. of Mombasa and renamed Nyati. She was broken up locally during 1928.
MACHRIE was built in 1900 by Scott & Sons of Bowling with a tonnage of 251grt, a length of 116ft 10in, a beam of 21ft 6in and a service speed of 8 knots. She was acquired to assist with transhipment at South African ports which had become congested following the Boer War and her time with Union-Castle was destined to be short. In 1905 she was sold to C.J.Rufino Hamilton of Santa Cruz, retaining her name, and in 1923 became the Margarita under the ownership of Ramon de Olalde of Bilbao. When she was transferred back to Tenerife in 1924 she was renamed Anselmi but when she was again sold in 1932 to A.Alvarez of Bilbao she reverted to Margarita. He, however, renamed her Anselmi in 1939 and she continued to serve until 1965 when she was scrapped.
GALICIAN/GLENART CASTLE was built in 1900 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 6576grt, a length of 430ft, a beam of 52ft 2in and a service speed of 12.5 knots. During construction she was transferred to Union-Castle following the merger and was never registered as being owned by the Union Steamship Co. In December 1900, the last of the ten ‘G’s, went into service and in the same month went to Dakar to pick up passengers and mail from the disabled Dunottar Castle. On 15th August 1914 she was stopped and boarded by the Armed German Merchant Cruiser Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse south of Tenerife. After several anxious hours the commander of the German vessel, Max Reymann, signalled ‘ I will not destroy you because of the women and children aboard, Good-bye’. Two days later the German raider was sunk by HMS Highflyer. When the ship returned to Southampton she was diplomatically renamed Glenart Castle and became a hospital ship for 453 patients. In March 1915 she took part in the Gallipoli campaign and served in the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean during 1916. On 1st March 1917 in calm weather she struck a mine laid by UC-45 off the Owers Lightship between Le Havre and Southampton. All 520 sick and wounded were saved by destroyers and other ships in less than an hour before the Glenart Castle was towed to Portsmouth where she was repaired. On 26th February 1918, while travelling from Newport in South Wales to Brest, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German U-boat U-56 20 miles west of Lundy Island. Only 38 people survived out of a total crew an medical staff of 206. The picture is of a painting of the intermediate steamer. (Photo: from FGO Stuart)
GERMAN (2) /GLENGORM CASTLE was built in 1898 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 6763grt, a length of 440ft, a beam of 53ft and a service speed of 12.5 knots. An enlarged sister of the Gascon (2) she was delivered as the German for the Intermediate service but on transferring to Union-Castle in 1900 served as a troopship during the Boer War. In August 1914 she was renamed Glengorm Castle following the outbreak of war with Germany and in the September was commissioned as a hospital ship with 423 beds. With British India’s Vasna and Varela she was one of the last hospital ships to be decommissioned in 1921 when they were replaced by the permanent hospital ship Maine, formerly PSNC’s Panama. She continued to operate as a troopship in the Far East until 1922-23 when she carried British peace-keeping troops to Turkey. Returning to Union-Castle in 1925 she served on the Intermediate service until 1930 when she was broken up in Holland.
ALNWICK CASTLE was built in 1901 by Wm. Beardmore & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 5893grt, a length of 400ft 5in, a beam of 50ft 2in and a service speed of 14 knots. One of four sisters she was built as an extra steamer for the emigrant trade to South Africa and, when that trade slowed down after the Boer War, spent a lot of time as a fast cargo carrier. In 1903 she was transferred to the USA – South Africa route. On 18th March 1915 she arrived at Mudros with troops and mules and was then deployed as a troop transport to Gallipoli. Two years later, on 19th March 1917, she was torpedoed by U-81 310 miles off Bishop Rock during a voyage from Plymouth to Cape Town with the loss of 40 lives.
BERWICK CASTLE was built in 1902 by Wm. Beardmore & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 5883grt, a length of 398ft 2in, a beam of 50ft and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Alnwick Castle she was built for similar deployment. On 18th March 1904 she rammed and sank the British submarine A1 off the Nab lightship with the loss of all hands. The A1 was the first of 14 petrol driven submarines with the peculiarity that stopping was achieved by shorting out up to six of the 16 cylinders and allowing compression to slow the engine revs. The submarine appeared to stop but then surged ahead and was hit by the Berwick Castle. During the First World War she continued to operate for Union-Castle and in October 1919 was burnt out at Kilindini, Mombasa. She was towed to Durban where she remained at anchor until she was purchased by Soc. Anon. Andora of Genoa and renamed Andora Castle. The machinery was repaired and she was taken to Italy where she was laid up and eventually broken up in 1925.
CAWDOR CASTLE was built in 1902 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 6235grt, a length of 414ft 8in, a beam of 51ft 2in and a service speed of 14 knots. The third of four sisters she was built as an extra Intermediate steamer for the emigrant trade to South Africa. When the emigrant trade slowed down after the Boer War she spent a lot of her time as a fast cargo carrier and in 1914 was used as a horse transport between South Africa and France. In April 1915 she carried the Chatham Battalion of the Royal Marines to Anzac Beach, Gallipoli. On 30th July 1926 she ran aground at Conception Bay in South West Africa during a voyage from London to Mauritius and became a total loss. (Photo: National Maritime Museum)
NEWARK CASTLE was built in 1902 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 6224grt, a length of 414ft 8in, a beam of 51ft 2in and a service speed of 14 knots. She was the last of the class and the names were never repeated. at noon on 12th May 1908 she sailed from Durban bound for Mauritius via Delagoa Bay with a crew of 69 and 48 passengers mainly soldiers of the Mauritius garrison. Six hours later she ran aground on a shoal four miles out from Richards Bay, Umhlatuzi River near to Port Durnford on the Zululand coast. The sea was calm and all the boats were lowered while the captain and some of the crew remained on board. Later in the day the wind and seas increased endangering all. The Durban trawler, Elelyn, arrived early next morning and rescued the occupants of all but one lifeboat. The remaining boat attempted to reach the shore but was swamped by the rising sea and three men were drowned. The rough seas floated the Newark Castle off but the wind then blew her back onto a sandbank seven miles way where she became a total loss.
YORK CASTLE was built in 1901 by Sir James Laing & Sons at Sunderland with a tonnage of 5517grt, a length of 408ft, a beam of 50ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. She joined the cargo fleet in May 1901 and joined the three Union ‘S’ vessels on a triangular service between South Africa – USA – UK except during the fruit season when she traded between South Africa and the USA. In 1924 she was sold to G. B. Bibolini of Genoa and renamed San Terenzo. After a short period laid up she was broken up during 1932.
GORDON CASTLE was built in 1901 by Chas Connell & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4408grt, a length of 385ft, a beam of 50ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. Similar in profile to the York Castle she was delivered for the cargo services in June 1901. She had an undistinguished career and was eventually broken up in 1924.
CORFE CASTLE was built in 1901 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4592grt, a length of 401ft 8in, a beam of 48ft 27in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was the last of the four ships built for cargo services, bringing the fleet strength in that department to seven. Sold to W. Schuchmann of Hamburg in 1927 she was renamed Ostee and broken up in 1932.
AROS CASTLE was built in 1901 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4460grt, a length of 392ft 4in, a beam of 48ft 7in and a service speed of 10 knots. A cargo ship she entered service in August 1901 on the South Africa – USA route. On 21st November 1917 she was torpedoed by U-90 300 miles west of Bishop Rock during a voyage from London to Baltimore in ballast.
(Photo: Tom Rayner Collection)
LOCHGAIR was built in 1888 by Scott & Sons at Bowling with a tonnage of 111grt, a length of 81ft 7in, and a beam of 18ft 4in. She was acquired in November 1901 to assist with the unloading at Port Elizabeth, a port that had become congested after the outbreak of the Boer War. In 1905 she was sold to J. G. Stewart of Glasgow who amended her name to Loch Gair. However, she did not return to the United Kingdom but was sold to the Seychelles Trading Co. of Port Elizabeth who eventually dismantled he in 1926.
BELLONA was built in 1901 by J. Kievits & von Riede & & Co. at Papendrecht in Holland with a tonnage of 117grt, a length of 85ft 2in, a beam of 20ft 2in and a service speed of 7 knots. She was acquired to assist the Lochgair at Port Elizabeth during the Boer War and retained after the hostilities ceased. In June 1912 she was wrecked near Stony Bay at Cape Hangklip.
WALMER CASTLE (2) was built in 1902 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 12546grt, a length of 570ft 6in, a beam of 64ft 4in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. She was laid down as the Celt (3) for the Union Line in 1900 but after the merger was launched as the Walmer Castle and slightly modified to become the second of six elegant steamships for the Southampton – Cape Town service. In early 1910 one of her distinguished passengers was Lord Gladstone who was travelling to South Africa to become the first Governor General and in the April Rudyard Kipling returned to the UK on her, one of the twenty voyages he made with Union-Castle. During 1914 – 1916 she remained on the mail run and in December 1916 a passage time of 49 days from Tilbury to Cape Town was the longest ever undertaken by a mailship. She was quarantined at Plymouth for 21 days before joining a convoy for Freetown where she stayed for 7 days. Shortly after sailing for the Cape she was ordered back as the German Raider Moewe was operating in the area ,further delaying her passage. In April 1917 she was requisitioned by the Government under the Liner Requisition Scheme for use as a troopship, trooping initially from South Africa and then in the North Atlantic appropriately camouflaged with dazzle paint. During 1919 she made two voyages between Liverpool and New York for Cunard before returning to the mail run. She was replaced by the Winchester Castle in 1930, making her last sailing in the October before being laid up at Netley as a reserve steamer. She was sold for £13,500 in 1932 and broken up at Blyth by Hughes Bolckow in the February. (Photo: UPCSC 21/91)
ARMADALE CASTLE (2) was built in 1903 by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co at Glasgow with a tonnage of 12973grt, a length of 570ft 1in, a beam of 64ft 3in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. Sister of the Walmer Castle and the first ship to be ordered by Union-Castle she was, in fact, a development of the Union’s Saxon. On 26th June 1904 she became the first mail steamer to use Cape Town’s new inner quay. She was requisitioned for conversion as an Armed merchant Cruiser on 2nd August 1914 and joined the 10th Cruiser Squadron on the 7th August. Resuming commercial service in 1919 she continued until 1935 when she was laid up at Netley. She undertook one voyage as a replacement for the Winchester Castle in 1936 before being sold for scrap. (Photo: UCPSC 02/138)