History of the Merchant Navy

UNION-CASTLE LINE

The UNION-CASTLE MAIL STEAMSHIP COMPANY came about through the amalgamation of the Union Steamship Co. and the Castle Packets Co. in March 1900.

Inspired by Arthur Anderson, a founder of P&O, the Union Steamship Co. was the older company founded in 1853 as the Union Steam Collier to carry coal from South Wales to meet the growing demand in Southampton. Orders were placed for 5 ships- “Union”, “Briton,” “Saxon, “Norman” and the “Dane”. The first steamship, the 336-ton “Union” loaded coal in Cardiff in June 1854 but the outbreak of the Crimean War frustrated the carefully made plans. After the war the company briefly tried to break into the Brazilian trade but then ,as the reconstituted Union Steamship Co., began chartering out its ships.

In the summer of 1857 the Admiralty invited tenders for a new mail run to South Africa and, as luck would have it, the Union Steamship Co. was accepted and the future suddenly looked very bright. The mail contract was for 5 years with an annual subsidy of £33,000 for which the company was to provide a monthly service from Southampton with a call at Plymouth carrying the mails in both directions.

The Cape Town mail service was inaugurated on 15th September 1857 with the 530 ton steam ship “Dane” carrying the mails and 6 passengers, under the command of Captain Strutt. There had been little time to advertise and the revenue from the first voyage was £102.

But the venture proved to be a success and the “Dane” was soon joined by the 613-ton “Phoebe” and the 739-ton “Athens” who, between them, managed to work the route well within the contractual 42 days. The first class fare was 45 guineas and the company’s fortunate shareholders were able to benefit from a 10% dividend. By 1859 the Cape Legislative Assembly was that satisfied with the company’s performance that it decided to pay a bonus of £250 for every day that the voyage was completed in less than 35 days.

The success of the venture soon enabled the company to build its first ship for the South African trade and in October 1860 the 1055-ton “Cambrian” left Southampton on its maiden voyage. The “Cambrian” was powered by both steam and sail and under steam only was capable of 10 knots. She had accommodation for 60 first-class and 40 second-class passengers and her other amenities included a bathroom, a luxury for passengers at sea. Bound for the Cape in September 1871 the “Cambrian” ran out of coal but, under sail, still safely completed the voyage from Southampton in under 42 days.

By 1863 Donald Currie, a Greenock born Scotsman and a former employee of Cunard, had built up a fleet of four 1200-ton sailing ships with “Castle” names which traded round the Cape on the Liverpool – Calcutta run. This company was known as the Castle Packet Co. and the venture was successful until the Suez Canal opened in 1869. This virtually killed off the Calcutta trade round the Cape. However, Currie, by this time, had acquired an interest in the Leith, Hull and Hamburg Packet Co where his brother was manager. The LH&H Packet Co. chartered two vessels, the “Iceland” and the” Gothland”, to the Cape & Natal Steam Navigation Co. However, Cape & Natal Steam Navigation Co. company failed and this , purely by chance, enabled Donald Currie to deploy the three new Castle steamships intended for the Calcutta run on the Cape route. The vessels operated a twice monthly sailing from London with a call at Dartmouth for the mails.

In 1872 he was asked by the Cape merchants and the Government of Cape Colony to provide competition for the Union Line and was offered generous terms to carry the northbound mails in Castle ships. This he did but when the various contracts expired in 1876 a new mail contract was signed sharing the traffic equally between the two lines, each company providing alternate sailings for a weekly service.

Rivalry between the two companies still existed as any form of amalgamation was forbidden by the Cape authorities under the terms of the mail contracts.


The “Pheobe” & Sir Donald Currie

In 1888 a new contract was negotiated with the British government which guaranteed both companies an assured £26,000 annually but the contract stipulated a 20 day passage to the Cape and an extension to Durban with calls at East London and Port Elizabeth. Although the Union Line operated out of Southampton and the Castle ships sailed from London they offered an identical service and passage tickets were interchangeable. Vessels departed every Thursday, alternately from Southampton and London. In 1891 the Castle Line replaced its Dartmouth call with one at Southampton and the services became more integrated with the consequent reduction of the bitter rivalry, a characteristic of trade in the early days. The Union Line operated 10 steamships and the Castle Mail Packets Co. (renamed in 1881) deployed 11 vessels on the mail run and both companies worked connecting coastal services to Lourenco Marques (Maputu), Beira and Mauritius.

The Cape steamers were small compared with the vessels which plied across the Atlantic to North America and even those on the Australia run. In 1885 the largest in service was the 661-ton “Mexican” and her small sister the” Tartar” both completed in 1883 for the Union Line. However, the discovery of gold in the Transvaal in 1900 provoked change which resulted in the Union Mail Co taking delivery of the 5625-ton “Dunottar Castle”. This vessel surpassed everything in both fleets with accommodation for 100 first-class, 90 second-class, 100 third-class and 150 steerage passengers. With a top speed of 15 knots the history of the South African mail service was about to change. The Union Line responded with the 6844-ton “Scot”. With a clipper-stem and a service speed of 16.5 knots carrying 204 first-class, 205 second-class and about 100 third-class passengers she was magnificent and possibly one of the best looking ships ever built. She broke all records for the Cape run reducing the passage time to 15 days. Unfortunately, the running costs were huge and after incurring considerable losses over a period of 12 years she was eventually sold to the Hamburg America Line.

The livery of the Union vessels was drab black with a white riband around the hull but in 1892 this was changed to a white hull with blue riband and cream-buff coloured funnels. On the other hand, the Castle ships had a lavender-grey hull with black-topped red funnels, a livery which survived until the company’s eventual demise some 80 odd years later.


The “Scot” and The “Norman” (2)

Looking for a more economical vessel the “Scot” was followed by the 7537-ton steamship “Norman”. Built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast she was slower operationally but was considerably more advanced than any other vessel built or being built for the Castle fleet and laid the foundations for a new generation of Union liners. The 10248-ton “Briton” and the 12385-ton “Saxon” followed, each contributing to the development of the classic Union-Castle design which culminated with the building of the “Edinburgh Castle” and the “Balmoral Castle” in 1910.

At the end of the 19th century the Castle vessels were old fashioned in appearance compared with the their Union rivals but they were popular and Donald Currie’s Castle Line was probably more financially secure than the Union Steamship Company.

When the mail contract expired in 1900 there were no additional applicants for the new contract and, consequently, the managements of both companies were able seek concessions, notably the exclusion of any clause forbidding a merger of the two concerns. Once the contracts had been signed and sealed Donald Currie approached the Union Line’s board and proposed a merger which was agreed and in March 1900 the assets of the Union Line were transferred to the Castle Mail Packets Co. The company was then restructured to become the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co. Ltd. and adopted the distinctive lavender-grey hull of the Castle Line for the new company. All new vessels joining the fleet from that date had Castle names, the Union liner “Celt”, sister of the “Saxon”, was completed as the “Walmer Castle”. Similar ships but with additional first-class accommodation, the “Armadale Castle” and the “Kenilworth Castle”, were completed in 1903 and 1904 respectively.


The “Briton” And The “Dunluce Castle”

UNION-CASTLE LINE

By this time the Boer War had started and Britain had gone to war in South Africa. Several ships from both fleets had been commandeered for military purposes including the 3487-ton “Spartan” which was deployed on hospital duties. When, on conclusion of the Boer War, the ships resumed civil operations in May 1902 they returned to the merged fleet under the Union-Castle house flag.

In 1910 the company’s intermediate service was extended northwards to Mombasa to link with an East African service which operated via the Suez Canal. This operation was undertaken jointly with the British India Steam Navigation Company. The vessels initially deployed on these routes were Union Line ‘G’ ships based on the design of the 1893, Belfast built, “Gaul”, “Goth” and “Greek”. All three were of 4750-tons and elegant in design but in 1910-11 they were replaced with more economical and reliable and not so elegant Castle vessels.

1912 was another milestone in the history of the Union-Castle Line. Not only had the mail contract time been reduced to 16 days 15 hours, which was well within the capability of the “Briton” and her successors, but the company was also to lose its independence. Sir Owen Philips, owner of the Royal Mail Steam Packet } Co, was looking to expand his operation and, consequently, on April 18th, acquired a large holding of ordinary shares in the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company, and with it, financial and management control. Fortunately, the day to day running of the company was not affected and nor was there any loss of identity as the fleet continued to be managed independently.

With the outbreak of World War 1 in August 1914 many vessels were commandeered for government service as armed merchant cruisers, troopships or hospital ships. The “Armadale Castle”, the “Edinburgh Castle” and the “Kinfauns Castle” became armed merchant cruisers and the mail ships came through the war relatively unscathed. The vessels on the intermediate service and the cargo ships were not so fortunate and there were grievous losses; the sinking of the “Llandovery Castle” being particularly harrowing.


The “Guelph”

These vessels had to be replaced before the company could resume its former itineraries to the Cape and East Africa. In the early 1920’s the most elderly vessels on the mail run, the former Union Line ships “Norman” and “Briton” were replaced by the 19000-ton “Arundel Castle” and the “Windsor Castle”. Powered by a pair of coal-fired steam turbines they had four funnels, cruiser sterns and ungainly Topliss gravity davits. Not particularly nice to look at they were satisfactory in service and proved very popular with the travelling public. However, steam was now being superceded by diesel and Lord Kylsant (formerly Sir Owen Philips) played an influencing role in encouraging the company to make the switch. The company took delivery of the 20141-ton “Carnarvon Castle” from Harland & Wolff} in 1926 as the first diesel engined motor ship for the mail run and the East Africa service which, in 1922, had become known as the Round Africa service. She was a distinctive vessel with two well-raked masts and two squat funnels, the top of which where cut parallel with the deck. The conditions of the mail contracts which, by now, were renewed annually, remained unchanged and the service speed was still 16 knots.

In 1931 the Kylsant empire collapsed. Fortunately, the Union-Castle Line was detached from the Royal Mail group relatively unscathed as the material and financial connections weren’t as complicated as other companies in the group. The company was, once again, independent and able to carry on business without any untoward changes.

The link with Harland & Wolff was maintained and remained so for the next 25 years. By now the Union-Castle Line had nine 16-knot mailships, the “Armadale Castle”, the “Kenilworth Castle”, the “Balmoral Castle”, the “Edinburgh Castle”, the “Arundel Castle”, the “Windsor Castle”, the “Carnarvon Castle”, the “Winchester Castle” and the “Warwick Castle” together with 11 intermediate Round Africa ships and half a dozen cargo vessels.

The mail contract negotiated in 1936 required a reduction of the passage time to no less than 14 days which required a service speed of 19 knots. Two motor ships, the “Stirling Castle” and the “Athlone Castle” were already being built at the Harland & Wolff shipyard but a further 8 vessels would by needed to fulfil the faster service. Three years was allowed to modernise the fleet and the task was completed by building a third new motor ship, the “Capetown Castle”, and re-engining the steam turbine powered “Arundel Castle” and “Windsor Castle” as well as the older motor ships “Carnarvon Castle”, “Warwick Castle” and “Winchester Castle”. During the re-engining the “Arundel Castle” and “Windsor Castle” were re-modelled and transformed into two magnificent looking ships with two new well proportioned funnels and sweeping curved stems.


The “Arundel Castle” And The “Winchester Castle”

As fate would have it, the Second World War was declared on 3rd September 1939 before the new service was able to settle down and become established. All the mailships were conscripted into government service as either armed merchant cruisers or troopships. The mail run, in the meantime, was serviced by smaller, older passenger ships, namely the “Dunbar Castle”, the “Llandovery Castle”, the “Llandaff Castle”, the “Llanstephan Castle” and the ageing “Gloucester Castle”.

The fleet suffered quite extensively and most of the surviving vessels required a lot of work done to them before they could be returned to commercial operations. The “Pretoria Castle”, completed in 1939, was converted by the navy into an aircraft carrier and it took until March 1947 to restore her to passenger ship status with a new name, the “Warwick Castle”. New buildings were resumed and in 1948 two 28705-ton steam turbined mailships entered service, the “Pretoria Castle” and the third “Edinburgh Castle”. These were followed in 1950 by the 18400-ton “Bloemfontein Castle” which was intended to provide a reasonably priced passage for emigrants to South Africa and Rhodesia. The need never arose and the vessel was, consequently, re-deployed on a one-ship, economy class only, intermediate service from London to Beira via the Cape. The 17 knot ship was always the ‘odd one out’ and in 1959 she was sold to the Greek-owned Chandris Line.

During 1950/51 smaller steam-turbined vessels, the “Rhodesia Castle”, the “Kenya Castle” and the “Braemar Castle” were completed for the round Africa service to join the pre-war built motor ships “Dunnottar Castle”, the “Durban Castle” and the “Warwick Castle”, all built between 1936 and 1939. The round Africa service was operated alternately via the Cape and via the Suez Canal from London, the journey time being approximately 6 weeks.


“Pretoria Castle”
(Photo: UCPSC 15/175)

“Edinburgh Castle”
(Photo: UCPSC 23/200)

The company was also trading with refrigerated fruit ships and general cargo vessels but after the war it faced fierce competition for freight from old established companies including Sir Nicholas Cayzer’s Clan Line and Lord Vestey’s Blue Star Line. Common-sense prevailed to prevent counter-productive rivalry and in 1956 the Union-Castle Line and Clan Line merged under the umbrella of the British and Commonwealth Shipping Co. However, the companies maintained their individual identities with only a double house flag to notify a change of ownership.

By the end of the 1950’s the passage time to Cape Town was down to 13 days but an 11 day service was envisaged and in 1957 construction of the 28582-ton, steam turbined “Pendennis Castle” was commenced. With accommodation for 187 first-class and 475 tourist-class passengers she entered service in 1959 and was quickly followed in 1960 and 1961 by the “Windsor Castle” and the “Pretoria Castle”.

Also by the end of the 1950’s the Union-Castle Line was co-operating very closely with the South African Marine Corporation (Safmarine)} and already one of the general cargo ships the “Drakensberg Castle” was sailing under the South African flag. In 1966, however, it was the turn of the passenger liners and the “Pretoria Castle” and the “Transvaal Castle” were renamed “SA Oranje” and the “SA Vaal” and eventually re-registered in the Republic of South Africa.


The “Llandaff Castle”

The ” Pendennis Castle”

In 1965 the fleet of seven mail ships necessary for the 11 day, weekly service was completed with the construction of the fast cargo liners the “Good Hope Castle” and the “Southampton Castle. These vessels had accommodation for 12 first-class passengers mainly for people wishing to travel to St Helena and the Ascension Island.

The Union-Castle Line had never been interested in holiday cruising, that is, until 1964 when the company took over the operation of the former Pacific Steam Navigation Co’s “Reina del Mar” which was operating out of Southampton. but she did not officially join the fleet, without a name change, until her purchase had been negotiated in 1973.

However, the face of British shipping was about to change, due mainly to the invention of the jet engine and the building of faster, safer aircraft. When the De Havilland “Comet” took to the air, mail could be delivered around the world far quicker than by sea. The Boeing 747 “Jumbo Jet” enabled the mass transportation of people by air. The days of the passenger liner and the regular mail services by sea were numbered. Consequently, in 1977 the passenger/cargo vessel “Southampton Castle” made the last Cape mail run from Southampton to Cape Town. However, the last ship to fly the mail pennant for the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co was the “Kinpurnie Castle” (ex Clan Ross) . She carried the mail on a voyage from Southampton to Durban calling at the Ascension Islands, St Helena, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London.

Also in 1977, on 19th September, the “Windsor Castle” returned to Southampton at the conclusion of the last mail run, 120 years and 4 days after the “Dane” set sail on the first epic voyage. The Union-Castle mailships would no longer depart from Southampton meticulously at 4 o’clock on a Thursday afternoon, a sailing which was only delayed once when the vessel waited one hour for Sir Winston Churchill to board.

During the 1980’s a new breed of cargo carrier, the container ship, was introduced which made the operation of small cargo vessels un-competitive. As a result, the British and Commonwealth Shipping Group abandoned it’s shipping operations and the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co. ceased to operate.

The Fleet

Fans of the Union-Castle Line may wish to read
Union-Castle Line
by Peter Newall
Mailships of the Union-Castle Line
by CJ Harris


A 23″ model of the “Edinburgh Castle”
Built by Bob Wilson, F.R.S.A.

UNION-CASTLE LINE

UNION (1) was built in 1854 by J. D’A Samunda at Poplar in London with a tonnage of 336grt, a length of 157ft 8in, a beam of 21ft and a service speed of 8 knots. She was registered at Southampton for the Union Collier Co’s proposed South Wales to Southampton coal service but in July 1854 she was chartered by the British Government for use during the Crimean War. She was alterd to accommodate 48 passengers and 250 troops. On 5th December 1856 she came under the ownership of the Union Steam Ship Co. Ltd but was laid up at Southampton. In October 1857 she was deployed on the new speculative Southampton- Pernambuco – Bahia – Rio de Janeiro service with passengers and coal. She was sold to P & O in December 1858 for their Mauritius – Reunion mail service and during 1861-62 acted as a supply and accommodation ship at the building of lighthouses at Ashrafi and Daedalus in the Gulf of Suez. On 20th February 1863 she was sold to Hong Kong Chinese interests for £2000 then sold on to Nagato Han (Chamber of Commerce) and renamed Otuushi Maru. In 1865 she was sold Satsuma Han with the name Sakurajima Maru and in 1871 came under the ownership of the Japanese Government with the same name operating their inter island mail service out of Tokyo which was highly unprofitable. The service was taken over by Yubin Kisen Mitsubishi of Tokyo in 1877 and became profitable. In 1880 she became a store ship before being hulked and from then on there is no further trace of her whereabouts or her final demise.

BRITON (1) was built in 1854 by J. D’A Samunda at Poplar in London with a tonnage of 491grt, a length of 174ft, a beam of 24ft 6in and a service speed of 9 knots. Completed in July 1854 she was immediately chartered to the French Government for use in the Crimean War and, as a result, her maiden voyage was London – Smyrna – Constantinople – Malta, where she was based. She then shuttled troops between Marseilles and Varna before participating in the Crimea landings where she remained on war service. Returning to Union S.S. Co. ownership in 1856 she was initially laid up until deployed on a service to the Spanish Atlantic ports. In 1857, whilst on charter, she was lost at sea during a voyage to Seville.

SAXON (1) was built in 1854 by J. D’A Samunda at Poplar in London with a tonnage of 491grt, a length of 174ft, a beam of 24ft 6in and a service speed of 9 knots. Sister of the Briton she made one voyage, Poplar – Smyrna – Constantinople – Malta – Southampton, before being chartered to the French Government for use in the Crimean War. In 1858, because she was smaller than 530grt as required by the 4th September mail contract, she was sold to Bremner, Bennett & Bremner of London without a name change. Sold again in 1896 to J. Ballantyne of Limerick she was converted into a grain elevator and was still in service, without any motive power, until 1912 when all trace of her was lost.

DANE (1) was built in 1854 by Charles Lungley & Co. at Deptford Green in London with a tonnage of 530grt, a length of 195ft, a beam of 25ft 1in and a service speed of 9 knots. Sister of the Briton she was, on completion, immediately chartered to the French Government for use in the Crimean War. In 1856, due to a surplus of coal, she was laid up at Southampton with the intention of using her for the November sailing to South America but this voyage never materialised. On December 1856 her owners were re-styled Union Steamship Company. In 1857 she followed the Union and the Norman onto the Rio de Janeiro service and on 15th September of the same year and under the command of Capt Strutt she undertook the first voyage to the Cape Colony with the mails. For this purpose she was given a red funnel with a broad black top, a livery that was applied to all the Cape Colony mail ships. In 1863 she was placed on the new coastal service followed, in 1864, by the Mauritius service. On 17th May 1865, whilst at anchor and during the ‘Great Gale’, she was holed by a drifting sailing ship. In the same year she was chartered by the British Government to carry troops to Zanzibar where they were used to suppress slave trading. On 28th November 1865 she went ashore whilst approaching Port Elizabeth on a voyage from Simonstown and on 4th December became a total loss.

NORMAN (1) was built in 1854 by Charles Lungley & Co. at Deptford Green in London with a tonnage of 530grt, a length of 195ft, a beam of 25ft 1in and a service speed of 9 knots. Identical to the Dane she was immediately chartered to the British Government for Crimean War service and completed her maiden voyage from Southampton to Constantinople and Balaklava with a cargo of wooden huts for troops wintering in the freezing Crimea. In late 1855 she was laid up at Southampton but on 29th September 1856 inaugurated the Union Steam Collier Co’s Southampton – Rio de Janeiro service quickly followed by the Union and the Dane. On 21st January 1857, under Union Steam Ship Co. ownership, she replaced the Celt on her ill-fated December sailing and in the following November completed the run to the Cape in 39 days. In 1863 she replaced the Roman on the South African coastal service returning to Southampton in the following year. She was sold to Charles Lungley in 1865 as part payment for three new ships he was building for the company. Lungley then sold the ship to Bremner, Bennett & Bremner of London with the same name and for their Mediterranean trade and thereafter all trace of her was lost.

CELT (1) was built in 1855 by Charles Lungley & Co. at Deptford Green in London with a tonnage of 531grt, a length of 176ft 4in, a beam of 25ft 1in and a service speed of 9 knots. Built with the intention of replacing the Union on the coal trade she was, on completion, requisitioned for use during the Crimean War. On 24th December 1856 she sailed from Southampton bound for Rio de Janeiro but was forced to return to Cowes Roads with engine trouble. She set out again on 31st December but had to return to Southampton on 3rd January 1857 when she sprang a leak and the voyage was consequently cancelled. On 17th May she sailed from Liverpool, the new departure port, for South America and made two round voyages before, in the October, she made the second sailing to the Cape with the mails, completing the voyage in 43 days. In 1862 she was sold to Charles Lungley as part payment for the larger mail ships he was building and subsequently sold to Balnerre of Rotterdam and renamed Gothenburg. She was purchased by J. Meek of Newcastle in 1875, reverted to her original name of Celt and had compound engines and new boilers installed. In 1885 she was under the ownership of Thames & Bristol Trading Co. Ltd of London and in 1891 she was owned by McDowall & Barbour of Piraeus, restyled Hellenic Steam Navigation Co. in 1908, with the name Poseidon. Without a change of name she was acquired by J.Potomianos of Istanbul in 1910 and in 1933 her name was deleted from the Register of Shipping.

PHOEBE was built in 1851 by one of the Denny shipyards at Dumbarton with a tonnage of 613grt, a length of 172ft 8in, a beam of 25ft 5in and a service speed of 9.5 knots. She was built for Preston & Co. of Glasgow and acquired by the company in 1857 to replace the Union (1) on the Cape Colony mail service. A good weather ship she was fast and a good schedule keeper with a passage time of 37 days. In 1861 she was sold to the New Zealand Steam Ship Co. and then to Union S.S. Co.of New Zealand. By 1865 she was owned by the Intercolonial Royal Mail Steam Navigation Co. of London and deployed on their Sydney-Auckland service. When, in 1866, the newly formed Australia Royal Mail Company Ltd introduced the Kaikoura, Rakaia and the Ruahine on the Sydney-Wellington- Panama service to connect with the Royal Mail ships the Pheobe was transferred to the London-South America service. She was sold in 1878 to J & A Brown of Newcastle, N.S.W, hulked in 1901 and dismantled in 1904. The painting of the 19th century mail ship was commissioned to commemorate Union Castle’s centenary in 1953. (A Crisp)

ATHENS was built in 1856 by Alexander Denney at Dumbarton with a tonnage of 739grt, a length of 224ft 7in, a beam of 30ft 1in and a service speed of 10 knots. Built for Schilizzi & Co. of Liverpool for their Liverpool – Greece service she was acquired by the Union Steam Ship Co. in 1858 to replace the undersized Saxon on the mail run. In 1865 she was on the Mauritius service and during the ‘Great Gale’ on 19th May she attempted to steam out to sea as a preference to remaining at anchor in Table Bay. She succeeded in rounding Mouille Point but huge waves doused her boilers and she was blown onto the rocks where she broke up before daylight with the loss of all 29 persons on board.

CAMBRIAN was built in 1860 by Charles Lungley & Co. at Deptford Green with a tonnage of 1055grt, a length of 245ft, a beam of 33ft 7in and a service speed of 8 knots. Costing £25,000 she was launched on 23rd April 1860 by Mrs Saxon the wife of Capt. Saxon of Anderson, Saxon & Co, the Union Lines agent at Cape Town. She was the first mail ship built for the company to exceed 1000grt. Sold to French owners in 1872 her subsequent career is unknown.

BRITON (2) was built in 1861 by Charles Lungley & Co. at Deptford Green with a tonnage of 1164grt, a length of 264ft, a beam of 33ft 7in and a service speed of 9.5 knots. Due to her hull being subdivided both horizontally and vertically she was described by her owners as being ‘unsinkable and unburnable’, In 1873 she was sold to the Admiralty, converted into a troopship and renamed HMS Dromedary. Placed in reserve during 1880 she was finally disposed of in 1884.

SAXON (2) was built in 1863 by Charles Lungley & Co. at Deptford Green with a tonnage of 1142grt, a length of 290ft 10in, a beam of 32ft 10in and a service speed of 10.5 knots. She commenced service on the mail run on 13th February 1863 and reduced the time to 31 days. In 1876 she was sold to Bailey & Leetham of Hull who were known as the ‘Tombstone Line’ because of their black funnel with a broad white vertical line and a rounded top. She was sold on again in 1885 to Empreza Insulana de Navegaçao of Ponte Delgado, Azores and renamed Benguella for their Lisbon-Azores service. On 24th June 1890 she sprang a leak in the Atlantic and abandoned with all the passengers and crew being rescued by the Spanish barque Marianna. (The late P.A. Vicary)

ROMAN (1) was built in 1863 by Charles Lungley & Co. at Deptford Green with a tonnage of 1282grt, a length of 290ft 10in, a beam of 32ft 10in and a service speed of 10.5 knots. She started her career as a red funneled mail steamer in November 1863 but, as larger ships were built and joined the fleet, was transferred to the Intermediate service in 1869. She was lengthened and re-engined in 1872 and, at the same time, was given a black funnel. In 1880 she was deployed on the Zanzibar service until 1888 when she was transferred to the Southampton-Bremen-Hamburg feeder service. She was sold ot Essayan Oondjian of Constantinople (Istanbul) and renamed Adana in 1889 and was scrapped in 1910 at Smyrna after grounding. (Photo: WSS Library)

ANGLIAN (1) was built in 1864 by Charles Lungley & Co. at Deptford Green with a tonnage of 661grt, a length of 204ft 10in, a beam of 26ft 4in and a service speed of 8 knots. Built with a shallow draft to facilitate the sand bar at Durban she was delivered in March 1864 for the Intercolonial service between Cape Town, Durban and Mauritius. When the Intercolonial service was discontinued in 1868 she became surplus to requirements and was sold to Palgrave, Murphy & Co. of Dublin in the following year, retaining her name. In 1882 her owners renamed her City of Lisbon so that all their ships bore a ‘City of …’ name. She ended her career in 1903 when she sank off New Brighton in the River Mersey after being in collision with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co’s Douglas.

MAURITIUS was built in 1865 by Charles Lungley & Co. at Deptford Green with a tonnage of 587grt, a length of 210ft, a beam of 26ft 5in and a service speed of 9 knots. Similar in design to the Anglian she joined her sister on the Intercolonial service in 1865. When the service was discontinued in 1868 she was put up for sale at Southampton and acquired in the following year by Palgrave, Murphy & Co. of Dublin but then sold on to J. P. Hutchinson of Glasgow. She had new boilers fitted in 1872 and a compound engine in 1876. In 1901 she was sold to Sociadade ‘La Mediterranea’, of Barcelona with T. Fernandez as manager and renamed Industria. She sank after a collision in 1910.

NATAL (1) was built in 1865 by Day Summers & Co. at Northam, Southampton with a tonnage of 618grt, a length of 205ft 11in, a beam of 27ft 10in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was built for the South African coastal service where she remained until 1883 when she was sold to Trinder, Anderson & Co. of London, retaining her name. In 1888 she was sold to Goh Siam Swee of Bangkok who retained her name until 1890 when it was changed to Srie Bandjar. She was sold to G. Urrutia & Co. of Manila in 1899 and renamed Alava. On 29th September she was lost after grounding at Cavite in the Philippines.

NORSEMAN (1) was built in 1866 by Charles Lungley & Co. at Deptford Green with a tonnage of 1386grt, a length of 262ft 9in, a beam of 32ft 2in and a service speed of 9 knots. In July 1866 she joined the mail service with a red funnel but in 1873 was sold to J. Heugh and in 1874 was converted into a cable repair ship by the Telegraph & Maintenance Co and employed by the Cia Telegrafica Platino-Brasilera on Siemens cables from Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo. She was re-engined in 1880 and, by fitting a circular tank in the no. 2 hold, was given cable laying capability. In 1888, assisted by the Viking, she laid the up-river River Plate cable. Badly damaged during a storm in 1892 she was replaced by Norseman (2) put up for sale being acquired by A.C.S. Springer of London. She was finally broken up in November 1898.

CELT (2) was built in 1866 by Charles Lungley & Co. at Deptford Green with a tonnage of 1439grt, a length of 262ft 9in, a beam of 32ft 2in and a service speed of 9 knots. Sister of the Norseman she joined the mail service in August 1866 and in 1874 she was lengthen to 293ft with an increase in tonnage to 2112grt. In February 1875 she was wrecked at the mouth of the River Ratel between Cape Agulhas and Danger Point, all 98 persons aboard being saved by the Zulu.

DANE (2) was built in 1866 by J. Key at Kinghorn with a tonnage of 788grt, a length of 227ft, a beam of 28ft 2in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was built as a replacement for the Dane (1) on the Cape Town to Mauritius service but in 1868 the service was discontinued and the ships on that route, being too small for alternative deployment, were put up for sale. In 1870 she was sold to Fonte Bella of St Michael’s in the Azores and renamed Atlantico. Her career ended in 1878 when she foundered off the Azores.

NORTHAM was built in 1858 by Day, Summers & Co. at Northam, Southampton with a tonnage of 1330grt, a length of 274ft, a beam of 34ft 7in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was built for P & O’s Southampton – Cape – Bombay service but was soon transferred to the Bombay – Suez sector of the pre-Suez Canal service which included the famous overland journey from Alexandria to Suez via Cairo. In April 1859 she was placed on the Suez – Galle – Sydney service and, on 20 August 1859, had the misfortune to run aground outside Jeddah. She reverted to the Suez – Bombay route in 1866 where she remained until December 1868 when she was put up as part payment for the Hindostan. In January 1869 she was purchase for £16,500 by the Union Steamship Co. and immediately rebuilt for the mail service. She was sold to Sir John Malcolm of Liverpool in September 1876 and was converted into a sailing barque for the USA – South Africa trade with the name Stars and Stripes. She reverted to Northam when she was transferred to the Liverpool – South Africa service and on 2nd December 1878 was burnt at sea during a voyage from London to Sydney.

SYRIA was built in 1863 by Day, Summers & Co. at Northam, Southampton with a tonnage of 1932grt, a length of 312ft 5in, a beam of 36ft and a service speed of 10 knots. She was ordered by P & O as the paddle steamer Scindia but launched as the Syria for their Southampton – Alexandria route where she remained until she became redundant when the Suez Canal was opened in 1869. She was acquired by Caird & Co. Ltd of Greenock in September 1870 for £30,000 as part payment for P & O’s Mirzapore and was converted from paddles to a single screw. In the December of the same year she was purchased by the Union Steamship Co. for the mail service. In November 1873 she inaugurated the monthly extra/intermediate direct service from Southampton to Port Elizabeth. She was taken over by James Laing & Co. in March 1878 as part payment for the Durban and operated by them on a charter basis. On 4th April 1880 she foundered in the Atlantic during a voyage from New Orleans to Liverpool.

DANUBE was built in 1866 by Millwall Ironworks at Millwall, London with a tonnage of 2039grt, a length of 332ft, a beam of 34ft 5in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was launched as a two funnelled paddle steamer for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. for their Southampton – West Indies service. When the River Plate mail contract was renewed for a further five years on 13th July 1868 she was transferred to the Rio de Janeiro – Buenos Aires feeder service. She was purchased by the Union Steamship Co. in 1871 and converted into a single funnelled screw driven vessel, the company’s first compound engined ship. In 1879 she carried the Prince Imperial of France, Napoleon Eugene Louis Jean Joseph Bonaparte and his entourage to the Zulu campaign where he was killed on 1st June 1879 at the Battle of Ulundi. Attempting to vault onto his horse the saddle slipped throwing him off and he was speared to death. In 1880 she was placed on the Zanzibar service until 1888 when she was sold for breaking up.

EUROPEAN was built in 1869 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2242grt, a length of 307ft 2in, a beam of37ft 8in and a service speed of 10 knots. She was built as the Europe for Ryde & Co’s Liverpool to South America service but when the Suez Canal was opened in the November she was transferred to the new Liverpool – Colombo – Madras – Calcutta service. In 1872 she was purchased by the Union Steamship Co. for the mail service and renamed European. On 5th December 1877 she struck the Basse Meur rock off Ushant and sank within 30 minutes during which time all the passengers, bullion and mail were taken off.

ZULU was built in 1872 by Oswald & Co. at Sunderland with a tonnage of 994grt, a length of 224ft 8in, a beam of 29ft 1in and a service speed of 9 knots. It was originally intended to name her Zanzibar for the East African coastal service but as Beira became the terminus she entered service as the Zulu. She was sold to S. Ezekial in 1877 and was wrecked in the same year.

AFRICAN (1) was built in 1872 by John Key at Kinghorn in Fife with a tonnage of 2019grt, a length of 315ft 7in, a beam of 34ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. She joined the Southampton – Cape Town mail run in January 1873 but when the Trojan was introduced in 1881 she was transferred to the South African coastal service. In November 1885, when she was due for replacement by a new African (2) she was sold to F. Stumore & Co. of London without a change of name although another vessel with the same name was about to appear. This practice would become illegal in later years. On 15th February 1887 she was wrecked on Ras Abu Madd in the Red Sea during a voyage to Jeddah.

AMERICAN was built in 1873 by Alex. Stephen & Sons at Linthouse, Glasgow with a tonnage of 2126grt, a length of 320ft, a beam of 34ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was delivered for the mail run and was the fastest ship in the fleet beating the Windsor Castle’s record by a little over 24 hours. Donald Currie’s ship promptly responded and matched that time. At 05.00hrs on 23rd April 1880 off Las Palmas en route for Cape Town the propeller shaft fractured and the rotating screw pulled it out of the hull. The ship began flooding and despite closing the water-tight doors foundered in position 1.52N 9.50W. All persons onboard were saved by the Senegal of Elder, Dempster’s British & African Steam Navigation Co.

ANGLIAN (2) was built in 1873 by Aitken & Mansel at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2206grt, a length of 314ft, a beam of 35ft 9in and a service speed of 12 knots. She entered service in March 1873 as a mail steamer but was given a black funnel in the following July. Re-engined in 1886 she was downgraded to the South African coastal feeder service. In September 1884 she was purchased by Huddart Parker & Co. Proprietary Ltd of Melbourne as a short term stop gap for their increased passenger service across the Tasman Sea until a new vessel could be delivered. On 25th October she sailed from Barry Docks in South Wales with a cargo of coal for Melbourne arriving on 17th December when she was re-registered as the Anglian since, at the time, Australian Law did not allow name changes. As a survey showed her to be in excellent condition for a nineteen year old ship alternative plans were made leading to a refit in 1895. She entered service for her new owner on the Sydney – Auckland – Gisborne – Napier – Wellington – Lyttleton – Dunedin service. In July 1897 she was transferred to the Sydney – Fremantle service but when the Tasmania, her partner on the Tasman sea service, was wrecked she reverted back to that service. When the Victoria joined the fleet in 1902 she was reduced to an Australian coastal cargo vessel and in 1913 was reduced to a coal hulk, firstly at Adelaide and then at Sydney. In 1929 she was laid up at Berrys Bay, Sydney and on 2nd August 1933 was towed out to sea and scuttled off the Sydney Heads. (Photo:WSS)

NAMAQUA was built in 1873 by Oswald & Co. at Sunderland with a tonnage of 352grt, a length of 163ft 6in, a beam of 22ft 2in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was built for the Port Nolloth – Cape Town copper ore service and was wrecked off Port Nolloth in March 1876.

BASUTO was built in 1873 by Oswald & Co. at Sunderland with a tonnage of 1034grt, a length of 220ft, a beam of 30ft 5in and a service speed of 9.5 knots. Built for the South African coastal service she was, in 1875, the first vessel to call at Port Alfred (Kowie). After only three years service she was sold to French owners and during her first voyage for them foundered off Corunna on 11th October 1876.

KAFIR was built in 1873 by J. Key at Kinghorn, Fife with a tonnage of 982grt, a length of 249ft 7in, a beam of 28ft 10in and a service speed of 10 knots. Built for the South and East African coastal routes she was wrecked at the entrance to Simonstown near Cape Point in February 1878.

TEUTON was built in 1869 by Wm. Denny & Bros. at Dumbarton, Glasgow with a tonnage of 1741grt, a length of 331ft 2in, a beam of 34ft 4in and a service speed of 13 knots. Costing £45,500 she was launched as the Glenartney for R. Jardine (Matheson & Co)., of Hong Kong for their Hong Kong to Calcutta route. Because of the threat from pirates she was armed with two 12 pound guns. In 1873 she was acquired by the Union Steam Ship Co., renamed Teuton and equipped with passenger accommodation for 250 passengers in three classes. Two years later, in 1875, she was lengthened to 350ft. On 30th August 1881 at 10.00hrs she sailed from Cape Town bound for Port Elizabeth (Algoa Bay) and at 19.00 hrs, in a calm sea, struck a known and charted rock four miles from Quoin Point, Cape Colony. The Teuton was a mile off course. After surveying the damage the master, Captain Manning, decided that she could reach Simonstown unaided. As a safety precaution the boats were readied in case the ship had to be abandoned and the passengers went aft while the crew and volunteers manned the pumps. The pumps could not cope with the incoming sea and at 22.00hrs the ship lost way because the propeller came out of the water as the bow settled down. As the ship was obviously sinking the master gave the order to abandon ship. The first boat moved away in a carnival like atmosphere with much laughing and cheering but as the second boat was being prepared for lowering the second and then the third bulkheads gave way and the ship sank like a stone. Within seconds she was vertical in the water and quickly sank beneath the surface. 236 persons, including Captain Manning, perished and only the 36 in the first lifeboat survived.

UNION-CASTLE LINE

NYANZA was built in 1864 by Thames Ironworks & Shipbuilding Co. at Blackwall with a tonnage of 2128grt, a length of 327ft 2in, a beam of 36ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was launched as a paddle steamer for P&O ‘s Southampton to Alexandria service, the first leg of the UK to India route which included an overland leg across Egypt. When the Suez Canal opened in November 1869 P&O inaugurated the direct service to India and the ship was then put into reserve and laid up pending disposal at Southampton. She was purchased by the Union Steamship Co. for £26,000 on 3rd January 1873 and, being known as a heavy consumer of coal, was immediately refitted with a 2 cylinder compound engine driving a single screw and joined the Southampton – Cape Town service. In 1880 she spent a short time on the monthly Zanzibar service before being sold, in the October, to the Sultan of Zanzibar as his private yacht. When not required by the Sultan she traded between Zanzibar and Bombay. In 1889 she was acquired by Mahallah & Co. of Zanzibar and operated by them for the Zanzibar authorities who could not afford the running costs of the vessel. By 1902 she was no longer in service and was broken up in June 1904.

ASIATIC was built in 1872 by Whitehaven Ship Building Co. at Whitehaven with a tonnage of 2087grt, a length of 299ft 11in, a beam of 34ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of Elder Dempster’s Nigreta she was delivered for the mail run in September 1872. In 1880 she was relegated to the Intermediate service after being replaced by the Trojan. She was sold to H. Martini of Southampton in 1888 but retained her name until 1891 when she was sold on to G. Tweedy & Co. of London who renamed her Jaffar. In 1893 she was sold to P. W. Richardson of London with whom she remained until 1895 when she was scrapped.

NUBIAN was built in 1876 by C. Mitchell & Co. with a tonnage of 3091grt, a length of 359ft, a beam of 38ft 7in and a service speed of 12 knots. With a figurehead of a nubian she was bought on the stocks for the mail service and entered service with two funnels. In 1883 she was paired with the Arab on an experimental service between Liverpool and Newport News, a service that was quickly discontinued after both ships had completed two voyages. She was equipped with a triple expansion engine, new boilers and a high pressure cylinder in 1891 emerging from the yard with only one funnel. On 21st December 1892 she ran ashore in the River Tagus whilst approaching Lisbon under the command of the local pilot. Insured for £125,000 she became a total loss although much of the cargo was salvaged.

GERMAN (1) was built in 1877 by Wm. Denny & Bros. at Dumbarton with a tonnage of 3028grt, a length of 350ft, a beam of 39ft 6in and a service speed of 13.5 knots. She was launched on 27th June 1877 and built as a fast ’19 days to the Cape’ steamer for the mail service. Costing £75,621, payable in four instalments, the intention was that she would complete the round voyage without the need to bunker en route by using 300 tons of reserve coal. On her maiden voyage she sailed 5924 miles on 955 tons of coal completing the voyage to the Cape in 19days 8 hours. Her design and performance was used as the basis for the subsequent nine ships which all had a similar profile. She was completed 3.5 months early and on her way out of the Clyde stuck on the Leven Bank for the duration of two tides. In 1889 she was transferred to the Intermediate service. She was sold to Navigazione Generale Italiana (N.G.I.) in 1896 and renamed Sempione. After a further six years service she was reduced to a coal hulk in October 1902.

PRETORIA was built in 1878 by Wm. Denny & Bros. at Dumbarton with a tonnage of 3199grt, a length of 350ft, a beam of 39ft 6in and a service speed of 13.5 knots. Completed within six months of the keel laying and two months ahead of contract she cost £70,055 and was built for the mail service. In May 1879 she was used as a troopship during the Zulu War and following the defeat of the British at Isandhlwana carried the 91st Highland Regiment consisting of 942 men non-stop to Durban in a then record time of 24 days 8 hrs. Together with the Asiatic and the Moor she was present at Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Spithead review in 1887. In 1888 she was equipped with a triple expansion engine and transferred to the Intermediate service. She was sold to The Quebec Steam Ship Company of Southampton, a Furness Withy company, in 1897 without a change of name. In 1902, following a fire, she was abandoned at sea but subsequently salvaged and repaired. Sold to Khedivial Mail & Graving Dock Steam Ship Co. in 1907 she was renamed Saidieh. On 1st June 1915 she was torpedoed by U-6 6 miles north east of the Elbow buoy in the English Channel with the loss of 8 lives.

DURBAN was built in 1877 by James Laing & Co. at Sunderland with a tonnage of 2875grt, a length of 360ft, a beam of 38ft 6in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was delivered for the mail run in June 1877 and continued for eleven years until transferred to the Intermediate service in 1888. In 1891 plans were made to install a triple expansion engine but these were abandoned and she was relegated to cargo carrying only. On 11th June 1893 she was wrecked at Socorro Point near Santa Cruz in Tenerife during a voyage from Durban to Southampton with a cargo of wool and hides.

UNION (2) was built in 1878 by Aitken Mansel at Glasgow with a tonnage of 113grt, a length of 90ft 6in, a beam of 20ft and a service speed of 9 knots. She was a tug built for service at Durban. For her delivery voyage she was rigged as a topsail schooner, the mast being removed on arrival. Coal was carried in wooden cattle-pen deck houses and the voyage took 45 days at an average speed which was similar to that of the Dane when she inaugurated the mail run in 1857. In September 1894 she was lost on the bar at the port of Chinde at the mouth of the Zambezi River.

ARAB was built in 1879 by J & G Thompson & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3170grt, a length of 350ft, a beam of 40ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was delivered for the mail run in 1879 and in 1883 was paired with the Nubian on the experimental Liverpool – Newport News – Baltimore service. In 1885 she was used as the base ship at Suakin as part of the expedition to relieve General Charles Gordon at Khartoum. Unfortunately, the force was delayed through dallying and arrived too late to prevent Gordon from being murdered by the forces of Abdullah al Mahdi in the April. She was equipped with a triple expansion engine and high pressure boilers in 1889 but in 1891 was relegated to the Intermediate service where she inaugurated the Cape to Mauritius service. Although transferred to the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co on 8th March 1900 she was surplus to requirements and put up for sale, sold to German owners and broken up.

TROJAN was built in 1880 by J & G Thompson & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3555grt, a length of 364ft 6in, a beam of 42ft 7in and a service speed of 12 knots. The company’s largest ship at the time she was the first in the fleet to have her dining room lit by electric light and the first of three similar vessels built between 1881 and 1883. In 1887 she was the company’s first ship to be re-engined with the new triple expansion engine which was also a first for builders T. Richardson & Sons of Hartlepool. She was transferred to the Intermediate service in 1889 and refrigerated cargo space was installed in 1896. In October 1899 she was converted into H.M. Hospital Ship No.10 and, during her Boer War service, was transferred to the Union-Castle fleet following the merger. However, she was surplus to requirements and put up for sale. Purchased by Elder Dempster and renamed Wassau she was deployed on their Beaver Line service between Liverpool and Canada. In June 1901 she was chartered to Franco-Canadian S.N. Co. for three voyages between Dunkirk, Bordeaux and Quebec. She was sold to J. Goutte of Marseilles as the Islam and was broken up at Marseilles in 1903. (Photo: The Ship Society of South Africa)

SPARTAN was built in 1881 by J & G Thompson & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3487grt, a length of 364ft 6in, a beam of 42ft 7in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Trojan she was completed for the mail run in 1881 but transferred to the Intermediate service in 1889. In November 1899 she was used as a troopship during the Boer War. Surplus to requirements when Union-Castle was formed in 1900 she was sold to A. Fragala of Catania, Sicily and renamed Fume. After a further two years service she was broken up in Italy in April 1902.

MOOR was built in 1881 by Aitken & Mansel at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3688grt, a length of 365ft, a beam of 45ft 10in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was delivered for the mail run in December 1881 and commenced her maiden voyage to the Cape in the following January with a black hull. In 1883 she broke the Plymouth to Cape Town record by completing the passage in 18days 13hrs 17mins and then returned in 18days 2hrs 28mins. When war looked likely following Russia’s threats to Turkey over rights of passage through the Sea of Marmara and territorial claims against China in 1885 she was taken over at Simonstown and equipped with 4 x 6inch guns to patrol the South African coast as far as St Lucia Bay as an Armed Merchant Cruiser. In 1888 she was given a triple expansion engine which enabled to complete the mail run in 17 days and in 1894 was lengthened by 44ft and a second dummy funnel added. During the same year her single propeller shaft snapped but by fitting temporary keys across the break was able to limp to Dakar. Two days after the formation of Union-Castle in 1900 she completed the final Union sailing from Cape Town but was no longer fast enough for the mail run. On 11th March 1901 she was sold to Royal Mail Steam Packet Co., renamed La Plata and given a white livery. She was sold to the Polytechnic Touring Association of London in January 1908 and renamed The Viking. She was deployed operating one class cruises to the Norwegian Fjords and the Mediterranean. In June 1910 her engine room telegraph failed and she proceeded to steam ashore in Geiranger Fjord on the only shelving beach in the area. She came off undamaged after three days. In 1913 she was finally broken up at Zwijndrecht in Holland.

ATHENIAN was built in 1881 by Aitken & Mansel at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3877grt, a length of 365ft, a beam of 45ft 9in and a service speed of 12 knots. In October 1882 she was the first ship to use Cape Town’s new Robinson Graving Dock. She was re-engined with a triple expansion engine in 1886 and reduced the passage time to Cape Town to 17days 9hrs and in 1896 reduced the homeward record on two occasions .On 29th December 1897 she was sold to the Canadian Pacific Railway Co. for use out of Vancouver on the Klondike gold rush route, sailing from Southampton via Cape Horn on 12th February 1898. After six voyages on the Vancouver – Skagway – Wrangel route she was laid up until deployed on the trans-Pacific route in 1900, during which she made one call at Vladivostock, before being laid up again. In 1904 she was chartered to Osaka Shosen K.K. and used as a supply ship following the Russo-Japanese war. She inaugurated the Osaka – Darien service in January 1905 and was finally delivered to K. Kishimoto at Osaka for breaking up on 14th September 1907. (Photo: Tom Rayner Collection)

CARNARVON was built in 1883 by Day, Summers & Co. at Northam, Southampton with a tonnage of 104grt, a length of 90ft 1in, and a beam of 17ft 1in. Built for service as a tug at Durban she completed her delivery voyage rigged as a schooner with coal being carried in wooden bunkers. She was transferred to Laurenço Marques (Maputu) in 1890 and remained there until 1896 when she was sold to a local company, Silva Vianna & Co. She was posted as missing in November 1902.

MEXICAN was built in 1883 by James Laing & Co. at Sunderland with a tonnage of 4668grt, a length of 378ft 2in, a beam of 47ft and a service speed of 12 knots. When she entered service in 1883 she was the largest ship calling at South African ports. During the Russian scare in May 1885 she carried troops to Hong Kong where she remained as a garrison ship until the crisis passed, returning to Cape Town in the July. In November 1899 she was used to carry troops to South Africa during the Boer War. On 5th April 1900, shortly after being transferred to Union-Castle, she sailed for Southampton with 102 passengers and the mail. When 80 miles north of Cape Town and proceeding slowly through dense fog she was in collision with Tatem’s Winkfield and holed. The passengers and mails were transferred to the Winkfield while attempts were made to plug the holes. Unfortunately, the ship continued to fill with water and by noon of the following day the captain and emergency crew abandoned the ship which sank within the hour. She was the newly formed Union-Castle Line’s first loss.

TARTAR was built in 1883 by Aitken & Mansel at Kelvinhaugh, Glasgow with a tonnage of 4425grt, a length of 376ft 5in, a beam of 47ft and a service speed of 12 knots. Joining the mail run in May 1883 all her first class berths were located amidships and lit by electric light. Although the carbon filament lights gave little more light than a candle they were, nevertheless, welcomed. She was initially equipped with a compound engine because, although the new triple expansion engine was coming into vogue, few engine builders could handle the conversions which required stronger high pressure boilers. In any case, triple expansion engines were not necessarily faster but more economical. In 1886 she lowered to passage time to Cape Town from Plymouth to 18 days 2 hrs 21 mins and, two years later, lowered the return passage time to 17 days 23 hrs 37 mins. A triple expansion engine was finally installed in 1889 and, at the same time, the funnel was heightened by 10ft and a small promenade deck added at the base of the mizzen mast. On 28th December 1897, together with the Athenian, she was sold to Canadian Pacific for their Vancouver – Skagway, Alaska service. On 5th February 1898 she left Southampton on a passenger carrying delivery voyage to Vancouver via Tenerife, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Valparaiso arriving on 1st April. She sailed on her first voyage to Skagway on 28th April but after six voyages and the decline in the gold rush she was laid up. In December 1898, during a voyage from Hong Kong to Vancouver she called at Honolulu, Oahu Island, Hawaii to become the first CPR ship to berth there. She was chartered to the US Government in July 1899 for service between the USA and the Philippines which had come under American control following the war with Spain during April – July 1898. She reverted to CPR’s trans Pacific service in May 1900 where she remained until August 1907 when she was sold to Japanese owners. On 17th October in the same year she collided with CPR’s Charmer during a voyage from Vancouver to Japan and had to be beached at English Bay. Laid up locally she was eventually sold to K. Kishimoto in March 1908 and broken up at Osaka.

SEAGULL was built in 1883 with a tonnage of 24grt. She was the mooring and dispatch launch at Southampton and attended the arrival and departure of each ship carrying the mooring ropes to the quay as well as providing a ship to shore service when the ships anchored off Northam. In 1898 she was sold locally for use as a harbour ferry and, thereafter, all trace of her were lost.

AFRICAN (2) was built in 1886 by R Dixon & Co. at Middlesbrough with a tonnage of 1372grt, a length of 244ft 2in, a beam of 33ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. She was built for the South African coastal trade and had a shallow draft in order to negotiate the sand bars which were dangerous before dredging operations were undertaken and protective moles constructed. In some cases the ports of calls lack quays. In 1893 she was sold to F.H. Powell & Co. at Liverpool and renamed Graceful as all his ships names ended with ‘ful’. Powell’s eventually became part of Coast Lines which adopted his funnel markings, black with white ‘V’ band. In 1906 she was sold to Fred Olsen’s for their Newcastle – Christiania service and renamed Sovereign and in 1912 became the Zeta under the ownership of the Bergen S.S. Co. when she was modified and emerged with vertical masts and funnel. She was eventually scrapped in 1931.

SAXON (3) was built in 1887 by Oswald Mordaunt & Co. at Southampton with a tonnage of 469grt, a length of 145ft 8in, a beam of 24ft 8in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was delivered in December 1887 for the South African coastal service where she remained until 1895 when she was sold to Portuguese owners. In January 1896, during the delivery voyage, she was wrecked on the coast of Zululand and, consequently, never saw service with her new owners out of Lourenço Marques.

DANE (3) was built in 1870 by Caird & Co. at Greenock with a tonnage of 3664grt, a length of 381ft 10in, a beam of 44ft 7in and a service speed of 11 knots. Laid down as the Mirzapore in 1869 she was completed in the following year as the Australia for P&O. Heavily built and the last with a clipper bow, she was referred to as ‘ the P&O ironclad’. She became the first P&O ship to transit the Suez Canal ,which had opened in November 1869, during her maiden voyage to China. During an outward bound voyage in 1879 her propeller shaft snapped and she had to be towed back to Southampton by the tug Trusty and HMS Valorous. In 1880 she was transferred to the Australia run and in 1888 broke the Sydney to UK record by completing the voyage in 27 days 16 hours. She was purchased at auction by the Union Steam Ship Co. in 1889 for £14,831 and renamed Dane for deployment on the Intermediate service but she proved to be too heavy and too slow. In 1893 she was laid up in the Thames and eventually broken up there.

MIDGE was built at Southampton in 1889 with a tonnage of 64grt. She was then dismantled and taken to the Cape and reassembled at East London for harbour duties. Transferred to Union-Castle in 1900 she was replaced by the Stork in 1905 and sold to African Fisheries Ltd in 1906.

NORSEMAN (2) was built in 1890 by Day, Summers & Co. at Northam, Southampton with a tonnage of 3664grt, a length of 236ft 2in, a beam of 31ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. The Union’s first steel hulled vessel, she was completed in July 1890 for the South African coastal service. In 1893 she was sold to W. Bailey of Hull without a change of name. She was sold to L. Ballande, Fils & Cie of Noumea for their New Caledonia – Australia service in 1895 and renamed St. Antoine. On 26th May 1928 she was wrecked on a shoal 30 miles southwest of Noumea.

ROMAN was built in 1870 by Day, Summers & Co. at Northam, Southampton with a tonnage of 2994grt, a length of 369ft 6in, a beam of 40ft 4in and a service speed of 13 knots. She was built to Norddeutscher Lloyd’s specifications, for whom her sister the Neva had been ordered, as the Nile for the Royal Mail Steam Packets Co’s West Indies service. Purchased by the Union Steam Ship Co. in 1890 for the Intermediate service she proved to be too old, too heavy and too hot and after a couple of voyages was placed on the Hamburg – Antwerp – Southampton feeder service. She also proved to be too large for this service and, although it was the intention to retain her until the arrival of the new ‘G’ class ships, after only two years with the company was broken up.

TYRIAN was built in 1890 by Day, Summers & Co. at Northam, Southampton with a tonnage of 1455grt, a length of 260ft 2in, a beam of 33ft 1in and a service speed of 11 knots. Completed in May 1890 she inaugurated to coastal passenger service and was suitably fitted out to accommodate the passengers transferring from the mail steamers. She was sold to Howard, Smith & Co. of Melbourne in 1894 and 1914 became the Kiodo Maru No.16 when she was sold on to Kiodo Kisen Goshi Kaisya of Darien. The name was later spelt as Kyodo. On 14th November 1938 she caught fire off Tsingtao and was subsequently beached and broken up there.

SCOT was built in 1891 by Wm Denny & Bros at Dumbarton with a tonnage of 6844grt, a length of 500ft, a beam of 54ft 7in and a service speed of 18.5 knots. The first twin screw liner on the Cape run she cost £254,000 to build and was launched on 30th December 1890 by Miss Giles, the Chairman’s daughter. Her figurehead was of Sir William Wallace, a Scottish hero, and her stern was decorated with Royal Arms of Great Britain and the Lion of Scotland. During her trials on 8th May 1891 she achieved a speed of 19.62 knots over the measured mile in Stokes Bay. Her maiden voyage from Southampton to Cape Town via Madeira was completed in the record time of 15 days 9 hrs 52 mins and this was reduced, in 1893, to 14 days 18 hrs 57 mins, a record which was to stand for 43 years until surpassed in 1936 by the Stirling Castle. However, fuel consumption was high and at the April 1893 AGM the Chairman reported that the ship had incurred a loss of £5,000. By now she had a white hull and was referred to as Union’s ‘White Elephant’. In December 1895 she had to put into Vigo with engine problems and after transferring her passengers to other ships returned to Southampton. During her repairs at Harland & Wolff’s yard attempts were made to increase her payload by lengthening her by 54 feet but this proved to be unsuccessful. In 1897 the millionaire Barney Barnato committed suicide by jumping overboard during the night. She was used as a troopship during the Boer War and during this time was transferred to the Union-Castle fleet following the merger in 1900. She was given the new red and black funnel but retained her white hull. In 1901, together with the Dunvegan Castle, she hosted the members of both Houses of Parliament at King Edward V11’s Coronation Spithead review. On 12th September 1903 she berthed at Southampton for the last time, to be replaced by the Armadale Castle ,and was laid up at Netley until September 1905 when she was sold to the Hamburg America Line and renamed Oceana. In 1907 she was transferred to cruising following loss of the Prinzessin Viktoria Luise and was converted by Harland & Wolff for such deployment. She was sold to Bermuda-North Atlantic S.S. Co of Toronto for £40,000 in November 1910 for cruising between New York and Bermuda but still proved expensive to operate. In 1912 she became the property of Morse Dry Dock Co. after being arrested in New York for outstanding debts and was laid up in the River Hudson. She returned to service in 1914 to provide cruises for Americans who could no longer visit Europe but, although backed by her owners and other US capital, the venture only lasted three months. In February 1915 she was purchased by Cia Trasatlantica of Cadiz to replace the Alphonso X111 (1) which had sunk at Santander under mysterious circumstances. Renamed Alphonso X111 (2) she was deployed on the New York-Cadiz, and later, Bilbao service to carry Europeans wishing to travel to the US on a neutral vessel. She was renamed Vasco Nunez de Balboa when a new Alphonso X111 (3) was built in 1923 and continued on the New York route until later transferred to the Cadiz-Havana run. She was laid up at Cadiz in 1925 and finally sold in February 1927 to Italian shipbreakers. (Photo Union-Castle Line)
NATAL was built in 1892 by Wm Denny & Bros at Dumbarton with a tonnage of 158grt, a length of 110ft, a beam of 23ft 6in and a service speed of 10 knots. Built at a cost of £9288 she was launched on 21st April 1892 as a tug and tender at Durban. She was designed to carry disembarking passengers and their baggage over the bar at Durban with steerage accommodated forward and the remainder aft where there was a bar and the ladies had a saloon. Following the merger she was transferred to Union-Castle where she remained until 1913 when she was sold to Cape Town Steamers, with W. Gowan & Co. as managers, for use as a pleasure steamer in Table Bay and was renamed Sir Fred. She was renamed Natal by her owners in 1915 and was wrecked in May 1916.

GAUL was built in 1893 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 4745grt, a length of 400ft 6in, a beam of 47ft 2in and a service speed of 11.5 knots. She was completed for the Intermediate service in May 1893 and operated the Southampton – Cape Town- Port Elizabeth undertaking the first leg to Cape Town in 21 days. One of four similar vessels their design was based on recommendations made by William Pirrie following a voyage to South Africa. They were given shallow draughts for the ports beyond Cape Town, were comfortable, good cargo carriers and, although on the slow side, were successful. Initially the quartet were give black hulls. Transferred to Union-Castle on its formation in 1900 she was sold to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. for their Southampton to Cuba and Mexico service in 1906 and renamed Sabor. In 1908 the service was transferred to Jenkin’s Shire Line, when she was renamed Carmarthenshire, given a red funnel with black top and operated on the London-Far East service. She reverted back to Royal Mail for their Montreal – Quebec – West Indies – Georgetown, Demerara service in 1913, when the route was acquired from Pickford & Black ,and was renamed Chaleur. When, in 1927, the Canada – West Indies mail contract was awarded to Canadian National Steamships she was withdrawn, sold for £9000 and broken up in Holland.

GOTH was built in 1893 by Harland & Wolff with a tonnage of 4738grt, a length of 400ft 5in, a beam of 47ft 2in and a service speed of 11.5 knots. Sister of the Gaul she was deployed on the Intermediate service. Transferred to Union-Castle on the merger in 1900 she was then used as a Boer War troopship until 1902 when she returned to commercial service. In October 1910 she joined Guelph on the Round Africa service and in 1913 was sold to Royal Mail S.P. Co. after being replaced by the Carisbrooke Castle. As the Cobequid she was given a black hull and operated on the Canada – Bermuda – West Indies route. On 13th January 1915 she was wrecked on the Trinity Ledge in the Bay of Fundy without loss of life whilst inbound on her first voyage to St. John, N.B. A Painting by the captain (J.Sandilands Collection)

GREEK was built in 1893 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 4757grt, a length of 400ft 6in, a beam of 47ft 2in and a service speed of 11.5 knots. Sister of the Gaul and Goth she was built for the Intermediate service and launched on the 17th May 1893. She transferred to Union-Castle in 1900, undertook some trooping duties during the Boer War and then reverted back to her Intermediate sailings. Sold to Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. in 1906 she was renamed Segura and operated on their Southampton – Cuba – Mexico route. In 1908 she was transferred to Jenkin’s Shire Line and deployed on their London – Far East service as the Pembrokeshire. She was renamed Chignecto by Royal Mail in May 1913 and inaugurated their Montreal – Quebec – West Indies service. On 13th January 1915, during her first voyage and bound for St. John, New Brunswick, she was wrecked on Trinity Ledge in the Bay of Fundy without loss of life. She was replaced on the run by Elder Dempster’s Mandingo which was renamed Chaudiere.

GUELPH was built in 1894 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 4917grt, a length of 400ft 5in, a beam of 47ft 2in and a service speed of 11.5 knots. She entered service in October 1894 on the Southampton-Tenerife-Cape Town-Durban Intermediate service. On 8th March, 1900 she was transferred to Union-Castle following the merger and was initally used as a Boer War troopship. On 27th July 1909, whilst sailing in heavy seas off Hood’s Point, South Africa, she spotted the lights of a large vessel. She communicated by lamp but only the last two letters of the morse code response were understood; the letters being AH. About the same time the Waratah was lost without a trace. On 13th September 1910 she was deployed on the London-Suez-East Africa route as competition for the Deutsche Ost-Afrika Linie. In 1913 she was replaced by the Dunvegan Castle and subsequently sold to Royal Mail S.P. Co. for their new Canada-West Indies-British Guiana passenger/cargo service and renamed Caraquet. She ended her life on 25th June 1923 when she was wrecked near Hamilton, Bermuda. (Photo: from UCPSC 03/33)

NORMAN (2) was built in 1894 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7537grt, a length of 507ft, a beam of 53ft 2in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. She was the first of many ships built by Harland & Wolff for Union-Castle and, at the time, the largest ship on the Cape Town mail run. She was built to Admiralty troopship specifications and was requisition for use during the Boer War in November 1899. In 1900 she was transferred to Union-Castle following the merge whilst still on troopship duties. She was refitted in 1904 and subsequently worked as a mail ship until 1910 when, after being replaced by the Balmoral Castle, she was laid up at Netley in Southampton Water. At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 she was recommissioned as a troopship for a short while before reverting to the mail run. During this time she was part of the first convoy to take men of the British Expeditionary Force to France. 1918 saw her on troopship duties again, this time in the Mediterranean.. In May 1919 she was chartered to P&O for one voyage to Australia before returning to the mail run. She was replaced by the Arundel Castle in 1921 and transferred to the intermediate service and in 1923 she was deployed on the Round Africa service, out via Suez and home via the Cape. In 1925 she was replaced by the Llandovery Castle on the Round Africa service, laid up in the River Blackwater off Tollesbury and broken up in 1926. (Photo: from UCPSC 07/45)

GASCON (1) was built in 1892 by Armstrong Mitchell & Co. at Newcastle with a tonnage of 5305grt, a length of 421ft, a beam of 47ft 10in and a service speed of 13 knots. She was launched as the Ruthenia for the City of Liverpool S.N. Co. managed by D & W MacIver. On 4th November 1892 she was renamed Mariposa when the company was sold to Ocean Transport Co., with Elder Dempster & Co. as managers, for their North Atlantic service. In 1894 she was chartered to the Atlantic Transport Co. of Liverpool for their Liverpool – Canada routes. and in 1895 was acquired by Union S.S. Co., subject to delivery at Liverpool, for their Intermediate cargo service and to be renamed Gascon. However, on 27th September 1895 she was wrecked on Forteau Point in the Gulf of St. Lawrence whilst en-route with general cargo and cattle from Montreal to Liverpool where she was to have been handed over. Consequently, in reality, she never served with the Union S.S. Co. fleet nor bore her intended name.

FALCON was built in 1896 with a tonnage of 41grt as the company tender at Southampton, replacing the Seagull. She joined the Union-Castle fleet following the merger, her brass funnel being given a red livery. In 1922 she was converted to petrol and with the funnel removed, looked like a launch. By 1942 she was no longer in service.

GASCON (2) was built in 1897 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 6287grt, a length of 430ft, a beam of 52ft 2in and a service speed of 12.5 knots. The first of three ships she was an improved Gaul Class ship with three masts and delivered for the Intermediate service which was, by then, strongly supported with further ships on order. She transferred to the Union-Castle fleet in March 1900 and in June 1905 was the first Union-Castle ship to call at the new port of Lobito in Angola which had a rail link to Elizabethville. In 1910 she was moved to the East Africa service and in August 1914 went on the mail run when the larger ships were requisitioned for war service. On 25th November of that year she was commissioned as a hospital ship with a capacity for 434 patients, her first task being to take the surviving wounded from HMS Pegasus, which had been sunk by the Koenigsburg on 20th September, back to Simonstown in South Africa. During 1915 she served in the German East African campaign and spent the remainder of the war in that area. She returned to Union-Castle on 15th February 1920 and was immediately refurbished and put back into service. In 1928 she was laid up in the East India Dock in London before being sold to Thos. W. Ward for scrapping. (Photo: from UCPSC 09/96)

GAIKA was built in 1897 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 6287grt, a length of 430ft, a beam of 52ft 2in and a service speed of 12.5 knots. Her career paralleled that of the Gascon with the exception that during the war years she remained defensively armed on the Africa service but under Government control, her accommodation being used mainly by Civil Servants. She returned to the Intermediate service in 1919. On 22 April 1922 she briefly ran aground near Green Point Lighthouse, Cape Town. In 1926, she was laid up in Southampton Water but did a trip to Mauritiusin 1927. The vessel was laid up in East India Dock, London in 1928 but sailed to Savona, Italy in 1929 for scrapping.
Union Castle had a practice until 1939, of keeping at least two older vessels “in reserve” usually off Netley, Southampton Water with a skeleton crew and in reasonable readiness, due to a very strict mail contract.
(Photo: from UCPSC 02/47)

GOORKHA was built in 1897 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 6287grt, a length of 430ft, a beam of 52ft 2in and a service speed of 12.5 knots. Sister of the Gascon (2) she was built for the Intermediate service and transferred to Union-Castle on 8th March 1900 when the companies merged. In 1910 she was moved to the East Africa service where she remained until 20th October 1914 when she was commissioned as a hospital ship with 408 beds. On 10th October 1917 she was mined off Malta and all 362 patients and medical staff including 17 nurses were evacuated without any casualties in 35 minutes. She was then towed into Malta where on 18th October she was decommissioned and returned to the company for repairs and resumption of commercial services. She was laid up at Netley, Southampton Water in 1926 and eventually broken up by Thos. W. Ward in 1928. (Photo: from UCPSC 08/63)

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. (Photo: from UCPSC 05/48)

GALEKA was built in 1899 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 6772grt, a length of 430ft, a beam of 52ft 2in and a service speed of 12.5 knots. Sister of the Gascon she was the last ship to enter service with the Union Steam Ship Company before the merger. In September 1914 she was requisitioned for troopship duties to France and on 22nd June 1915 began operating as a hospital ship with beds for 366 patients. On 28th October 1916 she was mined off Le Havre in heavy seas. As she was entering port from England there were no patients on board but 19 Royal Army Medical Corps personnel were killed by the explosion. Although she was beached at Cap la Hogue she became a total loss.

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 UCPSC 01/25)

SABINE was built in 1895 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 3809grt, a length of 371ft, a beam of 43ft 2in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was launched on 10th November 1894 as the Marino for Ocean Transport Co. with Elder Dempster & Co. as managers for deployment on their Liverpool to Canada run. She was acquired by the Union Steam Ship Co. in 1898 for their joint cargo service with Clan Line between Cape Town and New York and renamed Sabine. Joining the merged Union-Castle Line in 1900 she was placed on collier duties. In September 1909 she was chartered to the South African Government as part of an expedition to sail to the Antarctic in a desperate final attempt to find the Blue Anchor Line’s Waratah which had left Durban on the previous 26th July bound for Cape Town and completely disappeared. It was believed that the Waratah had broken down and drifted out of the shipping lanes down to the ice shelf in the prevailing current. No trace of her was found and she returned to Cape Town on 7th December. In 1921 she was transferred to the associate company Bullard, King & Co. of London and renamed Umzinto. She was sold for scrap in June 1925, initially to a Dutch company but then to Cantieri Navali ed Acciaieria de Venezia and broken up at Venice.

SUSQUEHANNA was built in 1896 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3711grt, a length of 350ft, a beam of 45ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. With a profile similar to that of the Sabine she was completed for as the Mount Sephar for Smith & Service of Glasgow. She was acquired by the Union Steam Ship Co. in 1898 and renamed Susquehanna for their South Africa to USA service. As part of the Union-Castle line she was sold to Denaby Shipping & Commercial Co. of Southampton in 1921 and renamed London City. In 1922 her owners changed their name to Denaby & Cadeby Main Collieries Ltd and the London City was relegated to a coal depot ship at Brixham in Devon.

SANDUSKY was built in 1891 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 6315grt, a length of 430ft, a beam of 47ft and a service speed of 13 knots. She was launched on 31st October 1891 as the Ionia for the City of Liverpool Steam Navigation Co. with D & W MacIver as managers but as the company were taken over by Elder Dempster’s Ocean Transport Co. during completion she entered service as the Montezuma employed on their North Atlantic services. During 1893 she was chartered to Atlantic Transport Co. for a short time before reverting to Elder Dempster’s St Lawrence service for African Steamship Co. In July 1898 she was acquired by the Union Steam Ship Co., renamed Sandusky and employed on the South Africa to USA service which was referred to in South Africa as the Union-America Line. She was sold to Mississippi & Dominion Steam Ship Co. of Liverpool, with Richards, Mills & Co. as managers, and renamed Englishman in 1899. In 1915 she was taken over by the British & North Atlantic Steam Navigation Co’s, Dominion Line. On 24th March 1916 she was sunk after being captured by U-34 30 miles north-east of Malin Head during a voyage from Avonmouth to Portland, Maine with 10 persons lost out of a total complement of 78.

BRITON (3) was built in 1897 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 10248grt, a length of 530ft 3in, a beam of 60ft 3in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. When she entered service she was first Union vessel to exceed 10000grt and the largest ship operating between Great Britain and any of her colonies. Only the Transatlantic liner were larger. In June 1898 she grounded on the Shambles at Portland Bill without incurring any serious damage. When the Boer War broke out in October 1899 she raced to Cape Town with 1500 troops to reinforce the stretched British garrisons in 15 days. On 8th March 1900 she transferred to Union-Castle ownership and when she sailed from Southampton on 31st March was the first Union ship to sport the new livery. In August 1914 she was one of six Union-Castle vessels in a troopship convoy carrying 4000 troops from Cape Town to Europe. The other vessels were Balmoral Castle, Dunluce Castle, Goorkha, Guildford Castle and the Kenilworth Castle escorted by the cruisers HMS Astraea and HMS Hyacinth. During 1915 she made several northbound troop carrying voyages as well as serving in the Mediterranean in the Turkish campaigns. In February 1918 she carried Nigerian troops from Mombasa to Lagos and then to New York to carry US troops to Europe. In 1919 she made voyages to New Zealand via the Panama Canal on behalf of the Government until, in 1920, she resumed commercial services. She was classed as a ‘reserve steamer’ and laid up at Netley in January 1925 but re-entered service during October and November as an effect of the seamen’s strike. She made her final sailing from Cape Town on 13th November and was laid up again until broken up in Italy in April 1926.

TITAN was built in 1898 by Day, Summers & Co. at Northam near Southampton with a tonnage of 151grt, a length of 100ft and a beam of 21ft 1in. She was built as a tug and tender for disembarking passengers at Durban and became part of the Union-Castle fleet in 1900 when the companies merged. In 1902 she was sold to African Boating Co. Ltd. for continued service at Durban but with port of registry remaining at Southampton. By 1912 she was owned by Beira Boating Co. Ltd of Southampton , with W. Borders as managers, undertaking similar duties at Beira in Mozambique. Her managers became W. Barr in 1918 and she was finally broken up locally in 1930.

SAXON (4) was built in 1900 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 12385grt, a length of 570ft, a beam of 64ft and a service speed of 17.5 knots. She was launched as the last vessel for the Union Steam Ship Co. but delivered to the newly formed Union-Castle Line. Consequently, until she underwent her first re-paint, she operated with a white hull and cream masts but with Union-Castle’s red funnel. In August 1902 she arrived at Southampton with three Boer generals, Botha, de la Ray and de Wet, the Boer War having ended on 31st May with the establishment of three Boer republics within the British Empire. When the First World War was declared in August 1914 she continued operating the mail run but often carried contingents of troops in third class. By this time London had become the temporary terminal port as Southampton had been designated a military port. In January 1917 she became a full troopship in both directions and then used to ferry troops between Alexandria and Marseilles. She then made one voyage from Alexandria to Basra, anchoring in Koweit Bay and in November 1918 carried troops to Australia before resuming commercial service in 1919 after a refit at Harland and Wolff’s in Belfast. In September 1920 she had a minor mishap when she lost her rudder after hitting a barge at Cape Town. On 14th August 1921, shortly after leaving Madeira, a fire was discovered in her bunkers and with it under control she made her way to Freetown in Sierra Leone escorted by British India’s Waipara. The Kenilworth Castle then took of the passengers and the mail whilst the Armadale Castle escorted her to Cape Town. She made her final sailing on the Intermediate run on 2nd January 1931 and in the following June was replaced by the Warwick Castle and laid up at Netley as a reserve steamer. The last remaining Union vessel, she was sold for scrap in 1935, realising £27,500, and was broken up at Blythe, Northumberland by Bolckow & Co. (Photo: from UCPSC 23/31)

UNION-CASTLE LINE

STIRLING CASTLE (1) was built in 1863 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1168grt, a length of 200ft 7in, and a beam of 33ft 8in. She was Donald Currie’s first ‘Castle’ and traded on the Liverpool – India – East Indies route. One of nine sisters who were referred to as the ‘Calcutta Castles’, the use of sailing ships beyond Cape Town was still preferable as the high cost of coal made cargo steamers uneconomical. In 1865 she was transferred to the London – Calcutta run until 1875 when she was sold following a management decision to concentrate on the Cape trade.

WARWICK CASTLE (1) was built in 1863 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1171grt, a length of 200ft 7in, and a beam of 33ft 8in. She entered service in May 1863 on the Liverpool – Calcutta run but transferred to London in 1865. In 1870 she was sold to James Chambers’ Lancashire Shipping Co. for their Liverpool – Calcutta and retaining her name. She was renamed Cimbria in 1890 when she was sold to A/S Cimbria, S. W. Brunn of Kolding in Denmark. By 1805 she was owned by P. L. V. Schiaffino of Genoa with the same name and was broken up in Italy during 1911.

ROSLIN CASTLE (1) was built in 1863 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1168grt, a length of 200ft 6in, and a beam of 33ft 8in. She entered service on the Liverpool to Calcutta run in July 1863 but by 1865 she was sailing out of London. When the Castle Mail Steam Packet Co. Ltd was incorporated in 1876 the sailing ships remained under the ownership of Donald Currie. She was sold to Charles Barrie & Co. of Dundee in 1883 for operation within their Dundee & Calcutta Line of Clippers, renamed London and reduced to a barque rig. On 29th February 1892 she was wrecked near Key West in Florida during a voyage from Pensacola to Rio de Janeiro.

PEMBROKE CASTLE (1) was built in 1863 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1171grt, a length of 208ft 2in, and a beam of 33ft 10in. She was delivered to Donald & Currie & Co. for the Liverpool to Calcutta service and transferred to the London to Calcutta service in 1865. In 1883 she was sold to Charles Barrie & Co. of Dundee, renamed Glasgow and reduced to a barque rig. On 25th December 1893 she was dismasted and abandoned of the Scilly Isles during a voyage from Carrizal in Chile to Middlesbrough.

ARUNDEL CASTLE (1) was built in 1864 by Robert Steel & Co. at Greenock as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1042grt, a length of 203ft, and a beam of 33ft 7in. Similar to the Stirling Castle she was delivered in September 1864 and transferred to London with the fleet in 1865. She was sold to Charles Barrie’s Dundee & Calcutta Line of Clippers in 1883, renamed Chittagong and reduced to a barque rig. In 1896 she was sold to J. A. Henshien of Lillesand and renamed Imperator. She was acquired by Mitchell & Cotts and Co. for use as a cola hulk at Durban after suffering storm damage in May 1901. Mitchell & Cotts were merchants, not shipowners, and the hulk was later moved to Cape Town for use by their British & African Shipping & Coal Co. In 1918 she was re-rigged as a barque for seagoing duties and because of her German name reverted to Chittagong. She was sold to C. E. Zalacosta of Piraeus in 1920, renamed Annitsa Zalacosta and finally broken up in Italy two years later.

KENILWORTH CASTLE (1) was built in 1864 by Robert Steel & Co. at Greenock as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1062grt, a length of 203ft, and a beam of 33ft 7in. Completed in 1864 she commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool before moving round to London. She was wrecked in 1871.

TANTALLON CASTLE (1) was built in 1865 by Robert Steel & Co. at Greenock as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1057grt, a length of 203ft 2in, and a beam of 33ft 10in. She was delivered in March 1865 with registry in Liverpool but loading in London. In 1868 she broke the London – Calcutta record with a passage time of 80 days out and 78 days home. She carried the first group of Scottish farm workers to Cape Town in January 1877. In 1883 she was sold to Charles Barrie, renamed Dacca and reduced to a barque rig. She was purchased by K. Bruusgaard of Drammen in Norway in 1898, renamed Macca and was eventually broken up in 1912.

CARNARVON CASTLE (1) was built in 1867 by Barclay, Currie & Co. at Glasgow as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1200grt, a length of 229ft, and a beam of 36ft 2in. Similar to the Stirling Castle she was the first Currie ship to be registered in London as opposed to Liverpool. She was sold to Sinclair & Ellwood in 1889 and they operated her as ‘Sailing Ship Carnarvon Castle Co.’ In 1897 she was sold to Flugge, Johannsen & Libinus of Hamlburg who renamed her Nurnburg. By 1906 she was under the ownership of Sven, O Stray of Christiansand with the same name and was finally abandoned at sea in January 1910.

CARISBROOKE CASTLE was built in 1868 by Barclay, Currie & Co. at Glasgow as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1490grt, a length of 230ft 4in, and a beam of 37ft 8in. Delivered in September 1868 for the London to Calcutta run she became the fifth Currie ship to be sold to Charles Barrie of Dundee in 1889 and was renamed Errol. When she was sold with the Cluny Castle sail ownership came to an end. In 1900 she was acquired by A. P. Ulriksen of Mandal, retaining her name which she kept when she was sold again to Walker, Howard & Co. of London in 1904. On 18th June 1909 she was wrecked on Middleton Reef in the South Pacific.

DOVER CASTLE (1) was built in 1872 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2341grt, a length of 327ft 10in, a beam of 36ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. Delivered in January 1872 she was Donald Currie’s first steamship and the first of two pairs of sisters built in parallel at Glasgow. Although intended for the London – Cape Town – Calcutta service she was, on completion, chartered to the Pacific Steam Navigation Co. and undertook her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Callao in Peru via Cape Horn. A call at Cape Town was scheduled but a sufficient number of PSNC passengers made the visit unecessary. On the return voyage from Callao to Liverpool in the following July she caught fire near Coquimbo in Chile and was scuttled. Consequently she never saw service with the castle Line.

WALMER CASTLE (1) was built in 1872 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2446grt, a length of 327ft 10in, a beam of 36ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. Completed in April 1872 she was actually the second steamship to enter service after the Edinburgh Castle and was deployed on the London – Calcutta – China service returning with tea. She was transferred to Donald Currie’s Castle Mail Steam Packets Co. Ltd in 1876 and in 1879 was placed on the Intermediate service after a spell as an ‘extra steamer’ on the mail run. In 1880 she was sold to the Marques de Campo of Cadiz and renamed Valencia. As he held the mail contract between Cadiz and Manila in the Philippines she was placed on that service and was operated by his Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas. She was taken over with the other three ‘Tabacos’ steamers in 1884 when the mail contract was acquired by Cia Trasatlantica Espanoles, retaining her name and operating the same service. She finally ended her career in 1889 when she was sunk following a collision in the North Sea.

EDINBURGH CASTLE (1) was built in 1872 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2678grt, a length of 335ft 4in, a beam of 37ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. With the Windsor Castle (1) she was the first of the second pair of sisters based on the design of the Dover Castle (1). After a maiden voyage to Calcutta she she became a mail steamer on the ‘Colonial Mail Service’ to the Cape. In 1876 she came under the ownership of Castle Mail Packets Co. but in 1880 was sold to the Marques de Campo and renamed Espana. She was sold again in 1884 to Cia.Trasatlantica for their Cadiz – Manila service and as she retained her name it meant that the company were operating two ships with the same name. In 1891 she transferred to the South American service until 1898 when she was sold to Armement Bonneroy of Marseilles. Renamed Espagne she was their one and only ship and only survived until 1899 when she was broken up at Marseilles.
(Photo: Nautical Photo Agency)

WINDSOR CASTLE (1) was built in 1872 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2678grt, a length of 335ft 4in, a beam of 37ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Edinburgh Castle she began service as a mail steamer on the Indian run; her maiden voyage being from Southampton to Calcutta which was completed in a record time. In May 1873 she broke the record for the run from Dartmouth to cape Town when the voyage was completed in 23 days. On 19th October 1876 she was wrecked on Dassen Island at the entrance to Cape Town bay without any loss of life. The ship broke up in the heavy swell within a week and the Stettin was transferred from the North Sea service to replace her.

ELIZABETH MARTIN was built in 1872 by Robert Napier & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1246grt, a length of 250ft 7in, a beam of 30ft 2in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was registered as being owned by A. Currie & Co.and named after Donald Currie’s mother. Referred to as the ‘Betty Martin’ she was deployed initially on the UK – Continent service. In 1877 she was transferred to the South African coastal service to replace the Gothland and in 1879 inaugurated the Cape Town to Mauritius service. She was sold to Panhellenic Steamship Co. of Piraeus in 1882 and renamed Athens. By 1891 her owners had changed their style to Nav. a Vapeur Panhellenic and she was renamed Samos. She became a war loss during 1915.

GOTHLAND was built in 1871 by J & G Thompson at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1482grt, a length of 251ft 7in, a beam of 32ft 10in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was built for Donald Currie’s Leith, Hull & Hamburg Steam Packet Co. and was chartered by George Payne’s Cape & Natal S.N. Co.’s to carry private mails from London to the Cape. When the Cape & Natal Line was wound up in February 1872 she continued to carry Donald Currie’s private mails until replaced by the Walmer Castle (1) or one of her sisters. In 1876 she was transferred to the Liverpool Hamburg Line with the same name. She was purchased by the Admiralty in 1915 for use as a blockade ship but never used as such and in 1919 was sold to Claude Langton of London still retaining her original name. In 1922 she became the Trude Bremer under the ownership of Dampfsch, Reederie Friedrich Bremer of Rostock and was broken up in Germany during 1924. (Photo: Nautical Photo Agency)

ICELAND was built in 1871 by J & G Thompson at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1474grt, a length of 251ft 7in, a beam of 32ft 10in and a service speed of 9 knots. Sister of the Gothland she was built for the Leith, Hull & Hamburg Steam Packet Co. but chartered to the Cape & Natal Steam Navigation Co. in 1872 for their mail service. She sailed from Dartmouth on 25th January 1872 but before the voyage was completed the Cape & Natal went into liquidation. Persuaded to leave the two sisters on the mail run Donald Currie was given the opportunity to inaugurate his own mail service. However, by the next year she proved to be too small for the service and returned to North Sea trading after being replaced by the Walmer Castle trio. On 18th December 1876 she ran aground on Texel Island during a voyage from Liverpool to Hamburg and was a total loss.

LAPLAND was built in 1872 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1269grt, a length of 250ft 4in, a beam of 30ft and a service speed of 9 knots. Built for the Leith, Hull & Hamburg Steam Packet Co. she was actually used to carry Currie’s mail to South Africa before transferring to the South African coastal service. In 1882 she returned to the North Sea trade where she remained until 1902 when she was sold to Glen & Co. and renamed Shuna. She was sold to J. Philicas of Piraeus in 1906 and renamed Sofia M. Two years later she was purchased by M. Vernicos & Co. of Piraeus who retained her name. In 1911 she was sold to J. Cappolo of Constantinople (Istanbul) who renamed her Scutari and in the following year she returned to Vernicos who named her Varvara. On 9th May 1913 she ran aground on the Isle of Mull but was safely refloated and repaired. Purchased from the underwriters by D. Pavlatos & Co. of Piraeus she remained with them until 19th July 1917 when she was torpedoed by a U-boat in the Mediterranean.

COURLAND was built in 1872 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1241grt, a length of 250ft 5in, a beam of 32ft 2in and a service speed of 9 knots. Like her sisters she was built for the Leith, Hull & Hamburg Steam Packet Co. but chartered to Donald Currie for use mainly around the South African coast. By 1875 she was owned by Donald Currie who kept her until 1895 when she was sold to Dada Abdoola & Co. of Durban, retaining her name and operating the same service. In 1901 she was sold to the Bombay Steam Navigation Co. for coastal services out of Bombay where she remained until 1925 when she was broken up locally, still with her original name.

DUNROBIN CASTLE was was built in 1875 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2811grt, a length of 342ft 4in, a beam of 38ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. She was the first genuine mail steamer for Donald Currie’s South African service and, on her maiden voyage, broke the Cape record by 12 hours. In 1876 she was transferred to the Castle Mail Steam Packets Co. Ltd. On 27th January 1879 she brought the first news to Britain about the Zulu victory at Isandhlwana, 110 miles northwest of Durban on the Buffalo River, when 18000 Zulus surprised four companies of the 24th Foot Regiment and virtually annihilated them when they killed some 800 men. Led by Cetawayo the Zulus lost 2000 warriors. In 1883 she was transferred to the Intermediate service and on 6th June 1892 was the first ocean-going ship to cross the newly dredged Durban bar and enter the inner port. She was sold to Armement Letocart & Cie of Marseilles in 1893 for the pilgrim run to Palestine and renamed Notre Dame de Salut . In the same year she was used as a hospital ship first in Madagasgar and then, in 1900, at the Boxer uprising in China. In 1902 she was sold to L. Bertreaux of Marseilles for their Palestine service with the name Etoile and was eventually broken up at Genoa in 1914. (Photo: A. Duncan)

BALMORAL CASTLE (1) was was built in 1876 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2948grt, a length of 344ft 10in, a beam of 39ft 5in and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Dunrobin Castle she was the first ship to be built for the Castle Mail Steam Packets Co. Ltd and commenced service on the mail run in November 1876. By 1882 trade had slumped and she was sold to Cia. Trasatlantica, renamed San Augustin and deployed on the Barcelona – Cadiz – Tenerife – Havana service. On 16th June 1888, following a period on the Clyde for fire damage repairs, she rammed, cut in two and sank the Southampton, Isle of Wight & South of England R.M.S.P. Co’s paddle steamer Princess of Wales with the loss of three lives. The paddle steamer was undergoing trials on the Skelmorlie mile at the time. In 1892 she was sold to the Quebec Steam Ship Co. of London but flew the Canadian flag as the Madiana. On 10th February 1903, during a voyage from New York to Kingston in Jamaica with passengers and cargo, she was wrecked off Bermuda without loss of life.

DUBLIN CASTLE was was built in 1877 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2805grt, a length of 342ft 4in, a beam of 38ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Dunrobin Castle she was completed for the mail service in May 1877. In 1882 she was sold to Cia. Trasatlantica for their Havana to New York service and renamed Santo Domingo. During July 1898 she was wrecked off the Isla des Pinos near Cienfuegos in Cuba.

FLORENCE was built in 1865 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 616grt, a length of 219ft 5in, a beam of 25ft 6in and a service speed of 9 knots. Built for Leith, Hull & Hamburg S.P. Co’s Leith to Hamburg run she was acquired by Donald Currie in 1873 who lengthened and re-engined her before deploying her on the South African coastal service. She was sold to Idarei Massousieh in 1889 and renamed Kriti (Crete). In the following year the name was changed to Crete. In 1912 the Massousieh organisation was re-styled as the Navigation a Vapeur Ottomane and the ship renamed Guirrit and used in the Black Sea service until broken up in 1919.
(Photo: National Maritime Museum)

MELROSE was built in 1877 by Robert Steel & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 839grt, a length of 229ft 7in, a beam of 29ft 1in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was laid down as the Maritzburg but completed as the Melrose specifically for the coastal passenger ‘Royal Colonial Mail’ service. She was used by local businessmen for social voyages up and down the South Africa east coast ports. On 29th July 1883 she was the scene of a sensational crime. In May 1882 Lord Cavendish and Thomas Burke were stabbed and killed in Pheonix Park, Dublin. One of the six Fenians, members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood which had been established in 1858, turned Queen’s evidence and, as a result, the other five were publicly executed. Thomas Carey was a member of the ‘Invincibles’ and fellow members vowed to kill him. For his protection Carey and his family were secretly taken to South Africa aboard the Kinfauns Castle where, on arrival at Cape Town, they were transferred to the Melrose. Unbeknown to anybody, a member of the ‘Invincibles’, Patrick O’Donnell, had also shipped on the Kinfauns Castle and made friends with Carey who obviously didn’t know him. O’Connell shared a cabin with Carey on the Melrose and on 29th July 1883 shot him with fatal consequences. O’Connell was returned to London and, after being tried at the Old Bailey and found guilty ,was hanged on 17th December 1883. In 1887 Sir Donald Currie went to South Africa in the Melrose to inspect his coastal port installations. During 1890 she was the first Castle ship to experiment with burning South African coal but as it produced too much ash and clinker and was not used again until 1907. She was sold to S. Hough & Co. of Liverpool in 1894 and renamed Annie Hough for use on their Liverpool – Falmouth – London service. In 1901 she was sold to Bermond & Co. of Bordeaux and renamed Emyre. She was sold to Moinard & Rouxel of Diego Suarez in Madagasgar in 1905 and was eventually wrecked during May 1911.

TAYMOUTH CASTLE was built in 1877 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1827grt, a length of 300ft 1in, a beam of 33ft 10in and a service speed of 11 knots. Delivered for the mail service she was quarantined in Saldana Bay for six weeks at the end of her maiden voyage after smallpox broke out onboard. By 1879 she proved to be too small and was relegated to the role of ‘extra’ steamer until 1891 when she was sold to Sir Christopher Furness and then on to Pickford & Black of Halifax, Nova Scotia for the Government subsidised Canada – West Indies – Georgetown service. She retained her name until 1902 when it was changed to Ocama by the same owners and with London as the port of registry. In 1915 she flew the Canadian flag under the ownership of the Newport Steam Ship Co. with Continental Trading Co. of Halifax as managers and in 1918 was sold to William & Smith of Halifax where she remained until 1922 when she was scrapped.

DUART CASTLE was built in 1878 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1825grt, a length of 301ft 6in, a beam of 33ft 2in and a service speed of 11 knots. Virtually a sister of the Taymouth Castle she was delivered as the Adjutant for Seatter, White & Co. of Leith. She was acquired by the Castle Mail Packet Co. for use as an ‘extra’ steamer in 1879. In 1891 she was sold to Sir Christopher Furness who then sold her on to Pickford & Black without a change of name. Her name was changed in 1902 to Oruro with London as her port of registry. In 1915 she was owned by Bedford Steam Ship Co. with Continental Steam Ship Co. of Halifax as managers where she remained until 1920 when she was sold to Anglo-Indian Colonial Steam Ship Co. of London without changing her name. She was sold to Dandamia Khandwani & Co. of Bombay and by 1925 was owned by Maneckchand Jivraj & Co. who scrapped her locally.

WARWICK CASTLE (2) was built in 1877 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2957grt, a length of 348ft 11in, a beam of 39ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was delivered for the mail service in May 1877 and on 23rd January 1889 inaugurated the Holland Direct Service. Aimed at tapping into the Dutch Afrikaans market she operated between London – Flushing – Cape Town continuing to do so until 1891 when she was transferred to the Intermediate service. In 1897 she was sold to the Booth Line where she was renamed Jerome and re-equipped with a triple expansion engine and new boilers. She was sold to the Turkish Government’s Administration de Nav a Vapeur Ottomane and renamed Kirasounde for their Black Sea resorts. In 1924 she was given the modern spelling of her name, Kiresson, and was broken up in 1926.

CONWAY CASTLE was built in 1877 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2966grt, a length of 349ft, a beam of 39ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. Similar to the Warwick Castle but with a different profile she was delivered for the mail service in September 1877. She became an Intermediate steamer in 1883 and on 10th May 1893 ran aground at Vatoumandry, 50 miles south of Tamatave in Madagasgar. On the following day she was abandoned and became a total loss.

STETTIN was built in 1854 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 759grt, a length of 222ft, a beam of 29ft 1in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was built for the Leith, Hull & Hamburg S.P. Co’s North Sea trade. In 1876 she was equipped with 50 emigrant berths and placed on the Cape route to replace the Windsor Castle which had been lost but reverted to her former route in 1879 when she herself was replaced by the Dunkeld, the emigrant berths being removed. She was re-engined with a triple expansion engine and had her yards removed in 1879 and continued in service until 1933 when she was broken up at Bo’ness, Firth of Forth..

DUNKELD was built in 1878 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1158grt, a length of 240ft 10in, a beam of 32ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. With the Venice and the Melrose she was designed for the Cape Town – Durban service. In 1891 she was sold to Compania Valenciana de Nav. of Valencia and renamed Alcirca. On 7th September 1915 she was sunk after being in a collision off Cabo Gata near Almeira in Spain.

VENICE was built in 1878 by Robert Steele & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 511grt, a length of 173ft 8in, a beam of 24ft 7in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was delivered in April 1878 for Donald Currie’s Cape Town to Durban service. In 1888 she was sold to Donaldson & Sievewright of London without a change of name. She was sold in 1902 to A. Borges of Lourenço Marques (Maputu) and renamed Lusitano for the Lourenço Marques – Suez Canal – Lisbon service but was hulked locally in the same year.

KINFAUNS CASTLE (1) .was built in 1879 by John Elder & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3507grt, a length of 360ft 4in, a beam of 43ft and a service speed of 12 knots. She was delivered to D. Currie & Co., which was still the registered name of the company, was the first steel hulled ship ordered by the company and constructed for potential conversion into an Armed Merchant Cruiser. In 1883 she was sold to the Russian Volunteer Fleet at Odessa and renamed Moscva (Moskva) and in 1895 became the Russian training ship Proot (Prut), also based in Odessa. In 1909 she was converted into an operational minelaying training ship. On 29th October 1914 she was hit by gunfire from the German battlecruiser Goeben which had been temporarily renamed Sultan Selim off Cape Fiolen, Sevastopol and was scuttled to avoid capture. Ten days later the Sultan Selim was badly damaged by two mines laid by her victim .(A.Crisp)

GRANTULLY CASTLE (1) was built in 1879 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3489grt, a length of 359ft 7in, a beam of 43ft 10in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Kinfauns Castle she was built in iron rather than steel and joined the mail run in January 1880. In 1888 she became the first Castle ship to be fitted with refrigeration for fruit and carried 30 tons of grapes packed in cork dust. She was sold to Booth Line in 1896 and renamed Augustine (2). On 2nd October 1904 she rescued the crew of the Greek ship Clementine, owned by AG Vassiliadi of Syra, 24 miles west of Ushant. She was sold for £8250 in August 1912 and broken up by Harris & Co. at Falmouth, Cornwall. (Photo: Nautical Photo Agency)

GARTH CASTLE was built in 1880 by John Elder & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3537grt, a length of 365ft, a beam of 43ft 6in and a service speed of 12 knots. The first of two near sisters of the Kinfauns Castle she was named after Sir Donald Currie’s estate in Scotland. On 23rd July 1881 she hosted a dinner for leading personalities after a fleet review in Leith Roads. Transferred to the Intermediate service in 1890 she became surplus to requirements when the companies merged in March 1900. She was sold to Elder Dempster & Co. in 1901 for their Bristol to Jamaica service and in the July was chartered to Franco-Canadian Steam Navigation Co. for their Dunkirk – Bordeaux – Quebec run. In 1902 she was sold to Khedivial Mail Steamship & Graving Dock Co. of London and renamed Ismailia. She was sold on to Soc. Armatrice Radivo-Frausin of Trieste, renamed Brunette and broken up in Italy in 1923.

DRUMMOND CASTLE was built in 1881 by John Elder & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3537grt, a length of 365ft, a beam of 43ft 6in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Garth Castle she was built for the mail run and, in 1892, had the distinction of carrying the first cargo of South African peaches in her ‘cold chambers’. She was transferred to the Intermediate service in 1894. On 28th May 1896 she sailed from Cape Town under the command of Capt. W.W. Pierce with 143 passenger and 103 crew. On 16th June she was lost at night and in poor visibility on Pierres Vertes Reef, Molene Island off Ushant. The sea was so calm that there were no breakers to warn the watch keepers that the ship was off course in the tide race. Earlier, the Werfa (C.H.W. Grassdorf, Cardiff) had sighted and logged the Drummond Castle as being off course. When the ship hit the reef the captain was under the impression that she was fast aground and ordered the lifeboats to be readied for lowering. In accordance with company policy for ships at sea the lifeboats were already slung out and all that was required was for the braces and belly bands to be removed. The captain also gave the order to let off steam in case of explosion. However, the ship was not fast and had overshot the reef. Within four minutes she had sunk before a lifeboat could be lowered and out of the 246 persons on board only three were saved, one passenger and two members of the crew. M. Alphonse Bertillon of the French Criminal Investigation Dept. was asked to investigate the scene and identified 51 of the 53 bodies recovered, receiving a gold medal from Queen Victoria for his efforts. In 1929, whilst searching for bullion aboard P&O’s Egypt which sank in 1922, the Italian salvage vessel Artigilio of Soc. Sorima found the hull of the Drummond Castle with a long gash in the hull from the keel to the waterline.

PEMBROKE CASTLE (2) was built in 1883 by Barrow Shipbuilding Co. at Barrow-in-Furness with a tonnage of 3936grt, a length of 400ft 2in, a beam of 42ft 7in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was actually purchased on the stocks, the only vessel built away from the Clyde prior to the merger, the first four masted steamship and the largest ship in the fleet at the time. On completion in July 1883 she undertook a shakedown cruise carrying dignitaries around Britain but also made a call at Copenhagen where the Tzar and other royalty were received on board. In service she replaced the Kinfauns Castle and was deployed on the Intermediate run and as a relief mailship. In June 1901 she was used as a coastal passenger and mailship following the loss of the Tantallon Castle. She was sold to the Turkish Government in 1906 and renamed Bezmi-Alem for use as a Black Sea and consular passenger ship to Trabzon. In August 1915 she was sunk by Russian warships off Samsoun in Turkey. (Photo: from UCPSC 01/01)

DOLPHIN was a tug built in 1883 with a tonnage of 49grt, a length of 76ft and a beam of 16ft. She was brought out from Southampton in 1883 and stationed at East London. In 1899 she was replaced by the larger Penguin and was sold to Clifford E. Knight of Cape Town in January 1900.

DOUNE CASTLE (1)/DUNBAR CASTLE (1) was built in 1883 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2682grt, a length of 335ft, a beam of 38ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was laid down as the Doune Castle but when it was discovered that the staff pronounced the name in a variety of ways the name was changed to Dunbar Castle. The same problem obviously didn’t arise when the Doune Castle (2) was launched seven years later. When delivered she was already too small for the growing trade and was used as an extra steamer, mainly on the Mauritius service. In 1895 she was sold to Fairfield Ship Building and Engineering Co. in part payment for the Tantallon Castle, renamed Olympia and re-sold to R. Barnwell of London. Two years later she was acquired by the Scottish American Steam Ship Co. of Glasgow with Sir W. G. Pearce as manager and later by W. M. Rhodes for use in the USA as the Northern Pacific Steamship Line. In 1898 when war with Spain was declared, she was sold to the North America Mail Steam Ship Co. of Tacoma for operation of the Tacoma (terminal of the Northern Pacific railway Co.) – Victoria – Yokohama – Hong Kong – in parallel with the Canadian Pacific service out of Vancouver. By 1903 she was owned by the North Western Steam Ship Co. of Seattle with J. Rosine as manager and in 1904 was sold to the Alaska Steam Ship Co. who removed her yards and installed three lifeboats on each side. In October 1910, still as the Olympia, she was wrecked on the coast of Alaska.

ARUNDEL CASTLE (2)/CLUNY CASTLE (1)/METHVEN CASTLE was built in 1883 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2681grt, a length of 335ft, a beam of 38ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was initially advertised as the Arundel Castle then as the Cluny Castle but was delivered as the Methven Castle. Sister of the Dunbar Castle she was also too small for the growing trade and was used as an extra steamer until 1897 when she was sold to the Scottish American Line, renamed Columbia and used on the same routes as the Dunbar Castle operating a bi-monthly service. In 1898 she was sold to the North American Mail Steam Ship Co. of Tacoma and in 1904 became the Rosecrans when she was re-sold to Matson Navigation Co. of San Francisco and converted to carry oil in bulk to Honolulu. By 1905 she was owned by the Associated Oil Co. of San Francisco and in January 1913 was wrecked on the coast of California.

ARDTORNISH CASTLE/HAWARDEN CASTLE was built in 1883 by John Elder & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4341grt, a length of 380ft 7in, a beam of 48ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. Although advertised as the Ardtornish Castle she was renamed Hawarden (pronounced ‘Harden’) Castle after the Prime Minister William Gladstone’s estate in North Wales. Launched by Mrs. Gladstone she was Donald Currie’s largest ship at that time. Delivered for the mail run the class of three vessels were heavy rollers in a cross sea. On 8th February 1893 she towed the Aberdeen Line’s Sophocles into Cape Town after she had lost her propeller when four days out of port. She transferred to Union-Castle in 8th March 1900 and in 1904 was sold to Booth Line of Liverpool and renamed Cyril (2). On 5th September 1905 she was lost below Para in the River Amazon after being in collision with Booth’s Anselm.

NORHAM CASTLE was built in 1883 by John Elder & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4012grt, a length of 380ft 7in, a beam of 48ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Hawarden Castle she was built for the Mail service and in June 1887 was one of the two Castle ships at Queen Victoria’s Jubilee review at Spithead. Transferred to Union-Castle on the merger she was sold in 1903 to Compagnie Général Transatlantique for their Bordeaux to West Indies service and rename Martinique. She was eventually broken up in Italy during 1932.

ARMADALE CASTLE/ROSLIN CASTLE (2) was built in 1883 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4280grt, a length of 380ft, a beam of 48ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. When the keel was laid her intended name was the Armadale Castle but she was launched on 24th April 1883 as the Roslin Castle initially for the mail service but later on the East coast of Africa routes. She was renowned for her tendency to roll and was nicknamed the Rolling Castle. In 1888 she was re-engined and, at the same time, had a new stern fitted in what proved to be an unsuccessful attempt to reduce the rolling. Her new triple expansion engine increased her speed to 15 knots and in October 1889 she reduced the Cape – Plymouth run to 15 days 22 hrs 4 min. On 5th June 1891she carried the last mail from Dartmouth when the mail embarkation port was changed to Southampton. On 22nd October 1899, as HMT 26, she was part of the first convoy of six troopships to carry troops to South Africa on the outbreak of the Boer War being the first to arrive with part of the West Yorkshire Regiment. She transferred to Union-Castle on 8th March 1900 following the merger. In September 1904 she was sold to German interests in the Hamburg-Amerika Line, renamed Regina, painted black and fitted out for use as a store ship for the Russian Navy in the Far East. When the Japanese broke off diplomatic relations with Russia on 5th February 1904 and attacked the Russians at Port Arthur four days later German colliers were used to coal the Baltic Fleet on its way to the Far East where it suffered a heavy defeat at the Battle of Tsushima on 27th May 1905. In March 1905, loaded with coal, the Regina grounded on the coast of Mozambique and after the cargo was salvaged she was eventually towed back to Durban where she remained until engine repairs were made which enabled her to steam to Italy. Records show that she never served under the Russian Navy and in 1908 she was broken up at Genoa in Italy.

CLUNY CASTLE was a sailing ship built in 1883 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1986grt, a length of 276ft 6in, and a beam of 41ft 2in. She was used to carry up to 150 emigrants on cheap assisted passages to South Africa and Welsh anthracite to Calcutta where the coal was of an inferior quality. On the return voyage she carried jute. Since three sailing ships had been sold to Charles Barrie during 1883 her acquisition came as somewhat of a surprise but she was Donald Currie’s last and was eventually sold with the only other remaining sailing ship, the Carisbrooke Castle, in 1889. Sold to Edenmount Sailing Ship Co. of Greenock with R. Ferguson as managers, she was renamed Rowena and remained until 1913 when she was re-sold to Rederiaktieb ‘Delfin’ of Helsingfors (Helsinki) with G. Stenius as manager. She was eventually broken up in 1924.

DOUNE CASTLE (2) was built in 1890 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4046grt, a length of 396ft, a beam of 43ft 2in and a service speed of 12.5 knots. She was the first ship to be specifically designed as an intermediate liner initially for the London – South Africa – Mozambique ports together with her sister the Lismore Castle. Unfortunately, there were problems with the French and she entered service on the Mauritius run. In 1904 she was taken back with her sister by Barclay, Curle in part payment for the Cluny Castle and the Comrie Castle which were being built. She was resold by them to East Asiatic Co. (Ostasiatiske Kompani) of Copenhagen for a passenger service to the West Indies and renamed Domingo. In 1905 she was transferred to the East Asiatic Co., a Russian subsidiary company, and renamed Curonia. She was sold to Goshi Kaisha Kishimoto Shokai of Darien and renamed Kaijo Maru in 1913. Sold again in 1918 she was renamed Susanna II by Madrigal & Co. of Manila and was broken up in 1936.

LISMORE CASTLE was built in 1891 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4046grt, a length of 380ft, a beam of 48ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Doune Castle she was delivered in Jan 1891 for the same service. On 20th October 1899 she sailed from Southampton bound for Cape Town carrying troops to the Boer War. After the merger in 1900 she continued to be used as a troopship with troops in 3rd class whilst being deployed on the Intermediate service. In 1904 she was returned to Barclay, Curle as part payment for new buildings and renamed Westmount. In the following year she was sold to Cia Trasatlantica of Barcelona and renamed C. Lopez y Lopez ,after one of the founders, for deployment on their Central American service to Mexico. When wartime passenger traffic increased in 1916 she was placed on the Barcelona – Malaga – Cadiz – New York service until the US joined the Allies in 1917 when she reverted to the Mexico service. She was finally broken up in Italy during 1931.

DUNOTTAR CASTLE was built in 1890 by Fairfield Ship Building & Engineering Co. at Govan with a tonnage of 5625grt, a length of 433ft, a beam of 49ft 8in and a service speed of 17 knots. Launched by Lady Currie she was designed to outclass the other ships in the Union fleet. On 20th June 1891 she loaded the first consignment of mail at Southampton when it was substituted for Dartmouth and completed the homeward run from Cape Town in 16 days 14 hours. In 1894 she grounded for two tides near the Eddystone Lighthouse. She had a refit in 1897 when the funnels were heightened, the yards were removed and she was given a wheelhouse. In November 1899 she carried General Buller and 1500 troops to Cape Town for Boer War duties and on the following voyage carried Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener. On 8th March 1900 she became part of the merged Union-Castle fleet and was the first ship to fly the new houseflag. In December of that year her propeller shaft snapped and she had to be towed into Dakar the Galician being diverted to pick up the passengers and mail. In 1904 she was laid up at Netley in Southampton Water but by 1907 she was being chartered to the Panama Railroad Co. for their New York to Colon (Panama Canal) service. In 1908 she was chartered to Sir Henry Lunn Ltd for cruises to Norway and the Mediterranean, and in 1911 she took guests to the Delhi Durbar of King George V. She was sold to the Royal Mail Line in 1913 for cruising, renamed Caribbean and given a white livery. On the outbreak of the First World War she was initially used as a troopship to bring soldiers from Canada to Europe before being requisitioned as an Armed Merchant Cruiser. However it was found that she was unsuitable to carry gun mountings and was converted into a dockyard workers accommodation ship in May 1915. On 26th/27th September of the same year she foundered in heavy weather off Cape Wrath whilst en route to Scapa Flow with the loss of 15 lives. HMS Birkenhead took the crew off. (Photo: World Ship Society Library)

UNION-CASTLE LINE

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)

UNION-CASTLE LINE

KENILWORTH CASTLE (2) was built in 1904 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 12275grt, a length of 570ft 2in, a beam of 64ft 8in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. Sister of the Armadale Castle she entered service in May 1904 and in August 1914 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty for troopship duties. On 4th June 1918 she was proceeding up the English Channel in convoy when she was in collision with the destroyer HMS Rival. A number of the destroyer’s depth charges went overboard and exploded under the stern of the Kenilworth Castle but she managed to limp safely into Plymouth. Fifteen men were drowned when two lifeboats were swamped. In 1919 she was quarantined for three weeks in Table Bay due to an influenza epidemic in South Africa. She was broken up in 1936. (Photo1: from UCPSC 22/143 Photo2: from late Mrs M L Norrish)

CLUNY CASTLE (3) was built in 1903 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 5147grt, a length of 419ft 1in, a beam of 50ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Comrie Castle she was used as an extra steamer when she entered service in September 1903 operating through to Mauritius where she generally loaded sugar. Both vessels were noted for their ‘cork-screwing’ in a head sea and were the only passenger ships built for the company without any rake. In 1924 she was transferred to the company’s subsidiary company Bullard, King & Co’s Natal Line and renamed Umkuzi and given a taller funnel. She was finally broken up in 1939.
(Photo: Ship Society of South Africa)

COMRIE CASTLE was built in 1903 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 5167grt, a length of 419ft 1in, a beam of 50ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Cluny Castle she shared the same peculiarities and was similarly employed as an extra steamer operating through to Mauritius. During the First World War she spent most of her time operating as a troopship. In 1924 she was transferred to the company’s subsidiary company Bullard, King & Co’s Natal Line and renamed Umvoti. During 1940 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and sunk as a block ship in Folkestone Harbour, the wreck was removed in 1943 in preparation for ‘D’ day.

DOVER CASTLE (2) was built in 1904 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 8271grt, a length of 476ft 5in, a beam of 56ft 8in and a service speed of 14 knots. She was built for the Intermediate service but in 1910 was transferred to the London-Cape-Mombasa run. On 11th August 1915 she was commissioned as a hospital ship for 607 patients plus cots. Two years later, on 17th May 1917, she was torpedoed by UC-67 north of Bone in the Mediterranean whilst on a voyage from Bone-Malta-Gibraltar. All 632 patients were saved with most of them being transferred to the British India hospital ship Karapara. The wallowing derelict was then sunk by a torpedo fired from an escorting vessel. (Photo: UCPSC 14/20)

DUNLUCE CASTLE (2) was built in 1904 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 8114grt, a length of 475ft 5in, a beam of 56ft 8in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Dover Castle she was built for the Intermediate service and in January 1910 undertook the first London-Cape-Delgoa Bay- Mombasa sailing. In August 1914 she became a troopship and took part in the famous six ship Union-Castle convoy which brought 4000 troops to Europe. She was commissioned as a hospital ship for 755 patients on 6th July 1915 and at Gallipoli and Mudros acted as transfer ship to White Star’s Britannic before going to East Africa for duty with the Indian Government. In 1916 she was back in the Mediterranean for service which included voyages from the Adriatic to North Africa with wounded Serbs. On 23rd February 1917 she was stopped by a U-boat and after checking that she was complying with the Hague Convention was allowed to proceed. She returned to commercial service on 2nd April 1919 and resumed her original run until 1931 when she was transferred to the Round Africa service. In July 1939 she was sold for breaking up but acquired by the Admiralty for use as an accommodation ship for small vessels first in the River Humber and then at Scapa Flow. She was finally broken up by Thos.W. Ward and Inverkeithing in 1945.

DURHAM CASTLE was built in 1904 by Fairfield Ship Building & Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 8217grt, a length of 475ft 5in, a beam of 56ft 8in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Dover Castle she was initially deployed as an Intermediate steamship but was transferred to the Cape – Mombasa run in 1910. During the First World War she remained on commercial service but often acted as a troopship on the northbound passage.. In 1931 she was deployed on the East Africa via the Suez Canal service and in 1939 was put up for disposal after being replaced by the Pretoria Castle and was acquired by the Admiralty for war service. On 26th January 1940, while being towed to Scapa Flow for use as a base accommodation ship, she was mined off Cromarty. The German U-boat U-57 claimed her as her victim and as the Durham Castle was clear of the British mine fields the claim is probably correct. (Photo: UCPSC 16/139)

HELIUS was built in 1888 by Fairfield Ship Building & Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4579grt, a length of 390ft 6in, a beam of 46ft 8in and a service speed of 10 knots. She was built as the Dresden for Norddeutscher Lloyd of Bremen as the first of eight passenger-cargo liners. In 1903 she was sold to R. P. Houston & Co. for their South American cargo-passenger service to South America and renamed Helius. She was acquired by Union-Castle as a reserve steamer in 1904 and laid up at Netley. However, after the end of the Boer War an 1902 there was a surplus of tonnage to South Africa and she was no longer required. Consequently, she was sold to the Turkish Government in 1906 and renamed Tirimujghian. On 6th November 1914 she was sunk by Russian forces in the Black Sea.

STORK was built in 1905 by Hawthorn & Co. at Leith with a tonnage of 278grt, a length of 115ft 7in, a beam of 24ft 1in and a service speed of 8 knots. She was built to replace the Midge as the tender at East London carrying passengers and their baggage from the mail ships lying in the roadstead. Because of the heavy swell the gangway could not be used so large baskets were swung over the side and onto the tender by the ship’s derricks. Sold in 1942 to the South African Government she remained with them for about ten years before she was broken up.

HANSA was built in 1904 by A.G. ‘Neptun’ at Rostock with a tonnage of 880grt, a length of 215ft, a beam of 30ft 7in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was built for Donald Currie’s Liverpool to Hamburg Line and transferred to Union-Castle in 1907 where she operated the Hamburg – Bremen – Southampton feeder service with the Eider. In 1937 she was sold to Jack Billmeir and renamed Stanray. Billmeir purchased 23 elderly ships to trade to Spain and the Mediterranean during the Spanish Civil War (17th July 1936 until April 1939). More often than not they were loaded for one voyage with pre-paid supplies for the Republican War Zone in Spain. On 9th June 1937 the Hansa was machine gunned by aircraft during the approach to Valencia without any casualties and broken up in Belgium during 1938.

BALMORAL CASTLE (2) was built in 1910 by Fairfield Ship Building & Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 13361grt, a length of 570ft, a beam of 64ft 6in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Edinburgh Castle she was based on the Walmer Castle but without a break in the after superstructure. When she made her maiden mail voyage in February 1910 she completed the run in 16.5 days. In October of the same year, acting as a royal yacht with a white hull and yellow funnels, she carried the Duke and Duchess of Connaught to South Africa for the opening of Parliament. She was requisitioned as a troopship on the northbound voyages in 1914 but continued to maintain the mail service. Between March and May 1915 she trooped to Gallipoli landing them on 23rd April. Following the Armistice in 1918 she repatriated US and Australian troops. In 1919 she made to voyages between Liverpool and New York for Cunard before returning to service with Union-Castle. She was broken up at Newport, Monmouthshire in June 1939. (Photo: UCPSC 08/112)

EDINBURGH CASTLE (2) was built in 1910 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 13362grt, a length of 570ft, a beam of 64ft 5in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Balmoral Castle she was the last of a group of almost identical ships and replaced the Norman. On 14th August 1914 sailed from Cape Town with mail and government only passengers to Gibraltar where she embarked troops before being escorted to England by HMS Minerva. She was then taken over as an auxiliary cruiser for the South Atlantic patrol and in January 1915 sailed from Devonport for South Africa with White Star’s Ceramic to hunt for the German ships Karlsruhe and Kronprins Wilhelm. In 1918 served in the North Atlantic on convoy work. She resumed commercial operations in 1919 after a refit and during that year carried General Smuts back to South Africa. She was withdrawn from service in 1938 and laid up at Netley until she was bought by the Admiralty for use as an accommodation ship in Freetown, Sierra Leone for Naval personnel and survivors of sunken ships. In 1945, as towing back to England would not be cost effective, she was towed 60 miles out to sea by the tug Empire Lawn and sunk by gunfire and depth charges from the armed trawler Cape Warwick, HMS Porchester Castle and HMS Launceston Castle.

FIREFLY was a launch built in 1910 for use at Cape Town and transported there by the Dunluce Castle.

GLOWORM was a sister of the Firefly also built in 1910 for use at Mombasa. She was sold by the company in 1920.

GRANTULLY CASTLE (2) was built in 1910 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 7612grt, a length of 450ft 7in, a beam of 54ft 4in and a service speed of 13 knots. Together with her sister, the Garth Castle, she was one of the last pair ordered under the personal supervision of Sir Donald Currie who died on 23rd April 1909 at the age of 83. One of five ships built for the Intermediate trade she was given a ‘G’ name to replace the ex-Union ‘G’ class but the class was never as popular as the ‘D’ class ships. In January 1915 she was being used as a troopship and while at Mudros during the Gallipoli campaign, in company with the Alnwick Castle, and Balmoral Castle, was held for five weeks from 18th March when the troops, because of mines, were unable to force the Dardanelles straits until 23rd April when they eventually landed to oppose a re-inforced Turkish army. She left the Dardanelles on 1st May 1915 for Malta where she was commissioned as a hospital ship with 552 beds. She reverted to Union-Castle on 11th March 1919 and served for a further 20 years before being broken up in 1939.
(Photo: UCPSC 13/134)

GARTH CASTLE (2) was built in 1910 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 7612grt, a length of 452ft 7in, a beam of 54ft 4in and a service speed of 13 knots. Sister of the Grantully Castle she spent most of her career on the Intermediate service. In 1915 she was requisitioned by the Royal Navy for use as a supply ship and moving naval personnel to places like Scapa Flow where they would join their ships. She was later used as a hospital ship and on 24th June 1917, during a fleet inspection, the surgeons and nursing staff were presented to HM King George V. She was broken up in 1939 (Photo: UCPSC 05/139)

GALWAY CASTLE was built in 1911 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7988grt, a length of 452ft 4in, a beam of 54ft 4in and a service speed of 13 knots. Similar to the Grantully Castle she was the last ship to be delivered before the company was taken over by Royal Mail. In August 1914 she was requisitioned as a troop ship for deployment in the German West Africa campaign against Windhoek. After the German colony was taken over by General Botha in 1915 she reverted to commercial service as the only remaining Union-Castle vessel. On 3rd August 1916 she was attacked by a German bomber near the Gull lightship but the bomb, although scoring a direct hit, failed to explode. She went aground on the Orient Bank at East London on 12th October 1917 but was refloated five days later without any damage. At 07.30 hrs on 12th September 1918 when two days out from Plymouth, she was torpedoed by U-82 and broke her back. At the time she was carrying 400 South African walking wounded, 346 passengers and 204 crew members. So severe was the damage that it was thought that she would sink immediately and it was apparent that U-82 was lining up for another attack. In the rush to abandon ship several lifeboats were swamped by the heavy seas and many finished up in the sea. However, the U-boat did not mount a further attack and the Galway Castle continued to wallow for three days. Destroyers were summoned by radio to rescue survivors who were taken back to Plymouth where it was ascertained that 143 persons had perished. HMS Spitfire remained in attendance and took off the skeleton crew before she finally sank. (Photo: UCPSC 02/63)

GLOUCESTER CASTLE was built in 1911 by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 7999grt, a length of 450ft 7in, a beam of 56ft 2in and a service speed of 13 knots. She was built for the Intermediate service. On 24th September, 1914 she was commissioned as a 410 bed hospital ship and in April 1915 took part in the Dardanelles campaign carrying the Portsmouth Battalion of the Royal Marines. On 30th March 1917, although clearly identified as a hospital ship, she was torpedoed by UB-32 in the English Channel whilst on passage from Le Havre to Southampton. Fortunately, only 3 of the 399 passengers died during the transfer to rescuing trawlers but it took two weeks to tow the ship to safety for repair. In April 1919 she resumed commercial operations on the Intermediate service and later on the Round Africa service. But her slow speed earned her the name ‘Go Slowster Castle’. In 1926 she was replaced by the Llandaff Castle and reverted to Intermediate status until 1939 when she was laid up at Netley in Southampton Water. On 21st June 1942 she sailed from Birkenhead and on 15th July, off the Ascension Islands, was shelled and sunk by the German surface raider Schiff 28,Michel. Out of 154 persons on board 82 crew members, 6 women, 2 children and 3 male passengers were killed. The surviving 57 crew members, 2 women and 2 child passengers were taken aboard the German supply ship Charlotte Schliemann and taken to Japan for internment. The commander of the Michel, Von Ruckteschell, was found guilty of war crimes and imprisoned at Spandau in 1946.(Photo: UCPSC 03/139)

GUILDFORD CASTLE was built in 1911 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 7995grt, a length of 450ft 7in, a beam of 56ft 2in and a service speed of 13 knots. Sister of the Gloucester Castle and the Galway Castle she undertook the first intermediate sailing which terminated at Mauritius in July 1914. When the First World War broke out she participated in the first troop convoy to Europe and on 22nd September 1914 was commissioned as a hospital ship with 427 beds. During the German West and East African campaigns in 1915 she remained in Southern African waters where she was more occupied with coping with disease rather than war wounds. On 10th March 1918, while inbound to Avonmouth, she was hit by a torpedo which failed to explode. She was decommissioned on 9th November 1918 and returned to commercial service initially on the Intermediate service in 1920 and then on the round Africa service. On 31st May 1933 she was in collision with the Blue Funnel ship Stentor in the estuary of the River Elbe when two people lost their lives, an accident for which the pilot was blamed. She was beached on the following day and declared a total constructive loss. (Photo: UCPSC 15/63)

LLANDOVERY CASTLE (1) was built in 1914 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 10639grt, a length of 500ft 1in, a beam of 63ft 3in and a service speed of 15 knots. She was the first ship to be completed under Royal Mail ownership following the takeover in April 1912 and the first solely designated for the East Africa trade. She was also the first ship to be given the name of a Welsh castle at the behest of the new Chairman Sir Owen Philipps, himself a Welshman, and it was his intent that the ship compete with the Deutsche Ost-Afrika Linie. In 1915 she was transferred to the mail run when regular ships were requisitioned for war service.. She was commissioned as a hospital ship on 26th July 1916 with 622 beds and 102 medical staff and attached to the Canadian Forces. She became the company’s last WW1 casualty when on 27th June 1918 at 9.00 pm whilst on a North Atlantic crossing from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Liverpool she was attacked without warning by German submarine U-86 (Kapitan Patzig) 118 miles southwest of Fastnet. She was displaying a brightly illuminated Red Cross sign and could not have been mistaken for anything other than a hospital ship. The ship sank within 10 minutes and not content with merely sinking the vessel Kapitan Patzig turned his guns on the helpless lifeboats and sank all but one. 24 people including the master, Captain Sylvester survived, being picked up HMS Lysander, but 234 others, including 88 medical staff, perished as a result of this act of German barbarity. Fortunately the ship was not carrying any patients. Two officers of the U-86 were jailed for four years by the German Supreme Court for war crimes but both ‘escaped’ shortly afterwards.

LLANSTEPHAN CASTLE was built in 1914 by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co at Glasgow with a tonnage of 11348grt, a length of 500ft 5in, a beam of 63ft 3in and a service speed of 15 knots. Sister of the Llandovery Castle she was given the name because Sir Owen Philipps was Lord of the Manor of Llanstephan. She was built for the Intermediate Round Africa service. and was, in 1914, the only company ship to remain in commercial service although under government control. In April 1915 inbound at Zanzibar she was ordered back to Durban because the German light cruiser Koenigsberg was operating in the area. In 1917 she was eventually requisitioned for work on the transatlantic service. Following the end of hostilities in 1918 the Prime Minister of South Africa, General Botha, returned to South Africa on her after signing the Treaty of Versailles. She reverted to the Round Africa service in 1920 and during that year repatriated passengers from the Saxon when she lost her rudder. In August 1940 she evacuated 200 children to South Africa. During the Second World War, in 1941, she was commodore ship for the first Allied convoy to Russia from Liverpool to Archangel after Germany’s attack on Russia on 22nd June. She was transferred to the Indian Navy in 1944 for troopship work and in 1945 acted as a Landing Ship Infantry (LS(I)) to the East Indies fleet with 18 landing craft manned by Indian Navy personnel. After a refurbishment she resumed commercial operations in 1947 and continued until March 1952 when she was broken up by J. Cashmore at Newport, Monmouthshire for the British Iron & Steel Corporation.
(Photo: UCPSC 15/170)

POLGLASS CASTLE was built in 1903 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 4631grt, a length of 390ft, a beam of 51ft 5in and a service speed of 10 knots. She was completed in October 1903 as the Reichenfels for D. D. G. Hansa of Bremen. When the First World War broke out on 4th August 1914 she was at Colombo and promptly seized by the Admiralty and placed under the management of Grahams & Co. She was transferred to the Shipping Controller, placed under the management of Union-Castle and renamed Polglass Castle in 1916. The Union-Castle Line never actually owned her. Repurchased by Hansa in 1921 she reverted to Reichenfels and was broken up at Bremen by A. G. Weser in 1933.

CHEPSTOW CASTLE was built in 1913 by Short Bros at Sunderland with a tonnage of 7494grt, a length of 425ft 6in, a beam of 56ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was built as the Anglo-Brazilian for Lawther & Latta’s Nitrate Producers Ltd and, in 1915, was acquired to augment ships requisitioned for war service and renamed Chepstow Castle. In 1927 she was the first ship to berth at the newly built port at Walvis Bay and was broken up in 1933.
IPU was built in 1905 by Fredrikstad Mek. Verkstad at Fredrikstad with a tonnage of 686grt, a length of 191ft 1in, a beam of 33ft 1in and a service speed of 10 knots. She was built as the coastal cargo vessel Ipu for Empreza de Nav. Lorentzen of Para in Brazil and acquired by Union-Castle in 1915 for service at Beira. Sold to Glendinning Steamship Co. of London in 1923 she was renamed Chyko and in February 1925 was wrecked after stranding.

CARLISLE CASTLE was built in 1913 by Northumberland Shipbuilding Co at Newcastle with a tonnage of 4325grt, a length of 400ft, a beam of 53ft and a service speed of 10 knots. She was built as the Holtye for F. S. Holland & Co. and purchased by Union-Castle in 1915 who renamed her Carlisle Castle. On 14th February 1918 during a voyage from Portland, Maine to London with grain and general cargo, she was torpedoed by UB-57 near to the Royal Sovereign lightship in the English Channel. Amazingly, six weeks later, the UB-57 sank Blue Star’s Broderick which settled on top and across the wreck of the Carlisle Castle.

CRAWFORD CASTLE was built in 1910 by Northumberland Shipbuilding Co at Newcastle with a tonnage of 4464grt, a length of 380ft, a beam of 49ft and a service speed of 10 knots. She was built as the Hova for F. S. Holland & Co. and acquired by Union-Castle in 1917 who renamed her Crawford Castle. In October 1926 she was the first Union-Castle ship to dock in the new harbour at Kilindini, Mombasa. She was sold to W. Kunstmann of Stettin in 1930, renamed Victoria W. Kuntsmann and broken up in 1937.

CARLOW CASTLE was built in 1917 by Northumberland Shipbuilding Co at Newcastle with a tonnage of 5833grt, a length of 400ft, a beam of 53ft and a service speed of 10 knots. Delivered in February 1917 for the cargo service she remained with the company until 1930 when she was sold to Mitchell, Cotts & Co and renamed Cape St. Columba. Under her new owners she continued to serve in the South African market occasionally on charter to Union-Castle. She was sold to Carras Bros of Chios in 1935 and renamed Adelfotis. On 1st May 1943 she was torpedoed by U-182 in the Atlantic.

LEASOWE CASTLE was built in 1917 by Cammell Laird & Co at Birkenhead with a tonnage of 8106grt, a length of 488ft 6in, a beam of 58ft 2in and a service speed of 17 knots. She was laid down in 1915 as the Vasilissa Sophia for the National Steam Navigation Co. of Greece for management by Embericos Bros. However, work was suspended for some months and during that time she was transferred to the British subsidiary, Byron Steam Ship Co. of London, in anticipation that she could be finished in time to be requisitioned by the Government for trooping duties. Having been acquired under the Liner Acquisition Scheme she was eventually launched on 5th April 1917, named Leasowe Castle and placed under Union-Castle management but never being owned by them. She began service trooping between Alexandria and Marseilles. On 20th April 1918 she was torpedoed by U-35 off Gibraltar while serving as an ambulance transport ship but managed to reach port for repairs. Five weeks later, on 27th May, 1918 she was torpedoed by UB-51 whilst in a convoy 104 miles north-west of Alexandria and sank within 90 minutes. Bound for Marseilles she was carrying troops of the Warwickshire Yeomanry and 102 lives were lost including that of her Master Captain Holl. It is said that Lt. Col H Gray-Cheape gave his life jacket to a crew member.

DROMORE CASTLE was built in 1919 by Harland & Wolff at Greenock with a tonnage of 5242grt, a length of 412ft 6in, a beam of 54ft 4in and a service speed of 11 knots. Launched as the War Poplar on 28th August 1919 she was completed as the Dromore Castle as a modified ‘B’ type standard ship with extra derrick posts. In 1941 she was deployed carrying war materials across the Atlantic and on 12th December 1942 was mined and sunk whilst in a convoy 20 miles south-east of the River Humber without any loss of life. (Photo: A Duncan)

DUNDRUM CASTLE was built in 1919 by Harland & Wolff at Greenock with a tonnage of 5259grt, a length of 412ft 6in, a beam of 54ft 4in and a service speed of 11 knots. Sister of the Dromore Castle she was delivered as the Dundrum Castle and did not start her career with a ‘War’ name. On 16th – 17th June 1940 she was one of the thirteen ships which embarked 98,000 troops and refugees at St. Nazaire just before the fall of France. On 17th June she recovered 650 men including some from the sunken Lancastria and landed them at Plymouth after a voyage without food except hot soup. During a voyage from Liverpool to South Africa via the Suez Canal she caught fire on 2nd April 1943 while in the Red Sea, was abandoned and sank in position 14.37N 42.23E.

RIPLEY CASTLE was built in 1917 by Kawasaki Dockyard at Kobe in Japan with a tonnage of 7521grt, a length of 445ft 6in, a beam of 58ft 5in and a service speed of 11 knots. She was built as the War Soldier for the Shipping Controller under the management of Furness Withy. Acquired by Union-Castle in 1919 she continued in service until 1931 when she was broken up at Savona. (Photo: A Duncan)
ROSYTH CASTLE was built in 1918 by Canadian Vickers at Montreal with a tonnage of 4328grt, a length of 380ft 5in, a beam of 49ft 2in and a service speed of 11 knots. She was launched as the War Earl and delivered to the Shipping Controller in August 1918. Acquired by Union-Castle in 1919 she was renamed Rosyth Castle but transferred to Bullard, King & Co in the following year and given the name Umlazi. She was sold in 1936 to Campden Hill Steam Ship Co., with Counties Ship Management as managers, and renamed Campden Hill. In the following year she was re-sold to Kitagawa Sangyo K. K. of Osaka and renamed initially as Hokujo Maru and then Hokuzyo Maru. She was one of the few Japanese ships to survive the Second World War and was eventually broken up at Osaka during 1961.

BRATTON CASTLE was built in 1920 by Armstrong, Whitworth & Co. at Newcastle with a tonnage of 6696grt, a length of 412ft 2in, a beam of 55ft 10in and a service speed of 11 knots. With her sister, the Bampton Castle, she was laid down as an N1 type standard ship but was not allocated a “War” name. Completed in May 1920 as a cargo ship she was the first ship in the company to have the cruiser stern profile although, not the true cruiser stern. In 1931 she was sold to Rethymnis & Kulukundis of Pireaus and renamed, initially as Proteus but this was later changed to Mount Taurus. On 17th November 1942 she was torpedoed by U-264 while in convoy ONS 144 which was crossing the North Atlantic from London to Halifax, Nova Scotia. A spread of three torpedoes was heard to explode after 3 min 40 secs, 3 min 56 secs and 4 min 31 secs yet the Mount Taurus was only hit once. The other two explosions have never been explained. (Photo: A Duncan)

UNION-CASTLE LINE

BAMPTON CASTLE was built in 1920 by Armstrong, Whitworth & Co. at Newcastle with a tonnage of 6698grt, a length of 412ft 2in, a beam of 55ft 10in and a service speed of 11 knots. Sister of the Bratton Castle she was built for the cargo service but had accommodation for 12 passengers. She was sold to Rethymnis & Kulukundis of Piraeus and renamed, firstly, Atlantis, and then Mount Taygetus. On 23rd December 1933 she was wrecked on Memphis Point in the English Narrows, Chile during a voyage from San Antonio to London with grain. She was refloated on 1st January 1934 and taken to Magellenes Roads where she was abandoned to salvors and eventually broken up in the following September.

BANBURY CASTLE was built in 1918 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 6430grt, a length of 412ft 2in, a beam of 55ft 10in and a service speed of 11 knots. Similar to the Bratton Castle she was the first ‘N’ Class standard ship, the only one from Swan, Hunter and launched on 8th August 1918 as the War Climax. Delivered to the Shipping Controller on 28th September 1918 she was sold to Glen Line in October 1919 and renamed Glenstrae. She was purchased by Union-Castle in August 1920, renamed Banbury Castle and remained with the company until 1931 when she was sold to G. Vergottis of Piraeus who changed her name to Rokos. On 23rd December 1941 she was mined off Harwich and beached. She was towed off but went aground again whilst under tow and became a total loss.

ARUNDEL CASTLE (4) was built in 1921 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 19023grt, a length of 630ft 5in, a beam of 72ft 5in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was laid down in 1915 as the Amroth Castle but wartime shortages delayed completion. The internal layout of the public rooms and passenger accommodation set the pattern for all subsequent mails ships until the Pendennis Castle was launched in 1958. When she was delivered on 8th April 1921 for the mail service she was the company’s largest ship at the time and caused a sensation on the route as she was so similar, albeit smaller, to the North Atlantic liners. In 1923 she brought South African Prime Minister Smuts to London for the Imperial Conference and in 1925, during the seamen’s strike, came home with a scratch crew which included 120 non-seamen and was the first Union-Castle vessel to arrive for a month. In November 1926 she collided with the steamer Maud Llewyllyn in Southampton Water. With her sister, the Windsor Castle (2), she was, in 1936, deemed too slow for the mail run and in the following year was modernised by Harland & Wolff which included re-engining and the reduction of funnels from four to two, resuming service in October 1937 with her service speed increased by 3 knots. In 1939 she was requisitioned for use as a troopship and in November 1942 took part in the North Africa landings when she survived a glider bomb attack by shooting down a Ju-88 aircraft. She took part in the Sicily and Italian campaigns in 1943 and in August 1944 exchanged wounded prisoners of war at Gothenburg. The Gripsholm (Swedish America Line) brought German POW’s form the USA and, with the Arundel Castle and Drottningholm repatriated 1800 sick and wounded troops and 552 civilians to Liverpool. All the ships had ‘Protected’ painted on their hulls. In January 1945 she carried out a similar exchange with Donaldson’s Letitia when they carried 1940 persons including 1400 wounded, many from the Arnhem ‘Market Garden’ operation, from Marseilles to Liverpool. During 1945-46 she continued trooping between the UK-Gibraltar-Malta – Port Said for the RAF and RN and in 1947, with berths for 846, carried emigrants to the Cape in ‘Austerity’ conditions. After steaming 625,000 miles she completed her final government voyage in May 1949 and returned to her builders for an overhaul. She returned to the Mail run on 21st September 1950 and on 6th November 1958 left Southampton on her 211th and final voyage having been replaced by the Pendennis Castle. She was sold for scrap, realising £245,000, and was broken up in 1959 by Chiap Hua Manufacturing Co. at Kowloon, Hong Kong.
(Photos: UCPSC 24/143 & UCPSC 13/179)

WINDSOR CASTLE (2) was built in 1921 by John Brown & Co. in Clydebank with a tonnage of 18967grt, a length of 632ft 5in, a beam of 72ft 5in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was built by John Brown’s because Harland & Wolff could not accommodate the order. Sister of the Arundel Castle she was launched by Edward, Prince of Wales on 9th March 1922. So that she could be named Windsor Castle it was necessary to purchase a River Severn excursion steamer with the same name, rename her and then resell her. She entered service in April 1922 and replaced the Norman. When, in 1936, she proved too slow for the new mail contract she was modernised in the same manner as her sister, resuming service in January 1938. In September 1939 she was requisitioned for troopship duties. During a voyage from the Cape in 1941 she was attacked by a dive bomber when 400 miles west of Ireland. Four dive bombing runs were made during which a 500lb bomb entered the first class smoke room but failed to explode. It was sandbagged and left untouched until the ship arrived in port where it was defused. In 1942 she was deployed on trooping duties between the US, Canada and Europe. On 23rd March 1943 at 02.35 hrs, whilst in a Mediterranean convoy, she was attacked by a solitary aircraft 110 miles north-west of Algiers. An aerial torpedo struck her aft causing extensive flooding and she sank 13 hours later before a salvage vessel could reach her. Although she was carrying troops only one life was lost. (Photo: UCPSC 16/130)

SANDOWN CASTLE was built in 1921 by Short Bros. in Sunderland with a tonnage of 7607grt, a length of 445ft, a beam of 56ft 4in and a service speed of 12.5 knots. She was built as a cargo only ship and operated between the USA and South Africa occasionally triangulating with the UK. When, in 1922, the absorption of war built standard ships into commercial service created a surplus she was laid up for several months. In 1924 she carried 330 head of live cattle from South Africa to Birkenhead the intention being to create a market to rival that of the River Plate. However, the post-slaughter price was too high and the venture was discontinued in the same year. During 1946 she was given a lavender hull but after a short time reverted to black with a white band. She was scrapped in 1950. (Photo: A Duncan)

SANDGATE CASTLE was built in 1922 by Short Bros. in Sunderland with a tonnage of 7607grt, a length of 445ft, a beam of 56ft 4in and a service speed of 12.5 knots. Sister of the Sandown Castle she spent some lying idle in the London Docks before commencing service. In 1924 she carried cattle from South Africa to the UK in parallel with her sister and then, in 1925, worked with her on the South Africa – USA service. On 23rd June 1937, during a voyage from New York to Cape Town, she caught fire 350 miles north-east of Bermuda and was abandoned. The Dollar Steamship Company’s President Pierce picked up the crew from the lifeboats and on 30th June the Italia ship Conte de Savoia reported her being still afloat and burning. She sank shortly after.

INCOMATI was built in 1912 by Gebr. Sachsenberg AG, at Koln-Deutz with a tonnage of 340grt, a length of 129ft 7in, a beam of 25ft 8in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was built as a tender and sea-going tug for Deutsche Ost-Afrika Linie and launched on 1st October 1912 as the Leutnant. Based at the German East African ports she had two dumb lighters, Inga and Irma, of 353grt. In August 1914 she was interned at Beira in Mozambique and on 11th March 1916 was taken over by the Portuguese Government and renamed Incomati. Acquired by Union-Castle in 1924 she operated a feeder service along the Mozambique coast to Chinde – Quelimane – Macusa – Maquival towing the two lighters. In 1928 she was replaced by Rovuma and on 22nd February was sold to Cia Nacional de Nav. of Lourenço Marques for a Beira – Chinde service towing her two lighters ,Inga and Irma, carrying sugar for the Sena Sugar Co. She was moved to Luanda in Portuguese West Africa during 1930 and on 14th June 1931 arrived at Lisbon to operate the company’s harbour services. She was converted to a lighter in 1933 and was still in use as such in 1978.

KOODOO (2) was built in 1924 by J. I. Thorneycroft & Co. at Southampton with a tonnage of 119grt, a length of 90ft 7in, a beam of 19ft 1in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was built as the company’s tug at East London, remained there until 1937 when she was sold to the South African Railways & Harbour Administration without a change of name, and was broken up locally in 1960.

LLANDOVERY CASTLE (2) was built in 1925 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 10640grt, a length of 471ft 1in, a beam of 61ft 6in and a service speed of 14 knots. She commenced operations on the Round Africa service on 25th September 1925. In September 1940 work commenced to convert her into a hospital ship but in the November was badly damaged in an air raid. The conversion was eventually completed and she resumed service in May 1941 with 450 beds and 89 medical staff as HMS Hospital Ship No.39, the only Union-Castle ship used in that capacity in WWII. Her first role was to support the East African campaigns in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and Eritrea and in November 1941 suffered bomb damage whilst at Suez. In April 1942 she exchanged 917 seriously wounded Italians for 129 British, an operation that nearly failed as the Italians wanted a ‘one for one’ exchange to preserve their dignity. 1943 saw her ferrying along the North African coast between Alexandria-Tobruk-Benghazi, and in July of that year, as a hospital ship, supporting General Montgomery’s ‘Operation Husky’ assault on Sicily at Syracuse and Augusta. In 1944 after D-Day and the capture of Cherbourg she sailed into that port to evacuate casualties and in 1945 engaged in more general duties including repatriating Canadian wounded to Halifax, Nova Scotia. During her wartime service she carried approximately 38,000 wounded and steamed some 250,000 miles. She returned to the Round Africa service in May 1947and completed her last voyage in December 1952 to be broken up in March 1953 at Inverkeithing, Scotland by Thomas W. Ward for the British Iron & Steel Co. (Photo: UCPSC 06/172)

LLANDAFF CASTLE was built in 1926 by Workman, Clarke & Co. at Belfast with a tonnage of 10786grt, a length of 417ft 2in, a beam of 61ft 7in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Llandovery Castle (2) she commenced operations on the Round Africa service on 6th January 1927. In 1940 she carried the first child evacuees to South Africa and was later rushed into service as a troopship between South and East Africa in support of the Abyssinian and North African campaigns. On 25th December 1940 she was in a convoy which was attacked by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper but, fortunately, HMS Berwick forced the cruiser to break off the attack and, thereafter, the convoy was protected by Force H from Gibraltar. In 1942 she was extensively converted to carry 1,150 men for landings off enemy held coasts and on 5th May of that year supported Operation Ironclad, the invasion of Vichy held Madagasgar which had refused to support General de Gaulle and was a possible target for the Japanese. She was also present at the Diego Suarez landings. On 30th November 1942 at 17.30 hrs she was torpedoed three times by U-177 (Kaptain Gysae) 100 miles off Zululand. When the U-Boat surfaced to confirm the name of the ship voices in the water replied ‘Hardship’ and ‘Queen Mary’. When Kaptain Gysae asked a group if there were any wounded he was told that they were only ‘wet’ so, amused, he sailed off into the night. In fact, only two lives were lost. (Photo: UCPSC 01/135)

CARNARVON CASTLE (2) was built in 1926 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 20122grt, a length of 630ft 8in, a beam of 73ft 5in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was launched by Lady Suffield the second daughter of Lord Kylsant and commenced her maiden voyage on 16th July 1926. The company’s first motorship she was also the first to exceed 20000grt and had the distinctive Harland & Wolff profile including the dummy forward funnel. In 1936 the new mail contract required a 19 knot service speed to reduce the passage time to 13.5 days. Consequently, in 1937 she was modernised and re-engined, resuming service on 8th July 1938, without the forward funnel, and setting a new record to Cape Town of 12 days 13 hours and 36 minutes. In September 1939 she was commissioned by the navy for conversion at Simonstown, South Africa to an armed merchant cruiser, HMS Carnarvon Castle. On 5th December 1940 she sighted and engaged the German merchant cruiser Schiff 20: Thor (formerly the Santa Cruz of the Oldenburg-Portuguese Line) 700 miles east of Montevideo. At 08.00 the fighting began and the Thor fire 593 shells and two torpedoes, which missed, until she was lost in a smoke screen. The firing ceased at 11.15, and the German’s log recorded that HMS Carnarvon Castle turned north, on fire in several places and firing her stern guns, until she was lost in the haze. HMS Carnarvon Castle had been hit 27 times with 4 dead and 28 wounded and proceeded to Montevideo where repairs were carried out. Ironically, plates from the Admiral Graf Spee were used to patch the shell holes. She then sailed to Cape Town for further repairs. In 1941 she took part in Operation Bellringer to intercept five Vichy French ships that were being escorted from Tamatave to Bordeaux by warships and escorted the Commandant Dorise (Messageries Maritimes) into East London, South Africa. She was decommissioned in December 1943 but, in 1944, was converted into a troopship after plans to convert her into an aircraft carrier like Pretoria Castle/Warwick Castle were abandoned. In March 1947 she was finally decommissioned and in the June inaugurated the emigrant service to Cape Town with berths for 1283 passengers. She underwent an extensive £1 million refit in 1949 and returned to the mail run on 15th June 1950 and continued to operate until 1st June 1963 when she arrived at Southampton prior to sailing for Mihara in Japan for breaking up after 30 years service. (Photos: UCPSC 09/124 & UCPSC 01/135)

EIDER was built in 1900 by Cambelltown Shipbuilding Co. at Campbelltown with a tonnage of 1236grt, a length of 230ft 6in, a beam of 32ft 8in and a service speed of 10 knots. She was built for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co’s feeder service between Southampton, Bremen and Hamburg. On 4th August 1914 she was the last British ship to leave Germany after the declaration of the First World War. Under International Convention she had 24 hours to avoid seizure during which time she had sailed and reached British territorial waters. Acquired by Union-Castle in 1926 she remained with the company until 1936 when she was sold to J. A. Billmeir for service during the Spanish Civil War, mainly to Bilbao, and renamed Stanhill. She was sold to Greek operator, J. Stavron, in 1937 for service in the Mediterranean and her name reverted to Eider. In the following year she was sold to Adriatico-Tirreno-Ionio-Ligure of Genoa, with A Raveno as manager, and renamed Docilitas. On 25th December 1939 she was sold for scrap but acquired by the Italian Government. Seized by the Germans in September 1943 she was sunk at Genoa following an air attack on 12th February 1944. She was salvaged in 1947 and scrapped.

ROVUMA was built in 1927 by Ardrossan Dockyard at Ardrossan with a tonnage of 1289grt, a length of 211ft 10in, a beam of 35ft 1in and a service speed of 10 knots. She was deployed on the coastal trade operating out of Beira in Mozambique replacing the Incomati. At the time the ‘Castle’ suffix was only given to trans-ocean vessels. In 1949 she was sold to Colonial Steamships Ltd of Mauritius and renamed Floreal. She was renamed Boundary in 1954 when she was sold to African Coasters Ltd of Durban and broken up in 1962. (Photo: A Duncan)

LLANGIBBY CASTLE was built in 1929 by Harland & Wolff at Glasgow with a tonnage of 11951grt, a length of 485ft 7in, a beam of 66ft 2in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. She was delivered for the Round Africa service and was the first motorship to circumnavigate the African continent. In 1934 the Third Class became the Tourist Class and Round Africa cruises were introduced at fares of £105 in 1st Class and £40 in Tourist. In July 1940, after a voyage from Cape Town to Falmouth, she was requisitioned for trooping duties, as she was the ideal size to carry a battalion, and initially carried troops to South and East Africa. On December 21/22 1940 she was one of eleven ships, including the Roxburgh Castle, damaged during an air raid in Liverpool. During a voyage from the Clyde to Singapore she was, on 16th January, torpedoed north of the Azores by U-402 The stern and after gun were blown off but the propellers remained intact. Although carrying 1400 troops only 26 lives were lost and she managed to limp to Horta in the Azores at 9 knots, fighting off attacks by Focke-Wulf 200 ‘Kondor’ aircraft on the way. Only 14 days were allowed for repairs to be carried out so on 2nd February set sailed for Gibraltar escorted by an Admiralty tug and three destroyers. She still had her troops on board and proceeded without her stern and rudder. On the following day the group of ships encountered and fought off a U-boat pack attack during which HMS Westcott sank U-581. The tug took the Llangibby Castle in tow to assist with steering and on 8th February arrived at Gibraltar where the troops were disembarked. Except for meals they had remained on deck for the entire voyage but they had avoided being taken prisoner in Singapore. On 6th April, after 57 days, she sailed from Gibraltar, still without a rudder but with her escorts in attendance, for the 1445 mile voyage back to the United Kingdom where she arrived safely on 13th April. In all she had sailed 3400 miles without a stern and rudder, using her engines only for steering, a feat for which her master, Captain Bayer, was awarded the CBE. On 9th November 1942 she was part of assault force KMF which, with force KMS and comprising in total 340 ships escorted by 3 battleships, 5 aircraft carriers, 5 cruiser, 30 destroyers and 44 support ships, undertook Operation Torch, the North African landings. She was hit with an 8″ shell from a shore battery which killed one person. In 1943 she had to return to the United Kingdom for repairs to her bow which had been damaged at Gibraltar during the preparations for the Italian landings and, at the same time, was converted into a Landing Ship Infantry with 18 landing craft. She rehearsed her landing techniques at Loch Fyne and then spent six months ferrying troops in the Mediterranean painted in two shades of blue. In 1944 she was allotted to Force J3 (Juno beach), painted in camouflage paint and embarked Royal Marine Flotilla 557 to man her landing craft for 1590 troops. Based at Southampton she practised her D-Day landings at Bracklesham Bay and on 6th June joined Juno Force and landed the first wave of 750 Canadian troops at Coirseilles. Returning to the ship ten of her LSI’s were swamped with the loss of 12 lives. The second wave of 750 men were taken ashore by the remaining LSI’s which made two trips to the beach. In all she remained at the beach head for nine hours. She later landed troops at the Omaha and Utah beaches and also at Le Havre. During the operation she made over seventy crossings and carried over 100,000 men. At the cessation of hostilities in Europe she was transferred to the Far East where she carried out more trooping duties. In January 1946 she made three voyages repatriating some 6000 West African troops from Burma and India including the total internees of a military prison. During the 12 month period she sailed 55,732 miles and her longest stay in port was 2 days 20 hrs. The company recorded the tour of duty as the longest Southampton to Southampton voyage undertaken in peace time. She was returned to Union-Castle in January 1947, after having sailed 300,256 miles and carrying 156,134 troops, and underwent a refit before resuming her Round Africa service. In 1949 she missed a voyage after suffering a fire in the cargo space and on 29th June 1954 she sailed from Tilbury to Newport in Monmouthshire where she was broken up by J. Cashmore. (Photos: UCPSC 12/124 & J Fisher)

DUNBAR CASTLE (2) was built in 1930 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 10002grt, a length of 471ft 2in, a beam of 61ft 2in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. She was launched for the Round Africa service on 31st October 1929. On 8th January 1940, after sailing from London for Beira, she hit a magnetic mine off east Cliff, Ramsgate in the English Channel. Breaking her back she heeled over and sank onto an even keel in 30 minutes with the loss of 9 lives including her Master who was killed when the foremast collapsed onto the bridge. The superstructure remained above water until it was demolished after the war.
(Photo: From a painting by William McDowell)

WINCHESTER CASTLE (1) was built in 1930 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 20109grt, a length of 631ft 6in, a beam of 75ft 5in and a service speed of 20 knots. She sailed on her maiden mail run on 11th October 1930. In 1936 one round voyage was lost when, after stranding near to Portland, the Armadale Castle was brought in to replace her. She was the last ship to be modernised in 1938 to meet the new mail contract requirements and, like the Carnarvon Castle, had a large single raked funnel fitted. In 1941 she made one trooping voyage to Bombay and then became the HQ ship for Admiral Mountbatten’s Combined Operations spending a year in Scottish waters training men. During this time she was always on 7 days standby for a possible invasion of Grand Canary Island. On 23rd March she became the HQ ship in Operation Ironclad, the invasion of Vichy held Madagasgar. Accompanied by the troopships Keren, Karanja, Llandaff Castle and Sobieski she was escorted by the battleship HMS Ramilles and undertook a successful assault at Diego Suarez on May 4th and 5th. During a trooping voyage from Madagascar to the USA on 27 July 1942, she picked up the crew of the US cargo ship Honolulan which had been torpedoed by U-582, 250 miles off Sierra Leone, five days earlier. Dr C Crawford probably helped to save the life of one crew member who had suffered a shark attack. She was back in Loch Fyne by the September and on 6th November took part in the North African landings at Sidi Ferruch, Algiers. On 9th September 1943, with the Durban Castle, she took part in Operation Avalanche when Lt-General Mc Creery’s 56th Division, British X Corps were landed between Paestum and Maiori, either side of Salerno and on 15th August 1944 participated in Operation Dragoon when her troops were landed near Cannes during the invasion of southern France. During 1947-48 she was deployed on the UK-South Africa emigrant service with 877 berths. Refurbished in 1948 she resumed her mail runs on 22nd September and continued until 1960 when she was replaced by the Windsor Castle. Sold for £315,000 she arrived at Mihara in Japan on 5th November to be broken up by Nichimen K.K. (Photos: UCPSC? & CMW Edwards)

WARWICK CASTLE (3) was built in 1930 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 20445grt, a length of 651ft 5in, a beam of 75ft 5in and a service speed of 20 knots. Like her sister, the Winchester Castle, she was similarly modified in 1938 to meet the conditions of the new mail contract. In September 1939 she was taken over by the government for trooping duties. In November 1942 she was part of the KMF 1 (UK-Mediterranean Fast) assault force for Operation Torch, the North African landings. She landed her troops on 10th November and, empty, joined convoy MKF 1 for the return voyage home. On 12th November at 08.50 hrs, when north of Gibraltar off the Portuguese coast, she was torpedoed by U-413 and sank 1hr.25mins later. The U-Boat had waited under the convoy and targeted the rearmost troopship. (Photo: Raphael Tuck postcard)

ROSLIN CASTLE (3) was built in 1935 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7016grt, a length of 443ft 6in, a beam of 61ft 4in and a service speed of 14 knots. Launched on 20th December 1934 she was given a lavender hull instead of the usual black for a cargo ship. She was completely refrigerated and designed to carry different typed of South African produce in different compartments. Although, with her sister the Rothesay Castle, she was often laid up in the River Blackwater between fruit seasons she was still profitable. In 1967, the oldest ship in the British & Commonwealth fleet, she was sold for breaking up and arrived in Kaohsuing in Taiwan on 3rd December of that year. (Photo: CMW Edwards)

ROTHESAY CASTLE (1) was built in 1935 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7016grt, a length of 443ft 6in, a beam of 61ft 4in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Roslin Castle she ended her career on 4th January 1940 when she went aground at Sanaig Point on the Isle of Islay during a voyage from New York to Glasgow and became a total loss. (Photo: A Duncan)
STIRLING CASTLE (2) was built in 1936 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 25550grt, a length of 696ft, a beam of 82ft 5in and a service speed of 20 knots. She was launched on 15th July 1935 by Mrs Robertson Gibb, wife of the Chairman, and sailed on her maiden voyage on 7th February 1936. She completed her first voyage in the scheduled time of 16 days 15 hrs but, capable of 21 knots if required, did the run in 13 days 9hrs in the following August and beat the record established by Union’s Scot in 1893. In 1940 she was requisitioned for troopship duties capable of carrying 6000 persons eating and sleeping in two sessions, a capacity which was occasionally reached. In 1941 she was kept on 7 day standby, as part of a 12,000 strong force, in case it became necessary to occupy the Azores and/or the Canary Islands and in 1943 carried troops from the US to the UK as part of Operation Bolero in readiness for the D-Day landings. Her virtually trouble free war service ended in 1945 having steamed over 500,000 miles and carrying 128,000 troops. She was finally released in 1946 and underwent a refit before returning to the mail run in 1947. In 1966 she was sold for scrap, realising £360,000, and arrived at Mihara, Japan on 3rd March for breaking up by Nichimen K.K.

ATHLONE CASTLE was built in 1936 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 25564grt, a length of 696ft, a beam of 82ft 5in and a service speed of 20 knots. Sister of the Stirling Castle, she was launched by the Princess Alice, wife of the Earl of Athlone, a former Governor General of South Africa, on 28th November 1935. On 5th November 1937 she was the first mail ship to call at Buffalo Harbour at East London and on 22nd December 1938 inaugurated the 14 days or under ‘Accelerated’ schedule as stipulated in the 1936 mail contract. In 1940 she was the commodore ship of a Union-Castle convoy made up of the Arundel Castle, the Windsor Castle, the Winchester Castle, the Durban Castle and the Capetown Castle to carry South African troops to Suez following the outbreak of fighting in North Africa. During 1943, together with her sister, she trooped between the USA and UK carrying some 150,000 troops without any serious incident. In 1946 she underwent a refit and continued in service until 6th August 1965 when she concluded her 141st voyage at Southampton. Her sale had already been negotiated and ten days later she sailed for Kaohsuing in Taiwan where she arrived on 13th September for breaking up by the China Steel Corporation. (Photo: UCPSC 19/197)

DUNNOTTAR CASTLE was built in 1936 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 15002grt, a length of 560ft, a beam of 71ft 9in and a service speed of 17 knots. She was built as an Intermediate steamer but entered service on the mail run while the other ships were being refurbished. On 28th August 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty for commission as an Armed Merchant Cruiser and served with the South Atlantic patrols. When, in 1942, more war-built trade protection cruisers entered service, she was released and converted into a troopship carrying over 250,000 men including shuttling between Normandy and Southampton after the D-Day landings. She returned to commercial service in 1948 and, after a refurbishment by Harland & Wolff, resumed deployment on the clockwise Round Africa service, London-Suez-South Africa-London. In 1958 she was, after 94 voyages, replaced by the Rhodesia Castle and sold to Incres S.S. Co. of Monrovia and renamed Victoria. On 16th January 1959 she was towed to Holland where she was rebuilt and re-engined, her tonnage being reduced to 14917grt but her length increased to 572ft, and commenced cruising in the Mediterranean on 14th December 1959. From 1960 until 1964 she cruised between New York and the West Indies. In October 1964 she was sold to to Victoria S.S. Co. of Monrovia and a subsidiary of the Swedish Einar Hansen’s Rederi A/B Clipper, Malmo with Incres as managers and on the same itinerary. She was sold to the Chandris subsidiary Phaidon Navigation Co. (Chandris Inc) London in November 1975 and transferred Greek to registry although briefly registered as being owned by the National American Hellenic Line with the intention of resuming a service across the Atlantic. On 11th December 1975 she arrived in Piraeus in tow of Moran’s Heidi Moran where the engine was overhauled and the cabins refurbished before resuming cruising on 6th June 1976 as The Victoria but under the Panamanian flag. In 1981 she was sold to Victoria Maritime S.A. of Piraeus for cruising and without a change of name. After 64 years she is still cruising in the Mediterranean as the Princesa Victoria under the ownership of Louis Cruise Lines of Cyprus. (Photo: UCPSC 07/147)

DUNVEGAN CASTLE (2) was built in 1936 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 15007grt, a length of 560ft, a beam of 71ft 9in and a service speed of 17 knots. Sister of the Dunnottar Castle she was initially deployed on the mail run while other ships were being rebuilt. In September 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted into an Armed Merchant Merchant cruiser. On 27th August 1940 at 21.47 hrs she was torpedoed by U-46 off western Ireland while escorting a convoy to Freetown with the loss of 27 lives. She sank early on the following morning and the 250 survivors were taken to Scotland. (Photo: UCPSC 04/151)

WALMER CASTLE (3) was built in 1936 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 906grt, a length of 236ft 2in, a beam of 39ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. She was delivered on 30th November 1936 to replace the Eider on the Southampton – Bremen – Hamburg feeder service. In 1940 she was requisitioned for use as an armed supply ship based at Scapa Flow and in June 1941 was converted into a convoy rescue ship. She became operational on 12th September 1941, replacing the Hontestroom which had unsatisfactory accommodation. On 19th September she began her first tour of duty with OG 75 and rescued 23 crew members of the City of Waterford. On the following day she rescued 30 seamen from the Empire Moat and 28 from the Baltallin. During the next day, 21st September, and well astern of the convoy, she was attacked out of the sun by a Focke Wulf Kondor of I/KG 40 from Bordeaux, some 700 miles west of Ushant. She managed to dodge two bombs but a third scored a direct hit killing the captain, 10 of the crew and 2 of the rescued seamen. The remaining 12 crew members and 52 rescued survivors were picked up by HMS Marigold and HMS Deptford and the derelict hulk was sunk by gunfire. The Focke Wulf was later shot down by aircraft from the escort carrier. Convoy OG 75 was attacked by a wolf-pack and lost nine ships despite the fact that the very first escort carrier, HMS Audacity, was present. It later transpired that at the beginning of September 1941 the German command changed its grid references code but it took British de-coders several days to break the code. The presence of a wolf-pack was predicted but the exact location and time of attack could not be established in time. (Photo: The late P.A. Vicary)

ROCHESTER CASTLE was built in 1937 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7795grt, a length of 474ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 15 knots although she attained 19 knots during trials. Delivered on 29th April 1937 she was the first of a class of four ships which were slightly larger than the earlier ‘R’ class. She made her maiden voyage to Port Natal on 12th May and was subsequently deployed on the South Africa – UK refrigerated fruit run. In 1940 she was placed on a war footing and on 10th August 1942 participated in Operation Pedestal, the most critical of the Malta convoys. Fifteen ships including the tanker Ohio sailed from Gibraltar with vital supplies for Malta escorted by a battlefleet consisting of two battleships, four aircraft carriers, seven cruisers and thirty destroyers. After three days and after being continually attacked by the Axis forces only the Rochester Castle, Blue Star’s Brisbane Star and Melbourne Star, Port Line’s Port Chalmers and the badly damaged tanker Ohio reached Valetta on 13th August. On the approach to Malta the Rochester Castle was hit in No.3 hold by two torpedoes launched from German E-boats but she managed to reach port, the first vessel to do so. Because of her damage she was forced to remain in Malta until the following December when temporary repairs enabled her to make the dash for Alexandria and thence to New York via Cape Town where permanent repairs were made. In June 1942, duly repaired, she arrived back in Liverpool with a cargo of frozen meat from Buenos Aires. She was sold to Castle Shipping Corp. of Cyprus in 1970 and renamed Glenda for her final voyage to Whampoa where, on 13th November 1970, she was the last of the six ‘R’s to be broken up. (Photo: MNW Edwards)

ROXBURGH CASTLE (1) was built in 1937 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7801grt, a length of 474ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 15 knots. Sister of the Rochester Castle she was delivered on 26th June 1937 for the soft fruit trade. On 21/22 December 1940 she was damaged by bombs during a night attack on Liverpool as was the Llangibby Castle. In the following year, on 4th May, she was again damaged by bombs during an air raid on Liverpool. On 22nd February 1943 she was torpedoed by U-107 off Ferraria Point in the Azores in position 38.12N 26.22W whilst sailing independently of any convoy which ships of with this speed capability frequently did.

RICHMOND CASTLE (1) was built in 1939 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7798grt, a length of 457ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 15 knots. Sister of the Rochester Castle she was delivered on 11th February 1939 for the South Africa – UK fruit refrigerated fruit service. On 4th August 1942 she was torpedoed by U-176 in the North Atlantic, position 50.25N 35.05W.
ROWALLAN CASTLE (1) was built in 1939 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7798grt, a length of 474ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 15 knots. When she was delivered on 11th March 1939 Harland & Wolff recorded a loss of £30,000 on the building of the last two vessels of the class. On 14th February 1942, while participating in convoy MW 9B from Alexandria to Malta, she was bombed by German aircraft and reduced to a hulk. She was taken in tow by the destroyer HMS Zulu but as she was clearly settling in the water Admiral Cunningham ordered her to be sunk. (Photo: C.H. Solomons)

DURBAN CASTLE was built in 1938 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 17382grt, a length of 594ft 7in, a beam of 76ft 4in and a service speed of 18.5 knots. She was built for the Round Africa service and inaugurated the practice of naming ships after non-existent South African castles. In September 1939 she was converted into a troopship. When Greece fell in 1941 the King of Greece and his family first took refuge in Egypt and then South Africa from where the Durban Castle transported him, his family and entourage from Durban to the United Kingdom. In 1942 she was converted into a Landing Ship Infantry with nine landing craft on each side and on 6th November took part in the North African landings at Arzue. During July 1943 she landed the 41st Marine Commando on Sicily and later landed troops at Salerno and Anzio. On 15th August 1944 she landed troops near Cannes during the invasion of southern France. She returned to commercial service in 1946 still carrying her AA gun platforms and with 9 lifeboats on each side replacing the landing craft. This austere situation was rectified when she was later re-furbished. In July 1947 she resumed service, initially on the mail service pending the return of the larger ships which were themselves being refurbished after war service, and then on the Round Africa service. In October 1947 she made the news headlines when a glamorous young actress, Gay Gibson, was murdered during a voyage from South Africa to England. She was reported as being missing from her cabin and a search of the ship failed to find her. Then a steward reported that he had seen one of his colleagues in Gay’s cabin late on the night of her disappearance and his story led to an amazing trial at Winchester Assizes. Without a body in the case, the accused, a steward named James Camb, had a good chance that his story that Gay died from natural causes while he made love to her would be believed. Camb said that he panicked and pushed her body out of the port hole but the court decided otherwise and he was convicted of her murder. On 28th March 1962 she completed her final voyage in London and in the following month was sold to Eisen & Metall GmbH of Hamburg for breaking up. (Photo: UCPSC 19/195)

PRETORIA CASTLE (1)/WARWICK CASTLE (4) was built in 1938 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 17383grt, a length of 594ft 7in, a beam of 76ft 4in and a service speed of 18.5 knots. Sister of the Durban Castle she commenced her maiden voyage as the Pretoria Castle on the 20th April 1939. During her second voyage she damaged her rudder when she grounded in Delagoa Bay necessitating repairs at Prince Edward Dock, Durban. On completion of that voyage she was requisitioned for use as an Armed Merchant Cruiser being fitted with eight 6 inch guns together with AA and machine guns. With a black hull and buff upper works and funnel she was commissioned in the November and based at Freetown in Sierra Leone. In 1942 she was replaced by one of the new light cruisers and sold to the Admiralty for conversion into an aircraft carrier. With fifteen aircraft and equipped with one catapult she was commissioned on 18th March 1943 but was used purely for training purposes. She was re-purchased by Union-Castle in January 1946 and rebuilt to her original specification but, because a new mail ship was under construction with Pretoria Castle as her designated name, she was renamed Warwick Castle. Resuming commercial on 13th March 1947 she initially served on the mail run until the new mail ships joined the fleet and then reverted to the Round Africa service in 1950. On 26th July 1962 she arrived at Barcelona where she was scrapped.
(Photos: Imperial War Museum & Raphael Tuck)

UNION-CASTLE LINE

CAPETOWN CASTLE was built in 1938 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 27000grt, a length of 734ft, a beam of 82ft 6in and a service speed of 22.5 knots. She was launched by Mrs J.D. Low, the Mayoress of Cape Town, and the name of the city was bestowed as one word to conform with the policy of naming the ships after fictional South African castles. Based on the Stirling Castle specification, but with more enclosed superstructure to provide more outside cabins, she was the longest motorship in the world and joined the fleet to operate a faster eight ship mail service. When war broke out on 3rd September 1939 she was at Port Elizabeth and continued in commercial service until 1940 when she was requisitioned for use as a troopship. During 1943 she trooped between the USA and the UK as part of Operation Bolero, the build up for D-Day. After carrying some 164,000 troops and sailing 484,000 miles she returned to Union-Castle in 1946 and was refurbished at Belfast where her original fittings had been stored in complete safety. She was the company’s first ship to return to post-war service, sailing from Southampton on 9th January 1947. On 17th October 1960 a compressor exploded in the engine room, disabling the ship, which was near Las Palmas, and killing seven persons. The passengers were transferred to other ships and she eventually returned to Belfast where she was repaired; the Braemar Castle temporarily replacing her. In 1965 £100,000 worth of gold ingots were stolen from the bullion room but were found cemented in a hold during the following voyage. Two members of the crew were subsequently imprisoned for the theft. On 26th September 1967 she arrived at La Spezia for breaking up by Terrestre Marittima having been replaced by the Southampton Castle and Good Hope Castle.
(Photo: UCPSC 22/146)

ROWALLAN CASTLE (2) was built in 1943 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 7950grt, a length of 474ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 3in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was finally delivered on 24th April 1942 after waiting for engines to be installed. Being a relatively fast ship she was deployed on the refrigerated food run between South Africa and the UK, operating independently of convoys. She was heavily armed, especially against air attack and fitted with paravanes on forward booms as a defence against mines. In 1945, after the war she made several fruit runs to the USA. After a further twenty six years service she was sold to Sheyh Sheng Steel & Iron Works of Taiwan in 1971 and arrived at Kaohsiung on 2nd September of that year for breaking up. (Photo: Union-Castle Line)

RICHMOND CASTLE (2) was built in 1944 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 7971grt, a length of 474ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 3in and a service speed of 16 knots. Sister of the Rowallan Castle she was delivered on 28th September 1944 and operated on the refrigerated fruit run until 1971 when she was sold to Chinese shipbreakers for £146,280 and arrived at Shanghai on 27th August 1971. (Photo: A. Duncan)
ROXBURGH CASTLE (2) was built in 1945 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 8003grt, a length of 474ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 3in and a service speed of 16 knots. The second sister of the Rowallan Castle she was delivered on 14th February 1945 and operated on the refrigerated fruit run between South African and the United Kingdom. She was sold to Chinese shipbreakers in 1971 for £146,000 and arrived in Shanghai on 19th July of that year. (Photo: World Ship Photo Library)

DRAKENSBURG CASTLE was built in 1945 by J & L Thompson & Sons in Sunderland with a tonnage of 9905grt, a length of 500ft 4in, a beam of 64ft 1in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. She was built for the Ministry of War Transport as the Empire Allenby, one of the Empire Rawlinson class of fast ships. The officers accommodation was amidships and the ratings were housed aft in the poop. Nobody was berthed in the forecastle because of mines. She was acquired by Union- Castle in 1946 under the Government’s Ship Disposal scheme and became the Drakensburg Castle with a black hull. With her sisters she was deployed on the USA – South Africa run but, because she was faster than the service required, was expensive to operate. She was not suitable for tramping operations either so finished up having a shorter than normal working life. In July 1947 she was transferred to South African registry and by the late 1950’s was operating a general cargo service round Africa. On 5th August 1959 she arrived at Hong Kong where she was broken up. (Photo: UCPSC 02/182)

GOOD HOPE CASTLE (1) was built in 1945 by Caledon Ship Building & Engineering Co. in Dundee with a tonnage of 9905grt, a length of 497ft 6in, a beam of 64ft 5in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. She was delivered to the Ministry of War Transport on 5th April 1945 as the Empire Life with T & J Harrison as managers. On 9th January 1946 she had to put into Valetta, Malta for repairs after shedding a propeller blade. She was acquired by Union-Castle in March of the same year and given the name Good Hope Castle and a black hull. On 14th July 1947 she became the first Union-Castle vessel to be transferred to South African registry. In August 1959 she arrived in Hong Kong at about the same time as the Drakensburg Castle where she was broken up. (Photo: UCPSC 01/170)

KENILWORTH CASTLE (3) was built in 1944 by Chas Connell & Co. in Glasgow with a tonnage of 9916grt, a length of 497ft 6in, a beam of 64ft 5in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. She was built for the Ministry of War Transport as the Empire Wilson with Union-Castle as managers. Acquired by the company in 1946 she was renamed Kenilworth Castle and given a lavender grey hull and a short funnel. On 4th June 1968 she arrived at Hong Kong where she was broken up. (Photo: UCPSC 01/170)

RIEBEECK CASTLE was built in 1946 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 8322grt, a length of 474ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was delivered on 11th March 1945 to carry fruit from South Africa on the northbound voyage and general cargo on the southbound voyage. After a career which lasted 26 years she arrived at Kaohsiung on 2nd September 1971 where she was broken up. (Photo: UCPSC 02/182)

RUSTENBURG CASTLE was built in 1946 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 8322grt, a length of 474ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 16 knots. Sister of the Riebeeck Castle she was delivered on 5th March 1946 to carry fruit from South Africa on the northbound voyage and general cargo on the southbound voyage. In 1971 she was sold to Chinese breakers for £147,500 and sailed on her final voyage from Singapore to Shanghai on 6th September 1971.
(Photo: C.H.Solomons)

BRAEMAR CASTLE (2) was built in 1943 by Short Bros in Sunderland with a tonnage of 7067grt, a length of 466ft 6in, a beam of 56ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was completed for the Ministry of War Transport as the Empire Duchess with Hugh Hogarth & Son as managers. On 7th August 1946 the management was transferred to Union-Castle who purchased her in 1949 and renamed her Braemar Castle. In 1950 she was transferred to King Line and renamed King James. She was sold to Cambay Prince S.S. Co. of Hong Kong in 1958 and renamed Tyne Breeze with John Manners & Co. as managers. Five years later she became the Cathay Trader for owner Cathay Trader Steam Ship Co. of Hong Kong and in the following year, 1964, was purchased by Pacific Pearl Navigation Co. of Hong Kong and renamed Pearl Light. In 1966 she became the Habib Marikar owned by Marikar Navigation & Agencies Ltd of Hong Kong. On 3rd November 1967 she suffered an engine failure while on a voyage from Hong Kong to Chittagong and went ashore on Lincoln Island in position 16.30N 112.50E becoming a total loss. (Photo: A Duncan)

PRETORIA CASTLE (2) was built in 1948 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 28705grt, a length of 747ft 4in, a beam of 84ft and a service speed of 22.5 knots. Costing £2,500,000 she was launched by Mrs Jan Smuts by telephone on 19th August 1947 as a replacement for the lost Windsor Castle. With her sister the Edinburgh Castle (3) she was an enlarged version of the Capetown Castle, the company’s largest ships to date and propelled by steam. On 15th June 1953 she hosted Government guests at the Spithead Coronation Review and took part in the procession through the lines formed by 260 ships which was headed by Trinity House’s Patricia, the then Royal Yacht HMS Surprise, followed by Orient Lines Orcades, Pretoria Castle, P&O’s Strathnaver and British Rail ships carrying Admiralty staff. In 1962 she was refitted when the outward appearance was changed by altering the positions of the mast. She was sold on 1st January 1966 to the South African Marine Corporation (UK) Ltd and entered service with them on 2nd February as the S.A. Oranje with a new Safmarine livery but on the same route and with Union-Castle crews and management. Her registry was transferred to Cape Town on 17th March 1969. After 187 sailings and carrying over 250,000 passengers she arrived arrived at Kaohsuing on 2nd November 1975 to be broken up by Chin Tai Steel Enterprises. (Raphael Tuck postcard)

EDINBURGH CASTLE (3) was built in 1947 by Harland & Wolff in 1948 with a tonnage of 28705grt, a length of 747ft 4in, a beam of 84ft and a service speed of 22.5 knots. Sister of the Pretoria Castle she was built to replace the lost Warwick Castle and underwent the same refit in 1962. On 5th March 1976 she commenced her last passenger sailing from Southampton before undertaking a one-way cargo only voyage to the Far East where she was broken up at Kaohsiung by Chou’s Iron & Steel Co. in the June of that year.

BLOEMFONTEIN CASTLE was built in 1950 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 18400grt, a length of 594ft 6in, a beam of 76ft 4in and a service speed of 18.5 knots. It was the company’s intention to use her as an emigrant carrier to East Africa,and in particular Rhodesia, for the ill fated ‘Ground Nut Scheme’. However, when in 1948, the South African government of Field Marshall Smuts was ousted by Dr Malan’s Nationalist Party the traffic dried up when the new government cancelled the assisted passage scheme. Consequently, during the construction the plans were amended but she was always considered to be the ‘odd man out’ as far as the Union-Castle fleet was concerned. However, she entered service as the only one class ship until the Transvaal Castle, and operated from the London-Rotterdam-Cape-Beira route, the only vessel to do so. In the mid-afternoon of 8th January 1953 she rescued the 234 passengers and crew from the Klipfontein (Vereenigde Nederlands Maats) which had struck a rock and foundered five miles off Cape Barra near Inhambane whilst on route for Beira. Ironically, when the accident occured the Klipfontein was racing the Bloemfontein Castle for the only vacant berth at Beira. In August 1959 a newly joined crew member was arrested for his part in a jewel robbery. On 9th November 1959, being the odd man out, she became surplus to requirements and was sold to Chandris (England) Ltd and renamed Patris. After a refit at North Shields ownership changed to the National Greek Australia Line and she sailed for Australia where, by 1972, she was cruising out of Sydney and then operated on the Sydney-Singapore service. In February 1974 she became an Australian Federal Government accommodation ship for nine months after typhoon ‘Tracy’ had virtually destroyed Darwin in the Northern Territory. Returning to Greece in 1976 she was converted to carry 260 cars though large side-loading doors for the Venice-Ancona-Patras service. In 1980 she was sold to the Michail A. Karageorgis Group and renamed Mediterranean Island and in 1981 became the Mediteranean Star on the Piraeus-Alexandria run under the same owners but registered as Star Navigation Corp and was later transferred within the group to Consolidated Ocean Transports. She was sold to St. Vincent owners for breaking up and renamed Terra pro temps.

RHODESIA CASTLE was built in 1951 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 17041grt, a length of 576ft 5in, a beam of 74ft 3in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. Based on the Bloemfontein Castle design she was built for the Round Africa service and replaced the Llanstephan Castle. In 1958 she had her funnel heightened and a dome top fitted and after two cruises out of Southampton replaced the Dunnottar Castle. She was remodelled in 1960 to accommodate 442 one class passengers. On 4th May 1967 she was laid up in the River Blackwater prior to sailing to Kaohsiung for breaking up by Chin Ho Fa Steel & Iron Co.

KENYA CASTLE was built in 1951 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 17041grt, a length of 576ft 5in, a beam of 74ft 3in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. Sister of the Rhodesia Castle she was delivered at Southampton on 18th February 1952 but undertook a 14-day cruise to the Canary Islands before sailing on the London – Cape via Suez service. In 1958 she had her funnel re-modelled and in 1960 had her accommodation altered to cater for 442 One Class passengers. The British National Export Council considered her for an exhibition ship in 1966 but the idea came to nothing. On 22nd April 1967 she was laid up in the River Blackwater and was later sold to the Greek Chandris Line and renamed Amerikanis. Converted into a 920 passenger One Class ship she sailed on her maiden voyage for her new owner on 8th August 1968 from Pireaus – Messina – Naples – Lisbon – Halifax – New York. After three line voyages she cruised out of New York to the Caribbean during the following winter , an operating pattern that was repeated in 1969. In 1970 she was transferred to cruising only with a passenger complement of 617 and operating inexpensive 3, 4 and 7 day cruises out of US East coast ports and the Bahamas. She was replaced on the New York – Bermuda service by the newly built Horizon in 1989 and transferred to San Juan, Puerto Rica. Since 1996 she has been laid up in Greece and, although there were plans to use her as a floating hotel in London, she has been sold recently for breaking up in India.

BRAEMAR CASTLE (3) was built in 1952 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 17029grt, a length of 576ft 5in, a beam of 74ft 3in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. Sister of the Kenya Castle she commenced her maiden voyage on 22nd November on the Round Africa service via the Cape and Durban. Her passenger accommodation was remodelled in 1960 to 459 but her funnel was not altered like her sisters. In October 1960 she briefly replaced the Edinburgh Castle on the mail run while she underwent engine repairs. On 6th January 1966, after less than 14 years service, she arrived at Faslane for breaking up by Shipbuilding Industries. A combination of the increased popularity of air travel and Independence of the former African colonies reducing the transit of Europeans made her uneconomic and surplus to company requirements. From then on the service between East Africa and Europe was maintained by the British India Line’s Uganda and Kenya and much of their time was spent carrying government officials. (Photo: UCPSC 05/182)

TANTALLON CASTLE (3) was built in 1954 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7448grt, a length of 494ft 6in, a beam of 65ft 10in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was launched on 22nd October 1953 and entered service in 1954 on the South Africa – USA/UK service. After 17 years service she was, in October 1971, sold to Aria Shipping Company of Famagusta, and renamed Aris II and in 1972 her name became Aris. In August 1978 she arrived at Aioi in Japan for breaking up by Ishikajima Kogyo K.K. (Photo: UCPSC 01/182)

TINTAGEL CASTLE (2) was built in 1954 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7447grt, a length of 494ft 6in, a beam of 65ft 10in and a service speed of 16 knots. Sister of the Tantallon Castle she was the last ship built for Union-Castle before the company was merged with Clan Line within the British & Commonwealth Group in January 1956. She was sold to Armar Shipping Co. of Cyprus in 1971, renamed Armar, and remained with the company until 27th June 1978 when she arrived at Kaohsiung where she was broken up by Nang Eng Steel Enterprise Co.

PENDENNIS CASTLE was built in 1958 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage 28582grt, a length of 763ft 2in, a beam of 83ft 9in and a service speed of 22.5 knots. She was the largest ship built for Union-Castle as subsequent buildings were ordered by British & Commonwealth. Due to a dockyard strike she was named on the 10th December 1957 but not launched until 24th December. Based on the earlier Pretoria Castle design, but considerd to have an ungainly profile, her internal layout was the first to differ significantly since the Arundel Castle set the pattern. She commenced her maiden voyage on 1st January 1959 on the Southampton- Cape Town- Durban mail run and was the first ship to have Stewardettes – waitresses in the dining room. She was withdrawn from the mail run on 14th June 1976 and replaced by Blue Star’s refrigerated cargo liner Andalucia Star but in Union-Castle livery. Sold to Ocean Queen Navigation Copr. of Panama, but Philippine owned, she was renamed Ocean Queen.and arrived in Hong Kong on 9th August 1976 where she was laid up. In 1978, still laid up, she was renamed Sinbad by Kinvarra Bay Shipping Co. of Liberia and later in the year was renamed Sinbad 1. Four years later, in April 1980, she arrived at Kaohsiung in Taiwan for breaking up.

ROTHERWICK CASTLE was built in 1959 by Greenock Dockyard Co at Greenock with a tonnage of 9659grt, a length of 519ft 9in, a beam of 66ft 1in and a service speed of 16 knots. One of two ‘R’ class reefers, much of her career with British & Commonwealth was managed by the Clan Line’s, Cayzer, Irvine & Co. of London. In 1975 she was sold to Sea Fortune Shipping Co. of Monrovia and renamed Sea Fortune and in 1980 became the Silver Bays owned by Barbridge Shipping Ltd of Liberia. She was sold again in 1981 to Jersey Shipping Ltd of Panama with Wallem Ship Management as managers and was finally sold in 1983 to Mickle Shipping Ltd of Panama and broken up at Chittagong. (Photo by JK Byass)

ROTHESAY CASTLE (2) was built in 1960 by Greenock Dockyard Co at Greenock with a tonnage of 9659grt, a length of 519ft 9in, a beam of 66ft 1in and a service speed of 16 knots. Although the sister of the Rotherwick Castle she actually had a lesser cargo carrying capacity. She was sold to Lloyd Uruguayo S. A. of Montevideo in 1975 and renamed Laura. On 28th August 1980 she sailed from Kuwait bound for Karachi where she was broken up at Gadani Beach. (Photo: C.H.Solomon)

WINDSOR CASTLE (3) was built in 1960 by Cammell Laird & Co. (Shipbuilders & Engineers) Ltd at Birkenhead with a tonnage of 37640grt, a length of 783ft 1in, a beam of 92ft 7in and a service speed of 22.5 knots. She was the largest ship owned by the company, Cammell Lairds first building for Union-Castle and the largest liner built in England. Replacing the Winchester Castle she completed her maiden voyage to Cape Town in 11.5 days. In December 1950 having carried 35,000 passengers over 700,000 miles without breakdown or delay, her 50th voyage was celebrated in style. On 12th August she made her 124th and final sailing for Union-Castle and left Southampton with much ceremony which included an RAF fly past. On her return she had been sold to John Latsis of Piraeus and renamed Margarita L. She proceeded to Greece where she was converted for use as a static luxury accommodation ship at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. There, she was deployed as an office and leisure centre for the Petrola International S.A. construction company replacing the Marianna IV. A special jetty was built two miles north of Jeddah with car parks, swimming pools and other sports facilities and the ship was equipped with a helicopter pad on the fore deck. In 1983 she was overhauled in Bahrain before returning to Jeddah where she remained until June 1991 when she returned to Piraeus to be laid up. (Photo: Union-Castle Line)

TRANSVAAL CASTLE was built in 1961 by John Brown & Co. (Clydebank) Ltd at Clydebank with a tonnage of 32697grt, a length of 760ft 2in, a beam of 90ft 2in and a service speed of 22.5 knots. When launched, on 17th January 1961, she was described as an Hotel-Class Ship with eleven fare grades ranging from de luxe suites to ordinary berths and carried forty Stewardettes. Operating on the mail run she was never as popular as either the Pendennis Castle or Windsor Castle. On 1st January 1966 she was transferred to the South African Marine Corp (UK) Ltd of London, renamed S.A. Vaal, but maintaining the Red Ensign, Union-Castle crew and management, and the same route. In February 1966 registry was transferred to Cape Town. She made her last voyage for Union-Castle-Safmarine on 2nd September 1977 and was withdrawn from service on her return and sold to Festivale Maritime Inc. a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise Lines of Miami. Rebuilt at Kawasaki with extra decks and renamed Festivale she joined the Mardi Gras (ex Empress of Canada) on their ‘Fun Ship Cruises’. In 1978 she cruised in the Caribbean based in san Juan, Puerto Rica and in 1982 was based in in Miami operating 7 day cruises to Nassau-San Juan- St Thomas. She was acquired by Premier Cruises of Port Canaveral in 1996 and renamed IslandBreeze operating for her owners in the Caribbean during the northern winter and on charter to Thomson Holidays in the Mediterranean during the summer. At the beginning of 2000 she was renamed Big Red Boat III as part of Premier’s corporate identity. However, in September 2000 Premier Cruises ceased trading and the ship was seized by creditors for non payment of debts.
(Photo: UCPSC 05/199A)

REINA DEL MAR was built in 1956 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 20263grt, a length of 600ft 10in, a beam of 78ft 5in and a service speed of 17 knots. She was built for the Pacific Steam Navigation Co., an associate company of Royal Mail Lines, for their South American via Panama service. At the time she was the largest, fastest and only fully air-conditioned passenger liner operating a regular service between the UK, France, Spain and the west coast of South America. On 5th March 1964 she completed her final South American voyage and was chartered to the South African Max Wilson’s Travel Savings Association for cruising and transatlantic summer sailings. The shareholders of TSA became Canadian Pacific, Union-Castle and Royal Mail. During 1964 she was refurbished for her new role and equipped with a cinema and extra lido decks as it was also the intention to use the ship as a hotel at its ports of call. Under Union-Castle management the ship commenced her first sailing to New York on 10th June 1964. In the October Union-Castle became the sole owner of TSA but not the ship. However, in the November the ship was painted in Union-Castle livery and operated winter cruises from South Africa to South America; Union-Castles only venture into the cruise business. In 1969 Royal Mail became the registered owner of all PSNC ships but the Reina del Mar never traded under the Royal Mail umbrella and was chartered to Union-Castle for five years. In 1973 she was acquired by Union-Castle before the charter expired and traded for a further two years before being broken up at Kaohsiung in Taiwan by Tung Cheng Steel Co. in late 1975.

SOUTHAMPTON CASTLE was built in 1965 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Walsend with a tonnage of 10538grt, a length of 592ft, a beam of 77ft 5in and a service speed of 22.5 knots. She was built under the government’s Shipbuilding Credit Scheme whereby 80% of the £6 million cost was advanced at an interest rate of 4.875% and repayable over 10 years. First of a pair of fast cargo ships she continued to maintain the 11.5 day mail contract and was referred to as a ‘Mini Mail’ At the time they were the fastest cargo ships afloat. In October 1967 accommodation for 12 Government (Commonwealth Office) allocated passengers was added so that calls at Ascension and St. Helena could continue following the withdrawal of the Capetown Castle. The additional calls added 336 miles to the voyage. On 4th May 1976 she had the distinction of appearing on an Ascension Island postage stamp. In the following year, on 11th October 1977, she sailed from Cape Town on the last mail contract sailing, an event that was marked with, an albeit sad, ceremony. In 1978, after being laid up at Southampton Docks, she was sold to Costa Armatori SpA of Genoa and renamed Paola C. It doesn’t appear that she is still trading. (Photo: UCPSC 01/182)

GOOD HOPE CASTLE (2) was built in 1965 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Walsend with a tonnage of 10538grt, a length of 592ft, a beam of 77ft 5in and a service speed of 22.5 knots. The second ‘Mini Mail’ fast cargo ship, her delivery was delayed by 3.5 months during which time the Capetown Castle had to undertake her sailings but her eventual arrival meant that seven ships could handle the mail contract requirements instead of eight. She was the first of the pair to have her accommodation altered to cater for the government requirements. On 23rd June 1973 a severe engine room fire spread to the accommodation and she had to be abandoned. Eighty two survivors were picked up by the Liberian tanker George F. Getty and were landed at Ascension. Taken in tow by the German owned salvage tug Albatros she reached Antwerp on 18th August. There, the contract for the extensive repairs was awarded to Astilleros Espanoles and, as a result, she was towed to Bilboa by the tug Heros. Repairs were completed by May in the following year and she was back in service on 31st of that month. Like her sister, she also had the distinction of appearing on an Ascension Island postage stamp in May 1976. In February 1978 she was sold to Costa Armatori SpA of Genoa and renamed Franca C. It doesn’t appear that she is still trading. (Photo: R Pabst)

KINPURNIE CASTLE (1) was built in 1954 by Greenock Dockyard at Greenock with a tonnage of 8121grt, a length of 512ft 7ins, a beam of 66ft 4in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was launched for Clan Line as the Clan Stewart and entered service in February 1954. In 1961 she was transferred to the South African Marine Corp. (Safmarine) and renamed South African Sculptor. In the following year ,after the Round Africa service was discontinued, she was transferred to Union-Castle but managed by Clan Line and renamed Kinpurnie Castle. She was sold to Astro Firme S. A. of Panama in 1967 and renamed Hellenic Med. She served with them for a further eleven years until 15th March 1978 when she arrived for demolition at Gadani Beach.

KINNAIRD CASTLE was built in 1956 by Greenock Dockyard at Greenock with a tonnage of 7718grt, a length of 502ft 10ins, a beam of 65ft 10in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was launched on 17th January 1956 as the Clan Ross (3). In 1961 she was transferred to Safmarine and renamed South African Scientist but in the following year reverted to Clan Line and renamed Kinnaird Castle for Union-Castle operations. During 1969 registered ownership was transferred to King Line Ltd, without a change of name. In October 1975 she was sold to Dasonab Nav. S.A. of Panama and renamed Nazeer. She continued in service until 26th April 1978 when she arrived at Gadani Beach and broken up. (Photo: Fotoship)

BALMORAL CASTLE (3) was built in 1965 by Greenock Dockyard at Greenock with a tonnage of 7952grt, a length of 529ft 4ins, a beam of 68ft 11in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. She was launched for Clan Line as the Clan Robertson, the first of four refrigerated ships built for the South African fruit run. Out of season the ships were laid up at Southampton. The Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co. was the owner and the four ships were the last built by Greenock Dockyard. She was renamed Balmoral Castle in November 1976 and became the Balmoral Universal when the fleet joined the joint Union-Castle/Safmarine Universal Reefer Consortium in 1979. In December 1982 she was sold to National History Cia Naviera S.A. of Piraeus for $1,500,000 and renamed Psara Reefer. She was eventually broken up at Chittagong where she arrived on 19th June 1984.

DOVER CASTLE (3) was built in 1965 by Greenock Dockyard at Greenock with a tonnage of 7952grt, a length of 529ft 4ins, a beam of 68ft 11in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. Sister of the Balmoral Castle she was launched as the Clan Ranald on 21st December 1964 and delivered to Clan Line with Union-Castle as owners in the following June. In October 1967 she made Clan history when she sailed into Durban flying the Royal Mail pennant as she was deputising, with the Clan Ross, for the Good Hope Castle while she was having her accommodation altered. She was renamed Dover Castle in November 1976 and in 1979 became the Dover Universal under the same ownership. In May 1981 she was sold to Invergordon Shipping Co. of Piraeus and renamed Golden Sea. Four years later, on 9th May 1985, she arrived from Jeddah at Gadani Beach where she was broken up. (Photo: A Duncan)

WINCHESTER CASTLE (2) was built in 1965 by Greenock Dockyard at Greenock with a tonnage of 7952grt, a length of 529ft 4ins, a beam of 68ft 11in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. Launched as the Clan Ramsay she was delivered to Clan Line with Union-Castle as managers in March 1965. In 1977 she was renamed Winchester Castle and with that change Clan Line passed into history, owning no further ships. She became the Winchester Universal under the same ownership in 1979 and in October of the following year was sold to Braganza Bay Shipping Co. of Piraeus who renamed her Lady Madonna. On 25th April 1985 she arrived at Gadani Beach where she was broken up. (Photo: Ian Lovie)

KINPURNIE CASTLE (2) was built in 1966 by Greenock Dockyard at Greenock with a tonnage of 7952grt, a length of 529ft 4ins, a beam of 68ft 11in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. She was launched as the Clan Ross and the last ship to be built by the Greenock Dockyard. When completed in March 1966 ownership was under the Houston Line, another subsidiary of the British & Commonwealth Group, but managed by Cayzer, Irvine & Co. Ownership was transferred to Union-Castle in 1976 when she was renamed Kinpurnie Castle. Although the Southampton Castle completed the last Cape mail run in 1977 the Kinpurnie Castle carried mails for the very last time on a voyage from Southampton – Ascension Island – Saint Helena -Cape Town – Port Elizabeth – East London – Durban, returning the same way. She became the Kinpurnie Universal under the same ownership in 1979 and , in December 1982, was sold to National History Cia Naviera S. A. of Piraeus who renamed her Syros Reefer. On 31st July 1984 she arrived at Chittagong where she was broken up. (Photo: Ian Lovie)

IOLAIRE was built in 1902 by Wm. Beardmore & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 999grt, a length of 224ft, and a beam of 30ft. She was built for Sir Donald Currie and used as an officer cadet training ship. Operated like a miniature Union -Castle ship it was said that she was even painted in the livery of the company at times instead of her usual white. Upon the death of Sir Donald in April 1909 she passed to Lady Currie and in August 1914 was leased to the Admiralty for a nominal sum. Equipped with guns at Portsmouth she became the flagship of the anti-submarine patrol at Stornoway and when the shore base was established it was named HMS Iolaire. In 1918 she was replaced at HMS Iolaire by the yacht HMS Amalthaea. Between the wars she reverted to Union-Castle use but in 1939 rejoined the Navy as HMS Persephone. In 1941 she was purchased by the Admiralty for use as a senior officer’s accommodation ship and remained in service until 1946 when she was decommissioned and subsequently broken up at Blythe in Northumberland during 1948.

The histories of the ships of the Union-Castle Line have been extracted from
Merchant Fleets 18: Union, Castle and Union-Castle Line by Duncan Haws
to whom we extend our grateful thanks.
Available from TCL PUBLICATIONS