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Ship operations

Telegraphs and combinators

Captain Glynne Pritchard 


Telegraphs were initially operated by a chain similar to a bicycle chain. Due to the length involved and through constant use the chain would stretch and (say) slow ahead on the bridge would have the engine room telegraph pointer on the line between slow and half. The telegraphs were of course tested before every departure and any slackening of the chain would be picked up then, and Chadburn's informed.

Deep sea, the Blue Funnel ships, on which many future Holyhead officers served, were unique in having a "wrong - stop" command on the dial. The third mate on these ships would operate the bridge telegraph to the master's requirements, but on the Holyhead mail boats the Masters, and occasionally the Chief Officer, handled the telegraphs.

Shifting the mailboats

​Captain John Bakewell and Captain Glynne Pritchard

At the seaward end of Dun Laoghaire’s Carlisle pier there was a large bollard. On the quay was a junk (a very large coir rope) with a thick steel wire attached to it.  At the end of the coir rope there was a very large eye splice for dropping over the bitts on the ship aft. In the eye splice there was a smaller rope (a messenger). The wire part was for putting around the bollard ashore.

You ended up with a few turns of wire rope around the shore bollard, then the coir rope with its eye splice over the ships bitts.

When ready to shift ship, we singled up to a headline and a stern line with the engines all ready. The Chief Officer usually did this manoeuvre. Then "Let go fore and aft and slow astern on the starboard engine.

Shifting the cargo boats
Captain Glynne Pritchard

On the cargo boats, at the week end, on completion of cargo work we used to swing from No 10 berth to the Boathouse berth, writes Capt Glynne Pritchard.

This necessitated pinning the stern on to a king pile whilst the ship was pulled around by a rope run across the dock. This pile suffered so much damage by heavy use, that the 'Bangor crowd' who maintained the piles named it the 'Golden Pile' for the amount of overtime it provided.

Often we had to shift to the other side of the Harbour, to No 3, 4 or 5 berths.

Around the decks
Kenneth Whyte

Take a step back to the days when outside deck space was in abundance and passengers could enjoy the sight and sounds of a sea crossing with the breeze at their faces!

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