Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Good Ship SS Shieldhall.

In the days before the magazine Ships Monthly became too expensive, I would often read about, and see images of Shieldhall. As usual one would sigh and say "I wish I could see her". Well, now I have seen her, and sailed on her.

She usually lives at the berth at the end of the Ocean Terminal, and is always visible from Town Quay. 

However physically getting to her is a different story altogether.  They seem to dislike single people walking through the dock gates as opposed to coming through with a vehicle. The harbour is a dangerous place so it is reasonably understandable. I was able to get to her once and managed to get images of her alongside, but getting on board is a different story. Most of the images used here were taken during the Maritime Festival of 5/6 May 2013. This page may be image intensive so please be patient

The vessel has had an interesting, if somewhat mundane career as a sludge disposal vessel and I am not going to expand on it because there is a website dedicated to her. However, she was withdrawn from service in 1985, and in 1988 a preservation society was formed to keep this classic beauty running. 
She is a popular attraction too, and shortly before the festival she was up at Weymouth and I was fortunate enough to see her sail one cold morning. 

This really made me even more determined to get on board so I made a beeline to the ship on the first day of the Maritime Festival. We were only allowed on board her just before the Lanacaster flypast and that was where I took my images of that event from. But, enough waffling. Now for some images:

Her machinery spaces are amazing. She still has a pair of triple expansion engines fired by a set of oil fired scotch boilers. The engine room is available for visits, and the engineering crew are happy to show people around.
Cylinder tops looking down from deck level
Unfortunately, while at sea your specs and camera tend to fog up totally due to the heat and humidity. Her rudder quadrant is housed in a deckhouse at the stern and is fascinating to watch. Above this deckhouse is the emergency helm.

Her accommodation block consists of her bridge and wheelhouse, with the small shop and Captains day cabin on the next level, with a saloon below that. It is not a bulky structure, but is a tall one and it gives the ship her very distinctive look. 

A lot of Brasso gets used on that bridge, and the woodwork is magnificent. It is not a large space though and I expect it could get very crowded. The saloon area houses the bar and a galley, and a skylight provides natural light to those below. It is a very pretty room.

The ship has two lifeboats,  but they do not conform to modern regulations but have been retained along with their original davits. 

She also has two steam whistles. The one is a proper ships whistle that sounds fantastic, and the other is a strange siren like thing that sounds decidedly like it has it's own personality. The bell mouthed object is the strange siren mounted on Shieldhall's rather small funnel. 

Contrary to expectations she does not generate heaps of smoke out of that funnel, it probably smokes when they light up a burner in the boiler, but other than that there are just colourless hot gases coming from it. Her forepeak is a popular spot to stand while underway, and it has a steam windlass on it, as well as all the usual nautical appurtenances

It is also where her bell is housed.

At first I thought this was her electrical plant, but actually it is a forced draft fan, and it  is situated in a small room on the main deck level and it is powered by a small steam engine. Trunking leads down into the boiler room from here.

Although there is a modern diesel generator on the upper deck by the funnel. 

Passenger seating is mostly on benches on the foredeck. but there are plenty of nooks and crannies and shady areas to hang around in. She does not have huge hatches on her foredeck, rather there are a series of valves that were used to discharge her smelly cargo. 

The nice thing about her is that almost none of the working bits of the ship have been removed, today is she almost unchanged from when she was built, and I think that is part of her charm. She has no pretensions about being a fancy hi-tech ferry. She was a working ship, and although retired, has retained her look. I hope that she will be with us for many years, and I look forward to going out on her again if ever I get the chance. 

However, without donations and funds and volunteers and skills she will stop. So please support her as much as you can.

Bits and bobs.

There are many things on board that I liked, and I photographed a few of them as a result. These images are all about these bits and bobs.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Southampton Maritime Festival. Day 2

And so day 2 of the Maritime Festival at Southampton arrived. You can read about the first day on its relevant page. Scheduled for the day was another Lancaster flyover, as well as my cruise on Shieldhall. I also wanted to revisit some of the things from the previous day, especially the large second hand book stall. 
But firstly.... there were more strange old buses.This one instantly reminded me of the old Johannesburg bus service (when it still worked)

The day was a "bank holiday" and the weather was glorious, although I was still feeling somewhat chilly.

Once inside I was confronted by two rows of immaculate Rolls Royce cars. I have never seen so many of them in one place at a time. I would hate to know how much money was standing there just free to look at. I did try to photograph them all, but there were just too many. Maybe one day I will put up an album of them. 

I did find it interesting that the real oldies attracted the most attention, the vehicle below was so popular I was not able to get a photograph of it without people standing around it, but then it was beautiful. A true classic.

There were supposed to be diving displays in the now unused Trafalgar Dry Dock, but it only seemed to be used by these guys in the canoe, (and I have no idea what they were doing either), as well as some model yachts that were sailing around inbetween canoe exploits. Maybe I missed seeing the divers because they were under the water?

A few additional exhibits had turned up for this day, including this beautiful old Austin 10, which would have fitted comfortably inside most modern homes.

And this Willy's Jeep that seemed to be hiding a 50 Browning behind that cover. Those of us "in the know" were not fooled one bit!

And while this was going on the harbour continued all around us. The ferries ran as normal, ship loading happened, and sailings would go on just past us.

On the first day the only cruise ship sailing was Adventure of the Seas, and on this day Europa 2 was scheduled to sail at 18H00. Our own departure on board Shieldhall was scheduled for 16H00, and round about 14H00 we started hanging around her for embarkation and to await the Lancaster flypast. I was hoping for better pics this time around and did get a few.

If ever you want a crowds attention; tell them that there is a Lancaster flypast in a few minutes.

Then it was time to board the fine ship Shieldhall for our cruise. The ship wasn't too crowded, although many of the best spots were taken up by photographers, but we literally had a free run of the vessel, including the engine room. Our route took us past Town Quay, up towards Mayflower Terminal where we would turn around and retrace our wake right through till past Hythe pier and back again. There were not a lot of ships in the harbour though, but it did give one the opportunity to see parts of Southampton Western Docks from a different angle.

Southampton City Terminal

Container Berth
Town Quay area

Berth 38/39. Heading down Southampton Water towards the Solent
Southampton Ocean Terminal
And all too soon it was all over and we were coming alongside. There was no bow or stern thruster to help, just good seamanship.

As I walked back home most of the exhibits had been broken up already, and only the steam traction engines were rattling their way home too. It had been a great day, the highlight being that short trip on a real ship. It made me wish that I could attend next year too.