Blue Funnel

Blue FunnelDuring the heyday of British shipping, it would have been impossible to have gone to any of the great sea ports dotted all around the British coast without seeing one of the magnificent Blue Funnel ships, especially in Birkenhead and Liverpool.

With their black-topped blue funnels and unique designs, Blue Funnel ships were so very much. Part of the Mersey skyline as they sailed in and out on their voyages to and from the Far East.

In the late fifties, Blue Funnel operated some 58 ships and on a typical day’s operations, those ships could be found in such faraway places as: Japan, China, Korea, Hong Kong, The Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Ceylon and then close to home in European ports such as Le Harve, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg, Bremen, Dublin, Glasgow, Swansea, Newport, Belfast, Avonmouth, London and Liverpool.

It was a huge operation and every month 9 Blue Funnel ships arrived in the Far East and, every month, 9 returned; an operation that first started way back in 1865, when two brothers, Alfred and Philip Holt, registered the Ocean Steam Ship Company.

Blue FunnelAlfred Holt, a trained engineer, had worked continuously to improve the design and efficiency of his ships. They were capable of above average speeds and exceptionally well-built. They exceeded Lloyds or any other classification society requirements. Consequently the requirements for their construction became known as ‘Holt’s Standard’, for nothing but the very best was acceptable to him.

There are of course, several very good books that have been written about Blue Funnel, but you know, words and still photographs can never portray quite what it was like to have served aboard those wonderful Blue Funnel ships, that’s why I am so thrilled that we have been able to find and restore, truly rare film of these ships as they sailed to and from the far corners of the world, as well as working their cargoes around overseas and UK ports.

How exciting it must have been to be part of that great Blue Funnel operation, and after watching this fantastic film, you can easily understand just why practically everyone who sailed or worked with Blue Funnel; did so with so much pride.

I am proud to have been able to create this lasting ‘moving image record’ of Blue Funnel and many of the great ships they operated. This record will now last forever so that future generations will be able to just put on a DVD (Or whatever they have then) and be able to experience just what it was like to have sailed for Blue Funnel and aboard some of the greatest ships every built.

In our series of “The Great Liners”, Blue Funnel ships are featured in the following episodes: 8, 9, 26 & 27. So, get yourself some copies now and enjoy a trip back in time to what were for so many of us; ‘The Best Years of our Lives’.

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