(For news items up to and including June 2010, please visit the Archive)

Flinders Bay model at the Fremantle museum

posted 31 Aug 2019, 09:55 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 2 Sep 2019, 00:03 ]

David Iredale has kindly sent through the following report and photographs covering his visit to the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle, Australia:    

The SS Flinders Bay Model (wrongly indicated as a ‘MV’) is in the new Fremantle Maritime Museum on the west end of Victoria Quay at the entrance to Fremantle Inner Harbour and is approx 300km north of the small town of Augusta that is on the northern end of Flinders Bay. It says the model was donated by OCL but I’m not sure when. It’s great that it’s on display in the 50th year celebrations of Encounter Bay arriving followed soon after by Flinders Bay in WA and Australia. The model has cutaways showing stowage in the holds, cabins and engine room and looks in good condition. The Flinders Bay met her end in 1996.

Flinders Bay stretches about 120km from Cape Leeuwin (Near Augusta) in the north to Point d’Entrecasteaux in the south, the SS Flinders Bay would have passed this way many times. There are no settlements on the bay, there was a bleak looking mural in the dining saloon of the SS Flinders Bay depicting what I presume was Flinders Bay in WA. Point Matthew near Cape Leeuwin has a plaque marking where Matthew Flinders commenced the charting of the Australian coastline. Matthew Flinders actually named Encounter Bay in South Australia after meeting Nicolas Baudin there.

There’s two YouTube videos of the SS Flinders Bay, one showing a rescue and another covering the last voyage to the scrap yard:

David Iredale

BT to move to former Beagle House site

posted 18 Aug 2019, 12:47 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 18 Aug 2019, 12:53 ]

It has been announced that BT (British Telecom) will be moving their HQ from St. Pauls in London to One Braham by the end of 2021.  One Braham has been built on the site formerly occupied by Beagle House, the OCL/P&O Containers/P&O Nedlloyd HQ.

50 year anniversary for containerisation in Fremantle

posted 31 Mar 2019, 12:54 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 31 Mar 2019, 13:03 ]

Many thanks to David Iredale who forwarded on this link to an article in The West Australian about the arrival of the Encounter Bay in Fremantle in March 1969.  This was the first visit to Australia of a purpose-built container ship for international long-haul trade.  Well worth a read!

Peter Jollie AM

posted 13 Dec 2018, 14:46 by Mike Chapman

We have heard the sad news that Peter Jollie passed away on Saturday, 8 December 2018.  

Peter held various senior positions with Overseas Containers Australia Limited (OCAL) and P&O Containers leading to being CEO for P&O Containers in Australia from 1987 to 1996.  In more recent years he had held a number of board level positions with various organisations and was  past President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia.  He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2000.

The demolition of Beagle House is underway

posted 2 Sep 2017, 09:27 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 2 Sep 2017, 09:27 ]

The first reports that the demolition of the former London HQ for Overseas Containers Limited, P&O Containers and P&O Nedlloyd appeared on the PONL Facebook group just over two weeks ago.  

Clive Allen has just provided an update having visited the site on Thursday 31 August.  He has kindly provided the photograph below which clearly shows that the restaurant block has almost gone entirely and the scaffolding is up around the main building which presumably means that the internal structure and windows are being stripped out.  

It seems likely that the work will be completed within the next few weeks.

On a brighter note, Bob Hughes has kindly sent us the photo below which was taken in much better days.  The building looks to be complete and in contrast to today it is dominating the local landscape.  By the look of the buildings and car park in the foreground this photo was presumably taken around 1974-75.

See also:

Denise Durrant

posted 29 Jul 2017, 02:50 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 29 Jul 2017, 12:16 ]

We have received the sad news via the PONL Facebook group that Denise Durrant has passed away.  Sim Coenradi very kindly passed on a translation of the original announcement which was posted by her company, Newport Tank Containers, on the 
Mensenlinq website.

"It is with great sadness that we have to announce the unexpected passing away of our colleague  Denise Durrant.

Denise was the centre of our office, arranging and organizing all sorts of different matters in the office. She took time for everyone, puting an arm on your shoulder. With the passing away of Denise we not only lose a very capable colleague but also an extremely good human being that took the interest of others above her own. She leaves a great void.

Our thoughts are with her 'better half' as she used to call, Erik, the children and grandchildren and family.

Denise, rest in peace, we will miss you enormously.

On behalf of all employees

Newport Tank Containers"


Captain PJ Clark

posted 25 Jun 2017, 11:48 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 25 Jun 2017, 11:49 ]

The following sad news has been posted on the Bay Boats (ex-sea staff) Facebook group by Rob Gurney (who in turn received the news from Ian Walters and Derek Warmington):

"Captain Peter Clark passed away on Sunday 18 June in Poole, Dorset, at the age of 85.

"Peter attended Warsash College before joining P&O as a Deck Cadet and serving in passenger and cargo ships during the 1950/60’s. He was First Officer on the maiden voyage of CANBERRA in 1961 where he met his wife Anne (Thompson) who was a Nursing Sister.

"Later he was seconded ashore to assist with the setting-up of OCL, before returning to sea to take command with OCL/P&OCL until his retirement in 1990.

"The funeral will be at 2.45 pm on Friday 30 June at Bournemouth Crematorium, North Cemetery, Strouden Ave, Bournemouth BH8 9HX, followed by a gathering at Parkstone Yacht Club, Pearce Ave, Poole BH14 8E, at around 4.00 pm."

Brian Slater

posted 21 May 2017, 02:26 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 21 May 2017, 02:28 ]

We have received the following sad news from Bob James, former Fleet Personnel manager (OCL/P&OCL):   
I regret to inform you that Chief Engineer Officer Brian Slater passed away at home on Wednesday 17 May. Brian transferred from P&OSNCo to OCL/CFL in 1968. He stood by the buildings of Flinders Bay and Discovery Bay in Hamburg. 

Brian's funeral will be held at Hereford crematorium on Wednesday 31 May.

Bob James.

100th Anniversary of the sinking of the s.s. Otaki

posted 29 Apr 2017, 04:51 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 29 Apr 2017, 08:07 ]

2017 marks the centenary of the sinking of the New Zealand Shipping Company vessel s.s. Otaki by the German surface raider SMS Moewe.  The Otaki was a refrigerated cargo ship which in early 1917 was under the command of Captain Archibald Bisset Smith, sailing from the UK for Australia via the USA and the Panama Canal.  

On 10 March, while on route from London to New York, the Otaki was attacked by the the German surface raider, the Moewe. Rather than attempting to flee, the Otaki turned to engage.  Despite only being lightly armed, the Otaki managed to inflict serious damage on the enemy vessel before she was sunk. Captain Bisset Smith went down with his vessel and four other crew also lost their lives.  The remainder who had been on board were taken prisoner.

"The sinking of SS Otaki by SMS Mowe" by K.T. Rousell [

For his role in this action Captain Bisset Smith was awarded the Victoria Cross (the award being made in 1919 following a posthumous commission as a temporary Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Reserve).  The citation for the VC reads:

For most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in command of the S.S. "Otaki," on the 10th March, 1917.
At about 2 30 p m on 10th March, 1917 the S.S. "Otaki," whose armament consisted of one 4.7 in gun for defensive purposes, sighted the disguised German raider "Moewe," which was armed with four 5.9 inch, one 4.1 inch and two 22 pdr guns, and two torpedo tubes. The "Moewe" kept the "Otaki" under observation for some time and finally called upon her to stop. This Lieutenant Smith refused to do, and a duel ensued at ranges of 1900-2000 yards, and lasted for about 20 minutes.
During this action, the "Otaki" scored several hits on the "Moewe," causing considerable damage, and starting a fire, which lasted for three days. She sustained several casualties and received much damage herself, and was heavilv on fire. Lieutenant Smith, therefore, gave orders for the boats to be lowered to allow the crew to be rescued. He remained on the ship himself and went down with her when she sank with the British colours still flying, after what was described in an enemy account as "a duel as gallant as naval history can relate."

Captain Bisset Smith's Victoria Cross is part of the P&O Heritage Collection in London.

Captain Bisset Smith had been a pupil at Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen and since 1937 that college has awarded the Otaki Shield and a travel scholarship to one pupil.  The trip from the UK to New Zealand and back was originally provided by the New Zealand Shipping Company but with the introduction of containerisation on the ANZ route Overseas Containers Limited (OCL) took on that role.  Many will remember how OCL (then P&O Containers and then P&O Nedlloyd) carried the Otaki Scholar out to New Zealand and back.  From 2002 the tradition of the sea passage was broken with the recipient of the Otaki Shield award travelling by air.

Robert Gordon's College has produced a very interesting video covering the story of the s.s. Otaki, their illustrious former student Captain Bisset Smith and the history of the Otaki Shield award: 

Aberdeen City Council have released a video showing how that city has marked the 100th anniversary.  Again, well worth a watch:

To commemorate the centenary the shipping magazine Seabreezes has published an excellent article which is well worth a read.  A section of that article can be accessed via the link below:

PONL Heritage would like to thank Ken Allwyn and SCARA for the suggested news item.

Beagle/Maersk House - A historical survey

posted 22 Apr 2017, 14:25 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 22 Apr 2017, 14:51 ]

PONLHeritage and SCARA have been contacted by a team who are in the process of recording the history of Whitechapel, the area of London chosen nearly 50 years ago as the home of the HQ for Overseas Containers Limited (OCL).  One of the individual buildings that will be covered by the project is Beagle House (now Maersk House) and they have asked us to publish this request for photographs, memories and other information.   

Maersk House - Photo courtesy of Derek Kendall

(Maersk House - Photo courtesy Derek Kendall)

The Survey of London has recently written up a short history of Maersk (formerly Beagle) House ( as part of its current research into the history of Whitechapel, work that will eventually result in the 54th volume in the Survey’s long-running series dedicated to London’s architectural history. It contains a number of evocative interior photographs of the building in 1974.

The Whitechapel project is a departure and an experiment for the Survey which is now part of University College London. Its present research phase is based on an interactive website funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The map-based site is compiling contributions from the public that embrace personal memories as much as expert knowledge and images, whether photographs or drawings. Launched in September 2016, our website will remain live up to the end of 2018.

If you have any information, research, images, or memories of working in Whitechapel, you can sign up and start contributing them here: or email

Survey of London

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