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

PONLHeritage - 10 years

posted 8 Feb 2016, 08:52 by Mike Chapman

Although the takeover commenced in 2015 most see 2006 as the final year for our old company, making 2016 the 10th anniversary of P&O Nedlloyd disappearing from the shipping scene. Our company may be gone but it is definitely not forgotten!

PONLHeritage was launched exactly 10 years ago, on 8 February 2006.  Some of the senior PONL management had recognised that the takeover would result in not only the loss of a company with a significant history but also the end of the contact that we had with colleagues around the world.  PONLHeritage was set up to preserve and communicate our shared history and to give people a way of keeping in touch. Some funding was organised to get this website off the ground and to cover the first few years of operation (that funding including a generous donation from the Beagle House Sports & Social Club).  As well as the website, the LinkedIn PONLHeritage group was created with invites to join the network being sent out worldwide.  

Another initiative that started around the same time was the formation of SCARA, the association for former employees and contractors of OCL, P&O Containers, P&O Nedlloyd and associated companies. From day one, SCARA and PONLHeritage have worked closely together to achieve the common aims. 

So where are we after ten years?  This website is still very much up and running with just over 3,000 visitors and 18,000 page views in 2015.  We also get 2-3 email enquiries per month.  Some of those messages are rather speculative (sadly we can't offer people jobs on ships!) but we've been able to provide assistance to people trying to trace their pension by pointing them in the right direction and have also helped a few times with research for a book or magazine. The PONLHeritage LinkedIn group has 750+ members but with the growth of that social media site over the years it's fair to say that the number of people now connected is far greater than that.

SCARA has also grown from strength to strength since its first reunion lunch in 2006.  Sadly many of the communications we post on this website on SCARA's behalf  relate to funerals but with the new faces that appear at its events every year the membership is clearly growing.

While the above story is about objectives successfully met, what no one could have envisaged was how informal networks would spring up to also help keeping us together.  The PONL Facebook group with its 2,000+ members and regular posts about reunions aropund the world is perhaps the most obvious and it is great to be able to read about the events being held in Hing Kong, Japan, Milan, New York, Rotterdam, Singapore, Sydney to name just a few of the venues.  It was that Facebook group that was used to bring over a hundred people together a couple of weeks ago for a gathering linked to the imminent demolition of our old London HQ, Beagle House (now Maersk House).   

The PONL Facebook group is just one of several which are being used to keep people in touch around the world.  There are groups related to locations and roles (the Bay Boats Facebook group has nearly 550 ex-seastaff members).  There was a time when we tried to keep a track of them all but that's now become an impossible task!  

Who could have imagined at the time of the takeover that in 2016 we would have such a thriving community around the world, staying in touch and sharing news?  The bond that exists between former colleagues is surely a reflection of how special that company that we all worked for was.

PONL Heritage - celebrating the past, staying in touch in the future...

Last few weeks for former London HQ...

posted 6 Jan 2016, 08:31 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 6 Jan 2016, 09:00 ]

The occupants of Maersk House (ex-Beagle House) have been given notice to vacate the building by the end of March so that demolition can commence in Q2 2016.

Multiple planning applications have been submitted for the development to replace Beagle/House House but the replacement of our old HQ building (see see Beagle House - Gleeson Propertieslooks to be part of the overall redevelopment/regeneration plan for the Aldgate area (Costar Finance - Aldgate Developments & Aldgate Tower)
Beagle House was originally built for Overseas Containers Limited (OCL) with the HQ staff relocating from various offices on and around Bevis Marks on what was considered at the time the edge of the City of London.  The site on the junction of Braham Street and Leham Street which was then known as Gardiner's Corner was selected 1971 with the chosen architects for the nine storey building being Richard Seifert & Partners, a firm which also worked on Centre Point and the NatWest Tower.  The construction work was completed in time for Beagle House to be occupied in June 1974.  

The name taken for the building is thought to have come from a former Brown & Eagle warehouse which known as 'Beagle House' which was originally on the same site.

The 'Braham Street, London E1 8EP' shipping HQ building, which was designed to accommodate 900 staff, was originally on a 99 year lease with Town & City Properties which in turn had a 999 year lease from Hambro Life who owned the freehold.  The chairman of Town & City Properties at this time was Jeffrey Sterling (later Sir Jeffrey then Lord Sterling) who of course became P&O group chairman a few years later.

Prior to the merger with Nedlloyd Lines (following which the HQ function was split between London and Rotterdam) Beagle House housed the European trade divisions (FET, ANZ, etc.), Fleet Management Division (FMD), International Container Management (ICM), the Information Technology Division (ITD), Group Commercial and other key functions such as HR (probably then known as 'Personnel'!) and the Company Secretary's Office.  The boardroom was on the 8th floor as was the senior management dining room (closed down along with the ground floor staff bar following the appointment of Tim Harris as chairman).  A single storey extension was built to the west for the staff restaurant and as numbers grew Central House just a short walk away on the other side of Camperdown Street was secured to provide additional office space.

Following the A.P.Moller-Maersk takeover in 2005/06 the building was renamed Maersk House and downgraded to regional office status.  Over the years various functions have been moved elsewhere and at the time of writing it is understood that Maersk occupy only 2-3 floors. Other tenants are the media/technology companies Sky and Huddle.

Paul Lydon

posted 27 Nov 2015, 13:02 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 6 Dec 2015, 10:02 ]

More sad news...  Paul Lydon, ex-ITD London has passed away.  Paul joined P&O Containers in 1989 and took on many roles in the IT division until his early retirement from P&O Nedlloyd in 2006 at the time of the A.P.Moller-Maersk takeover. 

Since leaving Beagle House for the final time Paul has spent the last 10 years gaining an MA in History from the Open University, learning to play the saxophone, travelling to exotic locations with his wife Carole, and generally enjoying life with his family (as he puts it, his "wonderful wife, 3 great children and 5 superb grandchildren") and friends.  

Paul used to talk about his rugby but in more recent years he was also actively involved with the Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers Running Club.

This news has come to us via Paul's Facebook page and funeral details have not yet been provided.  An update will be provided here when that information becomes available.  

See also:

UPDATE: Paul's funeral takes place at Crownhill Crematorium, Dansteed Way, Crownhill, Milton Keynes MK8 0AH at 10am on Friday 11 December 2015. After the service there will be food and refreshments from 11:00 - 15:00 at Flitwick Football Centre (92 Ampthill Rd, Flitwick, MK45 1BE opposite One-o-One Shell Petrol Station). The bar opens at 12:00.  The family have said that the dress code is whatever makes people comfortable. Black is fine, but something colourful will be fine too.

Geoff Bolton

posted 13 Nov 2015, 13:09 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 13 Nov 2015, 13:23 ]

We have been passed the very sad news that former OCL/P&OCL veteran Geoff Bolton passed away in hospital in Shoalhaven (New South Wales, Australia) on 5 October 2015 following a fall at his home.

In recent years Geoff has been very active keeping people in touch, organising events and circulating news about reunions etc.  He set up the OCAL People site ( and has submitted several news items that have been published here on  One of those items was a report of a reunion that he attended in Tokyo last year which included this summary of his career in shipping:

"November 2014 saw a long-wished reunion in Tokyo: Geoff Bolton,
OCL/P&OCL veteran of thirty years from the 1967 startup of the OCAL head
office in Sydney, had moved to Japan soon after the first ‘Encounter Bay’
voyage arrival from Europe - for a 3-year secondment to the Swire Shipping
Tokyo office during 1970-73. Geoff was systems project manager alongside
local Swire Systems department manager Teru Noma for the initial AJCL
(Australia-Japan Container Line) container trade to Australia from 1970,
followed two years later by the OCL Europe-Japan trade.

An additional New Zealand service by CSCS (Crusader Swire Container
Service) was also supported by this department in later years.

After his later return to OCAL Sydney in 1973 Geoff became commercial
manager for the AJCL trade for six years, then later becoming Australian
Container Manager for a similar term."

In the picture on the right which accompanied the reunion report Geoff is pictured third from the left in the back row.

Harold Anderson

posted 15 Apr 2015, 12:26 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 15 Apr 2015, 12:28 ]

We have received the sad news that Harold Anderson who managed the Port Adelaide office for many years passed away yesterday, Tuesday 14 April 2015.

More details have been posted by Rob Bryson and David Baker on the OCAL PEOPLE website.  Harold was the former mayor of the City of Charles Sturt.  The council has published an obituary - See Former Mayor Harold Anderson AM, JP.

Australia Day award for Mike Coffey

posted 26 Jan 2015, 00:14 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 26 Jan 2015, 00:14 ]
We have received the following great news via Geoff Bolton:  

"Today's Australia Day (26 Jan) Honours list includes a Medal of the Order of Australia award (OAM) 'to Michael Francis Coffey for services to business, commerce, and the community' - for which congratulations from all his former OCAL colleagues."

We would normally provide a short biography for Mike here but we don't think we can do better than publish a link to the Australian Daily Telegraph article:

We are sure that all of Mike's former colleagues worldwide will want to add their congratulations.

Cabers to Australia

posted 15 Nov 2014, 14:32 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 15 Nov 2014, 15:24 ]
Three weeks ago we put out a plea for information on behalf of an Australian Scottish Highland Games enthusiast (see Were you working for OCL in the early 1970s?).  James Grahame is in the process of completing a book on his sport and was looking for information on the shipment of some cabers from the UK to Melbourne by Overseas Containers Limited (OCL) in the early 1970s.  

Being honest, expectations weren't high on this but we had underestimated how effective a network of ex-colleagues could be!  

James had been hoping to secure a copy of an article covering the shipment that appeared in the OCL in-house magazine.  After SCARA kindly circulated the request for information to its members former General Manager of Group Commercial Division Dennis Greenland stepped forward and sent a scanned copy down to James (to access a legible version of the image, please click on the picture below).

The next breakthrough came from Australia and again showed how useful email can be!  Via Paul Windfield, Geoff Bolton, Charles Burne, and Don Bienvenu contact was made with Barry McDonald who provided James with the following account:

"Yes,  I  remember  these  cabers  well.  I  was  with  OCAL  at  the  time,  being  involved  with  the European  trade  in both  directions.

"Billy  Binks  approached  me  all  those  years  ago  to  see  if  we  could arrange  the  delivery  of  the cabers  used  at  the  Braemar  Games, as they wished  to  use  them  at  the  Highland  Games  at Maryborough, Victoria,  held  every  year  on  New  Years  Day.  These  games  still exist,  but  I  don’t know  where  their  cabers  come  from  now.

"The  fact  that  these  cabers  had  been  used  at  such  a  renowned Games  at  Braemar  brought  a  lot of good  publicity,  and  I  have  a feeling  the  TV  channels  were  alerted  in  that  area  around Bendigo.  

"I  arranged  with  the  late  Eric  Watson,  the  marketing  manager  in  Scotland, for  OCL,  to  provide  a forty  foot  container  to be  used  as  FCL,  and  he had dealings  with  some  of  the  Braemar  people. As a  result,  the  container was  delivered  as  an  FCL   from  Melbourne  to  Maryborough,  and Billy arranged  the  unloading,  amid  the  politicians  and  photo  opportunists!   

"We  carried  these  cabers  for  several  years,  and  I  recall  Billy  telling  me that  most  of  the cabers  “failed”  to  be  thrown  properly  at  Breamar,  and at  Maryborough !

"As  I  recall  Billy,  he  was  a  fearsome  looking  big  man with  red  hair and red  beard,  but  the nature  of  a  thorough  gentleman.  I  think  he  had  a home  in  Benambra,  in  the  hills  north  east  of  Melbourne.

"Hope  this  recollection  helps.    Cheers

"Barry  McDonald"

In his response to Barry, James confirmed that Billy Binks is still with us and continues to referee/run the heavy events at Maryborough, Geelong and Beechworth every year.  He has several of the cabers under his house which he selects from for the games.

We've also had a note from James in which he says::

"I just wanted to thank the PONLHeritage website for helping me in my research.

"My quest for a copy of a 43 year old article from an OCL internal magazine was always going to be tough.  I had already researched the various Highland Games book which referred to it and failed to find a copy of it anywhere online.

"I could not have anticipated the friendly and prompt assistance I received from PONLHeritage.  This resulted in contact from one of the original men involved in the shipping of the Cabers.  I also received a copy of the article from a couple who had (amazingly!) kept every copy of the OCL magazine in their loft.

Thank you all for taking the time to help.

"All the best


Were you working for OCL in the early 1970s?

posted 26 Oct 2014, 07:37 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 26 Oct 2014, 15:33 ]

OCL flag
If so, do you remember the special shipment of two Scottish Highland Games' cabers from the UK to Australia which was mentioned at the time in the OCL magazine?

We've had contact from James Grahame, a Scottish Highland Games enthusiast. James, who was born in Edinburgh but now lives in Australia, is researching the shipment of several cabers from the UK 'Down Under' for a book which he is just completing and which he hopes to have self-published soon.   

The first caber on James' list is one transported to Australia in 1965 on the MV Tenbury.  This shipment is mentioned in a book by David Webster (OBE) titled "Scottish Highland Games" which describes how four kilted athletes boarded the Tenbury at the docks in Sydney only to find the caber (a telegraph pole-size wooden log) was missing.  It was eventually found in one of the holds being used as a roller to move some crates by a team of dockers!
The shipment that James has approached us about is a later one, made in 1971. It appears that the original caber was showing its age and in 1970 a Heavy Games judge from New South Wales called Matt Davitt approached the  Braemar Committee (which organises the Braemar Gathering, the major Highland Games event held each year in Scotland) to request help with sourcing a replacement.  The Committee agreed as long as all transport costs were met at the Australian end. 

Billy Binks, a famous 'Heavy' competitor in Australia undertook to organise the shipping arrangements. Billy contacted OCL in Melbourne and he was put in touch with Geoff MacDonald, then OCL's National Marketing Manager for Australia who had strong Scottish links.

Two Braemar cabers were selected, cut and prepared by Scottish 'Heavy' Henry Gray and shipped in a 40 foot container (as LCL?).  On arrival at Melbourne's Swanson Dock they were met by representatives from the Australian Scottish Highland Games fraternity and OCL.

James understands that the shipment was covered by an article in the OCL house magazine and is hoping that someone might still have a copy of that edition from 40+ years ago.  We are sure though that he would appreciate any information that anyone may have, so if you were around at the time and remember the event then James would really appreciate hearing from you.

James can be contacted by email ( or via his Australian Heavy Events Facebook page.  If you do have something for James then we'd love to hear about it also, so please drop us a line too (

New book on Maersk Line

posted 24 May 2014, 11:08 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 24 May 2014, 11:09 ]

"Creating Global Opportunities — Maersk Line in Containerisation 1973-2013" (Cambridge) by Chris Jephson and Henning Morgen covers A.P.Moller-Maersk's start in containerisation in the early 1970s, and describes its growth to be the world's largest container carrier.  

The review of the book in TradeWinds describes the takeover of P&O Nedlloyd as follows: 

"...Despite these warning signs, in 2005 Maersk offered to buy P&ONL, whose managers were called to assemble in London, where they were told their company had been bought. 'We were all completely dumbfounded,' remembers Tim Smith, P&ONL’s Asia-Pacific director. Another senior manager, Jeremy Nixon, adds: 'The wind really got knocked out of our sails. Maersk had been one of our biggest competitors; we had fought toe to toe in the east-west and north-south trades.'

"If being acquired was the first shock, it wasn’t the last. Bosses at P&ONL felt the merger did not appear to be beneficial to customers. Dutch manager Lucas Vos, who worked on integrating the lines’ service centres, believes that P&ONL was focused on providing good service, but argues: 'With Maersk Sealand [it was a case of] ‘we know the ideal way of shipping and as a customer, why don’t you adapt your processes round that?’'

"Integration was made more complex by the need to merge global IT operating systems. P&ONL’s Focus Four system was known to work, but it was deemed too risky to switch the entire Maersk business network over to it. Maersk’s new MGM organisation-wide platform was adopted, despite known shortcomings and being two years away from full development.

"The chief finance director at the time, Eivind Kolding — who went on to become Maersk Line chief executive in 2006 — believes the decision was right, but concedes that “our reputation was hurt a lot” by systems that were not ready for the extra volumes. 'Reputation-wise, that was a big blow to Maersk'."

G.P. Sinha

posted 10 May 2014, 11:27 by Mike Chapman   [ updated 10 May 2014, 11:27 ]

We understand that former General Manager for P&O Nedlloyd South East Asia, G.P. Sinha passed away this morning (Saturday 10 May).    

On the PONL Facebook page former colleague Kaustubh Khandekar has posted the following tribute:

"Very sad to share that Mr. G. P Sinha PONL - Mumbai passed away today morning in Mumbai. He was GM - PONL south Asia and was a great boss! RIP GP!!"

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