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

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

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.

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