Mersea Island Museum - Blackwater Ships


Ship:      ORONTES
Arrived:20 August 1924
Departed:17 October 1925
Career:Passenger ship, requisitioned for use as a troop ship in 1916. June 1919 left Brisbane for last time as troop ship. After refit, she returned to the Australian mail run, leaving Tilbury 25 October 1919.

There are conflicting records for the history of this vessel.

A photograph on www.history-in-pictures.co.uk is said to be Bradwell 1910. She appears to be in poor condition and is unlikely to have been in normal passenger service. It is thought that the photograph is certainly off Bradwell, but the year is wrong.

The Guildhall Library were very helpful in researching this and have come back with the following:
"There seem to have been two periods during that year [1919] when the ORONTES was in the London area; April-May and September-October.
"She arrived in Gravesend from Sydney on April 16, bound for Tilbury Dock and was cleared out from that Dock on May 12, bound for Port Natal, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane. She sailed from Gravesend on May 13, with Sydney given as her destination.
"On September 9 she arrived in Gravesend from Brisbane, bound for Tilbury Dock. She was cleared out of that Dock on October 24, bound for Brisbane via Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. She sailed from Gravesend on October 25, with Brisbane given as her destination.

P&O Heritage history includes the following:
19.02.1921: Sailed for Brisbane on her final Orient Line voyage and returned to London in June. She was laid up off Southend.
16.02.1922: Sold to the British World Trade Exhibition Company, for use as a floating exhibition centre for British industrial products for a world tour under the name BRITISH TRADE. She was to have been converted at Hull, but the project failed and in August that year she reverted to Orient ownership and her original name. She did not resume trading, and was laid up at Hull and later in the Gareloch. http://www.poheritage.com (PDF file).

Miramar Ship Index records the changes of owner in 1922 to British World Trade Expeditions Ltd and then back to Orient SN Co Ltd, but does not record a change of name to BRITISH TRADE.

George Swieszkowski reviewed Lloyds List for this period and notes that BRITISH TRADE arrived River Blackwater 20 Aug 1924 in tow tugs TRADESMAN and HERDSMAN. She left the river 17 Oct 1925. [Lloyds List uses the name BRITISH TRADE but it is possible she was never registered with this name.]

Hull Daily Mail of 19 August 1924 report of arrivals and sailing from Hull shows BRITISH TRADE sailed 18-19 August 1924 from King George Dock for Southend under tow of TRADESMAN and HEADSMAN [sic - probably HEADMAN]

Broken up Inverkeithing 2.11.25 [T.W.Ward Ltd] - from Miramar Ship Index

When the ORONTES was scrapped, the Dining Room ceiling was salvaged, and is now in the Woodside Hotel in Aberdour.

Tonnage:9,023 gross
Built:1902
Type:Passenger ship
Owner:Orient SN Co. Ltd.
Official No:115707
ID1115707

Barges at Bradwell on Sea. Barge PLANTAGENET. Smack 334CK. The laid up liner hidden beyond the barge in the centre is thought to be the ORONTES.

The photograph is also published as no. 96372 - the copy in Stephen Kemp collection was written on board REVA at Bradwell but not dated. Date: c1925.

Above:  Barges at Bradwell on Sea. Barge PLANTAGENET. Smack 334CK. The laid up liner hidden beyond the barge in the centre is thought to be the ORONTES. The photograph is also published as no. 96372 - the copy in Stephen Kemp collection was written on board REVA at Bradwell but not dated. Date: c1925.
Source: Ron Green Collection


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