Robert Clowes

email 8th March 2009

Hello,I came across your web site and thought I would write and let you have some of my memories of the Company.   I started in 1972 at the General Stores Department  in Herbert Walker Avenue leaving Itchen College to go into the NHS as a Lab Technician but decided to go with Union-Castle as the pay was about 5 times as much £9 a week I think.  

I would bus down to Woolston get the old chain ferry across and walk to the office passing the Union-Castle House whereall the big bosses worked (now sold of as apartments) through  the old Dock Gate 8 entrance where all the Docks Police seemed to be Sergeants and guarded  the gate! (now closed off) I was made very welcome by my boss an Ex Major in the Tank Regiment, Johnny Johnson and his deputy Jack Borne who may have been Johnny's sergeant too.  

I was introduced to my co workers in the office Ita De Sousa what a lovely girl , I think her sister Nina? also worked  in Currie House.   Adelle Thorning was another an American lady, she was made redundant and died tragically.   She was a very intelligent lady who could do the Telegraph crossword in her tea break and was in her past the secretary to the American ambassador in Moscow.   Arthur (Their surnames escapes me) was the Foreman, Ron the driver / Union rep always had a pipe in his mouth and was a surly old sod, Dicky Bird a storeman who also had a shop in Bitterne and worked there for his pocket money I think!   Three other faces I can visualise but names escape me.   One had a brother who was a carpenter in the FMM dept and when he retired restored the old Windmill at  Windhover  Bursledon Southampton.   Ginger Miller  who lived at Stoney Cross and I think emigrated to South Africa if his plans came true to open a restaurant with the gear he bought  when the Edinburgh Castle was scrapped.    Another was called Ian, he had blonde long hair and a Pilots License all 3 of us were Saints supporters and  went to a lot of the fixtures together in Gingers van during the 1976 season.

Fridays  were busy and I remember  my first boarding of the Windsor Castle and how huge she looked and going onboard with Johnny and Jack and feeling all grown up when we were having a beer in one of the Officers cabins, they were supposed to be getting all the paperwork signed up but that got in the way of a good lunchtime session .Lunch on board was fantastic but unfortunately I never did get to go on a voyage.

Friday afternoons seemed to be a blur on occasions!    Sad times were when ships were sold off the Reina Del Mar was the first that I remember on a berth in the River Itchen,  towards the end in 1976 it seemed that everything went very quickly all the ships gone Oranje, Vaal WINDSOR PENDENNIS EDINBURGH the Clan boats.   We were kept on, moving the store to the High Street into the building next to the Mayflower Pub which was great for us as  a lunch time drink and a game of darts became a regular happening.   Redundancy came in 1976 and a farewell drink at the the Duke of Wellington pub in Bugle street  saw my going.

I went to work for a local engineering firm and then to British Aerospace as a riveter/fitter.   Fancying a change I left BA for a job where I still see the names of some of the Ships painted by the crew on the Quay side on 101 -105 berths and can still see in my minds eye the ships I saw as a young lad and the stevedores and Union-Castle staff on the quayside all those years ago.   I still remember the large American car being lifted out by crane from the hold and slipping out of the net and smashing itself on the dockside.

Halcyon days it seems! if anyone would like to contact me and remembers me then that would be great .


kind regards


Robert Clowes

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