A love note from the Rangitata

This photograph of the SS Rangitata is a recent addition to my collection. I certainly didn’t buy it for the condition because it has a rather nasty crease all the way across the centre, but for the rather nice message on the back, and also because the style of the back is the same as that often used in my study of “HGK”* postcards. This would appear to be a very slight variation on back style “G” without the publisher overprint on the left hand side, and with the slight difference of a small dot printed between the words “POST” and “CARD”. Perhaps this is an earlier printing of the back, with later printings losing the dot?

The message on the back reads as follows:

The ship which took me so far away from you (physically). Every good wish for a very happy Xmas. I wish I could be with you darling. All my love Robert

*The initials “HGK” stand for Henry George Keyse. According to my research, Henry, a barber working for the New Zealand Shipping Company, was on board the Rangitata for at least three voyages in 1940. I have not been able to find any records of his voyages during 1941 or 1942, but in 1943 he was aboard the Rangitata on the voyage from Gibraltar to New York, still working as a barber (and photographer), aged 62. At this time he had been working at sea for 37 years.

I am assuming that this postcard was bought on board the Rangitata from Henry’s barber shop (which also sold souvenirs), and that the photograph was taken and printed up by him on pre-printed postcard photographic paper.

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Rangitata passenger list and the Bounty Bible

The latest passenger list to be added to this website is for the Rangitata‘s voyage to New Zealand on 24th February, 1950 (you can access this from the drop down “Passenger Lists” menu at the top of this page).

The photograph here shows Nursing Sister, Enid Jones, who made many voyages on the Rangitata from 1946 to 1957. I’m not sure who the man on her left is, but at a guess, he could be Surgeon, J. M. Pinkerton (note the stethoscope in his pocket).

One of the passengers on the 1950 voyage was Adrian Hobbs, assistant secretary to the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific. He was collected at Pitcairn Island following his month long visit after delivering the restored bible from HMS Bountyread more.

Historic SS Rimutaka voyage photographs

Michael Foot contacted me last year to let me know about his fantastic collection of photographs, most of which were probably taken on board the SS Rimutaka. The photographs shown here are very old, quite faded and marked, but he has managed to adjust them a little, and has given me permission to reproduce them. Michael said that the photographs were discovered when his grandmother passed away. He believes there is a family connection, but has not found it yet.

The Rimutaka (1900-1930) had a crew of 90. She could carry 40 first class passengers on the bridge deck, 50 second (upper deck), 80 third (upper deck), and 170 emigrants located in dormitories erected in the holds. Source: Merchant Fleets, New Zealand Shipping and Federal S.N. Co. by Duncan Haws.

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Tongariro (1883-99) passenger list added

A list of passengers travelling on the 3rd May, 1884 voyage of the Tongariro has just been added here, thanks to a listing on eBay. The Tongariro was launched on 23rd August, 1883. In the book Crossed Flags (ISBN 0 905617 87 8), it states that she could carry 64 first class passengers, 36 second class, and 250 in steerage. All 64 first class tickets were sold out for this voyage. She also had refrigerated space for no less than 27,000 carcasses!

Steamship Tongariro. Photo: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, released into the public domain.

Collectables – Serviette (Napkin) Ring

A very popular souvenir produced for sale to passengers on the Remuera was the serviette or napkin ring. These don’t appear to have been in use on the ship, but just produced for sale along with many other items including teaspoons, lighters, goblets, vases, table lamps, bottle openers and even embroidered cushions. The souvenir shop must have been bulging at the beginning of each voyage.

The website RMS Remuera shows a further four designs of serviette rings, dating back to at least 1926.

 

3rd Class Dining Saloon

Very early postcard view of the 3rd Class Dining Saloon with no sign of serviette rings

1st Class Dining Saloon

Another postcard, this time showing the 1st Class Dining Saloon. The serviette rings are seen inserted in the glasses. Would they have done this in rough weather I wonder?

Rangitane first voyage – partial listing

I have just added a partial listing for the maiden voyage of the Rangitane which took place on 26th January 1950. One notable passenger on the list was The Countess of Orford (who I believe may have been visiting her daughter, or travelling with her daughter, Lady Anne Berry, although this is just a guess).

I have also found The Countess Orford on the Rangitiki in May 1949 on the voyage from Auckland, New Zealand to Southampton, UK, where her occupation is listed as “Peeress”!

The Rangitane called at Pitcairn Island on this maiden voyage but not many of the Pitcairners visited the ship. According to the book Pitcairn Island as a Port of Call, by Herbert Ford, Pitcairn postmaster Roy Clark wrote:

Yesterday a large passenger ship called here, but because it was Sabbath, not many went off to the ship, for on this day [the Sabbath] we do no trading. I think a good few of the passengers were disappointed. On these Sabbath-calling ships we do missionary work by giving away our [religious] papers.

Rangitiki – night time call at Pitcairn, September 1960

pitcairn-island-just-before-sunrise-venus-is-just-above-the-moon-tony-probst

Ken Sunshine recently contacted me through this Blog asking if I knew where to find the passenger list for the Rangitiki, from London to Wellington, in September 1960. I managed to track it down on familysearch.org (a free website), and in the meantime, Ken also found a different listing on findmypast.co.uk (you will need to be a paid up member to see this listing). Neither of these sites take their information from the printed passenger lists (as this Blog does), but from the official New Zealand Shipping Company listings.

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According to Pitcairn Island as a Port of Call by Herbert Ford, the Rangitiki called at Pitcairn on 26th September on that particular voyage, so I asked Ken for his memories of the event:

pitcairn-029“We did indeed call at Pitcairn. 57 years on it is still a vivid memory.

We dropped anchor about 2 a.m. Out of the darkness canoes appeared, tied up alongside, occupants with their wares clambered up the sides of Rangitiki and set up on the deck. All I remember were bunches of small bananas and carved wood items. We bought two turtles inscribed “Pitcairn Island” and “From Pitcairn Island, made by Sam Young”.

pitcairn-030At 4 a.m. the ‘market’ closed, the visitors returned whence they had come and to the strains of Aloha-Oe disappeared into the blackness.

Most of the passengers slept through the whole event and missed a wonderful experience.”

I did not realise that ships called at Pitcairn in the middle of the night, I assumed they would just pass by. But as shipping has always been an important lifeline for Pitcairn, and in the days before email, with mail being so important, day or night would not matter to the islanders.

The photograph at the top of this post was taken by Tony Probst. It shows Pitcairn Island just before sunrise. Venus can be seen just above the moon. Clicking on the photograph will take you to Tony’s “Smugmug” site where you can see some fabulous photographs of Pitcairn Island. The other photographs show Ken’s Pitcairn turtles, purchased in 1960.