Category Archives: Rangitata

Rangitata 1952 memories

I have just added another complete Passenger List to this website thanks to Steve Langford of Auckland, New Zealand, who sent me scans of his own copy. Steve travelled to New Zealand with his parents and grandparents on the Rangitata in 1952. He had first emailed me with the following message:

“I have been researching my family history and came across your website when looking at the Rangitata. I came to New Zealand as a four year old in 1952. I have an original passenger list for the voyage, 13th June 1952, which left London for Wellington NZ via Curaçao and the Panama Canal. You are welcome to a copy if you wish. Great website.”

I emailed Steve, thanking him for getting in touch, and despite the lockdown due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 in New Zealand, and here in the UK, or perhaps helped by the fact that many people (including myself) have a little more time to spare at the moment, he managed to scan his list and send it to me for inclusion here. And, perhaps more surprisingly, I have managed to add it to the website, all within three weeks (a record for me!).

Steve emailed me back, and added some of his memories of the time:

“I have attached the passenger list. The photo (taken onboard) is of my mother, Dora Alice Langford, my father Reginald Henry, the boy on the left is my older brother Roger Henry, and myself Stephen John. My sister Anne aged 10 is not in the photo. My grandparents Thomas Sidney Jenkin and Alice Maud Jenkin both travelled with us.

“I remember very little of my young life in London and the trip to New Zealand. My other grandparents, Charles and Maud Langford, were quite distressed at the time, knowing they would never see us again.

“We travelled first class and had a steward who looked after us, named Rupert, who used to make quite a fuss over cutting the tops off boiled eggs.

“The reason New Zealand was chosen is that my father had purchased tickets to South Africa but in 1952 there was trouble with the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, so my father changed the tickets to New Zealand. A lot of people who returned from the war emigrated to all parts of the world. England, and particularly London, was badly damaged. I still have my ration card and I wasn’t born until 1948, so things must have been difficult.”

Enid Jones, Rangitata Nursing Sister

In December 2017, the magazine, Your Family History, published an article of mine entitled “The end of the line”. Unfortunately the magazine is no longer published, but I am hoping to get permission to reproduce my article on this website at some time in the future.

My article asked what happens to photographs and family memorabilia when a person dies, perhaps from a small family, and there is nobody remaining to pass possessions on to. I purchased a small collection of photographs and records on eBay that once belonged to Enid Jones, a nurse on board the Rangitata. Her personal memorabilia was all disposed of in a house clearance. Enid was the nursing sister on Steve Langford’s 1952 Rangitata voyage, as the passenger list shows, and also Enid’s “Certificate of Discharge” book that I now own (see below). Enid’s final voyage on the Rangitata was in 1957.

Many more photographs of the Rangitata can be viewed on this website: Click here.


Update from Roger Langford

Following the publication of the above piece from Steve Langford, his brother Roger got in touch to add some more information:

“I am the other lad in the family photo (the one on the right) and as a five-and-a-half year old at the time, I remember a bit more of our trip. I have attached a photo of a first class menu dated 10th July, 1952, as well as photo of my introduction to Davey Jones Locker when we crossed the equator.

Certificate from the Rangitata – Davy Jones' Locker

“I have no idea of the date of the ceremony and quite frankly cannot remember much except shaving or real cream being plastered about.

“My recollection of the entire trip is as follows. I do not recall leaving dockside or the trip across the Atlantic, but I do remember passing through the Panama Canal and the large ropes connected to the mechanical “donkeys” pulling the ship through the locks.

“In Curaçao the ship was refuelled from a large barge and I can easily recall hanging over the ship’s rail watching the men at work, and throwing down a couple of Dinky toys to them (why I don’t know, kids I suppose) Steve was with me, I think that we gave our parents hell on that trip, two young boys on an adventure of a lifetime.

“The other recollection I have of that time was that my father must have gone ashore because I do remember him with a couple of other blokes being helped back up the gangway, drunk as skunks, on the local banana rum, I am led to believe. The rest of the trip must have been fairly uneventful as I don’t recall much from then on, I do know I was a bit sick for a few days reaching Panama.

“I have a very vague memory of docking in Wellington at night and next morning leaving the ship, only to return with my father as I had left my Dinky toys under my bunk pillow for safe keeping. Our cabin steward Rupert, that Steve mentioned, took us back to look, but we never found them.”

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.

Rangitata – 1st July, 1960

The full passenger list for the Rangitata‘s voyage which left London on 1st July, 1960, bound for Wellington, has been added to this site: Click here, or use the drop down menu “Passenger Lists” at the top of this page.

If you’re interested in owning an original passenger list, please have a look at my eBid auction page. Half of the sale price will be donated to Cancer Research.

Collectables – Remuera Bell

IMG_0089IMG_0091This rather nice souvenir ship’s bell was certainly made between 1911 (when the Remuera launched), and 1940, and at a guess I would say it is 1930s or perhaps a little earlier. I am confident that it is before 1940 because that is when the Remuera was torpedoed by aircraft off Scotland (on 26th August) and sunk. She had been sailing as part of a large convoy.

IMG_0090 IMG_0092The following quote is from Ordeal by Sea – The New Zealand Shipping Company in The Second World War 1939-1945 by Sydney D. Waters (published 1949):

On her last voyage, the Remuera sailed from Wellington on 12 July 1940 for London, with one of the largest cargoes she had carried during her long career but without passengers. … At about 9.15 a.m. on 26 August, the convoy was crossing the entrance to Moray Firth and was about fifteen miles north of Peterhead, when the first attack was made by a single German aircraft, one of whose bombs missed the stern of the Remuera by about thirty yards. At 9.35 a.m., an attack was carried out by torpedo-carrying aircraft off Kinnaird Head. The Remuera opened fire on one aircraft but its torpedo struck her on the port side.

Donate-LemonSouvenirs like this were sold by the ship’s barber. The printed passenger list for the 13th October, 1938 voyage of the Rangitata explained that,

“An experienced barber is carried for the convenience of passengers. A scale of charges for hair-dressing &c., and a price list for certain articles has been approved by the Company and will be found posted up in the Barber’s Shop. The barber is authorised to stock souvenirs, &c., on his own account – the price of which is not controlled by the Company.”

Hairdressing-Saloon

Henry-Keyse-by-Jennifer-Toombs

Henry Keyse, the barber of the Remuera, painted by Jennifer Toombs

This advertising card (above), known to be in use during a 1926 Remuera voyage, shows the large range of products stocked in the Hairdressing Saloon, even including ‘materials for fancy dress’, which would have been very useful for the passengers’ entertainment on the long voyage.

It is an extremely sturdy metal item that has lasted well for more than 75 years. I would be interested to see how many of today’s souvenirs survive in years to come.

Remuera-(from-1923-album)

The Remuera, from a 1923 photo album (probably a real photo postcard)