Saturday, 19 December 2009

The River Tyne,Pelaw Main in the 1900s

An early picture of shipping on the River Tyne,I think they will be loading coal,this picture and many others are to be found on Norman Dunns web pages linked to the Hebburn on Tyne web site at,have a look at the message board and post a message! Roy

Some history on Pelaw Mains past:

Pelaw is a district that forms part of the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead,
Pelaw came into being due to the huge Victorian factory complexes of the CWS or Co-Operative Wholesale SocietyCo-operative wholesale societyA Co-operative Wholesale Society, or CWS, is a form of Co-operative Federation , in this case, the members are usually Consumers' Co-operatives...
which was the manufacturing division of the then burgeoning Co-Op company, which grew up along the length of the Shields Road.
This mile long stretch of red-brick industry was home to factories making clothing and textiles, furniture, pharmaceuticals, household cleaning products, quilts, books and magazines and the world-famous "Pelaw" shoe polish.
These factories created Pelaw and were practically its sole employer during most of the twentieth century but due to inevitable foreign competition, the prevailing economic climate and government policies of the times, the majority of the factories were closed and demolished between the mid 70s and early 90s to be replaced in recent years by modern housing estates.

Friday, 18 December 2009

A De Ja Vue experiance at Wetton Park,Wetton,Cape Town

I found this original Brimble and Briggs metal badge on a shopfitting we were removing from a job we were on,of course when we dumped the unit I kept the badge!

Wetton Park,Wetton,Cape Town

Left click either picture to view full size.

Yesterday I had occasion to visit Ian at a local company named 'Holdfast' they manufacture a large range of strapping and roof racks.I was on the HBYC marinas business,we require special webbing to hold the marina floats in place.

When Ian asked if I knew where Wetton Park was? my reply was an easy yes,as I had started my first job in South Africa in the same premises some 41 years earlier,that was back in october 1968.Then it was the premises of Brimble & Briggs,a large company of shop fitters in Cape Town.It was here I met Paul and Alan Gardener,who now trade in Natal Street,Paarden Eilnad, as the 'Gardener Bros',doing high class kitchens and cupboards.To the left of where I am standing was the covered area where I parked my Mk1 Balmoral Grey Hillman Imp.

I was to return to work in the same buildings later in life,this was after my return to SA after a job in the Sudan,around 28 years back,by now Brimble and Briggs had been taken over by the PG Group and Frederick Sage Shopfitters had moved in,so had Shelvit pty,the company I was to work for,the only time I ever went to work in a suit and tie,plus have a company car,it did not last long,they had so little share of the market,I resigned.Frederick Sage did a great deal of the new Sun City Hotel in this building.

I may as well write some history on Brimble and Briggs,they were a very well known company it seems and at one time traded from a large building in McKenzie street,off Roeland street in Cape Town itself,for some strange coincidence I was later to rent half of the ground floor of this building and run my own shopfitting company from what had been Brimble and Briggs ground floor offices!The machine shop was around the corner in the same building,which being made completely from concrete made the place sound proof,back then the building was known as Posinaks,its now SA Maps.

another finding on Brimble and Briggs.

You will often find old shop fronts and shop fittings with a small metal strip nailed to the inside of the glass,its silver letters on a black background says simply Brimble and Briggs.

Brimble & Briggs bldg (later Posniaks )
Corner of Wesley street and McKenzie street
Cape Town, Western Cape
Designed by

A famous painter who started work at Brimble and Briggs.

Frank Sydney Spears
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Frank Sydney Spears (1906 – 1991) was a South African artist. He was born in Walsall, Staffordshire, England.

He arrived in South Africa as a designer for Brimble and Briggs Ltd. in 1928. He established a high profile as an artist, broadcaster and actor, also known for his success in business activities and as a designer of boats.

General Botha Navy connections with Brimble and Briggs.

PW Immelman 1949/50.
Ater the Royal Navy turned him down for medical reasons, joined Brimble and Briggs as a shopfitter for 13 years.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Bounty on the River Tyne

The replica of the Bounty will sail on for many more years but that ship yard behind it,I think its Swan Hunters has now gone,its cranes sold to India,a waste of British skills and equipment.

For more info on the River Tyne and Hebburn in particular check into

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Hout Bay Harbour

Left click the picture to fill your screen and see the detail.
Taken from the car park on Chapmans Peak,Hout Bays harbour lay out and entry is easy to see in this picture.Canon G11 and an exposure of f/4.5

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The HBYC marina

Having just attended a marina committee meeting on site due to storm damage,I am reminded what a great bunch of members we have in the Hout Bay Yacht Club!

Walk-on moorings include 220v shore power, good clean fresh water and refuse removal. Security is generally very good, and the marina is always a happy place!
Since the recent extension of the Northern Mole, harbour conditions are again very favourable in all weather conditions, at all mooring locations.
The Marina Manager is Peter Godley. Peter keeps a listening watch on VHF CH-71 during office hours which are every day from 9 am to 1 pm except Wednesdays and Sundays. The Marina office phone number is 021 790 7095 and Peter’s cell number is 082 446 9424.

Building the Guillimot Canoe

Henry kindly provided me with a large selection of his canoe build,he finished the boat some months back,so is now enjoying the fruits of his labours.I think its true to say that this kind of construction is therapeutic ,both the building and the use of the boat when its built.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Johnny Coconut

The late John Caldwell.

John and friend planting a coconut on Palm Island

To continue with your christmas season reading,here is a great book writen by John Caldwell,named Desperate Voyage,I once threw my own copy across the room in utter disbelief but soon picked it up again to find out what came next?

December 1998

Farewell, Johnny Coconut

by Richard Dey
John Caldwell died in early November on Palm Island in the Grenadines, of an apparent heart attack. He was 80. Caldwell, the author of the classic sea adventure, Desperate Voyage, enjoyed a fame that reached beyond the boating world and helped to sustain his hotel on Palm Island when others in the region sometimes failed, especially in the middle 1970s. Readers of the narrative came from all over the world and from all walks of life to meet the man and stay at his palmy resort.
Little in Caldwell's life came easy. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1919, he suffered from tuberculosis until he was 14. His father was an alcoholic and itinerant bank-debt collector who left the family when John was 15; his mother, who was part Cherokee, was a nurse. They moved to Los Angeles when John was 10, and he worked at odd jobs to help support his mother and five younger siblings.

Despite a lack of formal education beyond eighth grade, he enrolled in what is now the University of California at Santa Barbara and had finished two years when the Second World War broke out.

In the war he served in the American merchant marine. While in Australia in 1944, he met Mary, who quickly became his wife. It was the desire to get back to Mary following the war which led to the adventure that made him famous.

Having no other way to get from California to Australia, he took a steamer to Panama and finding no next steamer westbound, he bought the 29-foot wooden sloop Pagan. Not knowing how to sail didn't stop him. As the book recounts, he set sail anyway, with two cats and a text book on navigation, and soon found himself in a hurricane. The hurricane devastated the boat, all but sinking it. After 49 days adrift without food, he was washed up on Tuvutha in the Fiji islands. Nourished back to health by the islanders, he reached Australia on commercial transportation several months later.

Back in California he wrote Desperate Voyage (Little Brown, 1948) and finished college, graduating with a major in sociology in 1949. The book has been criticized for being outlandish ("John, you didn't really eat shoe leather fried in engine oil?") but its appeal lies in its strong narrative voice and its Odyssean story line. It has been continuously in print since then, one of the few maritime titles to achieve that status, and translated into many languages.

In 1954, he and Mary and two sons set forth in a 36-foot double-ended ketch designed by John Hanna, to sail to Australia. This voyage is recounted in Family at Sea, his second and only other book. (Little Brown, 1956). It was an easy, idyllic voyage, singular only for the astonishing fact that their second son, 8-month-old Stevie, was retarded and had an immune deficiency. They had been planning the voyage for years and wondered whether to go or stay. Actor and author Sterling Hayden recommended a physician who advised them to take the child offshore, where he could breathe clean air and live free of the threat of contamination. In their voyage through the remote islands and atolls they seldom took the boy ashore, fearing infection. But on reaching Australia, they had to and he soon died. He was three and a half years old. The voyage was an unprecedented act of love. In Australia they had another son, and built a new boat, the 46-foot ketch Outward Bound. In 1958, they set sail with the intention of sailing around the world, writing articles as they went. But when they reached Antigua in 1960, they were low on money and the charter world of Commander Desmond Nicholson offered employment. Chartering up and down the Eastern Caribbean, John would carry sprouting coconuts aboard and often go ashore and plant them, which earned him the nickname "Johnny Coconut." It was while doing this that he first went ashore on Prune Island, just east of Union Island in the middle Grenadines, then little more than a swamp. But one day in 1966 he began discussions with the St. Vincent & the Grenadines government that led to him leasing the island for 99 years. He had had a kind of vision, and that was a hotel.

At that time the government was leasing barren islands to enterprising foreigners who applied with hotel designs and promises of employment: Mustique, Petit St. Vincent and Young Island, along with plantations such as Spring on Bequia, were all developed in this way. After arranging the lease with Chief Minister E. T. Joshua, Caldwell drained the swamp and began building. He didn't know anything more about building or running hotels than he once had about sailing.

These were the days when a man with a will and a vision could do anything. The hotel, with ten rooms and under the more appropriate name Palm Island Beach Club, opened in December 1967. His sailing days were over. For the next 30 years, John and Mary and their children and later their grandchildren ran the hotel and its adjacent properties. His legend includes the ongoing rumor that the hotel was "just about" to be sold (Donald Trump was but one who visited and inquired) but somehow John always held on to it. "He is one of a kind," a hotel guest once remarked to me. "In a region of colorful expatriate characters, there is none more so than John Caldwell."

He leaves his wife Mary, his companion Agatha Roberts, sons John Jr. and Roger, and several grandchildren. Richard Dey is the author of In the Way of Adventure: The Story of John Caldwell and Palm Island, ©1989, Offshore Press; available at local bookshops. A special edition signed by both John Caldwell and the author is available from Richard Dey at
Copyright© 1998 Compass Publishing

A lifetimes journey,a story by Barry Cram

Hello Roy,
Thank you for placing the blog on the CKD website, advertising 'A Lifetime's Journey - Old Man of the Tyne' - it's much appreciated, and I'm glad you enjoyed the story.


Barry Cram of Hebburn

To continue with a bit of spare time reading over the holidays,I have a really facinating tale writen by Hebburn on Tynes,Barry Cram,he sent it to me in a Word format,its far to large to post on this blog but if you fancy a good story to read,please contact me and I will send you an email copy.

use this address

A message from Barry:

Hello Roy,

Please find attached the story 'A Lifetime's Journey'.
You're obviously very busy - though, if you get the time to read it, I hope you enjoy it.

Bye for now,

This story contains the adventures of a wealthy Geordie shipowner and his family, who, unbeknown to them, are about to set off from Newcastle Upon Tyne on an extraordinary journey of a lifetime - especially the shipowner’s grandson, Geordie Rigger, a very intelligent and upright young lad who has the greatest journey of all.

You will meet many lovely characters in this warm and passionate story, filled with happiness, sadness, humour, love and romance. Some of the banter between them, especially Peter and Thomas is very funny, and not to be missed.

Mysterious and unexplainable events occur, which bring out the most in the characters. A deep camaraderie is shown by all on board – a spirit of familiarity and trust found only between friends in such close proximity.

What makes a Geordie? For anyone who would like to find out, and get familiar with the well-known Geordie friendship, compassion and psyche, then this is the story for you – a great story for all ages to read. You might be surprised!



This story begins in the wide Pacific Ocean, on board a luxury American cruise ship - the S.S. Albatross - on its return voyage from Australia.

“Look-look!” The English passenger cried to his American friend.
“Gosh-darn it! What is it now?” The American replied, slowly fanning his white Stetson across his fat round face.
“Put your eye to the lens. Look man, look!” He ordered, as his monocle dropped from his thinly set face. “Tell me, what do you see?”
“Nothin’, darn it! Nothin’ but the wide blue sea?”
“To the left a bit old boy.” Said the Englishman, as he manoeuvred the ship’s telescope.
“I can’t see a darn...wait a minute...oh it can’t be!”
“Exactly old chap;” said the Englishman, replacing his monocle; “an inhabited island, dear boy; I distinctly saw a person on the beach.”
“But that’s not possible; the ship’s brochure specifically states that there ain’t no inhabited islands on this part of the route!”
“Steward!” Cried the Englishman.
“G’day Sir, what’s your bid?”
“Be so kind steward, as to look through this telescope and tell us if you see anything of interest.”
The steward scanned the calm, wide ocean, and then breathed out a sigh of disbelief.
“Fair dinkum I do Sir; I’d better report this to the Cap’n.”
Holding his hat in one hand, while scratching his bemused head with the other, off he rushed towards the bridge - the last place he had seen the Captain.
The Captain put his binoculars to his eyes. “Impossible, steward! I’ve bin in this game long enough to know that there ain’t no inhabited islands in these parts.” He searched the horizon through the bridge window. “I’m sorry, steward, the heat’s probably playing tricks on you; there ain’t nothing out there.”
“But Cap ‘n, I’m not the only one; those two cobbers down there saw just as much as I did; we definitely saw something out there…out there…on the beach.”
“Don’t waste my time, steward.” Said the Captain, thumping his binoculars down on the table.
The Steward gently grabbed the elbow of the Captain’s jacket. “But Cap’n Wiseman, we can’t sail on if there’s a chance of someone being stranded out there.”
The Captain abruptly pushed away the pleading arm.
“Look, I’ve told you once too many, I’m the captain here; don’t ever forget it. It was probably a monkey or a goat. Now get out of here!” He added, punching his desk and busting a knuckle.
“Please Cap’n, have one more look!”
“You’re dismissed, steward; one more word, and I’ll have you for insubordination!”
Just as the steward was about to leave the bridge, he noticed an inquisitive crowd had gathered about the telescope, chattering much louder than the holidaymakers elsewhere.
“Look Cap’n’”
“What have you stirred up here, steward?”

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Gunner Robert McBride

With a christmas season upon us,it may be a good time to release a true story that my late father wrote,dad never really discussed the war but he did write a true story about it,the opening pages are below but if you want to read the full text,go to the link that follows,some of us and I include myself,are lucky not to have been involved in a world war,lets keep it that way.


Robert McBride is in the center.

Rob (bob) McBride is to the left.

Gunner Robert McBride

Unit : Royal Artillery
Served : North Africa (captured)
Army No. : 1500264
POW No. : 140378
Camps : PG 78, Stalag XIA

My Days in the British Army

by Gunner Rob McBride 1500264. Royal Artillery. From July 1939 to April 1945

I am not an advocate for war. Any kind of war causes death, suffering and untold misery. Out of war sometimes will come frustrations and laughter. This is the story of my war, or the very small part I was permitted to play in it. After all these years, I often think was it all really worth it. Why countries of this world cannot live in peace remains to be seen. The wars which have occurred since 1945 are still a reminder, are countries better off afterwards?

July 1939 on the eve of the greatest war in history, aged 20 I was called up in what was then called the first militia. Living then in Birkenhead in Cheshire I didn't have any great distance to travel to my first camp which was at Arrowe Park, Birkenhead. I thought it was great, a soldier in the British Army. I think even then we were half soldier and half civilian, for we were issued with the regulation uniform, and for walking out, were given grey flannel slacks and blue blazer. Once I was asked by a passer by which army did I belong. The blue beret which went with the walking out dress didn't help matters either! But, true to tradition we were given a hard time on how to be a soldier, we were drilled by regular soldiers who really knew their job, and after a few months of Physical Training we were really fit and raring to go. It was hard work but fun. Six months of this and back to civvy street. Little did we know in just a few short months what lay in store for us.

Wharram Tiki 38 timber works

We can make these parts to order if you think its a little complicated,masts and booms also.

The various laminations required are often made simpler by the use of long length timbers,CKD Boats specialises in good quality timber and in decent long lengths.