Tom Roddis      




Whilst still at school in Sheffield, I had a chance meeting with a near neighbour who was on home leave from the Merchant Navy. This led me to write to P&O Passenger Liners in London for a job. After an interview and a medical in London, I was accepted by P&O and I started my seamanship training in October 1967 in Dover.


Prince of Wales Sea Training School, Princes Street, Dover, Kent


PWSTS operated in Dover from 1953 to 1975 and trained boys for service in the Merchant Navy. I attended PWSTS for four months during the winter of 1967/68. It housed about 48 boys in three dormitories. The head of the school was Captain Vine and my “Grenville 67” class tutor was Mr Smith. There were three classes of about 16 lads each and a new class started every six weeks or so.


The regime was very strict, early to bed and early to rise, with a daily workout in the front yard before dawn, no matter what the weather. New boys soon met the visiting barber for the regulation short back and sides.


TV did not exist at PWSTS and surprisingly, I can't remember any larking about after lights out at 9pm - everybody just seemed to crash out from exhaustion. The wake up bells always came too soon the next morning. God help anybody who was not standing to attention by his bed within 60 seconds.


Although we were training for the Merchant Navy, the PWSTS uniform was that of the Royal Navy. Every single item of clothing had to be neatly folded and kept in its correct position in our bunk bed drawers. Kit inspections were frequent and the dormitories had to be kept absolutely spotless.


Our clothing had to be hand washed and ironed to perfection. Bell-bottom trousers had to have seven horizontal creases to represent the seven seas. Footwear had to have the mirror finish like the Doldrums. General seamanship and ship safety lessons were mixed with regular cross-country runs, circuit training, marching practise and lifeboat rowing in Dover harbour.


The top exercise yard was up some steps behind the school. It overlooked the English Channel and we could just see France on a good day. We would dream about eventually sailing on the ships that we could see in the distance.


Smoking was banned and we were only allowed 50 pence per week spending money. We could use when we had our freedom for a couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.


Leaving PWSTS came with both a sense of relief and a sense of achievement. We were suitably equipped for life at sea. The PWSTS regime had served us well, even though it felt more like Borstal training at times.


(I revisited the old PWSTS building in 1992 and it was being used by Dover College as a girl’s boarding school. The narrow cobbled streets and tiny cottages around the school had all been demolished. A major road now runs alongside the building, which was just a quiet lane in 1967. In 1996 the then derelict building was taken over by the Dover YMCA. They lacked refurbishment funds and sold it again in 2003. The building was all boarded up as of May 2004, with its future use unclear.)


After four days at home following my training at PWSTS Dover, In February 1968 I joined Oriana in Southampton as a Deck Boy. I was stunned by her enormous size - she rose from the water like a giant tower block. I did wonder how this thing was able to float.


 I found the crew gangway and dragged my suitcase along all the corridors until I found my cabin in the bows of the ship. Four of us "first timers" would be sharing this three-metre by three-metre home from home for a while. We were inboard and didn’t even have a porthole to gaze through.


Over the next 74 days the 42,000 tonne Oriana took 2000 passengers and 1000 crew around the globe. She was capable of covering 750 land miles in 24 hours. She was a hungry beast and only travelled a mere 2.4 metres per one litre of fuel!


We went to The Canary Isles, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand for my 16th birthday, the Pacific Islands of Fiji and Hawaii, Canada, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Mexico's Acapulco, the Panama Canal, several Caribbean Islands and back across the Atlantic Ocean to the island of Madeira, before we came back to Southampton.


It felt unreal. To be paid £24 a month, given free food and accommodation to tour the world seemed like a bonus to me as a 15 year-old in 1968.


Oriana was built in 1960 and withdrawn from service in 1986. She was sold to Japan for use as a static tourist centre. It should not to be confused with the later Oriana that was built in 1995.


At the end of the 1960's, cargo was beginning to be shipped in containers. This reduced handling damage and pilferage. It also reduced the ship's time in port.


In 1969, P&O had a major stake in Overseas Container Lines (OCL) that carried containers between Europe and Australia. After four trips around the world and two in the Mediterranean on Oriana, I transferred to OCL March 1969.


At OCL we had beautiful single cabins, marvellous food and received extra pay to work both on deck and in the engine room. But there was so little time in port.


On Encounter Bay we went all the way to Australia non-stop. We did slow down at Cape Town, but only to allow a small boat to bring us some airmail from home. In Fremantle, Australia we were in and out the same day, we had one night in Sydney and a few hours back in Fremantle on the way back home. It was the same routine when I joined her sister ship Discovery Bay, so I left the sea in 1970 to work in Sheffield for a year.


At the end of 1970 I returned to the ships. I worked on an Esso Tanker and a couple of bulk carriers. In 1973 I worked for Bowater Paper Carriers that were managed by Cayzer Irvine in London. Cayzer Irvine also crewed the ships of the Union Castle Line. I joined Rothesay Castle as an Able Seaman on the South Africa run, going out there empty and coming back with fresh fruit. Later I moved to the passenger division of Union Castle and did four trips from Southampton to South Africa on the Edinburgh Castle. Those passenger "mailboats" ran like clockwork. 40 days on board and 9 days on home leave.


Cayzer Irvine sponsored me in the mid 1970s to study at Hull School of Navigation and I became a Deck Officer in their Clan Line Cargo Division.



A few people remembered...


Adams Pat (Colley)

Anderson Dixie (Mansel)

Ashmore Alan (Colley)

Ashmore Jean (Colley)

Atkin Barbara (Milnrow Road)

Ayres Susan (Colley)

Bailey Chabby (Colley)

Baldwin Dave (Wordsworth Ave)

Barber Chris (MGH)

Barber Keith (Milnrow Road)

Barnbrook Angie (MGH)

Barton Ian (Colley)

Barton Keith (Colley)

Beaumont (Ball Inn Ecclesfield)

Bell Tim (MGH)

Bellamy Ian (Mansel)

Biddles Gordon (Gudge) (Colley)

Bidwell Dorothy (Dot) (Colley)

Bloomer Harry (Wordsworth Ave)

Booth Alan (Remington Road)

Bowers Mike (MGH)

Bramhall Wendy (Mansel)

Brightmore Mr (Teacher) (Colley)

Brown Colin (Colley)

Brown Lynn (Wordsworth Ave)

Burns Jacqueline (Colley)

Burt Tony (MGH/East Trans)

Bush Pete (Wordsworth Ave)

Bush Steve (Wordsworth Ave)

Butcher Freddie (Ball Inn Ecclesfield)

Butler Graham (Tucker) (Colley)

Caine Tony (Milnrow Road)

Camm Catherine (Colley)

Campbell Alan (Ellermans)

Campbell John (Ellermans)

Campion Stewart (Ellermans)

Catterick Geoff (MGH)

Clarke Walter (Knutton Road)

Coddington Christine (Wordsworth Ave)

Colton Janice (Knutton Road)

Crapper Lynn (Colley)

Crapper Stuart (Remington Road)

Crossland Steve (Ellermans)

Dale Lynn (Wordsworth Ave)

Dale Martin (MGH)

Dallyn Kevin (Colley)

Dalton Denis (Dinks) (Colley)

Davenport John (Ellermans)

Davison Dawn (MGH)

Deighton Chris (Ellermans)

Dempsey John (Milnrow Road)

Drakeford Tony (Ellermans)

Dronsfield Mrs (Teacher) (Mansel)

Eastwood Chris (Ball Inn Ecclesfield)

Ellis Terry (MGH/East Trans)

Eggenton Carl (Sid) (Ball Inn Ecclesfield)

Fidler Mick (Wordsworth Ave)

Fieldhouse Raymond (Wordsworth Ave)

Findlay Theresa (MGH)

Fletcher Alan (Colley)

Flint Geoff (Colley)

Flude Richard (Colley)

Fothergill Peter (Fozz) (Colley)

Fox Jacqueline (Colley)

Ganley Cheryl (Colley)

Ganley Lee (Ball Inn Ecclesfield)

Gibson Terry (Mansel)

Goddard Frank (Colley)

Goodwin Phil (Colley)

Guest Mike (Ellermans)

Guidotti Tom (MGH)

Haglington Ronnie (Colley)

Hannah Brian (Remington Ave)

Hannah Peter (Mansel)

Harrison Tony (Ball Inn Ecclesfield)

Hayes Malcolm (Milnrow Road)

Heinink Peter (Ellermans)

Heaton Vinny (Colley)

Hewitt Beverley (Fircroft Road)

Hewitt Joanne (Birley Rise Road)

Hewitt Keeley (Birley Rise Road)

Hilbert Pat (Shiregreen Hotel)

Hinchcliffe Graham (Ball Inn Ecclesfield)

Holding Tom (Teacher) (Colley)

Holland Dave (Ellermans)

Holmes Brenda (Colley)

Hopkin Peter (Colley)

Houseley Eddie (Landlord Griffin Ecclesfield)

Howe Ben (Wordsworth Ave)

Howe Pete (Wordsworth Ave)

Howell Eric (Ball Inn Ecclesfield)

Hudson Sylvia (Shiregreen Hotel)

Huxtable Denise (Shiregreen Hotel)

Ibbotson Pam (Tankard Ecclesfield)

Ibbotson Steven (Mansel)

Irwin Tom (Holgate Road Army Cadets)

Jepson Frank (Colley)

Johnson Stephanie (Ball Inn Ecclesfield)

Jones John (Ellermans)

Kelly Alf (Ellermans)

Kent Noel (Ellermans)

Kimberley Iain (Ellermans)

Knight Alan (Knutton Road)

Leaver Russ (MGH)

Levesque Jim (MGH)

Lightfoot Graham (Colley)

Longbottom Jason (Ramsay) (MGH)

Longmore Julie (Ball Inn Ecclesfield)

Maciver John (MGH)

Marais Elmarie (Port Elizabeth, South Africa)

Marsh Gary (MGH)

Marsh John (MGH/East Trans)

Martin Bill (Ellermans)

McDowall Jimmy (Ellermans)

McPhee Ian (Ellermans)

Mellor Mr (Teacher Colley)

Melluish Diane (Tankard Ecclesfield)

Melluish Jill (Tankard Ecclesfield)

Miles Dave (Edinburgh Castle)

Morris Eric (Ellermans)

Muscroft Elaine (Colley)

Nash Sheila (Wordsworth Tavern)

Nelson Debbie (MGH)

Oates Peter (Colley)

Otter Elaine (Rocher Close)

Otter Mick (Colley)

Owen Gail (Colley)

Parker Michael (Ellermans)

Parrott Alan (Colley)

Parrott Sandra (Colley)

Pashley Anne (Margetson Drive)

Peacock Derick (Ellermans)

Pearson Russell (MGH)

Pease Steven (Colley)

Pegg Mick (Ball Inn Ecclesfield)

Plant Eddy (MGH)

Platts David (Milnrow Road)

Pryor Linda (Colley)

Pulford Patrick (Milnrow Cres)

Quince Ian (Colley)

Raithby Les (MGH)

Ramsay Jason (Longbottom) (MGH)

Ratcliffe Horace (Yew Lane)

Reenie Steve (Ball Inn Ecclesfield)

Renshaw Neil (Colley)

Revell Bill (MGH)

Roberts Linda (Colley)

Roberts Steven (Dugdale Road)

Robinson John (Ellermans)

Robinson Tony (MGH)

Robson Dave (MGH)

Russell Tony (MGH)

Sadler Anne (Colley)

Savage Don (Colley)

Savage Elaine (Butchill Ave)

Savage Norma (Butchill Ave)

Saville David (Mansel)

Self Leslie (Margetson Cres)

Senior Colin (Wordsworth Ave)

Shaw Mr (Teacher) (Mansel)

Shaw Reuben (Dugdale Road)

Shaw Roy (Dugdale Road)

Shepherd Rita (Colley)

Shipley Tony (Wordsworth Ave)

Shirtcliffe Peter (Mansel)

Slinn Steven (Wordsworth Ave)

Smith Arthur (Landlord Ball Inn Ecclesfield)

Smith Mr (Officer PWSTS)

Smokeholme Diane (Colley)

Spicer Dave (Ellermans)

Spooner Brian (Mansel)

Spooner Graham (Mansel)

Staniforth Bob (Colley)

Tarlin Linda (Remington Road)

Taylor Mick (Tick) (Colley Cres)

Thompson Linda (Colley)

Thorpe Lynn (Colley)

Trevor (Landlord Tankard Ecclesfield)

Tuffnell Geoff (MGH)

Vine Capt (PWSTS Dover)

Warren Christine (Margetson Cres)

West Raymond (Remington Road)

Whitehurst Fred (Ellermans)

Whittaker Jacqueline (Colley)

Wilby Ron (Ellermans)

Williams Brian (Ellermans)

Wood Steven (Margetson Cres)

Woodcock John (Mansel)

Woodhall Michael (Mansel)

Worth Brian (Wordsworth Ave)

Worth George (Wordsworth Ave)

Worth Ian (Wordsworth Ave)

Worth Julie (Wordsworth Ave)

Worth Maurice (Wordsworth Ave)

Worth Neil (Wordsworth Ave)

Yeates Alex (PE South Africa)


Old Boys of PWSTS Dover:


FALCON 1967 Class

Bainbridge D

Belsey R

Blanche P

Blythe R

Cage J

Dawson P

Desborough P

Edwards P

Ellis G

Haggeldon A

Hutchinson C

Marquis D

May A

Moody J

Sumner D

Vousden M

Whiting D

Wood T


GRENVILLE 1967 Class

Benton J

Boys D

Broughall R

Chapman R

Ducknowski S

Hargis R

Humphreys A

Knight M

Monte R

Rhodes P

Roddis T

Talbot W

Thomas W


HESPERUS 1967 Class

Churchill P

Clegg N

Drummond A

Fairhead C

Hale B

Kilbride P

Liversedge P

Moore R

Philips D

Sharp J

Smith K