The Glencoe, registered at Rochester. A Thames sailing barge. (Also below.)
For once, Hans Richard’s identification is wrong: the building was Shell Mex House when he photographed it in 1954. It was built on the site of the Hotel Cecil in 1930-1931. Perhaps Hans Richard was using a 1920s Guide to London, hence the mistake. Shell Mex House, now known as 80, The Strand, is now the registered office of, and the floors are used by, Pearson PLC, owners of Penguin Books, the Rough Guide series, Dorling Kindersley, Michael Joseph and other publishing imprints within the group. Seemingly, the clock face on the building is the largest in London, beating Big Ben.
“Die Themsefahrt” The Thames Journey.
The August Bank Holiday in 1954 was 2 August. Hans Richard arrived in London 21 August. The size of the queue shows how popular a boat journey down to Southend or Margate or Ramsgate was at summer weekends in the 1950s. Charabancs (coaches), often hired, would also head down to Southend on Sea from London at weekends.
The Royal Sovereign was built in the William Denny, Dumbarton, Scotland shipyard and entered service as a pleasure boat in 1948. She ran between Tower Pier, London to Ramsgate, Kent, calling in at Tilbury, Southend on Sea and Margate. Later she was to cruise under warmer Mediterranean skies: renamed the MV Ischia she worked as a ferry boat between Pozzuoli near Naples, to Casaicciola on the Ischia Island.
Hans Richard’s caption includes a pun that shows just how advanced his knowledge of English was (and his use of an apostrophe). An ‘acclivity’ is an upward slope.
The boat is berthed at the Lavender Wharf in Rotherhithe, on the south side of the Thames. The firm is W.B.Dick. The big mystery is that the boat, the MV Acclivity, according to three sources, sank on 20 January, 1952, off the Northumberland coast. It was carrying linseed oil from Thameshaven to Newburgh in Fife. The Royal Sovereign Hans Richard is taking photographs from is sailing down the Thames in 1954. Either the reported date of her sinking is wrong, or Hans Richard took this photo – in 1950? But the problem here is that there is nothing else in the Scrapbook that would indicate he has pasted in photos he took in 1950, the year his hat got run over on Tower Bridge. (See Chapter 10).
In nearly all the photos there are clues to pinpoint the time to after 1950. For instance, in the Shadwell photos (Chapter 11), in the Juniper Street photo there is an Austin A30 (predecessor of the Austin A35) parked. The A30 only became available from May 1952. Without that Austin A30, the date the photo was taken could have been pushed back a few years.
The only two photos that may be problematic about when they were taken are the two that feature/include the women used as the front piece of London Town ’54. As noted about her, her hair style and dress are more late 1940s. But hair styles and clothes, close to each other in years, can co-exist.
Lastly, the linseed oil cargo bound for Newburgh would have been for the linoleum manufacturing factory in the town. Fife, particularly the larger town of Kirkcaldy, was a significant world centre of linoleum manufacture, still a dominant floor covering in most working class homes in the 1950s, before the advent of cheap synthetic carpeting. (See Chapter 11).
The Mystery of the MV Acclivity Solved! In trying to make sense of the Acclivity photographed at a London wharf two and half years after it sunk off the Northumberland coast Le Patron contacted the Tyneside British Sub Aqua Club, after an internet search. On their website was a item about the wreckage of the Acclivity, with photographs of their dive down to it. Contacting the Teignside BSAC, Simon Smith delved into the mystery on my behalf, and after a few emails backwards and forwards he solved the mystery. I am extremely grateful to Simon for this, as if the photo of the Acclivity had been taken in 1950 it would have called into question the veracity of some of the other photos in the Hans Richard Griebe 1954 Scrapbook. That is, what we were looking at was neither the time or place. Photographs as documentary evidence do not necessarily tell the truth, depending on the context in which they are printed, or the captions given to them. Here is an extract from Simon’s final email that solves the mystery:
The Acclivity that sank in 1952 was a 50 metre diesel engined tanker launched in 1931. The pictures I have in dive guides and elsewhere are somewhat contradictory….. the confusion continues as there was indeed another Acclivity built in 1968 ……. I think we can be sure that the ship shown in your picture….. is not the Acclivity that sank in 1952. It appears to be this one: http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/photo.php?lid=2326760, which was launched in 1929 as the Atheltarn, being renamed Acclivity in 1952 (see: http://7seasvessels.com/?s=acclivity ).
The common fact with all 3 of these ships is that they were all owned by FT Everard & Sons at the time they were named Acclivity. Which makes me think that the Atheltarn was acquired in 1952 and renamed to replace the sunken Acclivity, and was itself replaced by the new Acclivity in 1968.
One of the Woolwich ferries, the Will Crooks. Will Crooks (1852 – 1921) became Woolwich’s first Labour M.P. in 1902. The ferry named after him was a paddle steamer, introduced in 1930, and withdrawn from service in 1963. The ferry is carrying at least two coaches and the cab of a lorry can be seen. The other Woolwich ferry plying the crossing is just in picture, on the left. The Woolwich ferry service still operates, with newer boats.
Hans Richard’s finger print at the centre bottom of the photo.
Two sisters (twins?) with their Mum, who is eating an apple. There is a collapsible pushchair, and the family have brought buckets and spades with them. Dad’s overcoat and hat are by Mum. Dad’s shoulder is just seen on the bottom left of the photo.
The next three photos are an aspect of the woman in the above photo chatting to the sailor. Hans Richard captioned the following photos in Latin “Pars pro toto”: ‘Part for the whole’.
The Baron Inverclyde, a cargo ship, was built in South Shields and went to sea in early 1954. It was still new when photographed here. It is the deteriorated print that causes it to look older. During its life it had some name changes and ended up bring broken up for scrap in Bilbao, Spain in 1972.
The MV Eva Perón, named after the wife of the controversial President of Argentina, Juan Perón. Although only medium sized, it was a luxury liner launched in 1949, and at the time Argentina provided the only transatlantic crossings from South America to Europe, including London, as seen above, and also to Hamburg in Germany. After the fall of the Perón government, in 1955, the year after Hans Richard took this photograph, the ship was re-named Uruguay.
This is Tilbury Power Station, Essex. Now de-commissioned and demolished.
This is the MV City of Bedford, Clyde built and in service from 1950. It was a cargo boat. Some cargo boats were cargo/liner boats, that is, they took passengers as well. The ship above was scrapped in 1972 in Valencia, Spain.
MV Warksworth, Tilbury.
The Royal Sovereign is berthed on the right.
Next: 13. With the Day Trippers at Southend on Sea, The Carnival & Wendy.