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  Old Mailbag 2016  




Sadly, this is the last Manchester Liner Association Newsletter, maybe if someone could have taken over the position of Secretary, which has been done for the last sixteen years by the Worthingtons, things could have been a little different. Then we have had the sad loss of the Treasurer, Captain Peter Cullen. His wife Kath, who did a splendid job helping him, has spent time in hospital at the start of 2017. She did, however, get all the Christmas flowers off to the widows.

Looking on the bright side, Derrick Howarth is carrying on with the web site in a new format and Roger Llewellyn has stepped forward to look after the Didsbury Lunch. So we might be holed in a few places but with a few cement boxes in the right places we should be able to carry on, even at a reduced speed and without paying any more subscriptions.

Regarding the future Didsbury Lunch, a date has been booked for your diaries, Thursday the 12th October 2017. Unfortunately the present Club Stewards are retiring at the end of March this year, but they could see no reason why the new Stewards would not continue to look after us, and this will be confirmed once the new people have got their feet under the table. Obviously, we have no idea of costs at the moment but see no reason why there should be a major increase.

It is important that we all do our utmost to attend to keep the Association going in some way and Didsbury Golf Club need a minimum of 50 attendees to make it viable. Captain Llewellyn and will be delighted to hear from those people who wish to come and the number in their party. Please let him know as soon as you can, but at the very latest by the third week in September. Payment will be made on the day via a collecting envelope on each table.

After years of coaxing it was great to see Colin Wright made Didsbury this year, don't make it the last Colin, as it is important as ever to keep it all going with encouragement for the newly retired to meet friends from the past.

Finally, thanks to all who have kept the Newsletter going with some splendid stories and photographs. We thought the photograph on the front cover of Salford Media City on the site of the Liners Container Terminal on number 9 dock was particularly nostalgic for the last edition.


No: 9 Dock 1 Berth which was Manchester Liners Container Terminal and is now Media City, Salford

Photo: Derrick J Howarth

Good health to all, no matter where you live now, I doubt if any will forget the good times with Manchester Liners.

Ken Livingston – Hon Editor



It seems a long time since Carol and I took over from Capt. Eric back in 2000 when I retired from the position of General Manager and Harbour Master at the Port of Workington. In those early days we had a membership of around 45 which over the years rose to 160+, due to a large extent through modern technology, mainly the internet, and the efforts of our Web Master Derrick Howarth and my wife Carol.

I can recall in those early days when we would spend days pulling the magazine together on A4 paper on a domestic printer. 150+ copies, there was paper everywhere as we tried to paginate everything.

Then there was the organising of our two reunions St Annes being organised by Carol and I and Didsbury by Peter and Kath Cullen. They were good days and well worth the effort.

Sadly everything comes to a natural end and this is what has happened to our Association, no new intake, members getting older and no younger members willing to take on the various offices.

I would at this point, thank first of all my wife Carol for all the effort she put into it, Derrick Howarth for managing the web site so well, Peter and Kath Cullen as treasurer and not least Ken and Lesley for taking over the magazine which is no mean task.

So to end on a more positive note the association is to carry on, albeit in a more reduced form, yet to be decided. The intention is for a Didsbury reunion to be held once a year, so that we can all meet up and swing the lead.

I wish the membership well for the future and thank them for their support over the years.

Steve Worthington - The Hon Secretary



As you will have already seen I have made major changes to our web site which will be maintained for as long as is possible solely to inform Old Shipmates of any forthcoming events, add reunion photographs and post crew changes as appropriate.

Future communications with Old Shipmates will only be by email, so please keep up to date any Old Shipmates that you know who do not have email.

With the cessation of all the previous ML email addresses, one new email has been created as a single gateway for the use of all ML Old Shipmates. This email address is deliberately not on the web site in order to prevent it attracting all the junk mail that the previous addresses used to receive. Please do add it to your address books to prevent it being caught in your spam filters and do remember to make a note of this new email address as it is now the mainlink for contact between the Association and members and vice versa.

With the exception of Mailbag, to which additions will cease after updates from this February 2017 Newsletter items have been posted, both in it and Lookout are only being retained for reference purposes. There will be no further communications through these pages.

Our web site is an important, comprehensive historical document of Manchester Liners Ltd from its formation shortly after the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal, its pioneering of the trade routes to the North American Great Lakes through to the age of globalisation of containers and finally to its absorption into OOCL.

As this is my last web report I wish to take this opportunity of thanking all our Old Shipmates for your valued input that has made this web site and Association such a success. I also thank Ernie Moore and Peter Thompson for their valued and continuing support to the web team.

Derrick Howarth - Hon. Webmaster


Memories from Billy Underwood

The Manchester Merchant, left Salford on the 8th August 1955 to return on the 5th December 1955. What should have been a one month trip turned out to be four months. The ship went aground in the Sagueway River which is a tributary of the St Lawrence. About three months were spent in Luzon Dry Dock for repairs, which was on the opposite side of the St Lawrence to Quebec. The captain was W H Downing. The rocks were later called Downings rocks on the charts. It was my second trip to sea, I signed on as Deck Boy.

Pete Smith, Canadian Lampy Gregory,Myself aged 16 years
Deck Boys Training – wire splicing and sewing canvas
on the T.S. Vindicatrix moored in canal berth, Sharpness
Photo: Bill Underwood
Photo: Bill Underwood



From Ann Rowlands (Nee Stoker)

What a sad end to 2016 with the loss of Peter and Jim. I think you have all taken the right decision with regard to MLOSA. Thank you for all your hard work over the years.
I have found an old letter from Hilda Land (nee Graham) who you may remember was Dad's secretary and Kenneth Stoker's before then. In it she states that the Manchester Liners records and documents may well have gone to the Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Peel Park, Salford. Hilda died in July 1999.

Hope this is helpful – do let me have an update if you find out anything. My son Guy, who is an historian, hopes to do a biography on Robert Stoker, probably when he retires in 10-15 years time.

Ann also sent us some of the old pictures and press cuttings she had, and wondered if anyone knows the whereabouts of Graham Quinn and Norman Berrigan who were pictured with Ann on the Liners Stand at the British Trade Fair in Toronto in 1967. Let the Editor know and we will forward any information on to her


This item was found in the many press cuttings sent to us by Ann Stoker and we thought it amusing. It is dated September 1961.

No one won and no one lost the “Kentucky Breakfast” between Manchester Liner director Mr Robert Stoker and Rotherham fireman Mr Thomas Woodcock. Mr Woodcock failed to qualify for his whisky (for himself) and steak (for hisdog) but he DID get a bottle of rum from Mr Stoker, because he sailed his last voyage on the Manchester Merchant without getting any overtime.

It all started when Mr Stoker promised that hair-curling breakfast to the first man who could prove that he got only £40.10s for a normal month's wage. Into his office went Mr Denis Milward, chairman of the Manchester seamen strikers, armed with figures to prove that Mr Woodcock was the man. With him went Mr Brian Deasey, a member of his committee. Along with Mr Stoker was Mr Alfred Grayson, a crew department official armed with a sheet of figures big enough to sail the Manchester Merchant across to Canada. Forty minutes of argument got no one anywhere.


MR STOKER claimed that, under the new pay agreement, Mr Woodcock would draw about £51 a month, including Saturday and Sunday sea pay, and not including overtime.

THE STRIKERS said the Saturday and Sunday pay should not be included in the basic rate and that would leave their man with £40.10s a month.

MR STOKER declared “I'm not trying to rat on the bet, but we didn't mention the basic rate in the first place.” Later, as peace dawned over the deadlock, he added, “There's no point in getting Mr Woodcock a steak because he's not got his dog with him, but I'm prepared to give him a bottle of rum. Honour satisfied?”

The Bottle of Rum
It's a pity industrial disputes can't be settled this way today.
Photo: Unknown




The Number 9 at 9 Dock 1 Berth which was Manchester Liners Container Terminal and is now Media City, Salford
Quotation by Ann Howarth on the Number 9
Photo: Derrick J Howarth
Photo: Derrick J Howarth