Gladstone Star at Valletta

Another photo taken from the archives of my grandad. This ship is, however, a little easier to name.

Gladstone Star – Grand Harbour, Valletta

Gadstone Star was built in Bremen in 1957 for Blue Star Line. She underwent sea trials in late 1957 along the Weser and then was registered in London in 1958. She was a Refrigerated Cargo Liner in the days before containerisation took hold of much of the worlds trade. Her trade route is likely to have been North western Europe to China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand via Suez. Her holds would have been entirely refrigerated and capable of carrying either chilled or frozen cargoes to and from various continents and countries. Upon arrival in New Zealand she would have loaded thousands of tons of chilled and frozen lamb, along with cheese and other dairy products for discharge in the UK.

Blue Star Line was inaugurated by the Vestey Brothers on 28 July 1911. They were predominantly butchers in Liverpool who had traded in meat from South America from 1904, on other shipping companies vessels. The high price of shipping the cargoes with other lines made them think about having their own company and thereby reducing their costs. The import of beef from South America and Lamb from New Zealand allowed them to become very rich indeed. Most of the vessels were requisitioned by the Royal Navy between both 1914 – 1918 and 1939 – 1945. Some of the vessels carried passengers as well as cargoes and the voyages could take many weeks to complete due to the stevedoring (dockers) practices in many of the ports of call. After the introduction of containerisation in the late sixties, Blue Star gradually declined as it was easier and more efficient to carry frozen and chilled goods to more places in smaller quantities. Customers liked the cleaner and more efficient method of carrying their cargo in closed containers.

Gladstone Star was sold for the final time in 1982 and then demolished on Gardini Beach, Pakistan on 13 November 1982. It would have taken more than one day to demolish her! The photo must have been taken in her early days as she retains the original hull colours in which she was painted at the builders. Later photos show her with a grey or white hull.

The photo is a relic of a bygone era. Maybe a window as to how life was around 1958. These ships are long forgotten and are indeed anonymous to the masses around the world, most of whom only know their food comes from the supermarket. They care little as to how it arrived on the shelves. The crew who sailed on vessels such as Gladstone Star likely hold a significant affection for her.

Through the eyes of others again

A ship in a harbour? A grainy image of an unidentified vessel at anchor? Maybe not the most inspiring or interesting of views.

This photograph was taken by my grandad sometime between 1958 and 1960. The ship is in Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta. We have tried to find out the name of the ship and her purpose for being there but we cannot fathom (see what I did there) either answer. We suspect she is a cruise ship, but may be a troop carrier.

It is a moment in time, something that will never be repeated so surely holds an interest. Time passes so quickly now that small things like this are quickly forgotten. However, for some of those people on the ship on that day, maybe it isn’t forgotten. Sixty years is a long time but maybe people still recall that day.