The Blue Funnel Association

The Blue Funnel Association meet on the last Saturday of the month. It’s a chance for everyone who worked on the Blue Funnel line to get together and exchange stories.

Alfred Holt and Company, marketed as the Blue Funnel Line, was founded by Alfred Holt on 16 January 1866. The main operating subsidiary was the Ocean Steam Ship Company, which owned and operated the majority of the company’s vessels. A Dutch subsidiary, the Nederlandsche Stoomvaart Maatschappij Oceaan, was founded in 1891, as was the East India Ocean Steam Ship Company, operated from Singapore. This latter was sold in 1899 to Norddeutscher Lloyd. The company acquired the competing China Mutual Steam Navigation Company in 1902, keeping it on the books as a separate company but operating it as part of the Blue Funnel Line.

Ships of the Blue Funnel fleet all had names from classical Greek legend or history. The majority were cargo ships, but most of the Ocean SS Co cargo ships also had capacity for a few passengers. The line also had a small number of purely passenger vessels.
The Blue Funnel Line came to an end in 1988, when Ocean Group withdrew from the Barber Blue Sea Service, its last shipping line.

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This Post Has 56 Comments

  1. jess mason says:


    My grandfather was Robert ‘bob’ Mason and he served on the blue funnel line from 1955-1966/67. I am doing my dissertation on the blue funnel line and was wondering if anyone served with him and knows anything about the ships he worked on, he was the head cook. He mainly sailed to Australia.


  2. Username* says:

    Does anyone remember my dad , Ken Chong and my uncles Donny and Loy who also worked on the Blue Funnel . They were engineers from Liverpool , would love to hear from anyone who did .

  3. Clare says:

    Hi! Does anybody remember my late father Henry ( Harry) Clare he worked on most or all the ships. He joined when he was a boy. He was Cheif Cook and in The 2nd. World War he was acting Doctor. He saved a man who had peritonitis. Hope somebody out their new him.

  4. Hinchcliffe says:

    Hi my father in law worked on S.S. IXION in the 50’s as an engineer and travelled to Australia three times and left in the late 1950’s his name is Peter Hinchcliffe aged 83. If anyone remembers him could you please reply.

    Many thanks David

  5. Beedge says:

    Greetings rom NZ. I wonder if there are any Members who sailed with my late 1st Cousin , once removed , Alan Gales.(1921-2015)
    Alan was 2nd Wireless Operator on the “Ulysses” from 24/04/1937 to 21/08/1937, and did two Voyages on the Philoctetes after that.
    Look forward to any replies…Cheers, Bruce Graham

  6. davmarsh says:

    I would be very interested to hear from any of my old mates who joined the Conway in 1953 and then on to Aberdovey before being assigned to our first Blue Funnel ships.I sailed on Ixion,Elpenor and Alcinous all in the 50s.

  7. davmarsh says:

    Have just discovered this fascinating web site that has brought back so many memories of my years with Blue Funnel. I did my first deep sea trip on Ixion 1954 and rejoined for two more voyages before getting my rating as assistant steward.I often wonder what became of all those shipmates I knew.Ronnie Ahtow,George Young,Bert Marriot and so many more that my 80 year old memory can’t recall. have such happy memories of my 3 trips on Alcinous in the mid fifties.Us lads were so lucky to have had the opportunity to see the world with one of the best shipping companies in the world at the time

  8. I was in Blue Funnel for about seven years. I started as EDH and finished as 3 red Mate after I obtained my chief mate Certificate. Have great memories of The Great Blue Funnel Line. I sailed on Agapenor,Achilles,Antenor,Melampus,Glen line ships and finally for two years on Perseus. I was on Perseus as EDH, AB,4 th Mate and finally 3 red Mate.

    I was awarded the sextant by Mr. George Holt in 1966

    Please send me an email at anytime from anyone who remembers me. My last ship was with a great Captain who I will never forget
    He was .aptain Donald MacKintosh and the chief officer was John Pilling

    Capt Bill

  9. Zayya says:

    Hello I’m from Myanmar .
    I just found The Blue Funnel Line’s ship at under the sea of Indian near PanKan Island.
    That ship arrived over 40 years.
    Villager took iron form ship.
    That ship look like ghost ship because villager saw so many blood. But they didn’t see nobody.
    They received dream form ship ghost.
    my mail is

  10. Hello. It is with the greatest sadness that I have to inform you that my father, Joseph Richard Boyd (Dick) died on 7 March 2017, aged 92. During the 1950s, he served on many Bluee Funnel ships as a Senior Electrician.

  11. Mike says:

    Hi my name is Michael Garcia i was the Blue funnel line in the Early 70s went to the blue funnel deck school in Birkenhead
    My uncle name was Mike McKuhen who also was with Blue Funnel line and was a bosun
    Can you please tell me when your next meeting is as would love to come and see if i will know anyone

  12. Dimples82 says:

    Sir I am researching the Alfred Holt/Blue line ship SS Automedon/GBZR which foundered on November 11th 1940 after being attached by M/V Atlantis/DOTP HSK 2, Kriegsmarine as Schiff 16. can you help me? I was wondering what her Radio Room fit was, were the RO’s Marconi Men ?

  13. Username* says:

    I have been trying to find any information , pictures regarding my brother, William Wilfred Young, a merchant seaman from South Africa who I believe settled in Liverpool. He left South Africa around 1960? I believe he passed on In 1993 in Liverpool.

  14. Denis Reid says:

    This is a cry for help to anyone who can help trace my father. His name was Thomas Reid born in Feb 1905 in Wallasey. He died in Nov 1940 when HMS Patroclus (ex SS Patroclus)was sunk. The only information I have obtained is that his name is included in BT382 Pt7 “Records of those who served on merchant vessels requisitioned for war service” Which logically leads me to believe that he was a crew member of Patroclus when she was taken in hand for conversion. Also although in Naval uniform his rating was fireman, not a recognized branch of the RN. I realise that no contemporaries will still be around, however someone may have a suggestion of where I can direct my search. Denis Reid

  15. Andy says:

    I am looking for information on Karl Mahringer who sailed aboard the Talthybius from sometime in the early 30’s.
    Born in 12 May 1913

  16. hugdavliv says:

    My family were seafarers from Ynys Mon. Grandfather was in deep sea sail, but had the odd trip in steam, including one Blue Flue trip to Vladivostock c 1905. His eldest son, had many trips with the company, as an AB or Lamps. Dad was a chief engineer, asked him, why he didn’t sail with the company. Retort was, “Trips are too long”. Shortly after, he sailed with Booths for several years. In the early 60s me and my friends would bunk off early from school, The Liverpool Institute. Walk down side streets to the Pier Head bus station. Across the water, could be seen the usual three Blue Flue ships in Vittoria Dock. You knew, by seeing those ships, the world was nicely ticking over. I particularly remember bunking off on the day of the Aberfan disaster. Dad was on leave and came back from the shipping offices, worse for wear. But he was from the war years. I always regret never having seen a BF ship midstream or locking in or out of the Birkenhead docks. Bob Hughes

  17. Username* says:

    Hi I’m looking for some Info,stories,pictures for my grandad his name is wally plant and he’s from the the Wirral he used to work on the blue funnel ships any info or even where to begin would really help thanks

  18. Mayling says:

    It is with deepest regret to inform you that my Grandad Ping Tsao passed away on Wednesday 5th August.
    Please contact me at should you know my Grandad and would like to find out the details of the funeral.

  19. The first ship I joined was the maron as deck boy. We spent a month in Glasgow dry dock . thinking about it as I’m Wright in this. I’m 61 and was the youngest on the ship. So I don’t think anyone will remember me. I also sailed on the piesander. Prime. Glenbeg. Onitcha. Fulania and many more.

    • Alan Fairley says:

      Hi Jimmy I sailed on the peisander August 1971, then the Fulani just after that for 2 trips on the west Africa Run! I remember a guy with blond curly hair about a year younger than me from Preston! Was that you?
      Alan Fairley (from Liverpool)

  20. My name is jimmymacdermott I was at blue flu training school Birkenhead 1970. The training guy was a bosun called o Brian. He used to make us row around Albert Dock. A hard but fair man . I’m from preston

  21. John Hughes says:

    Shipped out of Liverpool with Furness Withy,Shaw Savill and Shell but never Blue Funnel my dad sailed in the china boats before and during the war also a brief priod post war.i spent 30 years on the Kiwi coast before retiring as CH/STD.I am married to a Filipino girl and have foer grown up kids and live in New Plymouth,NZand am going strong at 75,by the way I lived in Crosby

  22. Christine Toner says:

    Hi, I’m trying to put together a book of photos/memories for my dad for a present. He was with Blue Funnel in the mid-fifties, I know he was on the Agapenor, Patroclus and Elpenor. If anyone remembers him/has any photos or memories to she with me I’d be really grateful if you could get in touch –

    Thank you!

  23. Big Al says:

    My Name is Allen Lee Fong Iam trying to locate the whereabouts of my Father he was achief cook on the Glen line and in the later years he was trnsfered to the Blue Funnel line he was chief cook on there last heard he had gone to New Zealand any information will gratefully received

  24. Ken needham says:

    Hi ken Needham here ..please pass my regards to john Fitzgerald ….we were on the IXION together in the mid sixties ..

    • Jim mAC says:

      Yes Ken Bob is still going strong I think he was at the Last meeting/ aRE YOU THE SAME kEN nEEDHAM WHOSE FATHER WAS IN THE mEDICAL dEPT// iWAS IN THE cATERING SCHOOL AND I think you were one of the students// tAKE cARE jIM mAC

      • Ken needham says:

        Hi yes …sorry late replying .this is the same ken Needham …who’s father was Fred Needham .in the medical…I’m still at sea and going strong …after 48 years and still enjoying… Working for Maersk…..on leave at present in southport caravan club with my wife Linda ……must try and get over to see if I know anyone from the association one day soon
        Regards ken Needham………..
        give my regards to bob it’s been a long time..

  25. Nina Young says:

    My Chinese great grandfather was employed on one of the Blue Funnel Line ships and he settled in Liverpool and started a family. I’m searching for records which will help me to trace my distant relatives in China and am hopeful to find out 1. if there is any surviving company documentation/records and 2. if you have any information on ports/offices in China for the Blue Funnel Line. If you have ANY information at all, even if it seems irrelevant, please leave some comments for me on my own blog. Thank you so much for your time:

  26. Jose Furtado says:

    I was evacuated from Singapore to Madras in February 1942 on the Rhona, which took 3 weeks instead of 1 to make the journey due to torpedoes off west Sumatra. We were a convoy of 5-7 ships, and had to disperse when attacked. How many ships in this convoy survived? I understand the Rhona was lost on its next trip. I returned to Singapore on the Rajula; and travelled to school in Perth, WA on the Gorgon and Charon where I met Capt Brinsford who I recognized as a Mate on the Rhona.

  27. Name * says:

    Hi I have in my possession a table lighter with ( the blue funnel line) andin enamel AHis there or was there a ship with these initals thanking youin advance.

  28. John Puplett says:

    I notice in the latest newsletter that the jacket for offer has an association badge on it. Are these badges still available?

    • admin says:

      HI Keith – Tim here, I support Pat with the running of this site – I’m hoping to come to the next meeting on 22nd. It would be great to do a short interview with you and Keith Norman about your time at the Blue Funnel – would that be possible?

    • Keith Armitage says:

      I know it is a bit late but can’t make it tonight. Will really try for next month. So sorry to dissapoint.

      • admin says:

        No problem Keith, I will be there doing some filming tonight anyway, so I’ll post the footage on this site. Hopefully catch you next month.

  29. jamie pratt says:

    Hi my dads been talking about his days at sea sailing with blue funnel, his name is thomas alan pratt, but was known as geordie pratt, he served in engineering, and was looking to get in contact with old friends from sea, thanks for taking the time to read this.

  30. Roger Hughes says:

    Sailed as a deckboy and jos 1961-1964 and went to Birkenhead training training school.Does anybody remember me?

  31. Keith Norman says:

    Can anyone help me contact some of the lads off the Achilles and Glenbeg, in particular Keith Armitage from Wallasey

    • Keith Armitage says:

      Hi Keith.
      I am Keith Armitage from Wallasey. I served (literally ) on the Glenbeg. I have often thought abouts finding people I sailed with all those years ago. Nice to hear from you, hope
      You’re keeping well. Be nice to see you after all this time.

    • Username* says:

      I have just been trawling through old messages and came across Keith’s note and saw Achilles. My late husband, Derek Lawton, was on the Achilles for three or four trips, together with Andy Lanigan. Do you remember either of them? My lovely husband died 20 years ago, but I am pleased to say Andy is still with us – he married my best friend.

  32. Hellen Kirwan says:

    Im trying to put information for my Dad – Dennis Edgar Jones who sailed on the Helenus.

    Originally from South Africa he eventually settled in Liverpool before leaving the Merchant Navy and joining Merseyside Police Force in the early 1960’s

    Sadly he in the early stages of dementia and so I am trying to get together a memory box of his life for him while there is still time .

    I do have postcard sized prints of the Helenus and books about the Blue Funnel lines but if anyone remembers him or has any photos or info to share I would be eternally grateful.

    Many many thanks

    Hellen Kirwan

    • admin says:

      Hi Hellen I asked around at the Blue Funnel night but got no result. Could tell us what your Dad Sailed as i,e., deckhand, steward, mate. engineer or cook.

      Somewhere in his documents at home will be his discharge book, most retired sailors have still got theirs and they give a great deal of information particularly their number.

      The discharge book is stiff blue cardboard with two cutouts, one showing his name and the lower one his number, inside are all his ships and the date he joined them and the date he left them.

      With his discharge book number you can approach the Public Records Office at Kew for more details.

      Hope this helps.

  33. Peter Meredith says:

    I am currently putting together a family history for the Meredith family and am trying to unearth details for my uncle – Albert Meredith – who was a marine engineer sailing out of Liverpool throughout his seafaring career, I believe with Albert Holt vessels and, quite probably, on the Blue Funnel Line. He was born in 1892 and must have retired around 1958 at which time, according to family history, he was Chief Engineer of the line. He lived in Birkenhead and was awarded an OBE in 1946. His Discharge Number was 877977.

    Is anyone able (and kind enough ) to point me in the right directions re my search.

    • Username* says:

      Hi I am Alison Meredith. Albert was my grandfather, my father is Brian the youngest o his children who is now 77. He was also sailed with Blue Funnel becoming a cheif engineer also.

  34. SUSAN TURNBULL says:

    I will be fortunate to accompany my Mum to the rememberence service at the Pier Head once again on Monday 12.11.2013.
    My Grandfather John Benson Cavanagh(Jack) and his Father Joe Cavanagh sailed with Blue funnel.
    I have fond memories of meeting Grandad at the ship when it docked and the Chineese crews carrying me down the gang plank because I was frightened to walk.
    Jack was Cheif Steward and Mum wears his cap badge with pride every year.She always enjoys a quick chat with Canon Bob Evans before we leave the memorial.

  35. from Chris Williams says:

    re: Arthur Longbottom, Master Mariner, Membership No 774
    I am sad to tell you that Arthur passed away on Wednesday 3rd January 2013 at Mariners Park Care Home, Wallasey. His funeral will be held at Landican Cemetery, Arrowe Park Road, Birkenhead on Monday 14th January at 1:30PM.
    Arthur spoke very fondly of his time with Blue Funnel and shared some of his memories with his family.
    He leaves a widow, Doris, daughters Ann & Karen and their families and will be sadly missed.

  36. derek andrews membership #715 says:

    lovely to listen to the banter and all the background scousers making their comments.keep up the good work

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