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Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.327 5 Jan 2022


A Dream Come True [Updated]

A short story by Vince, written 1982.

A photograph of Vince squatting next to a Vincent Rapide motorcycle

The heat from the ground rose defiantly, shimmering above the winding road, the distortions playing havoc with the clear cut edge of the tarmac strip.

A feint roar could be heard from the distant horizon. The noise grew louder and louder, now heard well above the relentless chanting of the birds and insects. A glint of light was caught in the distance and as the rumble drew closer it could be observed that a motorcyclist, resplendent in his white leather jacket, was riding his mount rapidly towards the ancient monument half a mile away.

As the rider rode faster into the foreground it could be observed that this was no ordinary day tripper. The open megaphone type exhausts echoed a note reminiscent of track racers, the rapid acceleration shattered only by the tortuously hard braking for his next corner belayed an experienced street racer. Each gear change was just a flick from his right boot just a fraction of momentum lost. At every corner the hot black rubber of the tyres scrabbled for grip, the footrests causing sparks to be flown from the tarmac. Then again the rider pulled upright rapidly towards the next bend in an ecstasy of speed and tormented delight.

This frantic moment of riding soon came to a close. The rider having pulled out of a sweeping right hander screwed open the throttle, laid on the tank and watched the long straight unfurl in front of him. The speedometer needle indicated seventy, eighty, ...ninety passed as his right foot forced the next gear into operation. The black chromed exhausts bleated out in beautiful harmony as one-hundred and ten showed. Ton-twenty and the motor screamed for more, the airstream battling with the rider for control of the machine.

The needle peaked at one-hundred and twenty-five as the next bend loomed into the distance. Within a split second the rider’s right hand was gripping the brake lever. The motion abruptly spoiled as the black calipers grabbed the shining twin front discs. The front end dropped as the weight fell on the front wheel, the forks diving in pain as ninety, seventy, fifty passed. Then a quick gear change and the bike cruised gently round the next bend.

Now that the riding was more sedate the details of man and machine could be seen. The rider wearing his black crash helmet, bearing the mark of a Greek God painted delicately in gold, faded blue jeans and studded leather boots was haunched over a mainly black bike.

The heart of the bike, a mighty V-twin motor, thumped it’s power through a huge chain and was converted to power by a massive oversize rear tyre. The front end, braced by two powerful looking forks, boasted a huge tyre, twin discs and rather unsubstantial but neat looking mudguard. Above, the double headlights were gripped in a small nose fairing suggesting night racing but were taped over as it was a sunny afternoon.

Above the unburstable black motor lay a shiny, glimmering petrol tank. As with the rest of the machine it was gloss black and only the golden letters broke the monotony. The name reminiscent of by-gone days where the engine once ruled the roads, now emblazoned on the most beautiful bike in the world, read...VINCENT.

A pencil sketch of the Vincent motorbike concept, a sports style motorbike with a Vincent engine and large rear tyre
The Vincent motorcycle concept I envisaged for this story in the early eighties. The café racer is influenced by the Vincent Black Shadow, the Moto-Martin CBX and Ogri

Vince was proud of his bike. Very proud. He had read how customers spend hundreds of pounds and thousands of hours churning out visually appealing machines, only to be torn to pieces and then re-built in time for the next custom show. Also, like it as not, they don’t run, or can’t because they have sixty-nine carat gold plate on the rear sprocket or something.

But Vince’s bike ran, and it ran well. He remembered how his old CX500 used to bounce and weave along this, his favourite stretch of road. Even the Suzuki GS750 seemed to wallow above eighty on these curves. But his Vincent, that he was riding now, seemed to eat potholes and white lines as though it were stood still on a bowling green. Most bikes seemed like a roller-coaster on speed compared to this machine.

And what a machine it was. A speed machine, an accelerating machine, an enthusiast’s machine, a reliable machine...? Vince pondered on this for a while as the shining black beauty purred slowly into town, the passers-by admiring the immaculate lines and enviously noticing the smug look of it’s pleased rider. The reliability, he thought, was probably the machine’s weakest point, although this would probably be complimenting it’s other features. The speed was electrifying, the finish superb, the handling perfect. Even the fuel consumption was favourable compared to the modern multis.

In reality, Vince thought, nothing should go wrong with his bike. After all he had built the engine and bike from scratch, so he knew it inside out. He remembered how his grandfather had nearly thrown out the old engine. Now neatly restored, painted black and brightly polished it looked like it had been brought just yesterday. It’s one-thousand cc’s of sheer muscle seemed to ooze character as it fired it’s cylinders in turn after every second lamppost on the pavement. Beautiful, Vince thought.

Up ahead were traffic lights. They were about forty yards away by now and Vince knew that if he opened the throttle the black sensation would roar easily through before the red, even if the amber showed up now, but he was in no hurry. Vince used to scream along at fifty or sixty in town on the Suzuki thinking he was a king, but on this machine he knew he was and therefore had no need to prove it. He casually glanced down at the large Smiths speedo and read twenty-seven miles an hour.

Sure enough the lights turned red and Vince pulled up resting his front wheel just short of the white line. The traffic system was a slow one so Vince knew he would be able to look around, revelling in the fame this bike seemed to bring him. When he stopped in the street it was almost as if every male over the age of fifty had owned one when they were young. So strange that there was only one other Vincent in the country now.

He noticed his reflection in the mirrored glass of a shop front, the bike’s weight resting gently on his left boot. Vince placed his right foot down and raised his left, seeing his reflection as though he were riding. He crouched low over the tank and smiled as he imagined Brands Hatch wind around in front of him, the chequered flag waving as he passed the finishing line well ahead of the competition.

Today however, the only competition was the buzzing RD250 that had pulled up right next to him.

The Yamaha was the usual two-fifty seen around suburban streets. Vince himself had owned something similar when he had started motorcycling just a few years ago. This model, being about two years old now, and obviously thrashed, was naturally tatty. The scratches, twisted footrests and bent handlebar levers seemed to compliment the Vincent perfectly.

The rider too was the standard eighteen-year old Vince had been three years back, with his painted polycarbonate hat and Foster-Grants. A wry smile told the message Vince was expecting. The rider rocked backwards and forwards revving his engine and grinning widely. This guy wanted a race.

Vince casually clicked the gear-lever into first and gave a quick blat of the motor to show the competition that he meant business. The revolutions died down to it’s normal thumping tick-over as he held in the clutch and watched the ominous red light.

The Yam owner was now sweating. He loved racing cars and bikes away from the lights and considered himself good at the 'sport'. After all he had only been beaten once and that was because he had missed a gear. A criminal act in the unwritten law of street racing. And today he was challenging no ordinary Escort. This black monster next to him seemed to ooze power, even stood still. His eyes locked onto the lights, only blinking to remove the sweat gathering on his eyelids.

Suddenly the red light was joined by the amber. The Yamaha owner dropped his clutch holding five-thousand revs. The front wheel pawed the air, nearly sending the rider off the back. Seven-thousand on the clock and the rider plucked his next gear from the box, the front wheel again falling to the ground. Another seven-thousand was showing and again the front tyre was losing traction with the tarmac as the rider flicked a higher ratio into operation in a frantic dash for victory.

The red and amber had now dissolved and had been replaced by green and Vince knew he could now start. He had not been tempted to jump the lights with his opponent, after all he did have the capacity advantage over the Yamaha. He noticed that the other rider was across the other side of the junction and was only about fifty yards away from the narrowing gap, caused by the parked cars, which they were racing for.

The huge motor only showed two-and-a-half thousand on the tachometer when he slipped the light clutch away from the left handlebar. He knew that he had over seventy miles an hour in this gear so it was now down to his right hand. Vince preferred to release clutches gently and let the motor do the work rather than lose valuable forward motion trying to control senseless wheelies.

The tachometer was showing four thousand now and the scorching black rubber of the rear tyre was acting like a clutch as a plume of white smoke emitted from the back. Vince leaned forward onto his forearms to prevent the aerobatics of the front end and watched as the little Yamaha appeared to be coming back towards him.

It was now only twenty yards to that gap and the Yam had the best line, with the rider obviously happy as he seemed well ahead. Having jumped the lights and gained that extra twenty or thirty yards he was confident that it would take something pretty special to beat him past that red Cortina parked ahead. The juggernaut approaching the other way prevented any alternative route and as his front wheel was way ahead of any competition, which was the only thing that mattered, he guessed that the other rider was braking fiercely.

The competition, however, was something pretty special and Vince wasn’t going to loose easily. The gap may have been only fifteen yards away and they may have been travelling well above fifty by now but Vince knew that his bike only needed a gap of about nine feet to get through and saw that his front wheel was in line with the Yamaha’s rear and he was accelerating like he had never experienced before.

With the throttle against the stop and the motor now screaming in delight he was being physically stretched by the power. His arms seemed to be pulling from their sockets and his eyes watered with the pain at the tremendous G-force, pushing him against the moulded seat hump.

The bikes were level now and the red Cortina seemed all too near. With his acceleration Vince knew that if he were to back off now he would have no time to stop or swerve. It was now or never. His right hand forced the throttle harder against it’s stop causing the rubber to twist painfully, as the bikes edged closer together, the gap drawing nearer. Now even the Vincent’s front end lifted as the two battled for first place.

Luckily for Vince his front wheel was now ahead, but the Cortina was very close, however, rules are rules and he decided to swerve towards the gap, just missing the car by a few inches. The Yamaha rider sensed this and threw his right fist forward, shutting off the throttle and grabbing the brake lever. The tiny black caliper clutched it’s shining disc and sent a thin black run of rubber down the tarmac.

Vince had won, but only just.

Further on down the road the mighty Vincent pulled up at another set of traffic lights. It burbled away on tick-over as it’s last competitor silently drew up next to it.

Vince looked at the Yamaha’s owner and smiled confidently. The rider gave a return nod.

“Nice Motor.”

“Thanks.” Replied Vince.

“Quick...” he continued “...isn’t it?”

“Quick enough.” Confirmed Vince.

“What is it?” Asked the Yam owner, as the lights turned to green.

“A dream come true.” Vince replied, dumping the clutch. The mighty motor again responded and he roared off into the distance…

Related Link

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.327 5 Jan 2022
The first half written for an article in The Southampton and District Motorcycle Club magazine under the title The Ultimate Ride, published in 1982 with the remaining penned to fit the requirements of Bike magazine, but sadly never published meaning the writer had to get a proper job.
At the time of writing the Southampton and District Motorcycle Club was based in Woodside Avenue in Eastleigh. It can now be found via sdmcc.net
First published in this website Version 3.0 Mar 2010
The header photograph shows the author squatting next to an immaculate Vincent Rapide motorcycle. The Rapide was produced between 1936 and 1955 and remains a collectable bike. The more famous, faster Black Shadow model had black enamelled engine casings. The photo was taken by the author's wife in Skegness in April 1996
The sketch was drawn by the author to demonstrate the bike envisaged in the story and was updated in colour in version m5.327 5 Jan 2022. It was influenced by the Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle's V-twin motor sat in a frame similar to the eighties Moto-Martin CBX1000. Also there is just a bit of Ogri in it. Orgi was a cartoon character drawn by Paul Sample for Bike Magazine between 1972 and 2009. Ogri actually rode a Norvin, a Vincent engined Norton café racer. Actually he didn't as he was just an ink drawn character. Ogri continued in motorcycle magazine Back Street Heroes until 2012



The vinceunlimited Yamaha DT175 Story [Updated]

An Initial Trial.

A cream coloured Yamaha DT175 trails style motorcycle with brown stripes on the tank but no lettering. The image shows a new bike with discolouration to make it aged
I have no pictures of my first motorcycle so I recreated this image using a base Yamaha DT175 image from an original sales brochure from 1977 then adjusting the colour and adding age patination. Credit: Yamaha and Vince

We all remember our first.

Our first girlfriend, first kiss, first single and first time stealing from the dairy. Or was that just me?

Anyway, our vehicles are no exception and my little Yamaha DT175 trail bike was the first vehicle that I owned.

Mind you at the time it didn't seem so little and in many ways it wasn't the first.

My parents had purchased a new Gilera moped for my older brother when he turned sixteen. They gave me the option of a new 'ped at the same age or a second-hand motorbike at seventeen.

As I was able to use my brother's wheels I chose the motorbike option and given the stringent restrictions on size ("not a 250 son, too big") and considering cost, I chose the Yamaha.

The year was around 1978 and the bike had a P registration plate, it was only a few years old. That's a P at the end by the way.

Trail bikes back then were much different from today. The styling still had suggestions of a fifties mount with it's front mudguard set close to the wheel, although trail bikes were soon shipped with higher mudguards shortly afterwards.

The tyres were 'knobblies' so gave me a chance to use it on and off the blacktop.

Top speed was a quite miserable 65mph or so. This meant that it never kept up with my mate Jeff's Honda CB125. Then again, nothing else could either.

The best bit of my new toy was the colour.

Although the bike was in sound mechanical condition with no damage to the bodywork, the bike had been repainted. I can't recall the probably implausible excuse the seller gave for the re-spray but I didn't care. It was a cream colour with brown stripes.

For some peculiar reason known only to myself, as a teenager my favourite colour was brown, plus at the time Kenny Roberts was putting Yamaha on the racing map and the distinctive blocky stripes were aped on my fuel tank.

Black and white photograph of a leather clad female motorcyclist stood behind her Yamaha DT175 motorcycle which is laden with touring accessories
Not mine. The bike, the photo nor the girl. In the absence of photo evidence of my own DT175 I found and used for years this scan of a similar model from an old Bike magazine featuring despatch rider Sue Fiddian. By old Bike, I mean the magazine not the girl. Sorry Sue. Credit: Bike Magazine

It was a unique bike at the time so if you recognise this pattern and now know the bike get in touch. I would love to see it again. Mind you it would be well past its sell by date by now and I guess pretty ropey. So I'll only give you a few quid for it, all right.

Another useful feature was the off-roading abilities.

Not so much the serious mud plugging but the ability to climb easily up the pavement kerb at the local disco.

Of the few times I ventured off the tarmac my inexperience kept me from performing fantastic tricks and my leg length prevented me from stopping. In fact, I can't recall ever pulling a proper, wheel in the air for more than a half-second type, wheelie. And I call myself a biker!

Plus, in those days, stoppies were only carried out by riders with no control and grabby brakes. The drums on the Yamaha certainly never grabbed anything to my knowledge.

However, I did find the thing ace at driving round town with its light weight and responsive two-stroke motor.

The wide bars, although sometimes a pain through dense traffic, enabled surefooted slow riding skills and great manoeuvrability. This was coupled to a high vantage point from that seat that didn't suit my legs, although it was comfy enough for one bum.

Add a second bum, whose owner had to make do with swing-arm mounted rear foot pegs, and it didn't do so well. But for one up hooligan riding round town it was perfect.

I even considered fitting road tyres rather than the standard fitment off-road rubber. I recall that despite my efforts I couldn't match a front and rear so didn't proceed with this mod. If I had I would have beaten the modern supermotards to the idea by several years. Despite not heralding this modern change I travelled many a happy mile.

Nevertheless, it was the unhappy mile that it will be best remembered for.

I recall a frustrating crawl up the outside lane of a dual carriageway, at it's 65mph maximum. Jeff, on his CeeBee had passed the car and decided on a different route into the New Forest. He swung into a left-hand turn and disappeared.

I was still in hot [read: warm] pursuit and trying to pass the car.

Why people insist on travelling at one mile an hour less than my top speed, I'll never know.

Anyway, I just made it and shot round the bend. It was set at a right angle and Kenny himself would have been pleased with taking it at this speed. On his race bike.

Mind you I did have one race bike advantage. The foot pegs on a trail bike are small and high set so don't dig in when cornering. A common problem on seventies machinery. Provided the tyres held out the thing could corner like a demon. And the road that day was perfectly dry and smooth.

I leaned over, to the point my boots were scraping the deck, but it wasn't enough. The corner was too sharp. So I leaned a bit more and something eventually grounded out. My handlebar ends!

I slid across the road.

Thankfully, it being the seventies meant that no traffic was on the other side. Unfortunately, being summer and a carefree teenager meant that I wasn't dressed properly. The lightweight jacket I had on rode up my torso, followed by my tee shirt, then in turn, each layer of my skin. Gravel rash par excellence.

Despite this mishap I enjoyed my time with the Yamaha.

Even now I wish it was sat in my garage so that I could play on it. The engine may have been noisy and underpowered but the styling was just right. The high exhaust and low front mudguard may date the thing to a certain period but that's when I was learning the meaning of freedom and this bike helped me achieve that. I'll always remember it fondly.

Like all my other firsts, I guess.

Related Link

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.326 1 Jan 2022
First Published: Version 1.02 in Mar 2004
The first image shows a recreation of what my Yamaha DT175 would have looked like by digitally colouring over a stock official UK Yamaha DT175 sales brochure created in the Sketchbook App on an Apple iPad Air 4 and was added in Version m5.326 on 1 Jan 2022. Credit: Yamaha and Vince
The second image shows a photograph scanned from an old 'Bike' magazine and was used to illustrate a story about a female despatch rider called Sue Fiddian. It was first added to my website in Version 3 in Mar 2010. I liked this as it best represented the 'look' of my DT175. Used and generally remembered in black and white. Credit: Bike Magazine



The Beginning of Antisocial Media: My Twitter Story of 2018

The further time moves on the more accurately one can judge history so summarising a period of past tweeting can only be done clearly several years later. The potential downside to this is that it is tempting to read content with greater hindsight than was available at the time. It's 2021 but this article is about my Twitter content in 2018 and I am already seeing that amongst the general silliness and contemporary social commentary 2018 may have been the year that Social Media itself, or at least my experience of it mainly through Twitter, started altering for the worse. However I admit that I did not necessarily see this as clearly at the time despite predicting and naming the downfall in a post made in mid August.

The end of the previous year saw the word Fake News listed as word of the year by the American Dialect Society and Collins English Dictionary. Ironic that it is a fake word given that it is actually two words. In 2018 Oxford Languages would eventually award the term Toxic as their word of the year with Gammon as a contender. Clearly SM posts were helping to drive this vitriol and helping to turn a previously friendly discord and banter on platforms into an aggressive verbal tirade at the shortest opportunity.

This new attitude was partly politically driven by the appointment in the United States of Donald Trump as President in 2017 and his growing divisive policies based on falsehoods, exaggeration and self interests plus the realities of Brexit in the UK along with an ineffective Prime Minister in Theresa May and even weaker opposition leader in Jeremy Corbyn, who was actively propped up by a vociferous, determined and single minded support base who were not representative of the majority of the party.

However my 2018 posts could hardly be cited as a reason for this tidal change partly because I tend to avoid unpleasant and highly charged subjects and also because they were virtually all original tweets, not usually borne from replies to others or simple re-tweets much in the vein of my style to date. In fact the vitriol that I refer to above seems to come mainly from replies, retorts and counter arguments within comments to original posts. Original commentary posts by individuals don't usually directly or deliberately incite hatred, even if they sometimes post thoughts on a possibly controversial subject for discussion which then gets misinterpreted by an ignorant, wilful or malicious respondent.

As a result of all my original content posting I have touched upon many varied stories occurring during the year including the Beast from the East and Snowmaggedon; the Russian Salisbury poisoning and general state hacking; being knowingly blocked on Twitter for the first time due to a misunderstanding over Echo Chamber etiquette; the delete FaceBook campaign; my Norwegian cruise; the marriage of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle; the summer World Cup; Californian wildfires and Brexit deal failures. Plus all the intertwined characteristic silliness, humour and daft commentary of course.

So what lies below is the best of my Tweets from 2018, listed as they were published, unedited in all their glory? All the entries posted below are [mostly] exactly as they were posted online contemporaneously, without rechecking spelling, grammatical corrections or censure, due to a desire to maintain historical accuracy. However I have added an odd explanatory [word, letter or sentence] to make sense of some situations as they appeared at the time.

1 January 18

It’s only bloody 2018! How did that happen? [Notwithstanding the obvious fact it was 2017 just previously]

It continues...So if you want to read the full article (or even just the best from 2018) just click the blue button below. Alternatively, if you want the full latest up to date @vinceunlimited experience check out the vTwitter link from the drop down vChoices blue button above.

Related Links

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.325 29 Oct 2021
First Published: On Twitter during 2018





Historic Steamships

A black and white photograph of a docks policeman in uniform stood in an industrial setting
Henry Poynter stood in his docks police uniform in Southampton around the turn of the twentieth century

Recently I was helping my father clear his home and came across some old family documents and photographs which he had inherited from his own parents. Amongst these treasures was a large foolscap sized accounting book which contained some handwritten accounts dated between 1824 and 1829 plus oddly had some unrelated large old black and white photographs of early steamships glued in the back. The sort of steam powered vessels built with sail masts in case the power system failed.

No notes were written for the photographs of these substantial ships which were located around a docks environment, probably in Southampton. Many were obviously taken during the Second Boer War era, around 1899 as evidenced by the painted numbers on the sides of the ships which aided me in their identification and dating.

This time coincided with the fact that my paternal Great, Great, Grandfather, Henry Poynter, worked at Southampton Docks as a Police Constable. I have seen evidence of documentation that put him there at least between 1895 and 1903 so he would have had access to photograph these mighty vessels from advantageous vantage points. So credit for these pictures should probably go to Henry Poynter.

This photograph of Henry in his Police uniform was probably taken around 1900, deduced from documents I have seen. He would have been in his forties at the time. Earlier in his life when he was in his late teens he had served in the Coldstream Guards. I have even seen his old army book showing his enlistment in March 1875.

A black and white photograph of a family taken in the early twentieth century. A man stands behind his wife sat on a chair holding her arms around a young girl and boy
Harry Poynter with his wife Florence and their children Dorothy and William

However, as I have no certain proof that it was Henry who took the pictures I should also consider it may have been another member of the family, maybe Henry's son Harry Poynter, my paternal Great Grandfather, who would have been in his twenties around the beginning of the twentieth century and may have had dockside access granted from his father.

This next image shows Harry, stood over his family. It shows my Great Grandmother, Florence Gertrude, nee. Shearman, known as Gerty, with their children, Dorothy and William, William being my paternal Grandfather. The children's age dates the photo to around 1911. Harry and Florence later had another son, Charles but Florence sadly died during that childbirth at the age of just 29.

Other possibilities include that another unknown member of the family took the photographs or maybe they were just aquired and collated for a small private home collection and were originally taken by others. Please email me if you have further information on any of these original photos.

Most of the ship photographs as they were printed measured around 12" [300mm] and like the family ones above have been rephotographed into my iPhone X for digital storage and use here and have not been enhanced or retouched to maintain as much originality as possible.

I have gathered as much data as I could on each vessel from existing online sources to tell their individual stories and have listed them below in alphabetical order.

HMT Idaho

A black and white photograph of dark hulled, single funnelled, four mast steamship docked alongside an industrial port. There is a large number 38 painted on the bow. On the dock side is a crane.
Steamship HMT Idaho docked in Southampton around 5 June 1901

First up is [Her Majesty's Transport Ship] HMT Idaho, a British transport cargo steam powered ship built in 1899 by William Gray & Co, West Hartlepool.

Originally called the [Steamship] SS Idaho it was 99m long, weighed 3,023 tons and could reach nine knots.

The photographed is likely dated around 5 June 1901 when HMT Idaho, temporarily designated number 38, embarked from Southampton to South Africa with 640 members of the 3rd East Surrey Regiment onboard.

At that time many former merchant class passenger and goods vessels were being commandeered by the British Admiralty for use as troop ships taking soldiers, their equipment and supplies to assist in the Second Boer War and then returning wounded men back to Britain.

The Second Boer War, commonly called The Boer War, the Anglo-Boer War or the South African War, was fought between the British Empire and two independent African states in modern day South Africa. It lasted between 11th October 1899 and 31st May 1902 with a resulting British victory. The first Boer War had previously been fought between 1880 and 1881.

Idaho itself survived the Second Boer War but was lost during her next war involvement, World War One, in August 1918. Idaho was torpedo by the German u-boat U-107, 120 miles north west of Cape Villano, Spain losing 11 persons.

HMT Kildonan Castle

A black and white photograph of twin funnelled steamship with a light coloured hull and triple masts sailing in an industrial docks environment. The ship's name Kildonan Castle is visible on the bow along with a large white on black number 44. Another ship is docked close by with a smaller black tug boat manoeuvring at its stern. Another ship in the foreground has its decks crowded with onlookers.
HMT Kildonan Castle manoeuvring in Southampton docks around 4 November 1899

The main ship in this photograph, the one on the left not docked, is HMT Kildonan Castle, a ship built by Scottish shipbuilders Fairfield Shipping and Engineering company Limited of Govan in 1899 being launched on 22nd August of that year.

It was a steel hulled steamer and weighed in at 9,652 tons, was just over 515 feet long and propelled by twin four cylinder engines producing 1,663 Nhp and had two screws. Well, probably many dozens of actual screws but also two screw propellers.

Kildonan Castle was commissioned for Castle Mail Packets Company and registered in London but soon transferred to Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company in 1900.

The ship operated as a troop ship carrying forces to South Africa for the Second Boer War where it carried the most men to any war by any boat or ship at the time.

KC served as HM Transport number 44, shown here in Southampton docks probably on or just before 4th November 1899, so would have still been a Castle Mail Packets Company ship.

It was on this date it first set sail with close to three thousand men including a Welsh Regiment of 29 officers with 827 men and their regimental goat, the Northumberland Fusiliers with 29 officers and 981 men, a detail of 5 Black Watch officers plus 41 men of the 3rd Stationary Hospital, 21 officers and 143 men of the 2nd General Hospital, 4 officers and 141 men of the pontoon troop, Royal Engineers and the 1st Battalion section of the Royal Engineers. No other goats were mentioned.

Kildonan Castle was departing for Cape Town to arrive on 22nd November 1899 then onto Port Elizabeth on the 26th and finally to Durban on 27th November 1899.

After that it returned back to Southampton to do it all again at least another two times, averaging 2,700 officers and men per journey. By then the goat sailing average was probably about 0.33.

During this time Kildonan Castle had J C Robinson as her captain and earned in total fifteen Transport Medal Clasps.

Later on in 1915, during World War One, it served as a Hospital Ship, then in March 1916 was commissioned by The Admiralty for troop service, being released back to previous owners in January 1919.

The KC sailed on until 1931 when it was broken up in Stavanger, Norway in May of that year.

I cannot identify the other ships in the photograph. Or if they had any goats on board. Can you?

RMS Majestic

A black and white photograph of twin funnelled steamship with a dark coloured hull and triple masts sailing away from the viewer. The ship's name Majestic is visible on the stern. A large Red Ensign billows at the stern and a few dark clothed men are seen around the decks wearing smart merchant navy clothing and hats
RMS Majestic steaming slowly towards open water around 9 February 1900

RMS Majestic was a 9,965 ton Teutonic class ocean liner built by Harland and Woolf based in Belfast, Northern Ireland and launched on 29th June 1889.

The ship measured 582 feet, which would be called just under 178m today with a beam of nearly 58 foot [or 17.6m] with twin triple expansion engines able to carry 1,490 passengers with 300 in first class, 190 in second class and the other 1,000 in third class.

Majestic was built for the White Star line, delivered in March 1890 and in late July, early August 1891 temporarily gained the Blue Riband, an award for the fastest ever transatlantic crossing with an average speed of 20.1 knots over five days, eighteen hours and eight minutes.

In 1895, RMS Majestic was assigned Captain Edward Smith, the captain who went on to sink as Captain with the ill fated Titanic but when this photograph was taken there were no icebergs to hit in Southampton Docks.

When the Second Boer War started in 1899 Captain Smith and RMS Majestic were twice called on to transport some troops to South Africa, being designated troop ship number 68. Once in December 1899 from Liverpool, then another on 9th February 1900 from Southampton when I suspect this photograph was taken due to its three mast configuration.

Interestingly, Titanic's surviving second in command, Charles Lightroller was also on board Majestic during these trips serving at the time as a deck officer and may possibly be in this shot.

RMS Majestic underwent a refit during 1902 and 1903 including fitting new boilers, taller funnels and removing one of her three masts. After that the ship returned to its Liverpool to New York runs.

Majestic had survived a bunker fire in 1905, then in 1907 transferred to run the now main White Star transatlantic routes from Southampton to New York only retiring when RMS Titanic started her runs, or rather a run, in April 1912. Which required Majestic to be reinstated under Commander J B Kelk, with the first crossing taking seven days and one and a half hours, averaging 18.4 knots.

Later it assisted in a rescue of the wrecked French Schooner Garonne on 17th October 1913, then on 14th January 1914 embarked on its final Atlantic crossing having carried 276,887 passengers across the pond.

Majestic was scrapped on 5th May 1914 after 24 years of service.

The Mexican

A black and white photograph of the side of a large single funnelled steamship with triple masts steaming slowly from right to left just offshore. The name Mexican is in dark lettering towards the bow of this light coloured ship
The Union Castle Mail Steam Ship Company Mexican steaming slowly just off shore

The Mexican was a 378 foot long, 47 feet wide iron, screw, three cylinder steamer built in 1883 by James Laing & Co of Sunderland, which weighed 4,668 tons, could produce 649 NHp and had a cruising speed of 12 knots. These are the stats for the ship, not for the city of Sunderland.

When entering service as a mail ship for Union Company Line it was the largest of such ships operating between Britain and South Africa.

During May 1885 Mexican temporarily served as a troop carrier taking troops to Hong Kong where it remained as a garrison ship for three months to see out the Russian Scare, a conflict between the Russian and British Empires due to territorial advances into Afghanistan by Russia, which threatened to spill over into India.

According to the London Times around the beginning of October 1899 the ship was to leave Southampton and would convey various named Lieutenants, Royal Horse Guards, officers and men from the Army Ordnance Corps along with a couple of surgeons bound for Cape Town in South Africa to arrive in November of that year. A later report added the names of many other lieutenants, officers, captains and a Viscount from various Royal Horse Guard, Lancers and Fusiliers regiments.

I might also note that Robert Baden-Powell, the man who would become known for starting the Scout Movement was also on board as a war correspondent.

This conglomeration of important soldiers and a big Boy Scout made sense when, less than a month later, the Second Boer War commenced in South Africa.

The Mexican was later used in December of that year for ferrying a consignment of chocolate from Her Majesty Queen Victoria sent free of charge to troops in South Africa. I can only assume this was not the only cargo on board. If it was that would have been an enormous floating pile of calories.

This photograph was probably taken whilst Mexican was being used as a mail ship after war service as there are no signs of deck bound troops or Scout leaders. Furthermore when first commissioned for the Union Company Line it would have been painted black. The white livery suggests Union Castle Mail Steam Ship Company ownership which took over in early 1900.

However on 4th April 1900 it set sail once more back to Southampton from South Africa with mail, 106 passengers and 120 crew but when just 80 miles north of Cape Town in the early morning calm seas, some heavy, patchy fog rolled in so Mexican commenced sounding the fog horn whistle and dropped to half speed. Captain B Copp and his crew carefully watched out for other vessels and at 2am heard another ship's whistle, then a light so stopped their engines slowing the ship to around three knots.

Suddenly a much larger troop ship, the Winkfield, sized at 4,009 tons and transporting 15 officers, 310 men and 241 horses from London came into view and despite immediate corrections of speed and trajectory by both vessels the two ships collided.

The crew on board the Winkfield had not seen the Mexican until too late and had not heard any fog whistles.

Due to the size and the angles of collision the Winkfield holed the Mexican badly mid ships so Captain Copp decided to abandon his vessel onto the more stable Winkfield. The crew firstly aided the passengers, then returned to salvage as many mail bags as possible and managed to get 194 of the 429 bags to safety including some diamonds that were being transported back to Blighty before the Captain was forced to completely abandon the ship.

There was then some effort made to tow the stricken Mexican but this failed so by noon the next day it had sunk.

A story in the Mafeking Mail printed on 4th May 1900 reported the incident and added that an officer had claimed the crew of the Mexican, who were largely from Southampton, had been looting the passengers belongings then some had acted subordinately on board the Winkfield.

In subsequent hearings this was dismissed as unfounded as the largely long serving crew had acted with great speed and professionalism without panic to assist the rescue of all passengers and whatever belongings they could. All with no loss of life.

The hearings also cleared both captains of any wrong doing.

USMSS New York

A black and white photograph of the side of a large, slender steamship with three dark funnels mounted close to each other plus triple masts supporting a line of small flag banners the whole length of the ship, steaming slowly from right to left just offshore
The United States Merchant Steam Ship New York steaming slowly just off shore

When the 527 foot long, 10,500 gross tons, steel hulled British steam ship City of New York was built by James & George Thompson of Glasgow for the Inman Line, part of the International Navigation Company, at a cost of $1,850,000 it was designed to be the largest and fastest passenger liner on the Atlantic. It entered service in August 1888.

As the first twin, triple expansion, 9,000 horsepower engined, twin screw, express liner she managed to get the eastbound Blue Riband and held it between August 1892 and May 1893 achieving a speed of 20.11 knots.

The twin screw design was to mitigate in the event of single engine shaft failure and the necessity to keep onboard an excessive amount of rigging for emergencies.

The ship was designed to accommodate 540 first class, 200 second class and 1,000 steerage passengers with quarters fitted with running hot and cold water, electric lighting and electric ventilation. Yes, right from the start this ship had its fans.

Before SS City of New York could be completed the British Government had revoked its licence to be a mail carrier. Therefore the Inman Line lobbied the US Congress to allow American registry and it was on a snowy 22nd February 1883 that the vessel was formally merged into the American Line, personally by President Benjamin Harrison as one of his final acts of presidency where he raised the American flag and renamed the ship USMSS New York, from then on to use Southampton as their UK port.

In April 1898 when the Spanish-American War started the vessel was chartered as an auxiliary cruiser and renamed USS Harvard. The ship served in the Caribbean Sea including rescuing over 600 survivors from high seas riddled with explosives from stricken ships.

There was also an incidence on board when some onboard prisoners were tragically shot due to a misunderstanding over language which became known as the Harvard Incident.

The ship was decommissioned as the USS Harvard on 2nd September 1898 back to SS New York, then in 1901 underwent a rebuild to be fitted with three engines but also reduced to twin funnels in readiness for more transatlantic runs.

With this information I can therefore date this photograph to between 1898 and 1901.

In 1902 New York received yet another engine update, now sporting quadruple expansion engines.

A couple of years later, on 20th March 1904, the ship had a collision in thick fog near Hurst Castle in the Solent with HM Assaye, a single funnelled troop ship used to transport soldiers to the Second Boer War and then as hospital transport back again. New York's bowsprit was carried away and Assaye had her starboard bow severely damaged. Note that I'll write about HM Assaye again later as its story has a personal family connection.

Getting back to the New York, another notable moment came on 10th April 1912 when the ship broke free from its berth in Southampton when the Titanic, yes that ship again, passed by creating a suction effect powerful enough to rip off the three inch steel ropes previously securing the New York to the dock. The Captain of the Titanic, Edward Smith, had to act to avert a collision ably assisted by a local tugboat Vulcan, whose help he could have done with four days later in an icy North Atlantic sea.

The next year USMSS New York was again reconfigured, this time to a second and third class only ship and returned to sailings out of Liverpool. I don't know who made the assumption that Liverpool needed no first class accommodations.

When the First World War commenced in 1914 the USA weren't involved so the ship temporarily became a commercially successful, neutrally flagged liner but when the US decided to join the war in 1918 the vessel was again commandeered as a troop carrier and this time named USS Plattsburg where it got damaged by a mine placed in the Mersey river, Liverpool. Again, I cannot ascertain that it wasn't deliberately placed there by a snubbed first class local.

After World War One duties were over the ship was reconditioned including removal of a mast and again renamed USMSS New York continuing with the American Line until 1920, finally being scrapped in Genoa in early 1923 after first passing through four other owners.

HMT Roslin Castle

A black and white photograph of a grand single funnelled steamship with a light coloured hull and twin masts sailing away from the viewer. The ship's name Roslin Castle and registered port of London is clearly visible on the stern as is a large dark panel on the starboard side showing a big white number 26. A large Red Ensign billows at the stern and a great deal of service people crowd the packed decks. There are five rowed smaller boats near the starboard side
HMT Roslin Castle steaming slowly towards open water possibly carrying a famous future war Prime Minister

The Roslin Castle was a 380 foot long, iron, single screw, British, passenger mail ship steamer of 2,742 tons which would cruise at twelve knots, built in 1883 by Barclay, Curle and Company, Glasgow and launched on 24th April of that year.

The ship was built for D Currie and Company of London and in 1888 was lengthened and her engines tripled to provide 800 Hp allowing the ship to reach 15 knots despite the weight increase to 4,280 tons.

Also that year Roslin Castle transported the English national cricket team, known as Major R G Wharton's team, to play the inaugural First Class international cricket match with South Africa.

In 1896 the ship was transferred to Castle Mail Packets Company and was involved in taking troops to South Africa on 4th April 1896 as part of the Jameson Raid which was intended to start an uprising but failed in its mission but did became a contributory cause of the Second Boer War three years later, although by then the vessel was under Union-Castle Mail SS Company Limited.

HMT Roslin Castle was involved in many trips to South Africa taking troops to that war as troop ship numbered HMT 26, as seen in this photograph. In fact on one occasion she took a young Winston Churchill, future British Second World War Prime Minister, there as a War Correspondent and I like to optimistically think it was this photo that captured that departure.

On another occasion in December 1899 the ship Armenian hit the Roslin Castle damaging some of her rail and davits.

She was also used to transport Boer prisoners of war from South Africa to India, for example 507 men on 11th April 1901.

In RC's later years the ship obtained a reputation for breaking down. Nothing to do with the dented rail or davits, I guess.

In 1905 it was renamed Regina by new owners M Jensen of Hamburg and in May 1907 was broken up in Genoa after suffering major heavy weather damage.

HMHS Spartan

A black and white photograph of a single funnelled, twin mast steamship with a light coloured hull tied alongside a dock. The ship's name Spartan is clearly visible on the bow as is a large dark panel showing a big white number 11 alongside a large, presumably red, cross. Just a handful of people can be seen on board
The converted hospital ship HMHS Spartan tied alongside in Southampton Docks

Her Majesty's Hospital Ship, HMHS Spartan started life as a Union Steamship Co, Southampton, passenger cargo iron screw steamer on 12th July 1881.

Like the City of New York above the ship was built by James & George Thompson in Clydebank.

Weighing in at 3,487 ton the vessel was 363.6 feet long and had 600 Nhp.

In October 1899 Spartan was requisitioned as a hospital ship and converted into a Hospital Ship at Southampton with accommodation for 144 sick and given the transport number 11.

From the smart clean finish of the ship as pictured it is likely this photograph was taken around November 1899 just after its conversion.

I haven't discovered much more about the ship but it clearly survived all its Boer War exploits as its end came in April 1902 when it was broken up in Italy.

But it is a lovely photograph.

SS St. Louis

A black and white photograph of the side of a twin funnelled, twin mast steamship powering along from right to left just offshore. Smoke can be seen billowing from the front funnel and it appears there are a handful of bilge pumps operating as seen from the streams of water pouring out just above the waterline
The Steam Ship St Louis powering along just off shore showing its bilge pumps working

Launched on 12th November 1894 by William Cramp & Sons Building & Engine Company of Philadelphia for the American Line SS St. Louis was a twin screw, transatlantic passenger line of 11,659 tons.

The maiden voyage took it from New York to Southampton in June 1895 but only a few months later, after the transatlantic crossings by this vessel and similar sister ship St. Paul were too slow they underwent modifications, returning to service considerably faster.

In April 1898 St. Louis was chartered at Southampton as an armed cruiser for use in the Spanish-American war. For clarity, on the American side. The ship was renamed USS St. Louis by the United States Navy and fitted with four five inch guns. Which doesn't sound very big at all until you realise that's the shell diameter, not the gun length. The ship also had eight six pounders fitted.

Manned by 350 men with 27 officers under captain Caspar Goodrich St. Louis set off for the Caribbean to deploy heavy drag lines in order to destroy undersea communications links between the West Indies and South America, between Guantanamo Bay and Haiti and also cables serving Cuba.

Plus it was also involved in several naval battles and bombardments including capturing merchant ships and transporting prisoners of war, finally returning to the States for decommissioning back in the shipyard in Philadelphia in August after a busy five months service.

Renamed back to SS St. Louis the ship returned to commercial transatlantic service after having her guns and six pounders replaced by buns and quarter pounders [probably], resuming trips on the regular Southampton to New York route pausing only during 1903 to be fitted with new boilers and taller funnels and during 1913 to be converted to carry second and third class passengers.

From 1914 during the first half of the First World War the St. Louis changed to serving a Liverpool to New York route but in 1917, as renamed vessel SP-1644 or the more snappily titled USS Louisville, had another three guns fitted, this time six inch ones. Cue same old joke.

During service on one memorable occasion the vessel dodged out of the way of an incoming torpedo successfully hitting the submarine that had fired it. And that wasn't the only encounter with a u-boat. The final war efforts were spent as a troop transporter up to the end of the war in 1919.

Following that in January 1920 and renamed back to St. Louis the ship caught fire causing her to be scuttled in Hoboken during a refit back to commercial service in New York. Note, questionable Hoboken and nearby New York fire safety procedures are not covered in this article.

This effectively meant the ship never sailed again and was eventually taken to Genoa in Italy for scrapping in 1925.

I have no idea of the exact date of this photograph. It must have been somewhen between 1899 and 1914 as the ship does not appear to be fitted with guns. Unless they really were only five or six inches big. A clue could lie in the funnel size increase made in 1903 but I have not seen any dateable photographs or card depictions of the ship with alternate funnel heights. My guess due to the inclusion with the other photographs in the collection would be that it was taken around 1900, before the larger funnel refit.

SS Suevic

A black and white photograph of a massively damaged ship bow showing the ripped off deck hanging off the wheelhouse at an angle near forty five degrees
The badly damaged bow of the ship SS Suevic showing a severely ruined deck

This rather broken ship started life as a Belfast built ship of 12,531 gross tons by Harland & Wolff able to carry 400 third class passengers plus refrigerated cargo for the White Star Line for journeys between Liverpool and Sydney via Cape Town and it's story is peppered with interest.

SS Suevic was launched in December 1900 and the maiden voyage was in March 1901. However the ship was soon pressed into service as troop transport during the Second Boer War, returning after that to her commercial role.

On one notable trip a young Charles Lightroller, the future Titanic second in command and most senior serving survivor was assigned to Suevic as punishment whereupon he met his 18 year old wife on board. Which was handy as he was then able to marry her in Sydney when they arrived.

Things sailed along nicely for Suevic until February 1907 when it all went a bit un-ship shaped. Leaving Melbourne the vessel headed for Cape Town then proceeded to Tenerife then set sail for Plymouth in England, intending to continue on to London and finally Liverpool, which seems a bit of an odd routing choice. I'm just reporting the story as I read it.

However just outside Plymouth on 17 March 1907 in thick fog, rain and strong winds Suevic's crew miscalculated the distance to the Lizard Lighthouse by an incredible sixteen miles and ran full speed into the shore hitting a series of part submerged rocks known as Maenheere Reef at Stag Rock, which must have come as a bit of a shock to the 524 people on board.

I assume the £400,000 worth of frozen sheep carcasses also carried on board the vessel at the time were almost certainly not the least bit concerned.

Despite major damage the Suevic didn't sink and Captain Thomas Johnson Jones, was able to attempt several tries at reversing off the rocks. All unsuccessfully.

Thankfully all passengers and crew were saved by the gallant efforts of the RNLI in their largest ever rescue in its history saving 141 crew members, 382 passengers, which included 70 babies, and a presumably embarrassed Captain. All using just four open wooden lifeboats together manned by twenty four local volunteers.

Then just as the sixteen hour ordeal had ended another ship, the SS Jubba, also ran aground within sight along the same coastline and the lifeboat crews, aided by some of the Suevic crew this time carried out another rescue. For their efforts two members of the Suevic crew were awarded RNLI silver gallantry medals, alongside four of the lifeboat volunteers for their work during the rescues.

Captain Jones himself was awarded as well. Awarded liability for the accident and had his Competency Certificate withdrawn, coinciding neatly with his immediate retirement.

Although the bow of the Suevic was crumpled beyond salvage the rest of the ship including the boilers and engines was intact. So the aforementioned cargo of indifferent sheep bits was removed and several attempts were made to pull the vessel off the rocks at higher tides. All attempts were unsuccessful and at each try the ship was taken back by the force of nature further into the rocky reef.

With forecasts of worsening weather most thought abandonment to nature was the only option but the Liverpool & Glasgow Salvage Association, acting on behalf of the White Star Line, came up with a brave plan. To dynamite the front section away, using divers, or rather explosives set by divers because divers aren't naturally explosive enough themselves, with the idea being it would leave a movable 120m long middle and rear end bit which could be rebuilt anew, that being a cheaper option than having to create a whole new ship.

The ambitious and dangerous plan was successful and on 2 April 1907 the Suevic, or rather 400 feet of it, drifted free assisted by a remaining watertight bulkhead. It worked so well the ship, or what was left of it, could reverse under its own steam guided only by tugs all the way to Southampton's Test Quay on 4th April 1907.

A black and white photograph of a massively truncated ship bow in the process of being rebuilt showing the three main decks structural posts and spanning floors
Repairs in progress on the SS Suevic in preparedness for the new bow section arriving from Northern Ireland

After that SS Suevic was transferred to the Harland and Wolff owned Trafalgar dry dock in Southampton where the vessel awaited a new 65m nose to be built in Belfast at which point it became known as the longest ever ship being a third in Northern Ireland and two thirds on the South Coast of England.

It was in Southampton some time in 1907 that these photographs were taken as the new bow arrived on 26th October of that year.

The Harland and Wolff team were joined by shipbuilders from J. I. Thornycroft and the largest cut and shut ship ever was completed by mid January 1908.

Up until the First World War in 1914 Suevic continued commercial service to Australia. The ship continued its runs whilst in readiness for Royal Navy service but wasn't called upon until a commission to take British Troops to Greece. Not on holiday but to the Dardanelles Campaign, under the title Hired Military Australian Transport or HMAT A29 Suevic.

Suevic survived the war and was refitted in 1920 to carry 266 second class passengers, returning to familiar Australian commutes completing its 50th trip in 1924 and going on until 1928 when the ship was sold to Yngvar Hvistendahl's Finnhval A/S of Tønsberg, Norway for 35 grand, renamed Skytteren and converted to an Atlantic whaling ship, complete with a new stern ramp.

The whaling continued until the Second World War commenced. In April 1940, along with several other ships Skytteren was interned in Gothenburg, Sweden. Norway wanted their ship back but met with legal resistance due to a squabble between the exiled Norwegian Government and the German collaborationist Norwegian Government. As a result in April 1942 ten ships, including Skytteren made a dash for it out of port towards the safety of some British warships.

Sweden protested against this manoeuvre so the ships headed for international waters but met awaiting tipped off German ships. Only two made it to the safety of the British ships, two were sunk by the Germans, the rest including the ex-Suevic were voluntarily scuttled by their crew. One crew man was lost and the other 110 became prisoners of war.

The fascinating Suevic story didn't quite fully end in the waters off Sweden in the early forties. Lying in 70m depth of water the wreckage still housed a large amount of oil in the tanks and in 2005 was seen to be leaking and the still decaying hull is now threatening an environmental incident.

Unidentified Ships

A black and white photograph of a light coloured, twin funnelled, triple mast steamship alongside a docks environment. There are some other smaller darker coloured hull ships also berthed alongside
A so far unidentified group of ships alongside what is probably Southampton Docks around the turn of the twentieth century

The collection also contains three other photographs of ships which I have failed to identify.

There were many ships operating from Southampton at the time and these photos do not contain enough individually identifiable data for me to positively name or date them.

This one for instance could be a Union Castle Mail Steam Ship Company vessel. They were common at the time and were usually painted white. However not all light coloured ships were from the Union Castle Mail Steam Ship Company.

If you know how to identify the ship please contact me and I'll happily add this ship properly to the list above.

Some clues may be the twin funnels [fairly common], the height of the funnels [less so] and the three masts [also fairly commonplace].

A black and white side view photograph of a dark coloured, twin funnelled, triple mast steamship sailing past the camera in calm waters from left to right. A few posts in the foreground suggest the shot was taken on land nearby
Another unidentified twin funnelled steamship probably sailing in the Southampton Docks area

The next photograph was bigger so should make identifying distinct attributes of this ship easier.

The same might be said about the backward sloping funnels although the fact there are only two and the ship has a fairly standard set of three masts doesn't assist.

The photo is in black and white so I cannot be certain of the hull colour but assuming it was black it could be a Union Company Line vessel. But even using that fact doesn't allow me to name the vessel.

If only the angle of the composition was more acute then a nameplate may have been visible on the rear which would have made this task so much easier.

Again, if you know the identity of this ship please let me know so it can be properly posted in its rightful place above.

A black and white side view photograph of a dark coloured, twin funnelled, double mast steamship with a light coloured deck section
A smaller unidentified, berthed, twin funnelled steamship probably in Southampton Docks c. 1900

Finally, another twin funnel ship also with a dark hull and twin funnels but this time smaller in size so only sporting twin masts, discounting the rearward post supporting an apparent vessel lamp.

Again, if black hulled is it serving the Union Company Line? Are those funnels red perhaps? If only colour photography was common at the time.

Now some might, at this time, be thinking of web based photo matching services. If you think this might work with these photographs please feel free to try. However this may be hampered by the resolution available, the newness of such matchmaking technology and the fact that these photos are in all likelihood originals having never seen in the public domain before now.

However, if you do get a breakthrough please let me know via the comment link system, vMail, which directs your message straight to me.

Family Connections

Finally I would like to take this chance to honour two other members of my family who's stories are tightly linked to shipping at the turn of the twentieth century and The Second Boer War.

My paternal Great Grandmother, Florence, mentioned earlier, was born Florence Shearman and she had just two siblings, her older brothers Harry and William.

Both Harry and William probably sailed together as they both went to South Africa with the Durham Light Infantry to play their part in the Second Boer War which had kicked off in November 1899.

In all likelyhood they were part of the intended relief of Ladysmith in the Natal area where 13,000 British Forces had repelled a 21,000 strong Boer attack and had endured a consequent siege there.

A digital pencil sketched drawing of a single funnelled, double mast steamship with a lighter coloured deck section against an olive green background. The words SS Assaye by Vince Poynter © 2021 is in bold black lettering in the lower right third
A pictorial representation of the SS Assaye drawn in 2021 on an iPad using the Sketchbook App

They travelled to Cape Town in the single funnelled 7,396 gross ton HM Troopship SS Assaye, yes the I one mentioned earlier which collided with USSMS New York in thick fog later in 1904.

The vessel had started life in 1899 being constructed by Caird & Company, Scotland for the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company being launched in October 1899 intended to be a commercial transport service.

The Second Boer War put an end to that idea and the Assaye was commissioned as troop transport immediately, a service the vessel seemed destined to perform its whole life.

The ship was also used between 1903 and 1908 for various other troop transport duties and when not a troop ship the Assaye remained laid up in Southampton awaiting similar roles.

SS Assaye's first commercial work came in 1908 between Bombay, now Mumbai and the Far East before being hired again by the Admiralty as a troop and hospital ship for First World War use in 1914. Then continued in similar roles until being eventually scrapped in Stavanger, Norway in 1928.

Back to my family's connection to the Assaye and we pick up the story on 1st March 1900 where the ship left Southampton with 2,083 troops onboard including 150 men of the Durham Light Infantry, including the brothers, disembarking them at Cape Town, South Africa on the 21st of the month.

As I didn't have a photograph of the actual Assaye I decided to draw a picture of it, from memory. That is, the memory of a photograph of SS Assaye which I recently discovered on the internet.

Some complications with illness, possibly started during the voyage on the Assaye, rendered both brothers sick. This was not that uncommon on these troop ships at that time.

Harry was so much affected that by 7th April he had already been transferred back onto a returning hospital ship the SS Nubia, which was heading back to Southampton.

A digital painting of a double mast, white coloured steamship with a red lower hull and orange single funnel steaming just offshore against a greyish blue background with the hint of a dark land mass behind. The words SS Nubia by Vince Poynter © 2021 is in bold red lettering in the lower right third
A pictorial representation of the SS Nubia Hospital Ship drawn in 2021 on an iPad using the Sketchbook App

The hospital ship, the SS Nubia, originally called SS Singapore was a £100,000, 430ft (131m) passenger cargo ship of 5,914 tons, launched in 1894 after being built at Caird & Company, Greenock, Scotland and completed in 1895 for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, later to become P&O.

The ship could travel at 14.5 knots from its three-cylinder triple expansion steam engine of 662 Nhp. The maiden voyage took the ship towards Calcutta but it ran aground in Fukon Bay off Aden, Yemen.

Nubia was deployed between 1899 and 1903 transporting and treating patients during the Second Boer War.

Again, the picture is a representation of what the SS Nubia would have looked like at the time based on modern historical records lying around the servers of this world. Credit to the drawing should be given to me because that's who drew it.

The ship ended life wrecked in 1915 whilst heading from Bombay to Shaghai in the Bay of Bengal less than a kilometre north of Colombo, Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.

Harry's time with the SS Nubia in April 1900 was lamentably short. Unfortunately he never made the journey back home and died on board so was subsequently buried at sea off the west coast of Africa just a day before the ship docked in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

Then tragically, less than a month later Harry's younger brother William also died, this time in South Africa. He died from Entric fever, of which Typhoid is a form and was buried at Estcourt, a place described at the time as 'a collection of about three hundred detached stone or corrugated iron houses, nearly all one-storied, arranged along two broad streets'. That was a contemporaneous report according to Winston Churchill who was based there as a war correspondent in 1899.

These men were the only two siblings of my Great Grandmother and so my paternal family the only ones now left with personal connections.

A black and white photograph of a pristine, white, sharp arched shaped, substantial memorial stone with details of two men of the Durham Light Infantry who died in 1900 at ages of 30 and 28 along with a quote reading 'Though lost to sight their memory's green, they fought, they died in honour's cause, serving their country and their Queen'
A newly sited memorial stone dedicated to Harry and William Sherman who both died in 1900

Of course as war wounded their names shall remain in records and have also been inscribed on the Durham Cathedral Boer War Memorial Cross. William unfortunately spelled as William Sherman and his brother Harry as a postscript, out of alphabetical order, near the base and so now quite worn. I presume because the records didn't originally record him as a casualty of the war having being immediately transferred back towards home.

They do have a personal headstone though which was probably erected around 1900, as deduced from the reference to the Queen on the inscription, who would have been Victoria who died in 1901. Given the condition of the photograph it was probably taken soon after placement.

I do not know where it is situated but suspect it is in the Southampton area. The suppliers mark seems to show Mapen Winchester but I cannot determine further information about this or a similar name.

If you have seen this memorial stone and remember where you saw it please let me know so I can make a visit.

Related Link

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.324 19 Oct 2021
This article was first posted in vinceunlimited.wordpress.com on 17 Oct 2021
Information and data about the ships shown was collated from internet searches within angloboerwar.com, bandcstaffregister.com, clydeships.co.uk, greatships.net, norwayheritage.com, queensroyalsurrey.org.uk, roll-of-honour.com, uboat.net, en.wikipedia.org and wrecksite.eu
The photos used are all from the collection of Vince Poynter, from his family records
The original sketches and drawings were created by Vince Poynter to illustrate this article and are © 2021
Suitable credit should be given if any of this media is used elsewhere



1980s Pioneer Hi-Fi

The title card for the 1980s Pioneer Hi-Fi video showing Vince sat at a glass table wearing a black Polo shirt with red sleeves showing the number 3. A picture in picture on the right hand upper side shows a photo of a silver Hi-Fi component system and portable white colour TV on a light wood stand. A Yorkshire Terrior dog is laying in an adjacent beige  upright two seater settee. There are titles reading vinceunlimited Tech in blue text, 1980s Pioneer Hi-Fi in red and why not add a Like in yellow lettering
1980s Pioneer Hi-Fi. Click the image to play the video via YouTube

Over the years my wife, Lynda and I have owned a number of sound and AV systems and at various stages have upgraded, renewed and improved them as technology and personal finances developed.

For me, it all started in my teens in the 1970s with basic radio and cassette equipment, a shared record deck and an inherited Hi-Fi set up. Then I graduated onto a full new component system with Lynda.

This video tells the story of the first years of that journey up to our purchase of our complete new Pioneer set up and how I experienced it all, explaining the reasons for choosing what we did and even how much it all cost us at the time and an equivalent value today.

The video, written and presented by me, was filmed on an iPhone X in June 2021 and features my own photographs of the equipment plus a couple of credited photos from the internet.

I created the graphics showing the Pioneer details using the Apple Keynote Application on my iPad Air 4 where I also edited the entire video in the iMovie App in June 2021.

The video lasts 12 minutes and 15 seconds.

This film was uploaded to YouTube on 16 June 2021.

Related Link

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.323 4 Sep 2021
Photographed and filmed by Vince during Dec 2020
Uploaded to YouTube 2 Jan 2021
© A Film by Vince 2021



Pod 001 - Beginnings

A head and shoulders shot of Vince Poynter in a black shirt with the inscription the vinceunlimited podcast in black text
The artwork I used for my first podcast, used as a title card for my Podcasts generally

Welcome to the first ever episode of the vinceunlimited podcast.

In which I introduce my new audio podcast and comment on the difficulties of launching such a venture.

The first of the podcasts from the vinceunlimited series of podcasts.

This original podcast was written and performed by me.

It was recorded on an iPhone, my own, not a nicked one, using the inbuilt microphone direct into the Mobile Podcaster App and originally uploaded direct to WordPress from within the App itself to vinceunlimited.wordpress.com

The recording was then transferred to be hosted on this very website but from September 2021 there will be no audio version available, except on personal request via the vMail page. However a new version of the podcast has been produced for YouTube. Using the original 2014 recording but incorporating newly illustrated text, photos and sketches all conceived, selected or drawn by me, all designed to be more visually appealling for a video service.

Cartoon orange capital V character stood holding a microphone on a card coloured background with the orange coloured title text Pod 001 Beginnings, Reimagined along the top, Fully Illustrated in light blue on the right and vinceunlimited podcast in brown along the bottom
The new title card for the vinceunlimited podcast Pod 001 - Beginnings [Reimagined]. Click the image to play the video via YouTube

It lasts 9 minutes and 18 seconds.

You can read the podcast by clicking the button below to toggle between hiding and showing the transcript.

The full transcript will appear here

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Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.322 29 Aug 2021
The accompanying photograph is a selfie taken by the author on 6 Aug 2014
First published: WordPress 6 Aug 2014
Uploaded to iTunes 6 Aug 2014
Audio file now no longer available except upon request: Version m5.321 30 Jun 2021
Link added to YouTube reimagined version: Version m5.322 29 Aug 2021



Losing AV

I've been forced to undertake a painful operation. The complete removal of all audio and video files from my website.

To keep my AV files stored with my website host I would have had to continue paying a premium price and I have decided I do not wish to carry on down this path any longer. Quite simply these additions to the site were not worth the extra I was paying for it. In fact I had always struggled with the idea that they should attract such a premium so have now shut it down.

In truth you will not notice the difference unless you use my site to listen to my podcasts either from this site or via Apple Podcasts because I have chosen to not continue to pay to host them when as far as I can tell noone is listening to them. If you want to hear them now you will have to make a personal request using my vMail link and I'll send you an email attachment of them. Personal service indeed.

You may also note that my vdAvert video on every page is gone. Links are still there should you wish to discuss advertising on the site with me and you can use vSearch for the vAdvert link to go there direct if needed but the sample video near the top of each page is no more. Which on the mobile version of my site probably improves the experience.

My videos section did not need major updating as I was already linking all my videos to the YouTube version because this is a free to host (subject to advertising) service. Audio only Podcast hosts should hold their heads in shame.

In all there really are just three losers here. Firstly the overpriced webhosting company and now turning the tables feels well overdue. The next losers are those that want to listen to my podcasts and want a simple link. Sorry. The final loser is me. Because I have had to spend a few days recoding every page on my site again and as I now live in a post PC world it all had to be carried out on my iPad, without even the help of a bluetooth keyboard. At least the Koder App makes the process of change and uploading fairly easy.

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Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.321 30 Jun 2021



Buying Time

I missed out on Bitcoin. I remember when it was at an early stage, around 2011, a curiosity in technical articles and I was intrigued by the idea. I wasn't confident enough in computer programming to work it myself and would have had to use a third party to purchase some but I did have an amount of spare money I could risk so I thought of trying. I even discussed the idea with my wife and recall talking of trying out a £500 risk. At the time that would have bought me a fair number of Bitcoin, around 3,000 if I recall correctly. The real problem was the lack of knowledge of how to do that. It functioned on a Windows PC system and my own PC had been getting old by then and I had already migrated to using an Apple device. Traditional routes such as banks were not available to use. The only sellers were unknown to me.

When Bitcoin returned to the news again, such as when I first heard of Laszlo Hanyecz buying a couple of actual pizzas for ₿10,000, I was pleased I hadn't paid out five hundred quid for the equivalent of a pizza slice, no matter how tasty it may have been. However this was the first purchase of actual, physical goods but Bitcoin had been generally weaving its own path, trading and rising for services amongst reprobates particularly on the dark web and the subsequent value climbed and climbed, fallen then climbed again. I didn't like the sound of trading with people in the dark with the real potential to become prey to criminals, so once more I didn't invest.

Had I bought the first coins I considered and then had I kept them, an unlikely probability given their often meteoric rises, my portfolio from such a £500 investment back then would be worth around £45m now. Or about seventy five billion per pizza. It seems I may have missed out on this one because of my valid concerns about values going down as well as up.

The same happened on other occasions. For instance, when I read of more technical or specialist news regarding other embryonic cryptocurrencies including the second one issued, Lifecoin in 2011. Again I thought of investing but faltered due to the potential prospect that mainly they were not Bitcoin leaving me wondering whether the market would surely only need just one cryptocurrency. Again I didn't know who I was dealing with, knew that these markets seemed highly risky and anyway, surely the bubble of growth is about to burst. And have subsequently lost out on every opportunity in this field since.

Even as recent as a few weeks ago, on news of more Bitcoin trading reports going up to record levels once more then settling back down again I was considering perhaps spending a sum on buying a small stake in every known cryptocurrency available in a spread bet on the suspicion that even if most of them faltered the probability was that one or two may rise enough to counter any loss. I would have been risking my investment so would only gamble what I could afford to loose. But I didn't. However, shortly thereafter there was the situation with GameStop being over egged by early speculators via Reddit which took traction, sending values through the roof and inspiring thousands of small investors clamouring to invest via micro investing stock market Apps, which then encouraged major mainstream traders to join in the stupidly overvalued rising mini bull market. Then, inevitably, the Apps were pulled creating a sudden distrust in the main stream stock market by all the micro investors and a subsequent rush by some into cryptocurrencies driving these currencies up an average 20% more. I really should trust my instincts. But again caution held me back.

In reality I only want to participate in such a trust based market if I can be in at the beginning, fully understand how it works and where it offers reasonable protection against criminality. I am not educated enough in complex computer programming to start and develop a new cryptocurrency that I can be in at the tier one level so have to think outside the box to come up with something that I could actually make work for me by making it work for you. I think I may have the answer but I will need some time.

Thankfully for me history has already provided this and it has been patiently waiting for me to market it all. After all it has lain unclaimed up to now and I formally stake my claim on it all. Plus because time is limited and only progressing slowly it could become ever more valuable plus it is also easily divisible into commonly recognisable and simple to understand divisions and so become marketable units. Allow me to explain.

Now that I own time, or at least the notion of it as understood by us all, I shall put an initial value on every year since year 1. And to date we have 2021 years since then. If you are not clear on my mathematics here check your calendar. I will value each year at, say, £100 and you are welcome to buy from me as many as you want or can afford until all the years are sold. I will obviously invest in a couple of years myself and give away some more to family members plus a few as gifts for worthy causes or for marketing purposes etc but most will be available to buy. Let's say 2000 of them. At £100 each I will personally gain £200,000 before tax. Well I did come up with the idea.

So why would you buy these years from me? Well, simply because you might be able to sell them on for more. Which is why we invest after all. To speculate. Just think, all those who own years, including myself, will have great incentive to help drive up their value. All you need to get payback is subdivide your own year and sell the individual components for more overall than you paid upfront. Let's say you divided your year by, what shall we go for?, I know, days. You have 365 units to sell and could price them howsoever you wished, but lets say you choose to sell your days at £100 each. With a potential gross return of £36,500 at that valuation. For each of the years that you originally bought.

And naturally as momentum builds all those next level day keepers will turn to subdividing their days and selling off their hours. Why? Because by then these will now be recognised off grid trading devices much like cryptocurrency units are now and consequently likely have a market based trading value. Particularly as the price each time is set by the seller and the market now limited in supply.

The great news is that up until this point the majority of the investors would likely be up on their deal. The others may have less potential to make more but will have a trading currency outside of mainstream banking

And then comes 2022. And I will sell that too or issue days in that year all of which could share the same excitement and newsworthiness as finding new bitcoins do now.

The mathematics mean that in truth it is unlikely that each year, day and hour would be fairly equal in value. I used the £100 examples as a guide to represent how each sector would return on the risk. At first I suspect it would be expected that a year would be worth roughly 365 times the value of a day and so on but as interest grew speculators should quickly realise the advantages of getting in early and subsequently drive the market naturally up across each division. With the higher tier levels containing the most lower tier units they would naturally be the most coveted. That year you initially invested in could be worth quite a lot more than you paid for it if you held on to it because there will only initially be 2021 of them.

At present this is just at the idea stage. No business has been set up, no © formally registered. No securing of any trademarks and no website. This will only transpose to an actual thing if enough interest is shown.

I should set out a way to show how I envisage it would all work in principle, which would basically amount to these few rules shown below. Please note these are guide lines and have not been legally checked to ensure the correct phrasing so must be considered proposals at this time issued with good intent

  • It shall be known as Thyme [a working title for the purposes of this idea] or a similar name registered as a legal business and chosen to facilitate an easily discovered url where initial transactions take place, a name reserved for a future App if that is wanted and various social media sites
  • It must be a legal system. I do not want to create an underclass system that people are afraid to deal in. It should be transparent and open within reason yet subject to privacy plus any tax due on any gains must be paid by the seller
  • Any investment can be a risk and no recompense will be made due to not meeting expectations of performance. Caveat emptor
  • Thyme units shall be known as Years, for the top tier, then Days and Hours. The subdivision of which would match common understanding, i.e. a Year would consist of 365 Days or 366 in the case of a leap Year and a Day would be 24 Hours
  • The common place to go to check values and to confirm ownership, would be the Thyme url, initially maintained by me or the company I form to administer this, subsequently known as the Top Level Administrator and would have sole ownership rights of and control over issue or sale of the original top level Year time periods
  • Year zero or any negative year such as 1 BCE will never be issued which would ensure a limited supply of time units available
  • The minimal divisible unit will initially be the Hour, again to limit the supply of units available
  • Thyme units shall be fixed and only be traded whole or broken into their constituent parts. For example if you own a Day it can be traded whole with another person but once part of that Day, i.e. an Hour, is sold then it becomes a collective number of the Hours remaining, no longer a Day
  • Thyme units can be collated to form larger values only if the specific Thyme unit values are concurrent. For example you could purchase 24 separate Hours from up to 24 different sources but that will not become a Day unless each of those Hours are consecutive from the same day
  • There is no maximum or minimal value limit on any unit of Thyme
  • The value of any one unit at any given level shall not automatically alter the value of any other units of the same or any other level. This is a purely market driven system
  • There is no maximum limit to how many units of Thyme of any level that can be held by any individual, group of individuals or businesses
  • Administration costs at the year level will be borne by the Top Level Administrator. There shall be no fee in addition to the sell price for purchasing any original Year unit transaction. However, subsequent transactions of any Years will attract a 1% of traded value commission fee or a minimum of £10, whichever is greater, plus relevant taxes payable to the Top Level Administrator to cover database maintenance costs
  • Administration costs at the lower tier levels such as individual Years or Days will be borne by the original purchaser, who shall become a Level Admimistrator and they must be administered in accordance with the way described directly above. At the discretion of the Level Administrator similar updating fees may be applied on an individual basis. Any Year or Day Level Administrator should choose and declare such processing fees, as has been done in the paragraph above, in advance of selling
  • Owners of Hours are not Level Administrators
  • Level Administrators shall be responsible for maintaining accurate records of their units and subsequent sales until such time as they are fully dispersed of and then must maintain their transaction records for a minimum of seven years afterwards. This way buyers will only trust sellers if clear and accurate, historically traceable information is available
  • Subsequent years from year 2022 onwards will only become included in the system as they occur at 00:00 on 1st January of each year and shall immediately become owned by the Top Level Administrator. They can then be sold, gifted or broken into constituent Thyme parts at the discretion of the Top Level Administrator at the time of his choosing and in the manner in which he shall decide
  • The value of any Thyme unit and when it will be available will be soley market driven, either set by the seller and subsequently accepted or auctioned however-so the seller wished it to occur. For example, I, as the Top Level Administrator, shall decide when I will issue my Thyme Years for sale and at what price. As a result each buyer can then choose what their subsequent sell price is and when to sell
  • Ownership changes should be reported back to the Level Administrator for the particular unit level for verification to ensure records of ownership can be maintained

So how do I propose administration should work? As stated earlier my skills are not rounded enough to run a fully safe encrypted database, which would be needed if this took off due to its potential value and susceptibility to interference by computer savvy near do wells. So I have come up with a neat solution to recording legitimate ownership using readily available equipment which anyone could use. I will simply hand write the data down then scan it to distribute as a record, subject to data protection limitations.

I recognise your first thought may be that this method is fallible. After all scans can be manipulated by photo editing software. But this is the solution, the scan would be an oversized image with the scan data resting on a unique background, for instance a random newspaper sheet, then cropped to fit thus hiding the background. If there were any subsequent disputes in the data record the Level Administrator would be able to cross reference any disputed scans with the original.

The scanning idea came from the fact that when I scan a document with my smart phone it photographs the general area then automatically zooms in on the document. All very smart but never quite perfect. If I save it unedited the over scan may include some of the table I have placed it on and possibly my feet. Actually, usually, my overhanging belly but this is a detail you didn't need to know and I really must fix. I can correct the zoom more perfectly myself by dragging the scan perimeters more precisely and save it in a more cropped way but the original still retains the outermost details. This is the security needed to verify originality. In fact it is a common way of identifying expensive art copies. If a good fake is painted it can be made to look very much like the original but it would not have the same details that are wrapped around the framing rails and hidden by the outer frame.

Obviously there are other things that would need to be addressed such as data privacy issues but full legal compliance would be set in place to take care of this.

So are you interested? If so what are you going to offer me for a year of my Thyme? And which years would you choose to buy? Hint, leap years may be fractionally more valuable. And in case you are wondering I am keeping year one, my birth year and the year 2021 for myself, plus a handful of significant date years. See, the supply limitation is already happening so helping drive the value up.

I welcome any comments you have and if you wish to get this thing off the ground with me please make contact. If there is sufficient interest I'll update on this website first as soon as I set it up. So it could be a wise move for you to keep checking back for future updates

Why not take the Thyme and get onboard now?

Related Links

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.320 1 Feb 2021