MV Tamworth

August 8th, 2013

During the Xmas holidays a couple of lucky coincidences triggered a flood of nostalgic memories from my teens… 

Whilst idly browsing the web for photos of my home town Tamworth ( Staffordshire UK ), I stumbled by pure chance across an eBay auction for this photo which it listed as

“UK Cargo Ship – Tamworth”.

Searching Google for ‘Ship + Tamworth’ led me to another eBay listing, this time for a commemorative plate that had gone unsold a couple of months before in the United States.


Thankfully the listing of the plate had included several close up photos and a very complete description – which my Googling now found. 

Although it was no longer for sale on eBay, a quick email to the seller determined that she still owned it and was willing to relist it for me after the holidays, suddenly I had an urge to buy that plate! 

So, why my sudden interest in an old photo and a commemorative plate?


Because in January of 1976 I left school to work as a Marine Engineer Cadet for the tramp shipping company RS Dalgliesh Ltd based in the Watergate Buildings, Newcastle on Tyne.


Yes, that blue flag with the red D was the houseflag for the Dalgliesh line for seventy years between 1906 and 1976.

RS Dalgliesh Ltd and its sister company the Watergate Steamship Company Ltd (which was setup in December 1917 shortly after the original three ships Kenilworth, Haworth and Wentworth became losses to the First World War) ran a fleet of tramp cargo vessels, all with names ending in “worth”.

The MV Tamworth (6822266) shown was the second of the Dalgliesh ships to carry the name.

The plate seems to commemorate the Tamworth’s launch in 1968 but also intriguing is the route it depicts from Newcastle on Tyne to Churchill a town on the shore of the Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Canada. This was the route of an annual ice-race with the prestigious prize of a cane walking stick going to the master of the first cargo ship to make it into Port Churchill after summer warming caused the pack ice to recede far enough to permit navigation of the North West Passage.

The Warkworth was a regular winner and I know the Tamworth was first to get through in 1971. We encountered a little ice on the Oakworth in 1978 it was certainly quite an experience, the crunching noise and slight shudder of the ship as it pushed through the ice is something you remember.  I was told at the time that the bow had been specially strengthened, but that may have been just to reassure a very nervous raw cadet. 

I recall how bitterly cold it was, on one occasion when I dropped a spanner it froze to the ice covering the deck plate – I had to go back down to the engine room for more tools to break it free!

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