Ken Hardman recently "applied for redundancy" after 30 years at sea, mainly with Harrisons as an A.B. A prolific writer, he was won many prizes for his ston路es. Here are some of Ken's memories of his days with T & J.
"OF SAILING SHIPS; AND SEALING WAX" by Ken Hardman In the early 1940's, when I took my first faltering steps up a ship's gangway, it was considered a bit snide to be a Company's man. There was an abundance of ships, and the world was our oyster. So it wasn't until 1951 that I agreed to do two consecutive trips with Harrisons; I was a ripe old twenty-four and getting a little tired of long trips. Thus is stability born. My contemporaries thought me slightly addled, of course. "With Harrisons?" they would say, with expressions of incredulity. For it must be admitted that at that moment in time Thos. & Jas. didn't have a very enviable reputation. The tired old maxim of 'two of fat and one of lean' was in it's prime. When you saw some particularly thin lad down at the Pool, you would laughingly ask if he'd just done six months with Harrisons. All that was not without justification; I remember having porridge and half a kipper - not a whole one, but half- for breakfast. I suspect, indeed I know, that other Companies weren't much better at the time. A good job that food has never been very high on my agenda. Anyway, the Pool used to empty like an upturned bucket when the gaunt figure of Captain McBride appeared behind the counter, like the Grim Reaper. He was Harrisons Poolliasion man, about six foot four, with .a menacing air designed to strike terror into the hearts of coal-burning firemen. That, incidentally, was how I got my very first Harrison boat, a one-off job in 1945, during my years in the wilderness. It was at the old Pool in the Sailor's Home. When I had finished spinning around after the general exodus, a sepulchural voice said, "What's your rating, laddie?" Thus I became J.O.S. on the old coal-burning CUSTODIAN; an eight-month Canada-Cape-East Africa trip; Capt. Weatherall in command. After that joyous experience, I damn near left the sea, never mind Harrisons. There were more men down below than there were on deck on coal-burners, and the firemen's favourite recreation seemed to be knocking seven bells out of the sailors. We were tied up at Port Said, homeward bound, on King Farouk's birthday. All the locals had a compulsory holiday, s.s. CUSTODIAN, 5881 tons at Durban in 1946. She served Harrisons from 1928 to and the trimmers, full 1950 and was 5crapped in 1959 as the SIVA RANJITA. of genuine home-brewed Egyptian scotch, decided we should have a day off, too. We had just finished dressing ship overall -no mean feat on that one - and I was chipping the coaming off number three hatch, between the bridge and the galley. Three coal-smeared Yorkies lurched past me, bound for the bridge. 21
Published on Jul 4, 2011