Dunera at Tilbury in the early 1960’s
We sailed without any passengers from Tilbury (London) to Edinburgh in the Firth of Forth in Scotland, for a cruise of Scottish students to the Baltic.
Our first port of call was Kristiansand on the southern tip of Norway. I did miss the heat of the Mediterranean, even in May the outside temperature at night was cold. We arrived at 8.00 am and held a regatta for the students – think pirates again, but this time without the nuns.
At noon we sailed for Copenhagen, arriving at 8.00 am the following day.
I loved our visit to Copenhagen. As a cadet I scrounged a seat on the tour bus (free of course), so had to stay with the group to make sure I returned to the Dunera on time.
Found the above which is a 1965 advertising poster for the Tivoli Gardens.
The Tivoli Gardens was a ‘must’, over twenty acres of not just gardens, but also a giant fun fair and amusement park. It was opened in 1843 and is still going strong. I would have liked to stay longer, but the tour moved on to the Little Mermaid.
I was a little disappointed with the position of the mermaid, because I thought she would be in a park with great views across the water. It was difficult to take pictures of the statue without having the backdrop of cranes, warehouses and shipping industry. At the time I had a Kodak Brownie 127, which was a point and click, and you had to get the film developed, which cost money, so you were very careful as to what you photographed.
Things have changed, today (2019). She keeps losing her head, and when it is replaced it is not the same.
In 2014 (taken from the internet) she was still facing out to sea.
Instead of facing out to sea she is now facing the tourists, I took the above in 2018.
The power of tourism I suppose.
The statue is very close to the shore and as long you want a close-up you can zoom in & miss out the background of industry.
I remember a church that we visited, Church of Holman,
but the memory of the sailing ships hanging from the church’s ceiling has stayed with me over the years.
The picture is from the internet – but my memory has it that there were more than one hanging from the ceiling . . .but. . . . it was interesting to read of the link between the church and the sea.
The main part of a church is a nave, from the Latin navis, which means ship, and this has passed down to us as navy or naval. A Christian life is a journey with our Pilot (Jesus) helping us to navigate through life. The Danes have linked the sea and ships to Christ in a much stronger way than many other Christian countries and the hanging of ships in various churches brings this home.
The world council of churches uses a boat afloat on the sea of the world with the mast in the form of a cross as their symbol.
Prince Frederik & Princess Mary of Denmark latest twins were Christened in this church.
The white line across the picture is actually a row of white umbrellas along the fishing wharf.
The colourful Copenhagen buildings, which were ( & still are I think) restaurants and bars, and in 1965 some still had cannon balls embedded in the walls. They had been fired from Nelson’s ships during the battle of Copenhagen in 1801 in the Napoleonic war. There was a second battle of Copenhagen in 1807, but Nelson was killed in 1805 at Trafalgar.
Our next stop was Gdansk in Poland. In the late 18th century Poland was divided by the great powers, and in 1793 Prussia took Gdansk, and from 1871 became part of Germany, when Germany became a nation state.
After WW1 Poland was independent again it was decided that Gdansk should become a semi-independent city, which became known as Danzig. When Germany invaded, 1st September, 1939, they annexed Danzig.
In 1945 the city was captured by the Russians, which was when it became part of Poland.
Under the communist system Gdansk (as it was now known) became very important for their ship building industry.
When I arrived only twenty years after the end of WW2 in 1965, I found Gdansk to be a very dour place, giving off an impression of grey dull architecture and the feeling of a black and white photograph with little, if any, colour; so different from Copenhagen.
The Second World War was still a living memory for the Polish people, followed by Russian style communism, so staying alive, and keeping out of trouble was upper most in their minds rather than prettying up their buildings and streets. At that time it was a gaol sentence for anyone who wrote a negative article about the government.
A photograph off the internet to try and give the feeling of the place in 1965.
Aerial view of Gdansk (Danzig) in 1965 – photograph found on the internet.
Once again we cadets took part in the shore excursion, but we were really looking forward to the evening as we had plans.
In the evening, I and some of the ship’s officers who had visited Gdansk previously, took the opportunity of visiting a ‘night club’ called ‘George’s Place’. To us, the name didn’t seem to be all that exotic.
The club was in the basement of a warehouse. To get there we walked along a very quiet dimly lit street, which had a badly broken pavement, until we reached the entrance of George’s Place, which was a nondescript green door at the top of three grey concrete steps. The wall around the door was chipped red brick that seemed to have been there since the late 1800’s.
After knocking we were allowed to enter and followed the ‘doorman’ down a steep wooden stairway to the club.
The club was more restaurant than ‘night club’, with just a very small dance floor and a quartet of musicians playing American style music. We had our meal and where sitting around chatting to some local girls when one of the girls introduced us to a small group of uniformed Polish soldiers who were celebrating a birthday.
One of the soldiers stood and toasted us in vodka and black current juice. We had to return the toast, which was followed by a further toast to our Queen, Queen Elizabeth, and of course none of us knew who was in charge of Poland, so we toasted the Polish people, and the evening went on and on via toast after toast. I’ve never had this mix of vodka and black current juice since.
Among the local girls that we met that evening, one of them was named Helen and she was very attractive, and I took a shine to her. We danced and sang along with our new Polish friends and at the end of the evening Helen and I promised to write to each other.
Sometime later, when I was back in the UK, I received a letter from her asking why I never mentioned that I was in the Royal Navy Reserve, (RNR) because she had received a visit from the Polish (Russian?) security services. This bothered me, because I hadn’t even mentioned that I was in the RNR to anybody on the ship, and the only person who would possibly know about my link with the RNR would be the Captain of Dunera, because it was on my file, but I doubt that he would have mentioned this to anyone.
I wrote back that being a member of the RNR was not a secret, and the subject never arose during our chats. I never heard from her again.
The following morning we sailed for Gothenburg and arrived forty eight hours later.
At that time Gothenburg was a very quiet town and after the tour of the city with the students, three of us did our own tour, which was a giant flop.
The following morning we sailed for the Firth of Forth the cruise was over.
Photograph, which was taken in 1965, is from the internet.