The Book

1936 - Mallory is the captain of a tramp ship. Up to his eyes in hock he takes his ship 'Aspatria' anywhere he can to make a quick buck. Crewed by reprobates like Macpherson the homicidal Gorbals bosun, Auntie Joan the transvestite third engineer and "Fingers" Nestorowicz the digit-deprived Polish cook in carpet slippers, the ship oil slicks its way around the salubrious coasts of the world, getting into one hilarious scrape after another. Join our gallant captain and his sea mongrels for a ripping yarn of adventure and romance on the high seas.

Now available on AMAZON KINDLE Books

Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Black Maria - Post#14

Built on the Thames as the ROBIN in 1890, this ship is the oldest complete steamship in existence today.

She was designed for the Home Trade, meaning she was confined to operating on the coasts of Britain and Continental Europe between the limits of Brest in the West and the River Elbe in the East.

In 1900 she was sold to Spanish owners and renamed MARIA. She remained under the Spanish flag until 1974 - that's 74 years coasting around the various ports of Spain and France.

In 1936 MARIA was commandeered by the then Spanish Government and she was in Santander in August 1937 when that port was taken by General Franco's forces. Whether she was employed by them, or how, is not known. We do know, however, that by 1938 she was back trading again for her former owners, Perez & Cia. It is therefore possible that she may have been used for secret Spanish civil war work and it is also a possibility that she may have passed Mallory and his vessel Aspatria in Cadiz.

The Maria Story in Film

The ship has now been renovated and is once again known as ROBIN. The vessel is currently open as a museum in the London Docks close to where she was built 122 years earlier.

Masefield's 'Cargoes'
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus, Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores, With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amythysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack, Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

John Masefield, 1917

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