Blue Funnel 'Middies'
Alfred Holt and Company, trading as Blue Funnel Line, was a major British shipping company that was founded in 1866 and operated merchant ships for 122 years. Blue Funnel Line (also known as Ocean Transport & Trading) was one of the four UK partners which formed Overseas Containers Limited in the 1960s (see 1837-1996: The Parent Companies).
Until the early 1980s Blue Funnel separately managed and manned the Liverpool Bay class container vessels which were operating on the Europe-Far East trade for OCL.
A number of ex-Blue Funnel staff had already been working ashore for OCL and they were joined by their sea staff colleagues in what then became P&O Containers after P&O SNCo bought the shares in OCL owned by Blue Funnel, British & Commonwealth, and Shaw Savill in the early/mid-1980s
A number of Blue Funnel ex-staff associations were set up after the company moved out of shipping, one of which was formed of former 'Middies' (midshipmen, known as cadets in P&O) who had served on the training ship M.V. Calchas. This was then extended to include the 'Middies' from the second training ship, Diomed. The late Len Holder (a past master of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners) and Alan Stimson (former curator of the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich) started what was to become a series of reunions in Liverpool from around 2003. Over the years the membership has broadened further to include other former Blue Funnel sea staff.
In 2019 the decision was taken to relocate the reunions to London, largely due to its convenience for the majority of attendees. HQS Wellington, the former Royal Navy WW2 warship and headquarters of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners moored on the Thames Embankment in the heart of the city was an obvious choice of venue..
Covid unfortunately prevented reunions in 2020 and 2021 but for 2022 the decision was taken to extend the invitation to the event to make it the gathering "The Blue Funnel Line - Middies and Friends Reunion".
Blue Funnel: Memories of the 1960s, 70s, & 80s - Michael Harrison, YouTube
Blue Funnel and beyond - Michael Harrison, YouTube
Blue Funnel, Ocean Nostalgia - Tom Inglis, YouTube
Other useful links
Blue Funnel Line Information Sheet - National Museums Liverpool
A History of Alfred Holt and Company - Société d'Archéologie et de Mémoire Maritime
The Blue Funnel Legend: A History of the Ocean Steam Ship Company, 1865-1973 - Malcolm Falkus, University of New England, NSW, Australia
Blue Funnel - Ian Coombe
Blue Funnel Line - Benjidog Historical Research Resources: The Allen Collection
Blue Funnel for Old Timers - Facebook (private group)