View Full Version : The Franconia

02-18-2010, 11:35 PM
http://img64.imageshack.us/img64/6493/tommyfranconia1957.jpg (http://img64.imageshack.us/i/tommyfranconia1957.jpg/)

A long shot but does anyone know the bloke in the front. My father-in-law, then 17, is in the background fixing his kecks. It was taken in 1959.

http://img519.imageshack.us/img519/9963/franconiashipscompany19.jpg (http://img519.imageshack.us/i/franconiashipscompany19.jpg/)

The ship's Company three years earlier in 1956.


captain kong
02-18-2010, 11:55 PM
I just missed being on that photo on the sports deck tween the funnel and the bridge of the old Franconia in the summer of 1956, I must have been in the `Pig`.
Three months later she went to the breakers in December 1956. The Captain sat behind the lifebouy in the centre was Captain Donald Murdo Maclean, DSO, RNR.
The other photo taken on the fore deck must have been taken the same year as she was well scrapped in 1959.
A happy ship.

brian daley
02-19-2010, 12:09 AM
Good pictures Ged, looking at the guy in the forefront of the picture ,he looks like a guy we called Snapshot. He was once the photographer on the Queen Elizabeth but drink had led him to being sacked from that position and he sailed as a Steward thereafter. Could be wrong ,but he looks a dead ringer,I sailed with him in '67 and saw some of his marvellous collection of photo's of the rich and famous,

captain kong
02-19-2010, 10:43 AM
Here is a painting of the old Franconia sailing up the Hudson past the Staue of Liberty, I have forgotten the artists name, The painting is on board the QE2
A few views of the old Franc. including her first world cruise in the 1920s passing through the Panama Canal and the last one where she is aground in the St Lawrence River on a trip to Montreal..

02-19-2010, 11:37 AM
Cheers. My pa-in-law seems to remember this chap working in the baker's room. I'll see if the nickname 'Snapshot' means anything to him. He said of course that he might not even be a scouser because staff/crew were taken on at Southampton I think he said.

brian daley
02-19-2010, 03:11 PM
A lot of great pictures there Brian,it is amazing how different she looks in the various paintings.

02-19-2010, 03:21 PM
Nice one guys.

02-24-2010, 09:20 PM
I sailed on the Franconia in 1956, from Southampton to New York. Later on, after I became a Liverpool FC fan, I discovered the ship's connection to Liverpool. Now I collect old photographs of the Franconia, especially those of her on the Mersey.

captain kong
02-24-2010, 09:30 PM

The Franconia built for Cunard in the early 1923. She was similar to the Scythia and Samaria, , she was meant for the Liverpool-New York trade, and also designed for cruising in the winter months. She was designed by Leslie Peskett, Cunard’s naval architect, built by John Brown & Co on the Clyde and launched on 21 October 1922 by Lady Royden, the wife of Sir Thomas Royden, chairman of Cunard. Her accommodation was regarded as being particularly fine: the first class smoking room being a reproduction of an English inn, complete with oak panelling and a brick inglenook fireplace.

She sailed on her maiden Voyage on 23 June 1923 from Liverpool to New York and she continued on this route during the summer months until the outbreak of war , Her maiden voyage was between Liverpool and New York on 23 June 1923 and she continued on this route during the summer months until the outbreak of war Her winters were spent on 133 day world cruises.
On 10 April 1926 she was involved in a collision leaving Shainghai harbour. While leaving her wharf she ran aground, her stern swinging around and hitting a Japanese cargo vessel and an Italian gunboat, the Libia. A buoy then became tangled in the Franconia’s propellers, sinking a lighter in the process and killing four members of its crew. I saw a phot of that event with the drowning men in the water alongside the Franconia.
In September 1939 she was requisitioned as a troopship and refitted at Liverpool. Her first convoy was to transport troops to Malta, but while travelling in convoy with the Alcantara and Empress of Australia the Franconia was involved in a collision with the Alcantara, As a result of this accident the Franconia had to undergo major repairs at Malta. Later, during the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from France, she was damaged by air raids while carrying 8,000 troops. For the rest of the war she continued as a trooper, travelling to India and the Middle East via Cape Town and taking part in the invasions of Madagascar, North Africa and Italy. A friend , who is no longer with us, was on the Franconia approaching Sycily for the invasion with troops, she was attacked by German bombers, A stick of six bombs exploded underneath her and he said the ship was lifted completely out of the water by the blasts. This damaged the engines and shafts, but she was able to carry on. In 1944 she carried American troops from New York to the Mediterranean. During her period of Government service she covered 319,784 miles and carried 189,239 troops.
The Franconia’s moment of wartime glory came in January 1945. The ‘Big Three’ - Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin - were to meet at Yalta on the Black Sea to discuss the shape of post-war Europe. The Franconia acted as the base for the British delegation, returning to Liverpool in March 1945.

After the end of the war, the Franconia, like many of the requisitioned vessels, continued in government service repatriating troops and prisoners of war. She returned to Cunard’s control in June 1948 and was sent to the Clyde for a nine-month reconditioning. On 2 June 1949 she resumed a passenger service, this time sailing from Liverpool to Quebec, and later Montreal, In 1956 she did the Liverpool New York run.
The Franconia’s withdrawal from service was announced in October 1956. He last sailing was on 3 November between Liverpool and New York and back again. The return voyage she broke down with mechanical faults and she was four days late when she reached Liverpool. She had been meant to carry troops to Suez, but the unreliability of her engines meant that she was withdrawn from this duty. She was sold to the British Steel & Iron Corporation and left Liverpool on 14 December 1956 to be scrapped at Inverkeithing.

I was on the Franconia in the summer of 1956, The Master was Captain Donald Murdo Maclean, DSO, RNR. later to become Master of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth as Commodore of Cunard. The Bosun was Nelson and Bosuns Mate was Charlie Chin.
The Franconia was a good job , plenty of money, with the overtime, and a good run to New York. A week across, a week in New York , a week across and a week in Liverpool.
I remember when a first class waiter dropped dead whilst serving passengers, us watch on deck had to go into the saloon and carry him out, the first class passengers rather disturbed at having their evening dinner disrupted.
We took him to the Medical Centre and the Doctor certified him dead then told us to take him to the cool room down below. We took the lift to the working alleyway then we had to use the stores lift which was four feet high and about four feet wide, so we folded him up in it and sent it down. Their were no fridges on the Franconia, the Chill room was full of blocks of ice and the meat was stowed on top of this also the vedge. He was naked and we laid him on top of the ice.
The following day the Doctor wanted him up in the Medical Centre to do a post mortem, so we had to go down to get him. He was frozen solid when we got there. We did nt like to touch him, he was icy cold like a marble statue. The Bosuns Mate said dont be so soft and then slid him off the ice and stood him up. So we had to get a hold of him, a bit gruesome. we got him to the stores lift and he was stiff so we had to struggle to get hin in, he was put diagonaly from the bottom corner to the opposite top corner we had to get Tommy Miller to get inside with him to get him position. Then the Bosuns Mate slammed the lift door on Tommy, and pressed the button for it to go up, then he pressed it again when it was between decks and stopped it. Tommy was screaming , he couldnt get out. The Bosuns Mate shouted Smoko and so we all went forard for a ciggy and a brew. Meanwhile in the lift which was against the engine room bulkhead was getting warm, it was dark in there and then the stiff started to move as it melted, Tommy was screaming in fear as this corpse started to move against him in the dark, he was demented.
When we returned the screams were terrible, The button was pressed and the lift arrived in the working alleyway and Tommy was there with the corpse lying on top of him. I have never seen so much fear in a mans eyes as then. we Lifted the corpse of him and put him on a trolley and Tommy was told to go and have a smoko. Tommy went straight into the Pig and got himself bevied and 52 years later Tommy is still bevied.
The dead Steward was carried ashore at the Landing Stage in Liverpool and into an Undertakers van.
On the next trip homeward bound again a very large American female passenger died, she must have weighed about twenty stones. The night before we arrived in Liverpool, Paddy Dirkin and I had to take the coffin forard to the crew gangway shell doors ready for taking ashore when we docked. Paddy and I had had a few drinks before we did this and she was so heavy we couldnt carry her so we were dragging the coffin, which was only a rough box lined with cotton wool, with a rope. we stopped half way along and sat down on the coffin for a ciggy. Paddy told me that I had fallen asleep on top of the coffin. he had to wake me so we could carry on forard. Next day alongside the Stage, Paddy, Johnny Golbourne and I dragged the heavy coffin down the crew gangway and with the Undertaker lifted it into his van.
We were tied up in Huskisson Dock when we had to shift ship astern, we were on the fore deck heaving on the back spring , this came in through a lead across the deck then round the `old man`, an iron column with a cast iron roller lead on top, about four feet high, the rope then went to the drum end on the winch. George Waldren, one of Cunards shore gang was stood by the rails when the `Old man` snapped off at the deck, he was in the line of what was a great catapult, the `old man` flew across the deck and hit George full on and smashed him against the rails crushing him. It took six of us to lift the `old man ` off him, He was in an extremely bad way. He was taken to hospital and died six weeks later. Very sad. He was 46 years old and had four children.

New York was always a good run ashore, The beer, Wrexham Lager, in the Pig on the Franconia was an old 8 pence a pint, that was 30 pints for one pound. the Pig on the Franconia closed at 8 pm in New York, so we supped up and went down the gangway across the shed and up the gangway of the Queen Mary or Queen Elizabeth and carried on there in the Crew Pig, they didnt close until 10pm., then we would go ashore to the Market Diner across the road.on the corner of 52nd Street and 12th Avenue. The beer there was 10 cents a glass so we got ten glasses for a dollar. about twenty five to the pound. At those prices ale was cheap. Some times we go up to Broadway and do the clubs, Tommy Dorsey`s Orchestra was always on there, always full, and a good night was to be had. There was good shopping there, Nylon stocking for the girls back home were cheap, Dupont Nylon, 15 denier, Always had a pocket full and at home in the Locarno dance hall, throw a couple of packets around and the girls would be screaming after me. We bought our suits from the Salvation Army store on 8th Avenue and I had a beautiful pure silk midnightn blue drape suit with the bullet holes in the back sewn up by my Mother. $10, the suits and shirts were got from the City morgue so they were very cheap, I looked a million dollars in that suit, with a mid Atlantic, We were Cunard Yanks and the girls back home couldnt get enough of. us. Records were good swag int hose days, In the States they came out 12 months before you could get them in England due to a musicians strike. So they were always in demand for the most popular artistes and always made a few bob out of them. They were good days, Another good thing was the washing machines and fridges from the Salvation Army store, they were about 5 to 10 dollars each, the ship was full of them all in the working alleyway lashed to the bulkhead hand rails and on B Deck Square where our accommodation was. At the Stage in Liverpool, Daley`s big van would deliver them for five shillings. A few of the Stewards on big money would buy second hand cars. Big Yankee ones with tail fins, Buicks, Dodges, Chryselers and so on. they sold them cheap in a Dock yard around 33rd Street. Cars that had been pounded by the cops for parking violations and so on were sold cheep every weekend, they still do it today, I was in New York in April this year and the yard was still there full of cars waiting to be sold.
Cunard allowed them to carry the cars home, without insurance, if we loaded and unloaded them ourselves. So the Stewards would drive to the Pier 92 and pay us a handful of dollars to rig the derricks and load them and stow them on the hatch on B Deck square lash them down and pay us again to do it at the Stage in Liverpool where they would drive them home. A lot of those Stewards were like millionaires, there were all kinds of rackets going big money could be made mostly from the dropsies from the Bloods. We could make a load of dollars from washing up and polishing glasses in the passenger bars, paid for by the cocktail bar tenders.
In the Pig there were all kinds of gaming machines, Roulette, Cock and Hen Boards, Crown and Anchor Boards, Crap games, and so on, with big time Poker schools that lasted for days, with men being paid to do the players work and also to fetch coffee and sandwiches. pots going for thousands of dollars. A lot of wealthy passengers including movie stars would come down to the Pig for the gambling. There were no casinos allowed on ships in those days it was illegal under United States Laws.
All good things have to come to an end, I was in the Pig having a pint with Joe Finnegan when I should have been on look out up the crows nest, the Masters at Arms dragged me up on the Bridge and Captain Maclean had me logged and sacked. Three months later the Franconia was taken out of service and taken to the breakers in December 1956.

02-24-2010, 10:08 PM
A fitting tribute to a fine, old ship. Great story there, Cap'n.

04-13-2010, 05:11 AM
I sailed on the final journey the Franconia made from New York to Liverpool as a 10 year old girl. I remember the journey took a lot longer than normal. I also remember there was a funeral onboard and the body buried at sea. There was also a lot of mechanical problems. If I remember rightly the engines went and also the steering. The ship eventually got towed into Liverpool and I also remember there were quite a few photographers taking pictures and my familys photo was in the Echo.

Margaret Mackay
05-27-2010, 01:03 PM
How do I find the passenger list for the RMS Franconia? My father came to Canada on this ship at the age of 15.


05-27-2010, 01:12 PM
Got 48,type in Google RMS Franconia passenger list 1949/1950 and see where it get you?


05-27-2010, 01:21 PM
You could try this?


08-05-2010, 10:51 PM
New site user so be patient

I have obtained a photograph of the boat deck of the Franconia which says:

This photograph was taken during a Cinema presentation on the boat deck, at which the sum of 9 14 0 was collected towards the fund organised for the relatives of our lately deceased shipmates.

Can anyone shed any light on the content?, (see attached photo)

I am originally from Wallasey and my family have a history of naval service both Merchant and RN. My father John "Jacky" Neil was inMerchant service in the war 1939 - 1946 and I have his continuous certificate of discharge.

His brother James Francis Neil was alledgedly lost at sea but I have not been able to find any records of this to verify. Any suggestions most welcome

Chris Neil c.neil59@btinternet.com

tess tickle
08-05-2010, 11:21 PM
I am loving this thread, all the old pics and tales, my dad was a merchant seaman and would tell us of his travels when we were kids, sadly though my memory is really shot and i cant recall most of them, apart from him bringing back monkeys and parrots and stuff, and teasets from india and places, my dad was born in 39 and went to sea when he was 17 about 1955, i wish i could ask him about his seafaring days now that im older and more interested but he sadly passed away in 2003

so thanks for this thread i will be keeping an eye on it to see more briliant pictures and to read others stories

08-06-2010, 01:06 AM
New site user so be patient

I have obtained a photograph of the boat deck of the Franconia which says:

This photograph was taken during a Cinema presentation on the boat deck, at which the sum of 9 14 0 was collected towards the fund organised for the relatives of our lately deceased shipmates.

Can anyone shed any light on the content?, (see attached photo)

I am originally from Wallasey and my family have a history of naval service both Merchant and RN. My father John "Jacky" Neil was inMerchant service in the war 1939 - 1946 and I have his continuous certificate of discharge.

His brother James Francis Neil was alledgedly lost at sea but I have not been able to find any records of this to verify. Any suggestions most welcome

Chris Neil c.neil59@btinternet.com

Was James in the M.N. or the R.N. when he was lost? If it was R.N.he should be on the Commonwealth War Graves site. Try this link.


08-09-2010, 11:56 PM
Can anyone shed any light on the content?, (see attached photo) in earlier post re the Franconia please

WSteve; I have no idea if he was RN/MN and if the story of him being lost at sea is correct as I only have that as a memory from my late father who died in 76. That seems to be the story across the family but I wouldn't be surprised if he jumped ship somewhere.

08-11-2010, 12:26 AM
Hi Chris,there's a couple of J.Neils,merchant,and Royal navy on the Commonwealth war graves site!Any other details at all?