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Ship and Dock Photos by Peter Tambling

March 2010 (updated 29 November 2012): Peter Tambling, Cdr RD* and Master Mariner, Retired Port Manager and Harbour Master Weymouth.
Steam pilot boats and dredgers, and the Passat 1948 onwards.
Bristol Sand and Gravel are rarely mentioned in historical records as they were the pioneers of Sand Dredging 1912 as start of their operations under Mr. Fred. Peter’s ownership. At the 1996 festival of the sea in Bristol when he was in command of Waverley, he flew the BS and G House Flag on Waverley’s anchor halyard.

March 2010: Peter Tambling, Cdr RD* & Master Mariner, Retired Port Manager & Harbour Master Weymouth.

Tambling lifeboatAge 15 Sailing his converted Lifeboat which came from the steam Bristol Pilot vessel “Queen Mother” which was broken up in the Parish Wharf end of the dock by John Coward Ltd in 1951, and cost all of £10! He converted it for sailing. Passenger is mr Nobby Clark who lived on a houseboat in the Dock along with Skipper Kealing who lived aboard his Tin-Tub “TT”
Collier is “St Vincent” discharging coal. Taken in Portishead Dock.1951
Tambling Pluto modelMy model of Bristol Steam Navigation Co’s Pluto.
Tambling ship modelsThis shows my exhibit at the Weymouth Pavilion for the Model Boating weekend organised by Barry Stevens (Editor Ship Modeling International)Chichester Cross/Bowcross, Dunkerton, A C.J.King tug,with other models of Balmoral, Bristol Queen, coasters and a collection of mini models representing every Class of Ship that I served on, being listed in my Seaman’s Discharge Book R589281.The mini collection has been given to the Hon. Company of Master Mariners in London. The HCMM gave my eldest son a Presentation to Christ’s Hospital School where he not only gained 15x Os & As but also an ARCO. On leaving he took up an Deputy Organist’s Position at Canterbury Cathedral prior to taking up the Organ Scholars position with St Peters Oxford. He was also appointed Director of Music at Pusey House (Theological College and sang Tenor in Christchurch Cathedral Choir. Graduating with an FRCO and 2.1 Music he moved briefly to teach at Sedburgh before joining Glenalmond School in Scotland at 23 ,being the youngest ever Director of Music in a UK Public School. He was the Perth City Organist for 8 years before taking up his current Directorship of Music at Downside Abbey School in Somerset. He is a prolific composer whose organ and choral works are sung all over the world. His eldest lad has copied his father into the Organ Loft Oxford. 1st Hons Music Organ Scholarships at both Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey and currently Organist at Dartford Parish Church and Free Lancing for Weddings etc all over London. Christopher’s youngest lad is about to commence a Choral Lay Clerk position at Wells Cathedral, so both grandsons have sung in that fantastic choir. Am I a proud person?
Queen MotherParish Wharf Portishead with a steamer discharging timber, and the old steam Bristol Pilot Cutter “Queen Mother” awaiting scrap 1951. William Holmes (Clifton College with me 1944 -50) on Queen Mother in Portishead Parish Wharf.
CamitoI found the attached shot of Elders & Fyffes “Camito” (Capt. R.W.Lundy) blowing her whistle when passing Portishead Point in 1958.
This was a pre-arranged salute to Jimmy Lowther (Tratman & Lowther Ltd.) and my father who took the shot.
Sir Robert Wall and Commander Tom FodenSir Robert Wall OBE (1919-2009 was a prominent Bristol politician, serving on the City Council for over 42 years. He was highly influential in ensuring that ss Great Britain returned to her Bristol birthplace when she was salvaged from the Falkland Islands in 1970. He also belonged to the Paddleboat Preservation Socety and wrote several books on maritime history. He was a leading aerospace engineer and a recognised expert on maritime history)
Commander Tom Foden (1916-2006 Bristol Channel Agent for the world famous paddle steamer PS Waverley and her consort, the Bristol registered MV Balmoral, for 40 years and finally retired on his 90th birthday.) sitting together on the Waverley
Bristol City CentreThe start of the alternative use for disused dock areas? 1953 Bristol City Centre. Gardens and crown for Coronation festivities.
Taken by my father ETS Tambling from Jimmy Lowther’s Office window at Tratman & Lowther Ltd.. Note the No.2 Bus for Zetland Road together with a selection of now “Classic Cars”!
St VincentSt Vincent ashore at Blacknore. This was just below my bungalow at Beechwood Road Portishead. I heard her crash from my bedroom on the Nore Road a mile away in thick fog. No doubt if you dig around the site you will uncover a considerable amount of coal!
Sea AlarmSteam in Avonmouth. Tugs C.J.King’s Sea Alarm and Bristolian working with Fyffes Sulaco and Samala laid up on North Wall R.E.Docks .1959
Hospital ship1944. Hospital Ship Oranje passing our house inwards for Avonmouth. A poor shot on ?wartime film taken by my father E.T.S.Tambling from his bedroom window!
This was published in a nautical magazine two years ago, and resulted in a letter from a Dutch Seaman who was aboard at the time.
loading Ford ZodiacLoading a passenger’s car (Ford Zodiac) for shipment to West Africa on S.S.Tetela (Fyffes) in Avonmouth 1967
SneydSneyd: The first steamer that I sailed on as a 10 year old Clifton College schoolboy in 1946 from Portishead , after the local Dockmaster had placed me aboard for the day trip. Those were happy days.
Sneyd,Rockleaze and Salcombe were owned by Osborne & Wallis and part of their fleet which supplied the 2 power stations with Coal from S Wales ports
SalcombeSalcombe passing Rockleaze in Portishead dock with ex Union- Castle Line steam tender Falcon alongside. Here are 2 of Osborn & Wallis’s colliers in Portishead Dock with the new “Portishead B” Power station under construction.Salcombe is passing Rockleaze and lying alongside is the ex Union-Castle steam tender Falcon from Southampton. She was purchased by Mr Bertie Bidgood who was a member of the Portishead Sailing Club. She did not last long as she came to grief at Ilfracombe. The engine telegraphs failed when arriving in the inner harbour at at ‘Combe. She ran too far up the beach!. Something must have been strained as when leaving the area, a main steam pipe broke off Bull Point and she sank.
Harry Brown Arco1988 Arco Taw with Harry Brown at Pool’s Wharf. (Taken during the construction of Weymouth’s Pilotboat “Melwey” at Abel’s yard.)
Stalhiem discharging wood pulp by Prince Street bridge
steam winchDunkerton’s” Steam Winch/capstan aft. This worked well until the holding down bolts broke, and the Spanish Seaman had to stand on it surrounded by clouds of steam.
If I called for him to heave away aft, he responded by shouting that he had no steam to drive his capstan!!!!!!!
VikingHere is another laugh.
Study those climbing “VIKING’S rigging in Sharpness.
You will observe several trilby hats! This was not “Crew” but visitors on an Open Day in 1938!
HSE/MCA ???????? !
Taken by a cousin of my Mother Mr W. Yeomans of Mardons
OrbitaSkipper Kealing’s converted lifeboat from “ORBITA” (Broken up at Newport Mon.) This was taken off the Parish Wharf at Portishead. The concrete barge eventually found its way to moor above Bristol Bridge as HQ for the local Sea cadets. In Portishead it was used as a floating workshop for the Portishead sailing Club.Shown here are some of Osborn & Wallis’s fleet in dock as the Albright & Wilson factory was being constructed.Standing on the barge is William Holmes who was responsible for my starting many years of ship modeling. We used to use the local sand dredgers for trips all over the upper reaches of the Bristol Channel, as well as riding aboard many tugs.How life has changed?.
RockleazeOsborn & Wallis’s “Rockleaze” passing Portishead Point 1948.
PerterstonLoading sand on “Perterston” 1964. (When I was an AB with a Master’s Foreign Going Certificate.)
Kathleen and May1948 Schooner Kathleen & May passing Portishead Point after leaving Avonmouth on first lock with a cereal cargo. She is still around.
PorlockTaken by me when aged 11 using a Brownie Box camera from my bedroom window. It shows T.R.Brown’s “HRB” sitting across the local sewer pipe in Kilkenny Bay (Portishead) after HRB tried to come inside the tide rip when towing barge “Porlock”. This print was actually shown to the skipper of HRB when William Holmes and I were waiting on Cumberland Lock for a tug trip down the river to Avonmouth on “Perran” (The things 2 crazy Clifton College Schoolboys used to do during school holidays- No MCA or HSE in those days and Skipper Jim Hardyman used to show us around the whole dock system, before we were always stopped at the Dock Gate by a Policeman when coming out with our bicycles. Searches of 2 school satchels always showed half eaten sandwiches and no STOLEN Bananas. We were always asked just how we got into the docks and although tug Perran passed the Control Point at least 3 times a day, our inquisitive copper never knew what Perran was!!!!! I showed this to her Skipper later and will not repeat his comments!
ColstonOsborn & Wallis’s M.V.COLSTON arriving Portishead Pier. 1956
>MatinaThis was “Matina” (Elders & Fyffes) leaving the RE Lock at Avonmouth in 1957. One of Charlie Hills Bristol City Line awaits our clearance with Tug Merimac towing.
CraneLooking through files now and found this shot of “Crane” arriving inside Cumberland Basin at High Water Spring tide with “Camerton” leaving the lock. Must have been around 18:00 as I was the “Rope Man” when serving aboard her as one of the Able Seamen (with my Master’s foreign Going Certificate) 1963.
CraneMoss Hutchisson’s General Steam (GSNC) motor vessel “Crane” arriving from Bordeaux with a cargo of sherry for Harvey’s, and Bristol sand & gravel’s “Camerton” arriving with Sand for the Bristol Sand & Gravel berth in Redcliff Street and just clearing the lock. 1964
High tide with Stop Gates on and tide over quayside. We had to wait for the Spring Tide to drop and the Stop Gates before moving through the top Lock. 1964
Captain Alfred Bosworth was in command and I was one of Camerton’s Able Seamen, proudly in possession of a Master’s Foreign Going Certificate!!!! And her “Rope Man”!!!! Jumped ashore on the Level in the lower lock to cycle up to Redcliff Street, doing her ropes as required on the way!
Home every weekend as well!
Bristol QueenBristol Queen backing astern from Portishead Pier.1954
Black RocksHere is a classic, taken from Bristol Queen approaching Black Rocks with old steam train passing on route to Pill & Portishead. Taken 1956 when I was home to take my 2nd. Mates Certificate.
Last sailing of ‘Dunkerton’ from Bristol Sand & Gravel wharf Redcliffe Street Feb 3 1966
Last sailing Dunkerton
aldis lampHere is a shot taken from my first house in Portishead. £3249.0 in 1960 ! The Aldis lamp was in frequent use with passing colleagues to fix meeting times at a Public House. As most of us were in the process in obtaining Tickets, this was good practice or no drinks later! I have the lamp here today in Weymouth, but it is a rare sight to observe any visual signaling today, even by RN vessels.. Might cause a stir if it was used in the local National Coast Watch Look-out on Portland Bill !!
CamertonCamerton approaching the Roath Lock Cardiff.
The Camerton was built at Troon for the Bristol Sand & Gravel Co. This is after being sold to British Dredging at Cardiff in the colours of Bowles at Cardiff. I sailed out of Bristol as Able Seaman under Captain Alfy Bosworth, who taught me the River Avon inside-out smoking his pipe all the way.
SaltonSalton loading with steam and Edgar Williams AB When she sank, Edgar was first back aboard to rescue his private Bank from his cabin in the foc’sl.!!!!!
Captain George EvansCapt George Evans on Peterston.
What a character? Ex P.& A. Campbells. In fog his cap came down over his nose and streams of poetry spoken in a heavy Welsh accent flowed reducing all within the wheelhouse into fits of laughter!
Cumberland Lockclassic piece of steam history, taken from Salton sand dredger when entering the Cumberland Lock. Bristol as it used to be, when my Father was the Staff Manager at WD&HO Wills. 1948. It shows Steep Holm, Portway and Kerrymore. All in steam. I used to day ride on anything that I could get on thanks to one of the lockgate men (Bob ?). It might have been Perran, Benfleet , Sandholm or one of the Perry tugs from Bristol or Sneyd, Sallcombe, or Rockleaze from Portishead thanks to the Dockmaster Capt Davis.
Taken on my camera by Freddy Spikes of Salansons Photographic with a young PCT with hair under the bridge wing!
Sea GemKing’s TID Tug “Sea Gem” towing outwards from Cumberland Lock with Ashmead’s “Ashleigh” waiting on the Landing Stage at Hotwells. Taken 1948 from wheelhouse of Bristol Sand & Gravel’s “Salton” showing little room to pass. Today’s HSE would be shouting “Interaction -Interaction ……….!!!!!!!!! We never found problems in the river then , so why today?
Cumberland BasinHere is a shot of shipping waiting to sail from Cumberland Basin. The local Royal Navy Reserve training vessel HMS. “Venturer” is in the middle “messing about as usual” with a Dutch coaster alongside the North Wall with the bows of a Sloan Co. vessel just showing ? Orchy, Findhorn or Beauly? This must be about 1954/5.Taken from the No. 85 Bus to Portishead when stopped conveniently for my camera!
M1117 (Originally HMS Buttington) was not built until 1952 and served as RNR Tender HMS Venturer between 1954 & 1962.
Passat1948 Passat boarding queue at “S” shed R.E. Docks Avonmouth.
The last grain race. On the quay there is a lad wearing shorts in the queue. That is me! Taken by my father ETST. (Staff Manager WD&HO Wills.Bedminster)
DunkertonOn Dunkerton with Capt. Ron Gosson & Chief Engineer Walter Loring examining a sample taken from the last bucket of coal found aboard after running out of coal bunkers off Cardiff. We just made it back into the Roath Dock
MelweyPassing Hotwells landing stage in Pilot Boat “Melwey” 1988
BenfleetBenfleet at Parish Wharf awaiting scrapping.
This was F.W.Ashmead’s last steam tug used in bringing Tobacco barges up to the City Docks after transhipment at Avonmouth.
Perran and MedwayT.R.Brown’s “Perran” and “Medway” towing out of Portishead back in the 50s. (Both in steam). They used to bring grain barges over from Avonmouth for Baillie’s Mill.
Baillie’s Mill adjacent the original No.1 Power Station (Demolished to make way fro the second Oil powered Power Station) and all grain came in by barge traffic from Avonmouth. No sign of Royal Portbury here!
I used to ride on all 3 as ship-crazy school boy.
Little did I realise that when assisting in the firing of Paddle Steamer “Ravenswood”s boiler in 1946 during an afternoon trip around the English & Welsh Grounds Light Vessel, that one day I would be Chairman of the Wessex Branch of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society ! I have just given up this position after some 15 years.
EdithEdith beached in Pill creek.
Here is another picture of the final visit into Pill creek by a Severn Trow. She sprang a leak on her way down the River Avon on passage to Lydney for a coal cargo destined for the Feeder Road Power Station. Sorry but I cannot remember the date, but it was sometime in the late ’40s. She used to run along with “Denby” and “Nigel” & “Enid”.
I took this shot from Skipper Kealing’s “TinTub” or “TT”. I am not ashamed to admit as being one of his “Old-Boys”! In 1946 (Aged 10) I had launched my first flat bottomed dinghy into the water at the Parish Wharf in Portishead Docks. He took great pains to ensure my safety and taught me how to handle a boat —— even evading my paying Harbour Dues!
All good for a laugh as like ourselves they received trip money which meant taking risks! Happy days.
How well I remember one foggy interlude when stuck in Cumberland Basin on Peterston. Nigel had sailed out on the first locking into the river. We decided not to venture out due to the poor visibility. 2 hours after high water we heard a frantic sounding of a fog horn outside the lock gate. The Dockmaster was just about to go home and looked over the quayside to find “Nigel” asking to be locked back into the Basin. They thought they had arrived off the old Lock at Avonmouth, and must have turned around in the fog with nil visibility and of course no radar in the river !!!!!
Albright and WilsonFound this one taken by my father of the construction of Albright & Wilson’s Berth in Portishead Dock 1953. ETS Tambling also photographed the construction of the Portishead B Power Station. Dad had the contract to photograph all construction works for Simon Carves Construction Ltd.
Portishead phosphorusThis is one of my father’s photographic records taken during the construction of the Albright & Wilson factory at Portishead. He also had another contract with CJ Brand Ltd. who built the No.2 CGB Power Station on the other side of the dock. Dad had a contract to make a photographic record of the construction of both this Phosphorus site and the No.2 Power Station.
This shows the remains of Bailey’s Mill, the old Railway Booking Hall which became the Masonic base in Portishead, and the two pylons. I remember my father shouting to lie down in the middle of the Runner Beans at our allotment as a damaged German fighter flew VERY LOW over our heads before the pilot managed to fly the machine at right angles to the ground between these pylons before landing in the mud off the pier. He was rescued by the PBA. Charge Engineer (Ivor Richards) using planks across the mud. He never returned home but married locally to the lady who ran the Pub at Portbury.
Albright WilsonAllbright and Wilson, Portishead Sept 1954. Just how my father managed to take this is today’s mystery! Somewhere there is a shot taken from a bucket hanging from a crane over the top of the Silos before the top was constructed. Simon Carves Ltd wanted a picture showing the base discharge holes which had lights fixed to highlight their construction which was an American idea. Once the cementing had started, it did not stop until the 8 Silos were finished!
Albright WilsonAlbright Wilson
Albright WilsonM.V.”Arthur Albright” in discharging Phosphates into the Albright & Wilson factory in Portishead Docks. Cargoes came from Tampa in Florida and this vessel was specially constructed for the Portishead run.Another of Dad’s shots, but shows commercial activity taking place and must have been taken around 1962.Milt Bell of Brunswick Georgia…..USA writes that the ARTHUR ALBRIGHT only loaded phosphate in Tampa, Fl on very rare occasions………….. Most of the time she loaded at Port Boca Grande, Fl where my father was Load Master and Harbor Master. My history and connections with this ship go back to 1962 when I was just 11 years of age. I have many stories about crewmembers and about incidents involving this ship including an event on New Years Eve day of 1965 when she suffered a devastating engineroom explosion which he witnessed standing less than 3 meters from the ship.I am a member of the Boca Grande Historical Society and am one of only four people still living who knows the REAL history of Port Boca Grande which unfortunately has gone the same way as Portishead.
Power StationPortishead B Power Station 1956. This gives a good idea of the site on which some 3000 house now stand. The cooling water inlets had strainers fitted, which due to the assistance of the late Cdr Ronald Dickenson who was the site CGB manager was able to produce considerable quantities of fresh Salmon!!!
Baron VarboroughDad had no fear of heights! Baron Varborough from top of one of the new Power Station Chimneys. S.S.Baron Varborough ( Hogarth Steamship) discharging Phosphates at Portishead. Not sure of date.
John King BristolianI have had a request to copy you any copies of C.J.King’s Tugs working,
These photos were taken back in 1948 as part of a Clifton College Scrap Book project during one summer holiday. needless to say my effort was ALL connected with shipping, being a shade battered today after much use!
This is Bristolian towing at Avonmouth in 1948
John King Bristolian MerimacThis was John King tugs Bristolian and Merimac towing the Brazilian “LIODE HAITI” into the R.E.Lock at Avonmouth 1948. Hobblers in a boat with a Fairplay tug in background
John KingThis is “John King” at speed taken from the back of the old Banana berth in the Old Dock in 1948 Using a Box Brownie camera as Dad said the 120 film cost too much money!
John King MerimacMerimac towing inside the R.E.Dock Avonmouth 1948 Note the Fairplay Tug in the background!.