The Southern Venturer and Southern Harvester.

The Southern Harvester and Southern Venturer whaling ships built at Haverton Hill shipyard by North Eastern Marine and owned by Chris Salveson & Co.Ltd. (We are aware that these vessels were wrongly named from the outset, thanks to those who brought this to our attention, but to maintain consistency with the comments received on the subject we have kept the original headings)

122 thoughts on “The Southern Venturer and Southern Harvester.

  1. My dad is Billy Scott who sailed on the Southern Venturer. If Robert Dodds or anyone else would like to contact him, you can leave a message on here for me. He would really like to be in touch with people to talk about his whaling days. Thank you.

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  2. I liked the comment about ivory penguins etc. We loved going to my nana and grandpa’s as we loved the penguins. He had a brass hand made model of a harpoon gun, a carved ivory image of the Southern Venture and a large seal skin on the wall. I’ve a book about the island of St Albans about its history etc. My father had all his log books and passage documents etc. But these are sadly gone. But what a wonderful life he lead. He was seconded on the Arctic convoys during WW2.

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  3. My grandfather Mr William Alan Dobbs was electrical engineer on the Venturer. Also he was chief engineer during the building of the whaling station on South Georgia, which was instrumental in the start of the Falklands war.

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  4. My father worked on the Harvester as did my uncle. My father’s name was Arthur McCulloch from Airdrie and Uncle Davy Ramsey from Edinburgh.
    I was on the ship when I was 5 years old at Tilbury docks I was signed on as cabin boy to get on board… Gordon McCulloch.

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  5. My Dad, Thomas Cook, from Dundee was on both the Southern Venturer and the Southern Harvester. He shared many of his adventures of the Antarctica with us as children. we grew up with Whales teeth carved into Penguins sitting on the mantel! 🙂
    He spoke often of a fellow named “Chunky”…because he worked in the kitchen or stock room and used to eat tins of pineapple chunks. He was great pals with a fellow from Norway, Olav Kirkeburg, he actually went home with him for a holiday and met his family. Olav’s son and I were in touch a few years back and he sent me a disc of all the photos his father had from his whaling days and my father was in a couple..such a treasure.
    As a child bedtime stories were not about castles and princesses..they were always about Penguins, Whales, Ships and the Antarctica..Best Stories ever!

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    • My great uncle was the captain of the vessel, Captain Sinclair Begg. His house in Leith was full of whaling memorabilia, loved it as a child and all his stories.

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      • Catriona, if you scroll right down this page you will find several old messages about Sinclair Begg and his brother John, posted by relatives and others who sailed under him.

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      • Hi Catriona, Captain Sinclair Begg was also my great uncle he was the brother of my grandmother Elizabeth Begg both from Scarfskerry. Did he ever tell you the story about the eskimo ancestor?

        Reg

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  6. For anyone that is interested in the whaling industry in the South Atlantic there is a new play which will be at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year (2015) from the 7th of August. The play is called “A Cinema in South Georgia” and is set in 1959. There is a Facebook page where you can find out more information.

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  7. Hi. Does anyone have any information/images/anecdotes of the Salvesen (Polar Whaling Co.Ltd) station at Hawke Harbour, Labrador (1938-1951). If used in a forthcoming book on Newfoundland and Labrador whaling, full credit will be given. NB. I worked at Grytviken/KEP/South Georgia in 1963-64 as Sealing Inspector-Biologist. Thanks..

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  8. my dad was in south Georgia in the early 50s he was an engineer on the southern harvester and was in south Georgia when prince philip visited-he has good photo of him-he was also the drummer in a band called the “pig street stompers” in south georgia -his name was bill bannister-he took and developed a lot of photographs-he loved his camera-anyone remember him?

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  9. Just watched a programme on the BBC about whaling in Britain,and decided to have a look through some of my late fathers papers. I found his Contract starting date 11/07/1941 wage £3:15 shillings a month starting as a deck mess boy aged 16 with the Leith Harbour Expedition. Have also found 2 wage slips 1 from the Southern Harvester dated season 1947/48 and the other headed Leith Harbour from Winter 1947 both give you the number of barrels, and the weight also war risk money totals. Also a lot of photographs and various shore leave passes, my father dad was also on the Saluta. His name was William [Bill] Buchanan and he was originally from East Adam Street in Edinburgh, anyway if anyone is interested please ask Picture Stockton for my E Mail.

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    • William, I am sure that the South Georgia Heritage Trust would be interested to hear about your father’s papers and phpotographs. In the war years, the Germans captured whalers down at South Georgia as they used whale oil for making explosives. The Trust has a museum on South Georgia, and is also preserving information in the UK. You will find the Trust easily enough via Google.

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  10. My father sailed on the Southern Venturer 16th December 1952 to May 9th 1953. I have a copy of his original Salverson contract but would like to know more. Is there someone who can explain this?

    The date of his employment was 22 October 1952, what would he of been doing between then and when he sailed?

    I believe the ship would of left Leith and headed for Georgia what would happen once the ship sailed did it stop at other ports for supplies, what did the men do while on the journey and how long did the trip to Georgia take?
    Did it sail via the Panama Canal? What was Christmas like for the people onboard? How many people were on these trips?
    How many whale Catchers worked for each ship and how many crew on each? My fathers contract states his job as a Deck Gallyboy but his service record states he was a messboy. What would his job of entailed?

    Once at Georgia is this where the small whale catchers were based, or where these carried by the ship from Leith?
    What were the names of the Whale catchers who were working with the Southern Venturer for this season?

    Could someone please comment and let me know what my Father would of experienced.

    Im also looking for anyone who was on this ship for the season mentioned or any relatives who may have group photos or any information regarding my late father Ronald Clarke who came from London, England

    Can anyone point me to other forums where I can also post this information? Any help would be appreciated.

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    • Jason, the Southern Venturer was the large whale factory ship. Between signing on and the ship leaving in December 1952, your father would have been helping to stow away supplies on the ship, and help getting it ready for sailing. The best people to explain your father’s Salveson contract would be at the South Georgia Heritage Trust. I am sure they would be able to answer many of your questions. The Trust has an office in Dundee. You will find the Trust easily enough via Google.

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    • I believe my father, George Ross, was on the ship at that time. I have some photographs of him on South Georgia. I believe he was a Flenser. I’ve been watching the BBC4 programmes. It’s been an education.

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    • Hello Jason

      The journey south took a long time and every man on board was put to work preparing the equipment for the season. Whale lines and cables were spliced, radar reflectors were painted the factory ship was maintained and most importantly, the wooden deck on the factory plan was laid down. This temporary floor protected the upper deck during the season and gave the whalers’ spiked boots somethign to grip on to when the deck was covered in fat and blood (this was like the floor of a rather untidy slaughterhouse).

      Southern Venturer had a crew of 108, a factory staff of 160 and room for 134 passengers (for South Georgia).

      Whether or not they would go through the Panama Canal was decided by the hunting grounds for the season for most factory ships, but Salvesen’s factory ships usually had to stop at South Georgia because they also carried crew and supplies for the shore station at Leith so they would most likely not have gone through the canal going south. The trip south took several weeks.

      Work on the factory ships carried on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the duration of the whaling season only interrupted by a 4 hour break Christmas eve.

      Each factory ship had a varying number of catchers (over the years) which was decided upon based on the quotas and expected catch for each expedition. A number not too far off is 5-10. Each catcher had a crew of about 16 to 24 depending on the size of the catcher. The older catchers were smaller and slower than the newer ones. The best gunners got the newest fastest ships.

      As a mess boy he would have been assigned a (group of) table(s) and be responsible for serving food at each meal as well as cleaning the tables, hallways, rec. areas and anything his supervisor put him to. Those who went on whaling expeditions could be put to do any type of work regardless of the job description in their contracts (within reason of course).

      All of Salvesen’s catchers were laid up at Leith Harbour for the Southern winter where they were refitted and repaired by the winter crew at the station (comprised of more or less voluntary crew members from the previous season and some who came down to work the winter shift. You were really obliged to say yes if asked if you wanted any sort of chance of going back out). For some special repairs it might have been necessary to take a catcher back to a yard in Europe.

      I have no list of catchers for that particular season but a few of them were “Southern Truce” (featured on the cover of the Alan Ladd movie Hell Below Zero), “Southern Gem”, “Southern Runner”, “Southern Broom”, “Southern Larkspur” (bouy boat), “Southern Angler”, “Southern Archer”, “Southern Rover”, “Southern Lotus” (bouy boat, ex HMS “Lotus”), maybe “Sondra” (she caught for Venturer and Harvester alternately).

      You might find some interesting photos on my whaling history website http://www.paafeltet.org of interest. Search for Venturer in the search field at the top right (and switch to English).

      Best regards
      Geir Rosset
      Author of the book “The Whale Oil Factory Ships”

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    • Hi Jason, my name is John Burton and I served on the southern venturer in seasons 1949-1952 as well as the southern truce a catcher. I have written a book-a memoir on all my experiences over those years, these experiences cover all the questions you want answered. You can find it on eBook: under the following: Johnburton.weebly.com hope you enjoy it. Kind regards John Burton.

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  11. Looking for those who may have known Stuart Sigurd R. Wilhelmsen from Southern Venturer. He was from Tonsberg/ Notteroy. Was responsible to buying in food and supplies for the season’s while on board.

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  12. Is Bob Leighton who started with the Chr. Salvesen as an engineering cadet in 1955 the same Robert Leighton who attended Stockton Grammar School 1950-55?

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  13. Hi, my grandad was on the ship during the royal visits. He was the cheif electrical officer. His name was John Miller. He was on the ship also when it got into a spot of bother and when it got back home lots of news crews and papers were awaiting her unexpected arrival back to safety. Is there anyway to upload pictures to this site?

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  14. I am the son in law of John Neil Geggie (known as Neil). He was the chemist on the Southern Harvester for 4 seasons in the fifties I believe. He sadly passed away on 1st Sept 2012. Does anyone have any memories of Neil?

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    • Hi Steve. My father knew Neil from the Southern Harvester. My Dad’s name is Bob Harrison but was known to everyone as Mick. My Dad claims he taught Neil how to drink! I also think I met Neil when he worked at Associated Octel in Ellesmere Port. My Dad remembers Neil well.

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  15. hi looking for any info on the harvester my father was on that ship 56-57 got some pictures of the crew and the royal vist

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  16. Hello, I\’m looking into one of my ancestors; Captain Sinclair Begg,

    Master of the whaling transport Coronda, 1933–40;
    Master of the Southern Opal, 1945–46;
    Manager on the Southern Harvester, 1946–47;
    and Manager of the South Georgia Whaling Co. station at Leith Harbor, 1947–51.

    Maybe someone remembers him? I would be greatful for any stories, or pictures.

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    • Hi Jim Sinclair – Begg was my great uncle. His sister Elizabeth was my grandmother, her maiden name Begg from Scarfskerry. If you’d like to get in touch, please ask Picture Stockton for my email.

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      • Hi Reg,
        My great Grandfather was Captain John Begg who was Sinclair’s older brother. Would love to get in touch to swap information. Thanks

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        • Hi am at Scarfskerry for a week with my sister and our spouses. Saw the croft where John and Sinclair lived. We’re going to lay flowers at family gravesend before we go home 4 June 2016.
          If you’d ike to contact me, please email Picture Stockton (pictures@stockton.gov.uk) and they will forward my email on.
          Reg Knowles

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    • I do remember Captain Begg master of SS Southern Harvester 1946/7. I joined SS Southern Venturer in November 1946 as assistant chemist and in early 1947 was asked by Captain Harold Salvesen( who was visiting the whaling fleet) to move over to the Harvester and exchange places with Peter Noble their chemist.
      I am not able to tell you much about Captain Begg, I had a few conversations with him and remember him as a good man to talk with. He gave me the ok to go out on a catcher. I went out with gunner Borgen on Southern Wilcox for afew days. On Palm Sunday 30 th March.
      the day before my 21st birthday Captain Begg gave me 2 bottles of whisky and two dozen cans of beer! This was a special treat because junior officers were not able to have their own bonded supplies. A number of us had hangovers on the first day of April!

      After the end of the whaling season in Southern waters, I rejoined Venturer for a season of sperm whale fishing off the coast of Peru and Chile. Sadly, our master Captain Nilsen, Captain Begg’s opposite number was taken ill with a heart attack,taken ashore at Callao , port of Lima where he died. We were upset because he was a fine man.
      We whaled under the sun until the 11th of June and the Venturer then returned to the UK via the Panama Canal. I left the ship in Curaçao and flew to Labrador for a season of whaling from a shore station at Hawke Harbour.

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  17. To Cliff Thornton. Many thanks for your helpful advice to my son (John). I did contact the South Georgia trust and they were so interested that they offered to interview me. I’m taking the archive to Aberdeen next week.
    I’ve now transcribed my father’s journal and have turned it into a book with many of the photographs as a keepsake for my children and their cousins.
    My father sailed from Leith to Leith in September 1945, just a month after the end of the war in Asia. He was just 23. The Saluta was a real old tub and continually had to stop for repairs, but he evidently loved her all the same. Southern Ventura, which he went aboard in December still smelled of new paint.
    The photographs are just awesome.
    I’m amazed that there is still so much interest in all this.
    He mentions the fact that the doctor (who loses the plot in it’s entirety) is a scot. He also mentions a “Bosby”.
    I wonder what became of them all.
    Thanks again.
    Stephen.

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  18. My dad went to South Georgia on the Southern harvester, I think 1949 -1952. We listened to many a tale and we too have many penguins and eardrome carvings. Photos of the men dressing up as they crossed the equator, seemingly enjoying the break before the atrocious conditions they had to work in. My dad was Fred Wilby and came from Peterhead, Scotland travelling down to Leith, Edinburgh to join the ship. Would love to hear of anyone who worked with and perhaps knew him.

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  19. Thank you all very much for your comments on the ship PROFIT. I know all has been said about it, what I want is a crew list. My father was lost at sea on that ship 17th April 1941, an englishman in the army he was in the D.E.M.S PERSONNEL UNIT, the QUEENS, ROYAL REGT [West Surrey]. My mother is now dead and I have tried to find this out her for 71 years. I know about the other englishman presumed to be on that ship but not too sure how many englishmen where on PROFIT. My fathers name is on Plymouth memorial. Again I thank you all. I have done everything in my power to find out what happened to my father, not the ship. At 74 years old I havent much time left and will let it rest.

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  20. According to the records in Norway, Halfdan Myrseth, Olaf Olafsen, Ivar Seraldsen a canadian named Waggstaffe and a Stoker named John Dyson survived. According to the records the only british casualty was thought to be a gentleman called Arthur Beeney. The remaining crew who perished were all Scandinavian nationals.

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  21. John Mackereth, I am sure that the South Georgia Heritage Trust would be interested to hear what your grandfather wrote about. There is a museum on South Georgia, and the trust is also active in the UK preserving related information. You will find the Trust easily enough via Google.

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  22. The following details of the D.S.Profit are taken from the website warsailors.com.

    Profit left Southend for Hull in ballast on Apr. 17-1941 and struck a mine about 4 hours after departure. The explosion occurred amidships, blowing the upper bridge and port boatdeck as well as the port lifeboat away, breaking the masts where Able Seaman Olaf Olafsen and Ordinary Seaman Ivar Sevaldsen were sitting (painting – both injured, but survived). The 2nd mate and 5 men launched the starboard boat but fell in the water when it got caught. The ship stayed afloat for 2 minutes before capsizing and disappearing, pulling some men with her as she went down. 2 lifeboats and 2 British destroyers, one of them being HMS Wallace, came out and rescued 5 men from the water, as well as Halfdan L. Myrseth who had managed to get on a raft. 3 were taken to hospital. Other survivors were a Canadian ordinary seaman by the last name of Waggstaffe, Donkeyman Aksel Olsen and Stoker John Dyson. The captain, 7 other Norwegians, 3 Swedish and 1 British were either killed in the explosion, or drowned as the ship went down (51 47 27N 01 30 33E).

    I’ve received an E-mail from Michael Telford, England, who says he believes the British casualty must have been his wife’s uncle, Arthur Beeney. He knows he died when Profit was lost, and since there was only 1 British casualty, we can assume this is correct. The following are commemorated at the Memorial for Seamen in Stavern, Norway – (I’m not sure if they all died in the above incident): Captain Martin Kolsto, Steward Hans Halldor Andreassen, another Steward is listed as Erling Ludvig Eilertsen, 2nd Mate Conrad August Helgesen, Able Seaman Lars Horntvedt, 2nd Engineer Peder Jakobsen, Chief Engineer Ansteen August Monsen and 1st Mate Johannes Skjold.

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  23. Can anyone help me about a crew list and those lost at sea on Norwegian ship PROFIT, sunk april 1941? PROFIT was loaned to this country in WW2 from Norway, sunk at Southend, loaded at South Shields. Searched all my life for this information of survivors.

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  24. My grandfather, also named John Mackereth (full name John Frederick Haines Mackereth), whom I never met, left behind some sperm whale teeth and a journal he wrote whilst sailing on the Saluta to South Georgia to join the Southern Venturer as a chemist I believe (unsure which year unfortunately). There is also an extensive collection of photographs he took while onboard: crossing the line, rendering the whales on deck, a harpooneer, I think a shot of himself and some unnamed crew members (he wore a sheepskin style jacket, quite distinctive), penguins, elephant seals, the ships… would love to share them with any remaining crew members from that period. I believe he was a fluent norwegian speaker by the time he arrived in South Georgia, so maybe would be remembered by any Norwegian crew? he also speaks about a doctor extensively in his journal, describing what sounds to be a descent into some kind of psychotic cabin fever, whilst on the voyage to South Georgia, wonder if anyone else might remember this? I would be greatly excited to hear any information, as I never got the chance to meet him.

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    • Hi, my father aged 95, is in long term care now, sailed as 4th engineer on the SS. Saluta, in 1938 to South Georgia returning to Gare Loch. Chief J. Flucker and Mr Wm. J Swanson.

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  25. I think Rebecca is correct that these are the Durham Road houses after comparing them on Google Streetview. All of the Fairfield houses have 4 individual dormer windows, whereas the Durham road ones have the centre windows joined together, just like the houses in the photograph.

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  26. I was employed by Chr. Salvesen as an engineer cadet between 1955 and 1962 and sailed aboard many of their ships, including the Southern Venturer, Southern Garden, Southern Opel, Southern Ranger, Southerm Broom, and several others. The vessels shown in this artical are neither the Southern Venturer or the Southern Harvester, but are corvett class catcher ships with unknown names.

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    • Did you by any chance know of an engineer Jimmy ‘Seamus’ Printer ? He was an engineer on the Southern Harvester and was also my dad – keen to hear from anyone with memories of him.

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      • As a child I sailed nearly every year of my childhood summers on both the Harvester and Venturer. My father Sandy Brough was an engineer on the Venturer and after he died when I was six years old, my mother married Geordie Grundison who was an engineer on the Harvester. I had many happy times and I remember Jimmy Printer on the Harvester. I can remember he helped put up swings for us!

        In reply to Margaret Payne, I too remember well the galley and the barrels of fruit. I can also remember being allowed to bake cakes there. There always seemed to be a lot of children to play with on the journey to Tonsberg. I cannot remember the electricians name – I played with his daughter Marjorie. We had such great fun, and can only suppose the men on the ship were very long suffering. I can also recall going in the lifeboats and being looked after by the Bosun whose name I am ashamed to say I cannot remember, but who always tried to send me home with one of the kittens, only to be thwarted by my mother. He was from Shetland and a lovely man.

        I had until a couple of years ago two blue bunk quilts for the Harvester – and to anybody else who remembers – was your house painted blue!
        My father, Geordie went to the Fairtrys when the whaling ended. He died fifteen years ago and left a big hole in our lives.

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      • Hi Michael. My father, Bob Harrison but known to everyone as Mick, knew your Dad and has some photos of him. My father was also close friends with Sandy Brough.

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  27. My father, Ole Krogli from Tonsberg Norway, was a carpenter on both the Southern Harvester and Southern Venture in the 50’s and 60’s. My sister and I (Diane then 4yr and Margaret 6mth) both travelled on these factory ships to Norway to visit family over there. Diane can remember being onboard in the late fifties and fondly remembers the Galley with it’s stainless steel counters and hot water running underneath. She says the food was lovely and there were two big barrels filled with oranges and apples which were freely available to eat. We have many whales teeth, some carved into penguins, and even a couple of Chris Salveson blankets. Dad will be 84 this year.

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    • Penguins! 🙂 my father Thomas Cook from Dundee was on the Southern Venturer and Harvester during the late 40’s and early 50’s. We grew up with Whales teeth on the mantel that were Penguins.. loved hearing all his stories of his whaling adventures. He became great friends with a chap from Norway, Olav Kirkeburg. I was in touch with Olav’s son quite a few years ago and he sent me photos from his dad’s collection he had taken while Whaling and my Dad was in two of them!
      Penguins always make me think of my Dad

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  28. As a child I was taken on several occasions to see Southern Harvester as it docked at Liverpool to unload its cargo after the whaling season (and still have a sperm whale tooth with the ship’s name on it). My father, David Geddes, was Salvesen’s agent and sold all the oil, bone meal etc for Salvesens. I was treated to lunch by the Captain in his cabin – we had penguin I seem to recall. Rather like chicken, but a bit oily!

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  29. My Grandfather sailed with both of these ships from South Shields. He Was killed in the shipyard there in 1963, his name was Richard BOYACK, known to his friends as Dick or Dicker. He died when I was young so not many tall stories for me. His drinking place was the North Eastern bar in South Sields where they all met to tell their stories and tell of work on board – no telephones then, late 40s/50s. If anyone has any old photos I would be grateful.

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  30. Ray Buck: Thank you. Although it was hard to find anything on S/S Askholm or S/S Askot, I have yet to confirm that with my grandfather’s brother. When I google the ships name there is only a boat that sunk in 1944 that appears. I am most certain that there was only one JRH on the seas from Norway, this could just be him! He was born in 1927 and was around 30 when he was out with Southern Venturer and I think he only had that one trip out with that boat. But he has always been a shipsman, fisher and captain. He later, in 1959, he got hitched to my grandma and they settled in Norway with kids. Paul Dee: I am Norwegian, born and raised. My name is only a result of immigration and an inventive dad. I have already been to the museum a couple of times and contacted them to see if we had something of interest for them after my grandfathers passing. Although I haven’t been at the museum since I was little, so it might be good to come back with a couple of grown up eyes! Thank you for the tip/takk for tipset!

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  31. Joined Christian Salvesen as an Engineer Cadet, and my first trip to sea (aged 19) was on the Southern Harvester for it’s last Whaling Season 61/62. I am also from Stockton. I am writing a book about my life at sea, and if anyone would be kind enough to send a picture of the Southern Harvester (with permission to reprint), I would be very grateful. If you contact the site’s admin I am sure they would be kind enough to pass on my e-mail address. I have hundreds of slides of the actual whaling operations, but they are probably too gruesome to print!

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  32. Dominique Hardy. Your name is not Norwegian but your flag is. You might be interested in the whaling museum in Sandefjord (Hvalfangstmuseet) – they have extensive archives about whaling including details of crews. A friend of mine, Peder Melsom in Larvik, was able to turn over all the archives of the whaling company Melsom & Melsom to the museum. He also was able to turn over masses of gear that was vital for the restoration of the Smith’s Dock ‘s built Southern Actor (now part of the whaling museum) Lykke til!

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  33. There was a John Rudolf Hardy Norwegian signed on the S.S. “Askholm” as 3rd Engineer in Oslo Norway 4th may 1955 his age is not given but had 5 years services, the ship had sailed from London arrived in Buffalo N.Y. 13th June 1955. He paid off in Montreal before arriving from Buffallo. There was a John Rudolf Hardy Norwegian signed on the S.S “Askot” as 2nd Officer in Montreal 9th June 1955, the ship arrived in Detroit 2nd June 1956.

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  34. My Grandfather was 2nd mate on Souther Venturer from fall 1958 to spring 1959, his name was John Rudolf Hardy. If someone has any information or knowledge about him I would like to know. I never got to hear his stories.

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  35. My dad, Bill Regan, a Leither from West Bowling Green Street, served on the Southern Harvester in the late forties early fifties. On the tenth Anniversary of his death I would like other whalers to know that my dad loved his time on the ship and would relate his experiences to his children and grandchildren. We still have a print of the Southern Harvester in the family and it brings back fond memories of him.

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    • hi joan my father also on the harvester 56-57 jock mckay i have photos of the royal vist i think in 57 was your father on that ship then?
      willie.

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  36. I knew a man called Bill Scott on the Southern Harvester in 1949 – 1950, he was a Mess Man.
    He also had two brothers aboard, I think one was called Jackie. I was a Mess Boy and went by the nickname of Titch because of my size. If we are talking about the same man, I’m sure he would remember me.

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  37. I worked the whole of my professional life for Christian Salvesen but that was after they had finished hunting the whale. In the board room of Salvesen’s head office in Fettes ave, Edinburgh hung an oil painting of the Southern Harvester. Fettes Ave head office also housed the Norwegian and danish consulates. The last time I saw the oil painting of the above mentiond ship was in the board room at Northampton where Salvesen’s eventually relocated. Alas Salvesen’s as a company is no more having been taken over by Norbert Dentressangle a few years ago. After whaling Salvesens built several million cubic feet of cold storage facilities up and down the country as well as getting heavilly involved in vegetable processing,freezing and packaging.They expanded the cold storage facilities into Europe and America. They also made bricks and were at one time the north wests biggest house builders with Whelmar homes. They bought into the generator hire business with Agrekko which went independent of the company several years ago and today is one of the worlds largest companies in that field. I had a wonderful career with Salvesen’s as a project manager and loved every minute of my time with the company

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  38. My father, George Whitfield, worked on the Southern Harvester and Southern Ventura from 1951 – 1953. He has amazing memories of his time there and has even written a 25 page diary of his experiences and his colleagues – anyone who wishes a copy I will happily send. Does anyone remember my father? I have a lovely photo of him and the rest of the crew at Leith Harbour South Georgia, 1/7/52. The names on the photo are: Arthur Dunn, Alf Harper, George Whitfield, Alec MacRae, Doug Finlayson, Allen Kennedy, Dave Clarke, Brian MacKenzie, Jim Cummings, Dave Butters, Ron MacKay, Les Wild and John Williams. If anyone remembers my father please get in touch: you can get my contact details from the Picture Stockton team.

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  39. You are correct Valerie as are many more people posting that these are catcher ships and not either the Southern Harvester or Southern Venturer or even the third vessel built at Haverton Hill Ship yard which from memory I think was the Southern Cross. I remember having to grab a bag of tools and with two tradesmen (I was an apprentice at Brown’s Sheet Iron Works) dash off to the shipyard and start to fit Louvres in the cabins air conditioning, someone had forgotten to put them in. The cabins were all fitted out and the ship was sailing in a few hours so it was a rush job or as the foreman said “you will find yourselves at sea.” A ship yard welder was assigned to each of us and we had to cover everything from sparks burn a hole in the duct and fit the louvre with four tap screws after hand drilling the holes. One reason I do remember it so well apart from the threat of finding myself heading south was the welder was a young woman who between burning holes for me lay on the fitted out bed in the cabins asking me about my love life. I can assure you I worked with a continuous red face as I was prone to blushing a lot. It was the first time aboard a ship, I was overawed by the size, we seemed to walk for miles to get to those cabins plus dragging all the welding cables with us, also the luxury to us war weary lot who had not seen brand new furnishings such as those cabins held. Needless to say we did finish just before the ship took on its Pilot and managed to not set fire to anything whilst burning the holes in galvanised duct that spatted sparks all over the place as the girl arced into it. I cut my hands to bits filing the holes and had blisters from hand drilling holes, we had to wipe any smoke stains and touch up with silver paint any places showing arc marks. It was one of those jobs you never forget so I can say for sure the ships pictured could have been slung on the Factory ships as lifeboats.

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  40. A new organisation has recently been established for people connected with the old whaling trade. The Shetland ex-Whaler Association has a page on the Net. This coming September there is a reunion for ex-whalers up in the Shetlands.
    I can also recommend the book ‘Shetland Whalers Remember’ by Gibbie Fraser, an ex-whaler himself. Its ISBN is 0954156404 .

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  41. My father confirms that the photographs are not of The Southern Venturer nor The Harvester. My dad (Bill Scott), from Lochend, Edinburgh, was Catering Storekeeper aboard The Venturer from 1946 and sailed on both ships until 1956. Does anyone remember him? I remember, as a child, having whales eardums painted as faces and a whale’s tooth. My dad is 82 now and would like to hear from anyone who remembers him.

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    • My father was on the Harvester between 56-57 mess boy jock mckay there are some great pictures on jim mcleans site off leith harbour which i sent 2006

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  42. My late father (from Leith) served on board the Harvester in the mid fifties as 2nd Engineer. He also wintered down at Leith Harbour South Georgia for a season. His good pal "Gus Rankin" was also down there. My father left the whaling side of Salvesons and did a trip on the "MFV Fairtry" in the late fifties fishing of the Grand Banks.
    He obviously enjoyed his time in the industry and would always keep us amused with his recollections and stories of his "times in the ice".

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  43. A friend in Sandefjord, Norway is sending me a postcard of the whale catcher Southern Actor. The Southern Actor is fully restored and seaworthy. It is moored near the Sandefjord Whaling Museum (the Hvalfangstmuseet)

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  44. Both pictures are of whale catchers. I have a 1 metre model of the Southern Actor which is similar to the two catchers in the pictures. I did the last season on the Southern Venturer (1962) she was then sold to Japan. All surviving whalers are meeting in Shetland between 10th and 12the September. Norwegian contingency are also coming over.

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  45. Yes these two boats are whale catchers.
    Did a spell on the Southern Harvester in the 60’s.
    Then with Three Crown Line, Baatan.
    Magic wee boat!
    From Leith, Scotland.

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    • Hi Murff we met in Leith, South Georgia late 65? Then later that year in Rotterdam. We were signed on the Ville de la Harve.
      Heard you were on Kungsholm and later went to Australia?
      Karl Corlasso / Wilfred Schrabler

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  46. There is a fully restored whale catcher at the whaling museum in Sandefjord, Norway. This is the Southern Actor built in 1950 at Smiths Docks, South Bank. The ship can be visited during the summer and even hired for a fjord cruise.
    Southern Actor is listed in the exhibits. There is a nice photo of the ship steaming on the fjord.

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  47. I visited the southern harvester factory ship when it was in the Tyne in the 1950s with my father who was a fitter working on the ship for one of the shipyards on the Tyne .I can still remember the meal served. After being shewn round the ship I was given a pair of Whale teeth .I still have the teeth and would never part with them .Such a great memory when I look at them on my window sill

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  48. I was in the 7th sea scouts of South Shields and we had a troop visit aboard the Southern Venturer in the late 1950’s. She was in dry dock on the Tyne somewhere in the area. Very exciting for a young lad.

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  49. My father, Ronald Clarke, who may have been known as ‘Nobby’ sailed on the Southern Venturer, expedition contract season 1952-53. He was 20 years old and was employed as a deck galleyboy, what exactly the work entailed I do not know.
    The contract I have states that she sailed 22nd October 1952, not sure for how long – hope someone will remember.
    I’m also uncertain where she sailed from – does anyone know?
    I’d love to hear from anyone who remembered him and would dearly like to see any photos taken which included him.

    Can people with relatives who sailed on this ship during the date please look to see if they have any information as my family history is very vague – my father died when he was 30 so any help appreciated.

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  50. I’m looking for any information regarding my uncle, Lenny Cairns. From the information I have he died at 18 years aboard either the Souther Harvester or the Southers Venturer. Any information would be greatfully received.

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  51. My dad served on one of Salvesen”s factory ships after WW II. I don”t know which one. I don”t know the exact dates. I know that he came home around the middle of May 1946. His name was James Young, but was known as Sonny. He was from Lerwick, Shetland. If there”s anyone out there who remembers him, I”d be delighted to connect.

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  52. My father Thomas McAlister Meechan served two seasons in the 1950″s onboard the Southern Harvester. He also worked on the Catchers. All his photos, Whales tooths, he donated to the Museum in Greenock. My father is in agreement that some pregnant whales were killed but once they were cut open the calves were not touched. They were put back to the sea.

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  53. A lot of the whalers who settled in Shields went onto the oil rigs – I don”t think they could get the sea motion out of their blood stream!…

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  54. I can confirm that the photos are of unknown catchers. I served on the Southern Venturer as a Whaler Group 9, on her last but one expedition for Christian Salvesen. I am sorry to say that pregnant whales were sometimes killed and have seen the young calves when the mothers were cut open and processed. The crew were half British and half Norwegian. The British were mainly recruited from Shetland, the Western isles of Scotland and Scotland. I would love to be contacted by anyone who sailed on The Venturer in 1961-1962 along with Angus Arthur and Sep Donnelly or anyone else.

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  55. It seems we all have vivid memories and artifacts of those bygone days… I have several photos of crossing the line and hauling their catch onto the ships. My dad was one of several smith brothers from Aberdeen and he was the only one who settled in Shields. He used to say that the pregnant whales were not harpooned and they could tell them by the swell of their tummies out of the water, it sounds true but I don”t know if he was trying to spare my feelings!! Alas my dad died at 56 but I know he would have loved the internet and the bringing together of people who shared this unusual occupation.

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    • Hi Margaret , I don’t know whether your mother Margaret has mentioned me in the past but, if it is the same Margaret Montgomery I knew in the late 40s early 50s, then I knew her very well. In fact she was my first girlfriend I ever had and the guy who took her away from me was a certain Martin Smith.
      The last time I met your mam was in 1989 when we met on the corner of the “Chriterion” Pub in Ocean Road, where we later met up with Peter Mcgruther. Your mam and I later went to the Grotto at Marsden where we talked over those happy days at the merchant navy club and the times I spent with her and her mom which was near where the old swimming pool used to be.
      I do hope you’re the right person, if I am not please forgive me, it just seems such a coincidence of names.
      All my best wishes ,John Burton.

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  56. My father Harry Flynn was an electrician who sailed on Southern Venturer after he helped build it at the Furness haverton Hill yard. I have an article from a newspaper which talks about the voyage. A photo of my father is in the article. It mentions who sailed including Mark Pallister of Wolviston who left his job as an electrician at I C I to sign on. It also mentions W A Dobbs of Anlaby Hull (a second electrician)and Norman William Hartford of Wolviston. It was a dissappointing trip as only 1,850 whales were caught although that would have been a good catch if they had been mainly blue whales. I have some small and indistinct photos of the crew members, not all of them named, but including Eddie Lawrie, Billy Hartford Norman Greig and my Dad with a penguin. Would enjoy making contact and swapping photos and hearing any stories about Dad who sadly died about 5 years after his trip. The article is undated.

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  57. My father and his brothers were on both ships at some time. He married my mother in South Shields – as many did…my birth certificate states father”s occupation as whale fisherman. I have photos and whale drums painted by the sailors, also a minature harpoon made in bronze – the local schools do a term of “where have the whales gone?” and my artifacts usually contribute to this work – negatively of course. I was extremely proud of my dad working in such dangerous conditions. He was a seafarer all his life and they and their spouses are a special breed…

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  58. The name Mark Pallister rings a bell. As I worked on the after deck I wouldnt have any contact with him apart from maybe seeing him in the messroom. The Venturer had 500 of a crew and I knew more faces than names. Most of the crew were Norwegians and I was one of the Scottish bunch. Im surprised at him spending coupons as he could have got any amount duty free. I must admit,as like many others of our age group,we indulged in sweets before going on a bender.

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  59. My father, Mark Pallister, also sailed as an electrician on the Southern Venture during these years (1947-1949). I wonder if you would remember him, George Moar? I still have many of the whales teeth he carved into penquin figures, baleen plates from the whales” mouths, models of the blubber-flenzing knives (like long hockey sticks with huge curved blades, etc. Unfortunately all the photos of the ship and crew, plus postage stamps from South Georgia and the Falklands(worth a bob or two, nowadays, I would imagine)have long gone. When he returned he brought a huge box of sweets with the saved-up ration-coupons he was entitled to. What a treat for us!

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  60. As stated, the above photographs are of unknown whale catchers. I worked with Salvesens 1947 to 1949. The first season aboard the Southern Foam, a whale catcher, fishing for the Harvester and the next on the Venturer with the aft plan blubber boys. I also sailed on the Polar Chief and the Saluta. In those days it took us over a month to get to our work which was usually from South Shields via Norway, West Indies, South Georgia and then to the ice. As it was a long time ago I cant remember the Norwegian Venturers Skippers name who we buried at sea.

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    • A friend of mine was on the Harvester around that time, John Short known as Shorty he is still around at 87 and still talks about those days.

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  61. My grandfather joined the Souther Venturer in the 50″s.I still have (a gift from my grand)a handmade plaque from the Souther Venturer exp. 52-53 around the antarctic continent. The ship was a whale factory ship.

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  62. I reached the glory heights of Mess Boy on the Southern Venturer for 3 seasons, 58/59, 59/60, 60/61. My 6 Uncles, all named West had all been at the whaling with Salvesens up to that time. I have lots of photos and clippings including when both the Venturer and Harvester were in Belfast having their Helicopter decks added. Now living in New Zealand

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  63. I was deck boy on Polar Maid 1953. Travelled to South Georgia and joined Southern Opal. Most crew from Leith. Great crowd. I was from Gorbals Glasgow. Other deck boy on Southern Opal was nicknamed Flash.? I am now living in Yorkshire

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  64. I DID SEASON 61/62 ON SOUTHERN RANGER GOING OUT ON THE HARVESTER FROM SOUTH SHELDS THE CATCH FOR THAT SEASON WAS 185 WHALES A LOT OF THE CATCHERS WENT BACK TO NORWAY AT THE END OF THE SEASON INQUDING THE RANGER I THINK I WAS THE LAST BOY FROME MONTROSE SCOTLAND TO GO WHALING VENTURE SOLD 62 HARVESTER WENT BACK 62/63 THAT SEASON ON SOUTHERN TERREOR THE CATCH WAS 204 WHALES

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    • I was on the Southern Harvester for the 1961/2 whaling season. I was laboratory assistant, My boss, the chief chemist, was Mr Christopher Ash an absolute gentleman. I think in my collection of photographs from that trip I have some shots of the Southern Rider delivering whales to the Harvester’s stern, you may be on the shots and if you took any of the Harvester, I may be on yours. That was an experience, wasn’t it. Best wishes to you anyway.

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  65. I did one season on the Southern Opal. That was enough for me this was about nineteen fifty two I compare the trip like prison with wages

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  66. The Souther Venturer and Harvester were both definitly factory ships equiped to obtain and process the whales at sea. They were built after the war 1945-7 and were a totally new concept in whaleing. The Harpoon ships would hunt and kill the whales taking them back to the factory ships and pulling them up the stern, cutting, slicing and boiling the blubber and extracting the oil. At that time nobody complained it was a way of life, like working with asbestos and toxic fluids. I toured one of them in M/Bro Docks and am sure the building of the ship was reported by the Gazette.

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  67. I”m looking for the crew lists from Southern Harvester,my husband has 12 seasons on the ship and I”m very busy to get more photo”s from Southern Harvester and crew lists from 1930 – 1961. Maybe some one can help me. all info welcome Els Tveit elstveit@hotmail.com

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  68. I have a photo of a ship without any information except a comment that it was built at Craig and Taylors yard Stockton. The name of the ship is on the side but only partially legible. I have scanned it and enlarged it but cannot decipher more than South . . Could it be one of the Southern line? In which case who actually built this ship and when?

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  69. My father spent a few seasons on the Southern Harvester, I was employed briefly also on Harvester as a supernumery aged 7years 8months when discharged at so. shields may 16 1954.yes 7years 8months. my fathers name was william.

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  70. Sorry but the pictures are not the Southern Harvester orSouthern Venturer, they are of the catchers. I was on the catcher Southern Lily which was attatched to the Harvester for the 1958/59 season.

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  71. There appears to be a little confusion here, as neither of the vessels shown have been correctly identified. They appear to Whale Catchers and were probably built at Smith”s Dock, South Bank. The Southern Venturer and Southern Harvester were both Whaling Factory Ships and were built by the Furness Shipbuilding Co. at Haverton Hill in the mid “40s. As an Apprentice Fitter I worked on both of these ships during construction.

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  72. These two vessels are wrongly captioned. The Southern Venturer and sister ship Southern Harvester were whale factory ships, these two are whale catchers, probably built at Smiths Docks, South Bank.

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