Union-Castle Line: The Post-War Years

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Peter Newall captures the lavender-hulled magic of the Post-War Union-Castle Line ships in his latest book, issued by Ships Monthly magazine.

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The cover sports an aerial view of the powerful-looking RMS WINDSOR CASTLE at speed.

Peter Newall strikes again with another beautifully assembled tome dedicated to the Post-War lavender-hulled Union-Castle liners that sailed between the U.K. and the African continent. In this 98-page magazine-style Ships Illustrated book published by U.K.-based Ships Monthly, Newall recounts the careers of the Post-War mailships on the Southampton to Durban run, the intermediate round-Africa liners and the sole UCL cruise ship, REINA DEL MAR.

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Lovely as built, the REINA DEL MAR sailed for Pacific Steam Navigation Company until being purchased and rebuilt for cruise service in 1964. Her career was cut shorty by the fuel crisis and she was scrapped in Taiwan in 1975.

Peter is an expert on the subject, having witnessed nearly all of these liners in the flesh and steel, starting in 1958 after his first ship visit, some five years after his family moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town. The son of a famed abstract artist and a Jewish refugee from Germany, Newall was born in Manchester in 1945 but his family left Britain for South Africa the next year. Ironically, all of the liners he would eventually write so eloquently about were full, so they flew from London to Brussels, then boarded a Sabena DC4 Skymaster that took three days to get to Elizabethville in the Belgian Congo, where they caught a train to Johannesberg. Exotic beginnings, indeed, for the esteemed writer and historian who would eventually become a BA executive before morphing into his current career as a cruise/maritime journalist and shipboard lecturer.

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Perhaps the most beautiful of all the Union-Castle liners, the PENDENNIS CASTLE was also the last UCL ship to be built by the famed Harland and Wolff Shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Peter’s interest was piqued just in time to catch the final Cape Town departures of the veteran DUNNOTTAR CASTLE (which would soon be transformed into the supremely elegant VICTORIA of Incres Lines) and the ARUNDEL CASTLE, as well as the maiden arrival of the spectacular PENDENNIS CASTLE.

Culling a wide range of archives, from the Journal of Commerce and Lloyds Register to The Shipbuilder and Marine Engine-Builder, he provides a wealth of detailed information about each vessel, down to the names of the designers and artists who contributed to their key public areas. In most cases, Newall further describes and examines the color schemes and the materials employed and how certain ships were distinguished from or influenced by another. As one would hope and expect, Newall also inserts his keen personal observations about the transitioning maritime and design trends, from the evolution of architectural features like masts, funnels and bow forms to recounting the progress or lack thereof of Post-War British interior decor.

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The RMS WINDSOR CASTLE was Union-Castle’s largest ever liner. She went on to serve as the MARGARITA L, a workers’ accommodation ship in the Middle East and then spent many years in layup in Greece before being sold to Indian shipbreakers in 2005.

Peter not only covers these ships’ careers with Union-Castle but follows them to their final end. There are some stunning images of the sparkling former PENDENNIS CASTLE at her Hong Kong anchorage, gorgeous views of the former BLOEMFONTEIN CASTLE in Greek ferry service and so much more.

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Debuting in 1948, the handsome PRETORIA CASTLE was the first Post-War mailship built for Union-Castle Line.

Chapters are dedicated to: The Pre-War Motorships; The First Post-War Mailship (PRETORIA CASTLE); The Younger Sister (EDINBURGH CASTLE); A Break With The Past (PENDENNIS CASTLE); The Largest Mailship (WINDSOR CASTLE); The Hotel Ship (TRANSVAAL CASTLE); Pre-War Intermediate Motorships (DUNNOTTAR CASTLE, DURBAN CASTLE, WARWICK, etc.); The First Single Class Passenger Liner (BLOEMFONTEIN CASTLE); The First In A New Class of Round Africa LIners (RHODESIA CASTLE); The Longest Post-War Survivor (KENYA CASTLE); The Short-Lived Sister (BRAEMAR CASTLE) and The Only Union-Castle Cruise Ship (REINA DEL MAR).

The lavish and extensive illustrations are culled from a wide variety of sources, including the Newall-Dunn archive, Union-Castle Line brochures and a bevy of shipping enthusiasts and photographers like Mick Lindsay, Brian Ingpen, Steven Moore, Robert Pabst, Alan Travers, Stephen Berry, Robert Moffat Scott, Theodore Scull and yours truly.

For U.K. residents, the book is available for a mere 7.95 pounds per issue (postage included) and for those outside the U.K., it is a mere 9.95 pounds per issue (postage included).

For more information and to order, please click here. or call 033 043 9848.  You may also write to:  Ships Illustrated, Kelsey Publishing Ltd, Cudham Tithe Barn, Berry’s Hill, Cudham, Kent TN16 3AG UK

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego
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