A tanker visits in the early 1960's

By Andy Gilbert

Photo:Quarterman leaves the gridiron after repairs.

Quarterman leaves the gridiron after repairs.

Gilbert family private collection

When we see photos of the upper end of the Railway Quay, the gridiron is usuallly either vacant or occupied by a Railway ship. The Newhaven vessels most likely to be seen there included our own passenger steamers, like Londres and Brighton, the tug Meeching and the dredger Testside.

Regular visitors from other routes included all of the Isle of Wight ferries, in particular the paddlers Ryde and Sandown. Once the car ferries arrived on the Newhaven route, they were simply too big for the gridiron and went to drydock elsewhere in the country.

However, once in a while the gridiron would have an unusual visitor. This photo shows the coastal tanker Quarterman leaving the gridiron after having some underwater work done. The steamer she is passing is Londres, so the photo is 1963 or earlier. I have another photo somewhere in the collection that shows her on the gridiron at low tide, and I'll add it if and when it comes to light.

The reason for having these two photos is that my Dad, Captain Frank Gilbert, served as a Mate or Master with the ship's owners, Rowbotham Tankships, for many years. Quarterman was his last command with them back in the late 1950's. When Quarterman came into Newhaven this time, Dad took me on board to meet the Master and crew. I must have been about 6 or so, and I clearly remember writing about it in my school 'diary' at Southdown School the next day. I couldn't spell Quarterman and my teacher (Mrs Molyneux or Miss Booker, I think?) couldn't spell it either! It got written down as Quatermain. Funny how you recall the oddest things, isn't it!

Does anyone have any other pictures of unusal gridiron visitors?

This page was added by Andy Gilbert on 10/03/2009.

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