Hold Tight! - Docks tours
Chapter 6
Page 43
Hold Tight!
Chapter 6
35 Fans
36 Smash hits
37 New money
38 Eastleigh
39 Tight squeeze
40 Romsey
41 Hythe
42 Holy city
43 Docks tours
44 Fawley & Calshot
45 Kids and animals
46 Hot stuff
47 Police, stop
48 Flic storys
49 Specials
50 Just sack me!
51 Machine wars
52 Not funny
53 Borrowing
54 Demon drink
55 One for the road
56 Disputes
1 Beginnings
2 Learning
3 Getting Away
4 Winchester
5 Freedom
6 Southampton
7 City Transport
<< Back And on your right is a red-faced conductor. Next >>
Docks tours were a joint venture between Hants & Dorset and Southampton Corporation, with each operating half the journeys. The route picked up at the Civic Centre Rose Gardens.
They then ran via Western Esplanade past the Royal Pier and South Western House to dock gate 2. A circuit round the old docks included a pause at the Ocean Terminal. From the Old Docks the trip continued via the Royal Pier which we could drive along in those days. We sometimes stopped here for refreshments.
From the Royal Pier the journey concluded with a circuit round the New or Western Docks and then returned to the Rose Gardens. The conductor took the fares and handed out leaflets. He then gave a running commentary throughout the journey.
This entry in the 1967 leaflet lists some of the numerous liners still calling at Southampton.
Before I did my first docks tour I studied the shipping movements in the local paper. The trip started out all right but I got a bit behind with the fare collection and was trying to point out places of interest at the same time. Having successfully explained the history of the Westgate, the oldest bowling green in the world and the former South Western Hotel, I got taught a very important lesson - eyes first, mouth second.
Head down, still handing out leaflets as we passed through the dock gate, I confidently announced "... and if you look to your left you will see the railway berths with ..." at which point the plan had been to name the ship which I knew would be there.
I glanced up and there was nothing. No ship, not even a small boat, just water!
There were other times when my heart rate increased during a docks tour. On one we had stopped at the King George V graving dock in the New Docks. Passengers were not allowed off at this point because of the depth of the dock but we always stopped so they could take photos. However, I did not speak Japanese. Ignoring my protests, one man got off. However much I insisted, he just got nearer and nearer to the edge so he could get the full scale of the empty dry dock with the solitary worker sweeping the last of the water. I was very relieved when he had enough pictures and went back to his seat.
On another occasion I went out on a special docks tour for patients from the Tatchbury Mount Hospital. The patients had a variety of problems and some would wander off if left unattended. They were accompanied by several nurses who counted the passengers constantly. Despite our best efforts we lost one person at the Ocean Terminal while everybody was watching the giant floating crane being moved. A frantic search followed but he was eventually found sitting quietly in the cafeteria, enjoying a cup of tea.
The strangest Docks Tour of all was the one where we arrived at the Ocean Terminal to find the France was about to set sail. Nobody wanted to leave until she had gone. Unfortunately this was at the start of the trip and left us with about five minutes to dash round the rest of the route. Although they had seen very little of the docks, these passengers gave me my best ever tips.
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