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Remuera was one of many ships that shaped the 20th century, expanding trade and taking migrants to new worlds.
One of those migrants, on a 1931 voyage to Wellington, New Zealand, was my father, then 19 years old, with his two younger brothers. Only one of them visited their native Glasgow again.
In a century of two calamitous wars she was a troop ship in the first and sunk in the second.
New On This Site
January 2011: Cameron bureau added
November 2010: More pics.
October 2010: More souvenirs.
August 2010: Postcards on interior views, embarkation notice - further iceberg pic.
RMS Remuera Site - Like this on Facebook
Thanks to all the people who have contributed information to this site - more is always welcome.
Postcard courtesy David Ransom.
1911- 1940 11,445 tons, Twin Screw, Triple expansion engines, 502x62 ft.
Built 1911 by W Denny at Dumbarton for the New Zealand Shipping Company, Official No 124590.
Cargo and passenger ship, 60 first class berths, 90 second and 130 third class.
"Order 6 April 1910 / launch 31 May 1911 / left 22 August / delivered 8 September 1911
Final price £176,102 9s 4d." (P. Plowman 1981, Passenger Ships of Australia and New Zealand Vol 1, Collins, Auckland.)
Built for the UK-NZ round the world route. Operated that route until 1933. On the cross- Pacific leg she often used to call at Pitcairn (See Pitcairn and RMS Remuera).
18 February 1912: Collided with the steamer Niobe off the Lizard.
July 1916: First New Zealand Shipping Company ship to transit the Panama Canal (opened 1914).
- Until the canal routing she operated eastwards round the Cape of Good Hope and the Horn homewards. This 1914 Remuera photo of an iceberg in the South Pacific must have been taken then. (thumbnail).
Another from 1914. (thumbnail)
- Her near sister ship Rotorua (thumbnail) (same dimensions but triple screws), built 1910, was sunk by submarine torpedoes 22 March 1917 in the English Channel.
- In 1919 there was a riot on board when operating as a troopship returning troops to New Zealand.
- 1920: Southampton new British home port.
- Converted from coal to oil in 1921. First oil-fired ship on a direct route to New Zealand. The refit also added an extra deck.
- 1922 Collision with SS Marengo (thumbnail) near Weymouth. Passengers taken off by SS Victoria (thumbnail)
Debris on the deck after the collision. The lifeboat appears to be stove in. Photo courtesy of Kim and Don Sheridan - collected by Charles Sheridan, father of Don, who was on the voyage.
"HMS Barham diving party placing collision mats under RMS Remuera."
"21 Jul 1922 - It was reported at Portland at 5am that the 11,200 ton NZSC steamer REMUERA, (built in 1911) bound from Southampton for Pitcairn Island and Wellington, has been in collision with the MARENGO (6,300 tons and built in 1910) of the Ellerman's Wilson Line, 15 miles SW of Start Point. The REMUERA was badly damaged and was subsequently brought into Portland Harbour with the assistance of tugs. She was beached on mud flats to enable an inspection and temporary repairs. Two Weymouth steamers took off the passengers - no casualties. The MARENGO sustained little damage and continued on her passage from New York to Hull. The passengers, including 446 emigrants, were taken by train to Southampton."
Remuera had a special place in the lives of Pitcairn Islanders. On July 17th, 1922, the Pitcairn island Internal Committee decided to give Captain Cameron a gift of a bureau made of native timber. Vieder Young, Elliot Christian, Calvert Warren and George Warren were those appointed to make it. The bureau was presented to Remuera on January 13th, 1923 when the Remuera next stopped there. (Information: Timothy Young, descendent of both Vieder Young and George Warren.) The bureau is still in the possession of Cameron's family. - the bureau (thumbnail)
- In 1926 the Corinthic raced the Remuera outbound to NZ and the ships were virtually in sight of each other all the way.
- After 1933 all accommodation re-graded to a two classes, 200 passengers, from the earlier three classes.
- In a 1935 London sailing there was both cabin and tourist classes. She stopped at Curacao on that voyage. The trip brochure said the round fare was; First Class from £140, Cabin Class from £112.
Remuera was sunk by aerial torpedoes off Scotland by German aircraft - August 26th 1940 inbound to UK on her 74th trip - without casualties.
About the NZSCo Ship List
Remuera is a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. It is named after a small volcanic cone - one of many that dot Auckland. The name is a Maori one - more properly Remuwera - which translates as ...
" ‘burnt edge’ or ‘the burnt hem of a garment’. This relates to an incident in the 1700’s when a young Hauraki chieftainess visiting Kiwi Tamaki with a Hauraki chief, was killed and eaten by the Waiohua inhabitants of the pa. The name of ‘Remuwera’ was originally given to the hill itself, although a contraction of this name – ‘Remuera’, has since been applied to the area in general." Source
When the ship was built it was a suburb with a built up southern area near the railway and northern slopes with large houses interposed with some remaining farmland. It is now all built up.
Remuera as it was about the time RMS Remuera was launched
Photograph, Post refit
Postally used card - 1912 - Pre Refit
Card used 1913
NZ SS CO. RMS "REMUERA" (1911) - Postcard. Post Refit.
Steamers S.S. PORT ELLIOT S.S. PORT BOWEN and S.S. REMUERA at Port Lyttleton
Postcard Wellington Harbour, Post Refit
Postcards courtesy David Ransom (Marked Ruahine, NZSS Co 1909 - 1949, and Remuera)
Photos from a 1926 voyage to New Zealand - courtesy Ron Myers
Souvenir booklet of the Panama Canal showing Remuera in transit.
Mast top view?
In Royal Albert Dock, London
In the Panama Canal
A wonderful series of postcards from her early form in three classes. (thumbnails)
Trip map given to passengers, with Remuera on trials photo
Silver plated teapot - inscribed To Mrs W W Colquhoun from the Engineers, RMS Remuera June 1914.
W W Colquhoun was listed as 3rd engineer on Remuera in August 1914.
Vesta Case marked Remuera
Souvenir Spoons marked Remuera (Thumbnails)
Souvenir Gong marked Remuera (Thumbnail)
Souvenir Silver (plated) Cup - three handled - marked Remuera (Thumbnail)
Bonbon dish (Thumbnail)
Bud vase (Thumbnail)
Souvenir Napkin Ring
from 1926 voyage (Courtesy Ron Myers)
Souvenir ship's wheel (Thumbnail)
Silver spoon, hallmark 1914 - perhaps to mark the first Panama passage
Pewter Souvenir Napkin Ring (Thumbnail)
Souvenir Spoon marked Remuera
Another napkin ring.
And another - they must have been popular.
Table lamp (thumbnail)
Letter Card - unused - (precursor to aerograms). (thumbnail)
Box of "coffee bean" silver plated spoons (thumbnails).
1913 Menu (Thumbnail)
So what are Stanley Cakes?
Elevation Drawing (Thumbnail) Deck Plan (Thumbnail)
Brochure from 1935 Voyage
(Thumbnails) - includes Passenger List - with George Bolt - pioneer aviator and, Sir Harold Beauchamp, father of Katherine Mansfield, the pen name of Kathleen Beauchamp, born near Wellington in 1888, third daughter of Annie (Dyer) and Hal (later Sir Harold) Beauchamp.
Another notable on the voyage is L D Austin who was a musician.
1915 Passenger List
1935 Passenger List
1912 Log - thumbnail
1913 3rd class embarkation notice. (Thumbnail)
"Remuera, sunk off Kinnaird Head,
11445grt, L485' B62.3' D41', torpedoed 26/8/1940
The Plymouth liner Remuera was built by W. Denny at Dumbarton in 1911 for the New Zealand Shipping Co.
Homeward-bound from Wellington in New Zealand with 4801 tons of refrigerated cargo and 1646 tons of general cargo, she was sunk by a direct hit from an aerial torpedo about 12 miles North of Peterhead when the ship was attacked by four Heinkel 115 torpedo bombers and eight Ju-88 aircraft based at Stavanger, Norway.
All 93 crew and one gunner were saved, some by Fraserburgh lifeboat."
She had departed Wellington on July 12th 1940 for London with cargo only. After transiting the Panama Canal she joined a convoy at Bermuda, sailing on August 11th. On August 25th the convoy lost ships to submarine torpedoes off the Hebrides and again early on the 26th. Remuera assumed the role of Commodore's ship that day when the previous Commodore's ship was lost. She later had a near miss from an aircraft bomb but was torpedoed a few minutes later. She sank stern first resting for a while with her stern on the bottom and bow in the air before sinking completely.
(S.D. Walters, 1949, Ordeal by Sea. The New Zealand Shipping Company in the Second World War. Published by the Company, London)
August 1940 was the height of the Battle of Britain. While it was mostly fought over south east England there were raids from Norway and Denmark to eastern Britain, but after a raid on August 15 with severe losses the Luftwaffe never again attacked on-shore in this area in daylight.
The traffic was not all one way. Four squadrons of RAF Hudsons raided German shipping on the Norwegian coast and occasionally bombed targets in Norway, which had fallen to the Germans in June.
Location of the Wreck (Courtesy Bob Baird)
Another Account of the Sinking
'We just drifted away from the ship and lay there and watched as she slowly went down. .... She slowly filled up from the stern and the last I saw of her, from the bridge up she was vertical and she just slowly went down. In those days at least, the ship was your home, and I'll never forget the feeling when of seeing my home disappear under the waves.'
Marine engineer Lionel Hodgson's recollection of the torpedoing of his ship, the SS Remuera - from Neill Atkinson, 2005, Hell or High Water: New Zealand Merchant Seafarers Remember the War. Harper Collins, Auckland.
The book gives some more detail on the sinking: The plane approached from 30 degrees off the port bow. The torpedo hit on the bulkhead between the two rear holds, (Nos 4 and 5). Hodgson thinks she might have survived being holed in one hold but not two. There were no passengers on board. The crew in Hodgson's lifeboat were rescued by a sloop Egret and delivered to Peterhead.
Later in the war Egret became the first ship ever sunk by a guided missile, in the Bay of Biscay.
Courtesy Jim Burke: (From a dive, 2002): "All the accommodation is gone with the starboard side lying on top of the port side and her beam reduced to about 3 to 4m."
There is a great dive website about the wreck. It is now privately owned by a group of enthusiasts who want it left intact. They are progressively mapping the wreck - which is one of the largest in NE Scotland.
"The wreck is lying on her port side, reasonably well intact but with her starboard side collapsed reducing her beam to around 3m. Most of her superstructure has gone but she is still recognisable from photographs.
The bow line is intact, with a massive anchor hanging towards the seabed. Heading sternwards, her hull is fairly intact but flattened, here and there, massive cracks allow an uninterrupted view of her holds. Her huge fore-mast lies out on the seabed. "
CAD representation of the wreck by Tony Ray, 2005, courtesy Jim Burke.
Other views (thumbnails).
The Wrecksite page on Remuera
1912 - 1917: H.E. Greenstreet
1919 - 1921: James John Cameron (thumbnail)
1922 - 1929: J.J. Cameron
1929: A.W. McKellar
1929-30: H. Barnett
1930-31 H.J. Wild (or Wilde in another source - initials H.W. in another))
1930-31: Edward Holland
1931: H.T. Wells
1932-35: Edward Holland
1935-37: F.W. Robinson
1937-38: C.B. Lamb
1938-40: F.W. Robinson
(the dates are voyage starts)
At commencement Remuera made slightly less than three return voyages a year. During the first world war the annual voyages dropped to two, constrained by the requirements of convoys and the congestion in British ports. In peacetime once the Panama Canal had opened, Remuera achieved 3 return trips to New Zealand a year.
Some of the dates in the table are from British emigration records. These seem to be filing dates rather than actual dates and may be a day or two late. Some advertised dates for the first world war sailings from Britain are a long way out, no doubt caused by having to wait for convoys and perhaps some disinformation for security.
Voyage No. Depart
Arrive Arrival Date Notes 1 London /Plymouth Sept 28/30, 1911 Wellington 2 London /Plymouth February 16/17, 1912 NZ Collision with Niobe 3 London
July 26, 1912
Includes À. E.G. Rhodes - former Mayor of Christchurch.
October 17 1912 Gravesend Nov 27 1912 4 London Tilbury Dock /Plymouth December 21/22 1912 Wellington 4R
Plymouth April 15 1913 Times 16 Apr 1913: “Return of Surgeon Atkinson – Surgeon E. Atkinson, R.N., a member of Captain Scott’s Antarctic expedition, arrived at Plymouth yesterday on board the New Zealand Shipping Company’s steamer Remuera. He was accompanied by Mrs. Wilson, widow of Dr. Wilson, who died with Captain Scott. Mrs. Wilson had gone to New Zealand to meet her husband.” 5 Gravesend / Plymouth May 5/7 1913 Wellington June 24 1913 Via Tenerife, Cape Town, Hobart. 5R September 13 1913 6 London / Plymouth September 25 / 27 1913 Wellington November 8 1913 Via Hobart - Scarlet fever outbreak on board - one death before reaching Hobart. On arrival in Wellington there were three cases and in all 14 people were transferred to the quarantine station on Soames Island.
Michelle Sim's great-grandfather John Bachem was on this voyage. He is pictured on the ship 2nd from the right at the back. She would love to know the others in the pic. - response to the webmaster. She has also supplied from her family papers, the embarkation notice in the trivia section above.
6R 7 London February 19 1914 7R
May 7 1914 London A South Pacific iceberg from this voyage. (thumbnail) 8 London July 9 1914 News of the outbreak of war was received by radio during this voyage. (see)
The last peacetime sailing (war declared by Britain August 4). Advertised as via Cape Town. Relevant to early war voyages is the action of the German Cruiser Leipzig which raiding British shipping of west and southern South America from September 1914 onward. The German East Asia Squadron was in the area and defeated a British force at the Battle of Coronel on 1 Nov 1914, before sailing to the Falklands.
8R November 4 1914 9 London / Plymouth Nov 27 1914 NZ 9R March 25 1915 10 London / Plymouth May 5 1915 Wellington Via Cape Town 10R
July 15 1915 London 11 London / Plymouth October 17 1915 Wellington 12 London / Plymouth
March 25 / 29, 1916
À. E.G. Rhodes again.
New York Times, August 20, 1916.
13 London / Plymouth September ? /1916 Advertised via Panama.
First visit to Pitcairn October 24th. She carried mail there. Pitcairn visits were mostly made on outward journeys until 1923, then either inwards or outwards, but from 1936 reverted to outwards.
13R January 20 1917 14 Plymouth March 10 1917 14R July 29 1917 15 Plymouth August 27 1917 15R 16 Plymouth March 14 1918 Auckland Initially in convoy - stops Sierra Leone and Capetown. Carrying mostly repatriated soldiers but with some civilians. 16R
June 5, 1918 Liverpool July 31, 1918 Troop Ship Number 105 38th Reinforcements - Commander Colonel E. H. Saunders An printed voyage record The Remuerian was produced. Copy in Auckland Museum Library 17 Liverpool September 7, 1918 NZ October 23, 1918 Troop Ship Number 191 John Daniel passenger 17R
December 11, 1918 January 29 1919 18 Plymouth March 17 1919 Lyttleton 19 Plymouth September 12, 1919 Auckland 26 October 1919 via Panama. Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Mackesy was a passenger - diary at http://nzmr.org/diary3.htm 19R Southampton January 18 1919 (Expected) 20 Southampton March 13 1920 Auckland 20R August 2 1920 21 Southampton September 30, 1920 Wellington November 16 1920
Stephen Smith, email@example.com, is researching 1920's voyages of the Remuera and is interested in contact from anyone with a like interest.
21R Refit at the end of this voyage. 22 Southampton March 5 1921 22R
May 25 1921 A passenger on this voyage published Travels Abroad in 1923 with an account of this voyage. An extract by David Ransom is linked. (thumbnail). 23 Southampton August 18 1921 23 Southampton February 20 1922 24 Southampton July 20 1922 - Not completed - collision with Marengo 25 Southampton December 14, 1922 Auckland 26 Southampton May 10 1923 Auckland June 1923 Including a party of over 100 British naval ratings and officers to crew HMS CHATHAM and PHILOMEL 27 Southampton September 20, 1923 Auckland Loading
There is a published diary commencing with this voyage - which is not in any NZ library:
ANON Round the World 1924 - SS. Remuera Ulimaroa Orsova Mongolia. Privately Printed, 1924.
27R London Southampton January 17, 1924 Wellington Southampton May 22 1924 Auckland R
Plymouth Southampton September 25 1924 Wellington R
Southampton Southampton January 29 1925 R
Southampton Southampton June 5 1925 Wellington R
Southampton October 23 1925 R
Southampton Southampton March 12, 1926 Auckland list holder Southampton July 30 1926 R
London Southampton Dec 4 1926 Wellington R
Southampton Southampton May 6 1927 Wellington Southampton September 30, 1927 Wellington and Lyttleton Bruce Blair firstname.lastname@example.org .
has a passenger list for this sailing he is happy to share.
Southampton Southampton February 17 1928 Auckland R
Southampton With NZ Olympic team for July 1928 games in Amsterdam. Southampton July 18 1928 Southampton Nov 23 1928 Wellington R
Southampton Southampton April 12 1929 R
Southampton Southampton August 30 1929 Auckland R
Southampton Southampton January 17 1930 Auckland R
Southampton London June 13 1930 Southampton R Wellington Southampton 47
October 24, 1930 Wellington November 30, 1930 Southampton, Curacao, Panama 47R
January 3, 1931 London February 9, 1931 Pitcairn, Panama, Curacao 48 Southampton March 13, 1931 Wellington April 19, 1931 Passengers R Law, W Law, J Law 49 Southampton July 25, 1931 Auckland September 5, 1931 50 Southampton Dec 18, 1931 Wellington 51 London May 5, 1932 NZ 52 London August 25, 1932 Wellington 53 London December 15, 1932 Wellington January 22, 1933 Plymouth, Curacao, Panama 53R
February 18, 1933 London March 28, 1933 Panama 54 London April 6, 1933 Wellington May 15, 1933 Plymouth, Curacao, Panama 54R
June 10, 1933 London July 18, 1933 Panama, Curacao 55 London August 24, 1933 Auckland September 29, 1933 Curacao, Panama 55R
October 26, 1933 London December 2, 1933 Panama, Curacao 56 London December 14, 1933 Wellington January 20, 1934 Plymouth, Curacao, Panama 56R
February 17, 1934 London March 26, 1934 Panama, Curacao 57 London April 7, 1934 Auckland May 14, 1934 Curacao, Panama 57R
June 9, 1934 London July 17, 1934 Panama, Curacao 58 London August 23, 1934 Wellington September 30, 1934 Curacao, Panama 58R
October 24, 1934 London December 3, 1934 Panama, Curacao 59 London December 13, 1934 Wellington January 20, 1935 Curacao, Panama 59R
February 16, 1935 London March 26, 1935 Panama, Curacao 60 London April 4, 1935 Wellington May 13, 1935 Curacao, Panama 60R
June 8, 1935 London July 14, 1935 Panama, Curacao 61 London August 22, 1935 Wellington September 28 (scheduled) 61R Auckland London 62
December 11, 1935 63 Plymouth / London April 4/7, 1936 NZ 63R Wellington London 64 Newport August 18, 1936 NZ 65 London / Plymouth December 10/11, 1936 NZ 66 London April 14, 1937 NZ 67 London / Plymouth August 18/20, 1937 NZ 68 London Dec 15, 1937 Wellington 69 London / Plymouth April 27/29, 1938 Auckland 69R
July 2, 1938 NZ 70 London / Plymouth August 22/23, 1938 NZ 71 London / Plymouth March 9/10, 1939 NZ 72 London July 12, 1939 NZ 73 London December 12, 1939 Wellington 74R
July 12, 1940 London Sunk August 26th
Remuera often travelled to different ports on the New Zealand Coast collecting cargo before making the trip to Britain. Stops included Lyttleton, Timaru, Tokomaru Bay, Port Chalmers, Bluff, Napier, Gisborne and Waikokopu. She visited Auckland 19 times between 27 June 1924 and 13 June 1940.
Many thanks to:
- David Howse, grandson of Captain Edward Holland, for much of the information in this table.
- Stephen Smith for 1920's dates.
- Sheila Jones for information about early sailings.
- Steve Butler
- Tim Young - who has a particular Pitcairn interest.
- Michelle Sim, for some documents / postcards / photos
Findmypast - has UK outbound voyage lists (free) and passenger lists (pay-for).
David Ransom has a site New Zealand Shipping Company www.nzsc.co.uk which has
- Passenger Lists
- Slide shows
- Ephemera and
Other Remuera Sites and Information:
Sea Breezes, February 1971, Vol 45 No 302, p102 Steamers of the Past, "Remuera" of 1911.
New Zealand Marine News 1983 Volume 34 Number 1
"Time to Go Sparky " Victor Jack Hickey published in 1994 by G D Hornby, ISBN No 0 9522814 0 6
Hickey was her radio officer in 1936/37.
"Pitcairn: Port of Call" Herbert Ford. 1996 Hawser Titles, Angwin California. ISBN 0964964201
Plowman, P. 1981, "Passenger Ships of Australia and New Zealand Vol 1", Doubleday, Lane Cove.
Tim Young, SS Remuera. UCKLUN TULL UN DEM TULL, Pitcairn News. Volume 4 No 9 October 2010 Copy at http://www.demtullpitcairn.com/theremuera.html
The Story of an Immigrant Ship Garry Law 2010 Heritage Matters. Issue 25 Summer 2010/11
Photo from a 1914 voyage: http://timetravelphotography.blogspot.com/2011/01/lord-and-lady-farnham-on-remuera-in.html
Later Remuera Ships:
SS Remuera - Ex ParthiaParthia: 13,362 tons, Built 1948 for Cunard, Harland & Wolff - Belfast, geared turbine powered. In 1961 sold to New Zealand Shipping Co, renamed Remuera. She was the sole non-motor ship in the fleet and thereby a bit of a misfit. By 1965 the mixed passenger / freight ship had had its day. The airlines had captured the passengers. Transferred to P&O, renamed Aramac. Later Eastern & Australian Line. Traded from Australia to the Far East. She last sailed in 1969 and was scrapped in 1970.
Remuera Bay, container ship, P&O
Built Walkers Tyneside, 1973, 42,007 tonnes
Later BERLIN EXPRESS owned by the German Hapag-Lloyd (photo). Since scraped.
News Jan 2002:
P&O Nedlloyd takes delivery of reefer containership
"The first of seven new large reefer containerships is being delivered to P&O Nedlloyd this month in Korea. Following successful sea trials, she will arrive on her inaugural voyage in New Zealand in early February.
The vessel will be named P&O Nedlloyd Remuera in Auckland on February 10. Following the ceremony she will make calls in Napier, Port Chalmers and Melbourne before proceeding on a round voyage to North Asia, returning to New Zealand in March.
This latest Remuera follows a line of vessels bearing the name through P&O Nedlloyd's predecessor companies. Over 25 years ago, the Remuera Bay was among the largest reefer containerships in the world. With 1,300 integral reefer plugs, the P&O Nedlloyd Remuera is once again one of the world's largest reefer containerships."
She has since been renamed Maersk Denia by a new owner but continues as a regular NZ visitor.
From NZ National Archive (with many thanks to Dave Grantham)
|Name||Age||Occupation||Birthplace||Port at which passengers have contracted to land|
|Law Mr J||17||Clerical||Scotland||Wellington|
|Law Mr R||19||Insurance Clerk||"||"|
|Law Mr W||
They are respectively, James (1914-93), Robert (my father, 1912-1985 ) and William (Bunt, 1917-55).
The Remuera is if you like the waka of the Law family - as she no doubt is of many other immigrant families.
There were only 58 passengers on this voyage.
Passenger loadings on 1931 and 1935 voyages (Word download).