The Union Castle R Class ships ROWALLAN, RUSTENBURG, RIEBEECK, RICHMOND, ROSLIN and ROCHESTER CASTLE were primarily used for the South African fruit trade and laid up in the River Blackwater each year for about three months out of season.
15 February 1967 Tony Wilding signed on in Maldon, for a voyage on RIEBEECK CASTLE.
An entry on www.shipsnostalgia.com gives a realistic view of a trip on the vessel.
"I joined RIEBEECK CASTLE in the Blackwater, what a mess, got on coach at King George V Dock, had to bump start it, got soaked on fishing boat joining ship, half the Engine Room crowd refused to sail, red rust down below, sailed to Las Palmas for bunkers, almost got logged, missed 2 watches, on return voyage in Las Palmas 2 weeks broken down on shore power, scavenge fires every day, the good old days, ?
RIEBEECK CASTLE was broken up Kaohsiung 2 Sep 1971
Oyster Company ledger 15 September 1962 compensation 1 week 3 days.
8 December 1962 compensation 4 weeks.
Union Castle Mail SS
Above: Signon for Tony Wilding at Maldon 15 Feb 1967 Date: 15 February 1967. Source: Mersea Museum / Tony Wilding Collection
Above: Union Castle RIEBEECK CASTLE, thought to be during one of her visits to the River Blackwater. Date: 1960s. Source: Mersea Museum / Ian Clarke Collection