Just past the Calshot Spit Lightship was where the “little ships” were to berth. I found a nice empty spot and decided I would hang around there to see what happened. It turns out it was one of the best spots to be because the ships would come around Shieldhall’s bow and come alongside more or less where I was standing. The first major arrival was the preserved Thames steam tug Challenge which is going to be based in Southampton from now on.
A very nice Aveling & Porter that reminded me a lot of the steam roller “Judy” that was in steam at the James Hall Museum of Transport during the late 80’s.
And while on the subject of Whistles. There was supposed to be a steam whistle challenge between Shieldhall and Challenge that did not really happen. I suspect one or both did not quite have enough puff left. But once they rectified that it was a different story. Shieldhall has a very “strange” siren, and I did manage to capture it on video.
Even the Navy was present, although they did seem a bit lost without a ship. There were members of HMS Collingwood helping out at the festival wearing their best outfits and I was almost green with envy.
There was one highlight that everybody was waiting for, eyes glued to the sky, cameras at the ready. The last remaining flying Lancaster PA474 from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight was scheduled to do a flyover at rough;y 16H00. It was a long wait because we did not know if the weather would keep her down, or if she was coming at all, or which direction she was coming from. However, I soon heard an unfamiliar noise and saw a speck tracking across the sky. She had arrived!
It was one of those oooh moments. And I could not decide whether to film it, photograph it, or watch it. I finally decided on a combination of all three. The noise is so unfamiliar, and I could not but help think that if you multiplied it by 1000 then you may have known what a 1000 bomber raid must have sounded like during World War 2.
The one area where I did spend a lot of time was at the “army” display. And it was quite nostalgic too, especially when I ended up comparing notes about being a conscript with somebody that had been a conscript in the UK. Strangely enough a lot of their experiences were the same as mine, except mine were in Afrikaans.
I did get to try out a Sten which was probably one of those guns from my childhood that I really wanted to try out (thank you Battle Picture Library)
And of course there was a Thompson Machine Gun (aka Tommy Gun) which is another weapon I drooled about as a youngster, except it did require a violin case to carry it in.
Neither could I assist with their broken staff car….
And, the army had brought along a searchlight, and I could not help remember the old Rand East Show when they SADF used to shine the searchlights from the Milner Park Showgrounds. I suppose these are all obsolete now, and would not conform to some obscure EU directive anyway.
Of course much of this is out of sequence, because I ended the day on board SS Shieldhall, and after spending quite a lot of time on board her departed with a ticket in my grubby hands for a cruise on board on the next day.
She is a magnificent vessel, with no pretensions about being anything but a working vessel. She has all the required shiplike appurtenances and tiddly bits. She is well maintained and well loved too, and is probably one of the most loved preserved vessels in the United Kingdom. I will cover her in a separate blogpost because there is so much to say and see about her.
Inside the Ocean terminal there were a lot of organisations touting for business, and I had lots of chats with some of the stall holders, you just can’t help reminiscing about the “good ole’ days when the QE2 was ‘ere”. Southampton has a rich passenger ship heritage that is part of the history of the port. And while the Titanic does seem to attract most of the attention most ship buffs do recall the many other ships that called Southampton their home.
Then it was time to go home. It had been an awesome day. I cannot even begin to cover most of what I saw, I believe there were over 5000 people on that day, and the warm weather meant that many shed their drab winter gear.
So, to close off the first day I will leave you with an image of a child in a gas mask. Now wasn’t that a great idea? I am sure his mum will come and fetch him eventually. But until she does, continue onwards to Day 2 of the Maritime Festival