Elder Dempser Lines Ltd of Liverpool,
MV Aureol completed
in 1951, she was lovingly known as "The White Swan"!
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Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Lecturer
Note: All ssmaritime and my other related ssmaritime sites are 100%
non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated
with any cruise or shipping companies or travel/cruise agencies or any other
organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May
1960 and is now semi-retired, but continues to write article on classic liners
and cruise ships in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts for
above ssmaritime created logo is based on an original Elder Dempster Lines
postcard of MV Aureol
as the … -“White Swan”-
Note: Photographs on this feature are from the
author’s private maritime collection unless noted otherwise
Over many years there have been some excellent
passenger liners that have been mid-sized, such as the hardworking Elder
Dempster Lines’ MV Aureol she was
unlike some of the grander and faster “blue water” liners of her
It is for that reason such fine ships as the
ship, which was so lovingly known as the “White
Swan” that is seldom afforded much space in maritime history
books or online for that matter. Yet I have found from a many emails received
over the years that she was indeed a greatly loved ship by her loyal passengers
and crew. I never heard a bad word about her, for everyone seemed to love the
ship and gave her and the crew so much praise, be it from those who travelled
in First Class or Cabin Class. From crew members, I can say that they were a
most dedicated team, and believe me, I have heard from a ship’s Engineer,
several officers, stewards as well as a deckhand and they all seemed to have
most memorable experiences.
A very special
postcard of mine, it is part of a limited edition ever printed of the MV Aureol
original painting by @ R.G. Lloyd
It is for this reason I am delighted to add
the delightful MV Aureol to the
huge list of ships I already have online, even though I commenced this feature
back in 2012, but an email received not long ago made me look back what I had
already commenced and decided to slowly finish it. I trust that you will enjoy
learning more about the ship known as the “White
Order Placed, Construction
In March 1949 Elder Dempster Lines placed an
order with Alexander Stephen &
Sons Ltd to construct their new ship at their yard on the River
Clyde Glasgow. This would be
their last passenger liner in order for them to be able to operate a
fortnightly service from Liverpool to West
Africa with their two other slightly
smaller ships in operation.
The new ship was going to be named
“Aureol”, being the name of large mountain that rises up behind the
city of Freetown
in Sierra Leone.
Her keel was laid down in Yard 629 and construction continued until the time
came she was ready to be launched.
She was officially named and launched on March
28, 1951 by Mrs E. Tansley, once in
the water the Aureol was towed to her fit-out berth for completion and internal
fit-out. Early October 1951 all work had been completed and she undertook her
Speed Trials, which she did successfully and she was delivered to her owners
directly after Speed Trials.
Her we see
the brand new MV Aureol arriving
at her Liverpool berth just
after being delivered in October 1951
MV Aureol was the very last flagship ever for Elder Dempster Lines and she
was also the largest passenger ship ever built for the company. At 14,083 Gross
Tons, the MV two Aureol was somewhat larger than her earlier sisters, the 11,600
Gross Tonne MV Accra (1947) and the MV Apapa (1948),
and the Aureol had cost twice as much to build as the two earlier ships
together. MV Aureol
accommodated 253 First-Class passengers, with another 73 in Cabin Class,
although there were 24 cabins that were interchangeable, between First and
Cabin Class. She had a crew of 145 to man her.
These are MV Aureol’s
running mates; the MV Accra and MV Apapa
Having arrived in Liverpool,
many locals came to see Elder Dempster’s new liner, and they loved what
they saw, with her traditional style yellow funnel and gleaming white hull that
had a thin band around her hull, combined with her beautifully raked bow and a
perfectly designed and stacked superstructure, all this combined was the reason
she earned the nickname, the “White Swan”.
one of the early Elder Dempster Lines postcards of the MV Aureol
All First Class Social Rooms and the Swimming
Pool were located on Lower Promenade (B) Deck which was glassed in forward,
whilst Cabin Class Social Rooms were also on this Deck, but located aft. Up on
Upper Promenade overlooking the Swimming Pool there was the Veranda and
Cocktail Bar. Up on Boat Deck there was the Children’s Facilities, with a
Nursery, Games Room, Play Deck and their own pool. Both First and Cabin Class
Dining Rooms were on Main (E) Deck.
Two large luxury Suites having their own
Lounge, and full sized bath room were located forward on Upper Promenade Deck.
All other cabins were located on C and D Decks. Those for First Class were
either a single berth or twin bedded cabins and some of the interchangeable
twin bedded cabins had an extra Pullman
berth available for a third person or child. Only 17 rooms in First Class had a
full bath room, whilst all others have a hot and cold basin in he cabin and a
private toilet in their cabin. Cabin Class were all two or three berth cabins
without private facilities, however, the accommodations were exceptionally
comfortable and the showers, bathrooms and toilets were nearby and were always
kept completely spotless! For interest she was fully air-conditioned and had
four holds as well as refrigerated space for fruit and other perishables.
Elder Dempster Lines in
Alexander Elder was born in Glasgow
in 1834. He was the son of David
Elder, who for many
years was manager of Robert
Napier and Sons, the
engine and shipbuilders and the brother of John Elder. Alexander Elder served as
chief engineer of the “Columbian”, an iron barque of 2,189
tons, which was fitted with a 400 horse-power auxiliary engine. Then in 1856 Alexander Elder
joined “W. and H. Laird” to act as superintendent
engineer for the “African Steamship Company”.
Dempster was born in 1837 in Penport, Thornhill, and Dumfriesshire where his father, William Dempster, was
the builder for the Duke of Buccleuth. The Dempster family moved to Birkenhead
in the 1840s, and in 1851 John
also joined “W. and H. Laird”, but as just as a junior clerk
considering he was aged just fourteen.
However Alexander and John somehow worked together and
“Elder Dempster and Company” was formed and began its commercial
activities on October 1, 1868. Although, “Elder Dempster Shipping Limited” was formed officially in 1899. Among their
early ships were the liner SS Monterey and the steamer SS Montezuma, both
were chartered in early 1900’s as British troop ships destined for South Africa during
the Second Boer War. Also in 1900 they established a direct steamship
service between the United Kingdom
and the West Indies.
Elder and Dempster became a big success story and they grey into a large
company, which brings us to 1951.
In 1951, Elder Dempster Lines was one of the
major shipping lines serving West Africa.
In their heyday as well as operating many cargo ships they now operated three
passenger liners, the brand new MV Aureol, and the 1947/48 built MV Accra
and Apapa (as seen above) on scheduled services from Liverpool,
headquarters was based in the India Buildings in Liverpool.
Their three passenger liners were based at Brocklebank Dock in Liverpool
and their liners boarded passengers at Liverpool Landing Stage “Pier
Head”, which was adjacent to the Liverpool Riverside Railway Station,
meaning passengers could travel from all over the UK
directly to their ship.
Maiden Voyage and her
MV Aureol departed Liverpool
on her maiden voyage on November 3, 1951 under the command of Captain J.J.
with a full complement of passengers.
MV Aureol is seen her at Liverpool’s Pier Head
Landing Stage ready for departure
Very quickly passengers fell in love with the
new spacious and more comfortable liner as she offered excellent public rooms,
with fine accommodations and service was of a very high standard. Many
passengers would return again and again, and then there would be the business
traveller, who preferred the Aureol as their ship of choice!
One of the
most beautiful photographs of the MV Aureol I have
by Peter Martin (Wigan,
the Photographer is unknown – Please see the Photo Notes at the bottom of
MV Aureol’s ex Liverpool
Schedules during her years of service:
January to December 1953: Liverpool, Las Palmas,
January to December 1961: Liverpool, Las Palmas,
3 - December 1967 to December
1968: Liverpool Las
(Apapa). She called at Takoradi (instead of Tema) on her return voyages.
simply a great bow photograph of the MV Aureol!
is unknown – Please see the Photo Notes at the bottom of the page!
By the mid 1960s the MV
Accra and Apapa were sadly
becoming less profitable thus they were both sold in 1968, whilst the MV the
Aureol remained to carry on duties on her own. However it was decided to
convert her to a One-Class Liner with a maximum of 451 berths. Whilst the
southbound voyages were normally fully booked, the northbound generally had a
lower occupancy rate.
Erlam, a director of Elder Dempster stated in November 1971; “The
Aureol is now an old ship and is expensive to operate, maintain and
repair”. Somehow, many could see that the writing was on the Wall for the
wonderful and much loved “White Swan”. But she still had a few
years left in her!
On March 16, 1972 the Aureol departed Liverpool
for the very last time to make her final West African Voyage. Although her
departure was held up due to thick fog which prevented the liner leaving her
berth at the Brocklebank Dock for the landing stage. Later the Aureol was replaced by an Express Cargo service to West
Africa from Liverpool
and many traditional passengers were not particularly happy.
see a silhouette of the much loved MV Aureol, she spent 23 years on the West African passenger service
The Aureol returned to Southampton
at the end of the final voyage from Liverpool
as the Mersey Docks & Harbour Company had closed the passenger facilities
at the Landing Stage.
remained the Aureol’s
Main Terminal and she continued her West African Voyages as per normal that is
until October 21, 1974, two and a half years later.
This time it was Mr G.J. Ellerton, the
chairman of Elder Dempster Lines, who stated that the withdrawal of the Aureol
was a matter of deep regret. It would mean the end of a service that begun in
the 1860s, and for that reason they had hoped it would be possible to find a
replacement ship which would enable a viable passenger service to be
maintained, but of course there was never a replacement ship found, for
everyone doubted that they even looked, for it had become all about cargo ships
with containerisation if possible.
Thus after her final return to Southampton, on
October 21, 1974, the 23 year old MV Aureol was laid up in the southern port
after having completed 203 round voyages during her West African Passenger
Cargo service from both Liverpool and Southampton. She was also placed on the
market for a rapid sale.
The question begs, why was she taken off the
service, was she in a poor condition, had she suffered poor passenger numbers
and was she loosing heaps of money? The truth is quite otherwise.
I have received a statement from a senior
officer aboard the Aureol at that time, who told me the following:
“Right to the very end she had
a relatively good occupancy rate (passenger loadings) and she continued to make
a profit, it was decided in 1974 to withdraw her mostly because of the
following according HQ, for management stated, that it was; ‘due to
brittle post war steel used during her construction’ I call that
utter rubbish, she was in perfect condition!”
memories of the MV Aureol departing
as seen on this Elder’s postcard
VI 1974 to 2001:
The Aureol was immediately sold to the Greek
oil tycoon Mr. John S. Latsis, owner of
“Marianna Shipping & Trading Company” registered in Panama.
In November she headed under her own power for Piraeus,
where she was given a refit. Changes were made to her two forward Suites to
become super luxurious for special guests, as well for Mr, Latsis’
private use, also the Cabin Class Lounge was removed, but otherwise she
remained very much as was with all her fine polished hardwoods, etched glass
fixtures and brass. In January 1975 with all work completed, she was renamed ‘Marianna VI’ being the name of one of Mr. Latsis’
In March 1975 the Marianna VI
headed for Jeddah
in Saudi Arabia
for the Latsis Groups had recently commenced major construction works in Saudi Arabia.
She was used to accommodate management and workers on the company’s works
freshly painted and refurbished MV Marianna VI
is seen in the port
courtesy of; www.greekshippingmiracle.org/en/founding-supporters/john-latsis.html
During her time with the Latsis years, Marianna VI was beautifully maintained, and
many diplomats who visited Saudi Arabia
arranged to stay aboard the Marianna
even the visiting Mr. Henry Kissinger stayed
in her prestigious Grand Owners Suite. She became the one of the finest accommodation
ships around as she was a ship that offered perfection, and Mt Latsis ensured
the finest cuisine and always had the best chef’s and stewards on board
to care for his privileged guests! Whilst all accommodations for workers,
pilgrims and office staff, as well as public rooms and facilities was
excellent, and offered a variety of dining options.
In February 1979, she was replaced by the much
larger Margarita L, being the former Union
Castle Line Flagship - RMS
The Marianna VI
returned to Piraeus
where she received an overhaul and she was refurbished.
With her makeover completed around June 1980,
the Marianna VI
and sailed once again to Saudi Arabia
and headed this time to Rabigh on the Red Sea,
being just 125 miles north of Jeddah. She became once again an office,
accommodation and a leisure centre ship for senior staff and general workers of
the “Petrola International Construction
Company, S.A.” She remained at Rabigh for just
over eight and a half years.
VI is seen here looking somewhat worn after eight years without
external attention at Rabigh
The Ship’s Lengthy Final Days:
Having served close to 14 years in Saudi
Arabia the ex Elder Dempster’s final passenger liner sailed from Rabigh to Piraeus
in February 1989 and, this fine ship was still in excellent condition. Upon
arrival, it was decided that she would was laid up at the nearby
where she remained for many years.
Whilst laid up at Eleusis
the Marianna VI was well maintained internally, but, sadly as Mr. John
Latsis’ health deteriorated the sad truth ass that he had quite a number
of vintage British liners and as he was unable to care for his beloved ships,
they sadly began to suffered badly both internally, but also externally as her
hull and superstructure began to look weather worn with a good deal of rust
showing, and by 2001 it was very much worse!.
see a sad looking Marianna VI
whilst she was being neglected & she is seen laid up with an unknown ship
tells me that as far as he knows this photo was taken around 1999 or 2000
by Peter Martin (Wigan,
Photographed by & © Peter J. Fitzpatrick
Having been laid up for a good 12 years, in
March 2001, despite being in remarkably intact condition, but looking somewhat
sad due to neglect, the former MV
Aureol (MV Marianna VI)
was sold to Indian ship breakers. She soon sailed under her own power via the
Suez Canal to Alang,
arriving there on May 6, 2001. Thereafter, she was soon beached and breaking up
commenced rapidly as the Indians tends to do.
Amazingly the MV Aureol
/ Marianna VI
somehow spent more than half of her fifty years afloat in a static role, 14
years as an accommodation ship and 12 years in lay up at Eleusis Bay,
MV Aureol Specifications:
Name 1: MV Aureol.
Dempster Lines Ltd., 1951 to 1974.
Name 2: MV Marianna VI.
Owner Marianna Shipping &
Trading Company. 1974 to 2001.
Port of Registry: Liverpool,
INO N°: 5030878.
Official Number: 183819
Builder: Alexander Stephen and
Launched: March 28, 1951.
Speed Trials: October
Delivered: October 1951.
Maiden Voyage: November
GRT, 7,689 NRT, 8,827 DWT.
m - 537 ft.
m - 21.4 ft.
m - 25.1 ft.
x 4 Cylinder Doxford Diesels - 10,800
Service Speed: 16 knots.
. 76 Cabin Class.
. 74 berths interchangeable between First & Cabin Class.
Broken Up: Alang India,
Remembering the Much Loved “White Swan”!
wonderful painting and a treasured memory of the Aureol departing Liverpool
by © maritime artist John Stobart
another Elder Dempster Lines ship …
The: MV Calabar - Later renamed the
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