News from 1913: Maiden voyage of Ceramic

Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Sidney Morning Herald, 14 August 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


The new White Star liner Ceramic, at present on her maiden voyage to
Australia, arrived at Capetown on Tuesday. At times the Ceramic attained a
speed of 17 knots an hour. She is due at Albany on August 25.


Adam Went

Apr 28, 2003
Good stuff, Mark. The only problem with these resources is that you might not always like what you find. Ah yes, I remember scanning the Trove for reports of my grandfather (who fought with the RAF in World War II) and came across one of his being drunk and abusive on a train once upon a time - he was subsequently kicked off and fined 5 pounds for his trouble. Nice. :)


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000

You never know, of course, what you're going to find when you start poking around in old news sources like this. The best example of this (I think) is that in 1885 Bruce Ismay won the Gentlemen's Doubles Championship of New South Wales in the Intercolonial Lawn Tennis Tournament at Sydney; there are links to the contemporary Australian news reports of this tournament on Ismay's bio page.

Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Mercury, Hobart, 16 August 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


The "Commercial News and Shipping List," Sydney, of August 12, says:

The "answer" to the Ceramic (the 18,000-ton leviathan which will be in
Australian waters at the close of the present month) was not long in coming,
and, as is befitting, was given by one of the most famous lines associated
with the Australian trade, namely, Messrs. Alfred Holt and Co., who, the
cable tells us, have placed orders for the construction of two
20,000-tonners. "The history of the famous Blue Funnel fleet's connection
with the Commonwealth was published so recently in our columns (just prior
to the advent of the Nestor) that it will not bear retelling now, sufficient
being that it has been one of remarkable progress and prosperity, but in the
"answer" to the Ceramic they have brought the fact once again home to us, a
fact that is evident to all daily, that there must be a stoppage in this
competition for the largest vessel coming to Australia, or else the time
will arrive when the majority of Australian ports will be unable to
accommodate the mammoths. It is a poor lookout indeed that our growing
trade, capable of development a hundredfold, yet, and which makes it
necessary for the introduction of such large vessels is brought face to face
with a problem of this nature, a problem, too, that there is not, and never
has been, any cause for it to arise, had our harbour engineers troubled to
make themselves conversant with what has been going on in the shipping world
in the last 10 or even five years, for, situated geographically, as
Australia is, it should have been clear to them (it has been to everybody
else) that her very existence depended upon our shipping connections, and,
in consequence, large vessels would invariably be the rule. But lamentation
on that heading is but futile waste of time, although even now it is not too
clear to us that the Harbour authorities realise it, else there would be
more doing to remedy the many defects our ports suffer from instead of
remarks and opinions being circulated to the effect that the port is
"capable of accommodating the largest vessels," and so on.

Such statements, are totally at variance with fact, not only with regard to
Melbourne, but Sydney and most other ports. In fact we go so far as to say
that, even if the two 20,000-tonners get in safely (leaving aside the
Ceramic altogether, for she is so soon to be ousted from the position of
leviathan of Australia), there is only one port in the Commonwealth about
which such remarks could be given with definiteness, and that port is
Hobart. The Hobartites have worked with a vigour unknown
elsewhere. Perhaps they have not done so without a flourish of trumpets, but
still they have "made good," as our American cousins would say, and they
have built up a port of which they have every right to be proud, and if they
still persist in the belief that their port will be the transhipping centre
for the mammoth vessels experience tells us will eventually be drafted into
the Australian service, they certainly have good grounds for doing so, a
fact which Messrs. Alfred Holt and Co.'s order forcibly impresses upon the
mind, for the time must come when vessels, owing to increasing size and
draught, will be unable to visit elsewhere, either to land or load cargo
unless a radical change comes about.


Adam Went

Apr 28, 2003
Hi Mark,

Well I never knew that, interesting stuff. Sport played a big part in the lives of Victorian and Edwardian people though so it's not too surprising (perhaps we could refer this back to the "1912 Height and Weight" thread re comparitive health ;-) ).


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 August 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


The new White Star liner Ceramic is due to reach Albany on Monday next, and,
as she is the largest vessel which has ever entered an Australian port, her
advent should attract widespread attention. She is a vessel of 18,481 tons
gross, and has seven steel decks. Her insulated capacity alone is over
310,000 cubic feet. She also has 28 steel derricks, 29 steam winches, two
warping capstans, and steam windlass, etc. Provision has been made for a
total complement of 820 passengers, for whom two swimming baths are
provided. She has sufficient lifeboats to accommodate all on board. On her
present voyage she has attained a speed of 17 knots. The two 4.7
quick-firers fitted by the Admiralty, throw a 45lb shell a distance of 6
miles. The Ceramic is the first liner on which firing practice has been
actually carried out.


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The West Australian, Perth, 26 August 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


Albany, Aug. 25
The new White Star liner Ceramic, 18,500 tons---the largest steamer yet to
cross the line---arrived from Liverpool this afternoon. As it was
anticipated that the ship would reach the harbour in the morning, a Mayoral
reception and owners' luncheon were arranged to take place during the day. A
wireless message received last night, however, held out no hope of the
vessel's arrival until 6 o'clock, and in consequence all the social
functions were postponed until to-morrow. This meant a disappointment to
many visitors from the country who had accepted the Mayor's invitation to be
present, and had to leave for their homes again by to-night's train. As it
was, the Ceramic put in her appearance much earlier than was expected, and
those who could not remain till to-morrow had the satisfaction of looking
over the ship even if they missed the attendant ceremonies.

It was 2 o'clock when the hoisting of the familiar flags announced that the
liner had been sighted. She was not sighted until close up to Breaksea, and
it was therefore but half an hour later that the Ceramic entered the Sound.
She steamed to a point within two miles of the channel, and there picked up
Captain Winzar, who was to pilot her in, and Dr. Blackburne, quarantine
officer. At 3.30 p.m. she was abreast of the end of the jetty, and by 10
minutes to 4 she was snugly berthed, the operation having been effected
without assistance. The gangway was lowered, but friends afloat and on the
jetty had to defer meeting until the doctor had passed the ship. Advantage
was then taken of the opportunity to board the leviathan by hundreds of

There was little in the appearance of the Ceramic, seen from the distance,
to distinguish her from other vessels of the line which call here regularly,
but at close quarters her immense proportions were very apparent. "A
magnificent ship indeed," was the impression gained by all interested in
maritime affairs. The Ceramic on entering the port was drawing 25ft.
forward, and 30ft. aft, and she made the jetty look very small as she ranged
the full 675ft. of her length alongside. She is said to be just about as
large a ship as the Port of London can accommodate, and as that is a
governing factor the Ceramic may be regarded as likely to be near the limit
in the matter of ship construction for some time. It is estimated that,
fully loaded, she can carry 20,000 tons of cargo. On her present trip her
manifest accounts for as much as 18,481 tons, 400 of which will be landed at

The biggest improvement shown by the Ceramic, as compared with other vessels
of the line, is in her steaming capabilities. All the way from Capetown
south-east winds and gales and head seas were experienced, yet the ship
averaged 15.22 knots an hour. On two days during the run she averaged 16[?;
unclear].25 knots, but given fair conditions she is expected to make 15.75
knots. The Ceramic carries a crew of 226 men, and on her present trip she
has 450 passengers on board.

Captain J. Stivey, R.N.R., is well known here, having formerly commanded the
Afric. He received the congratulations of many friends to-day on the arrival
of the vessel. By a happy coincidence he received advice at Albany of his
promotion to the rank of Commander in the Royal Naval Reserve.

The Ceramic's passengers for Albany were: -Mesdames Balsdon and child,
Dawson, Foot, French, Hawkens, Horne, Horsfall and 3 children, Langford,
Thomson, Throssell and 2 children, Walmsley and child, Burns and 2 children,
Kennedy, Robson, and Ross, Misses Ball, Bennett, Bullen, Hawkens (2), Horne,
Langford, Lawrence, Potts, Spavin, Wood, Trim, Grosholz, and Stone, Messrs.
Bailey, Balsdon, Dreadmore, Foot, Fremantle, French, Gunnerinwen, Hussock,
Hartshorn, Hawkens (2), Hodder, Jones (2), Kitcheng, Lawrence, McNamara,
O'Brien, Ross, Treby, Walmsley, Burns, Zeidermann, Carmichael, Glasson,
Kennedy (4), Klotz, and Wright.
The White Star twin screw liner Ceramic was built in the dockyards of
Harland and Wolff at Belfast, and was launched early last month. Intended
for the Australian trade, and carrying only one class of passengers, she is
designed and arranged on lines which, it is claimed, make her an ideal ship
for the service in which she will be engaged. Her passenger quarters are
airy and comfortable, and the system of decoration throughout is simple in
the extreme, the result being that the general rooms have a cool, restful
appearance eminently suitable for a long hot-weather voyage. There has been
no attempt whatever to imitate the expensive ornateness of the latest type
of Atlantic liners, and here the owners claim to have displayed great
wisdom. What the passenger who travels in the Ceramic is likely to want is
comfort, in the homelier sense of the word, and this he will get in the
fullest degree. The dining saloon, which is on the middle deck, extends the
full width of the ship, and has accommodation for 500 people at one sitting.
It is essentially a cheerful apartment, the walls being white, and the
lighting arrangements excellent. On the bridge deck there is a large general
room, opening into a reading and writing room, and both these retreats
possess an atmosphere of restfulness which is sure to be appreciated. The
smoke-room, at the other end of the bridge deck, is thoroughly comfortable
and well ventilated, while the state rooms, many of them being two-berth
cabins, are spacious and well appointed. There is an excellently-fitted
gymnasium, and even open-air swimming baths are provided, one for each sex.
The Ceramic carries two 4.7 guns, and during the trial trip of the vessel
the guns were fired without any ill-effect. It has been suggested that the
firing of heavy guns aboard a merchantman would have serious results, as the
structure of the vessel would not be strong enough to stand the strain. The
experiment aboard the Ceramic has, however, effectually disproved this
theory. The Ceramic has the following dimensions:---Length overall, 674ft.
9in.; length, b.p., 655ft.; extreme breadth. 69ft. 5in.; depth, 48ft.; with
a gross tonnage of about 18,500 tons. She has seven steel decks, viz., lower
orlop, orlop, lower, middle, upper, bridge, and boat, and the structure of
the hull is a very strong one, the main scantlings being determined by
Harland and Wolff's long experience with large vessels. There is a cellular
double-bottom extending right out to the sides, with floors on every frame
except in the forward and aft holds where the usual form is adopted. Water
ballast is also carried in the fore and aft peaks. There are twelve
transverse water-tight bulkheads, and these are carried to the upper deck.
The water-tight doors are of massive construction, and are protected with
oil cataracts governing the closing speed. Each door is held in position by
a friction clutch, which can be instantly released by means of a powerful
electro-magnet controlled from the bridge. The refrigerating installation
embodies all the latest facilities for the efficient carriage of large
quantities of produce and for the cold storage of the ship's provisions.
There are 13 large insulated compartments for the carriage of perishable
cargo with a total capacity of over 310,000 cubic feet. and the No. 1 hold
is fitted and lined throughout specially for the carriage of copra. The
Ceramic has accommodation for about 600 passengers ordinarily, with
arrangements for a possible extension for a further 220. and she has
lifeboats sufficient to accommodate all on board. There is, of course, an
installation of wireless telegraphy, and also a submarine signalling
apparatus, and the vessel has electric light throughout. The propelling
machinery consists of two sets of reciprocating engines driving the wing
propellers, and one low pressure turbine driving the central propeller. The
reciprocating engines are balanced on the Yarrow, Schlick, and Tweedy
system, which minimises vibration, and the turbine is of the Parsons type,
designed to operate in the ahead direction only by the exhaust steam from
the other engines.


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The West Australian, Perth, 27 August 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


Albany, Aug. 26
The captain and officers of the White Star liner Ceramic were accorded a
Mayoral reception at the Town Hall this morning. The main hall was decorated
for the occasion, and some 150 persons were present. The Mayor (Mr. H.
Robinson) presided, and among the officers present were-Commander J. Stivey
R.N.R.; Lieutenant P. F. Summers, R.N.R. (chief officer); Lieutenant G. E.
Davey, R.N.R. (second officer); Lieutenant G. Spence, R.N.R. (third
officer); Lieutenant C. H. Bromnely, R.N.R. (fifth oficer).

The Mayor, in proposing the health of the guests, welcomed the Ceramic to
the Commonwealth. He outlined what the White Star Co. had done for commerce
in Australia, and said the arrival of the Ceramic was just as much an
epoch-making event as was the entry of the Medic and sister ships 14 years
ago. The advent of the larger vessels would stimulate the different States
to renewed efforfs in providing suitable harbour accommodation.

Commander Stivey, in reply, said he appreciated the references to his ship.
It had always been a pleasure for him to come to Albany. There was no doubt
that the harbour was a very fine one, and if'a little money were spent on
it---it would not take much, not a fraction of what had been spent at
Fremantle--it would rank among the finest harbours of the world.

Lieutenant Summers, R.N.R. (chief officer), also replied.

Mr. Deykin, president of the Chamber of Commerce, proposed the owners, and
Mr. St. Clair White, the local manager for Dalgety and Co., responded on
their behalf.

Mr. A. H. Dickson proposed "Our, District," and responses were made by
Messrs. A. Muir, J. Martin (Mt. Barker), A. Gee (Broomehilll), J. E. Rowe
(Gnowangerp), Townsend (Tenterden): Crawford (Tambellup), McLaren Moir
(Frankland River), and J. Moir (Cape Riche). All the speakers emphasised the
progress of the back country, and claimed the necessity of improvements at
Albany, as much in the interests of the country as the port.

At the invitation of Dalgety and Co. the officers and leading citizens
partook of luncheon at the Freemasons' Hotel, and in the afternoon Commander
Stivey entertained hundreds of townspeople at afternoon tea.

The Ceramic is timed to resume her journey at daylight to-morrow.


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Register, Adelaide, 30 August 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home

Arrival of the Ceramic

The arrival at the Outer Harbour on Friday afternoon of the White Star liner
Ceramic, the largest merchantman that has ever visited the Commonwealth was
an event of absorbing interest to the shipping and commercial life of
Australia. She reached the offing at 4 o'clock, was boarded by Pilot
Dickson, and berthed at the Outer Harbour an hour later. There was a large
crowd of interested spectators to watch her advent, among whom were Messrs.
Richards, McKenzie, and Clements, of Dalgety and Co.'s Sydney and Melbourne
offices, and Mr. E. V. Day, the sub-manager of the Adelaide branch of the

Finely Modelled Vessel

The enterprise of the White Star Company in building such a magnificent
vessel is at once a recognition of the importance of the Australian trade
with the old country, and an evidence of their faith in the future of the
States of the Commonwealth. The Ceramic did not belie any expectations that
had been formed of her. Handsomely modelled, with four towering steel pole
masts, schooner rigged and one funnel, the vested presented a majestic
spectacle as she glided into her appointed berth. She certainly looks
bigger than any other steamer that has visited South Australia, but there is
symmetry in every line, and not a semblance of top-heaviness. Her principal
dimensions are---Length over all, 674.9ft.; length between perpendiculars,
655 ft.; extreme breadth, 69.5ft:; indicated horse power, 9,000; gross
tonnage, 18,500. She was described by one of the principals of the White
Star Company as a "democratic" ship. The reason and justification for this
description is appealing after an inspection of the liner. She is a
remarkable and distinctive type. The application of engineering science
which has been put into her is of itself remarkable, inasmuch as it embodies
the results of past experience of the owners and builders. It is in regard
to what is offered in the vessel to the travelling public which most marks
the distinctiveness of the new giant liner, apart from the interesting fact
that she is one of the first mercantile ships to be armed under the scheme
recently introduced by Mr. Winston Churchill (First Lord of the Admiralty).
She has accommodation for about 800 passengers, all of one class, and when
the fare is considered, in conjunction with the passenger accommodation, it
becomes quite plain why with perspicacity the White Star official referred
to described the Ceramic as a ''democratic' ship. The rooms are not only
exceptionally big, but are very high between the decks, and an exceptional
feature is the ventilation and natural light.

Public Rooms

The public saloon is equipped with windows in a remarkable degree, and it is
not at all difficult to see that it will become, apart from its use as a
dining saloon, the popular place of meeting for those who travel in the
ship. The same sense of spaciousness is afforded on the decks and the
alleyways. It is said that the alleyway on the main deck is the longest
unbroken alleyway on any ship afloat, and a walk down its length of 450 ft.
is convincing enough. The promenade deck is so big and free that it would be
quite easy to drive a carriage and pair around it.

Wonderful Accommodation

The state rooms are situated on the upper and middle decks, and arranged
mostly in two and four berth cabins. They are large and airy, finished
white. The main entrance and staircase are paneled, framed and finished
white, with an oak panelled dado. The public rooms, in addition to the
dining saloon, consist of general, reading, smoking, and writing apartments,
and a gymnasium on the upper deck, just forward of the smoking room. These
are panelled and framed in oak, with Harland & Woolff's [sic] large brass
framed opening windows, arranged in pairs. All are comfortably furnished,
including card and writing tables and settees. The smoking room on the
bridge deck amidships is panelled and framed in oak. There is a large teak
skylight over the centre of the room. Right throughout the ship the
important subject of ventilation has been arranged to ensure every comfort
to passengers. The captain and officers' quarters are in the steel deckhouse
at the forward end of the boat deck. The chart and wheel house is on the
navigating bridge forward, and the room for wireless telegraphy on the boat
deck amidships. Engineers' accommodation is at the after end of the bridge,
where also the doctor's room and surgery are located. In these days of
scientific treatment hospitals are a necessary part of a ship's equipment,
and these are arranged in the steel house on the after boat deck.

Safety at Sea

The Ceramic is equipped with every kind of apparatus which has been proved
for the prevention of accident and safety at tea. She has wireless
telegraphy, submarine signalling, and boats sufficient to accommodate the
whole of her passengers and crew. For the efficient handling of cargo she
has 28 tubular steel derricks, three for each batch, and four on the boat
deck for coaling purposes. There are 29 steam winches, two warping capstans,
steam windlass, and steering gear.

The Voyage Out

Passengers who travelled in the Ceramic from Liverpool were unanimous in
praise of her seagoing qualities. In the roughest weather the motion of the
ship was scarcely felt. The ship left Liverpool on July 24, and did the run
to Capetown in 17 days, at a speed of 15 knots. Leaving South Africa on
August 12, the voyage to Albany was accomplished in 13 days 39 minutes, the
average speed working out at 15 1/2 knots. Across the Bight 16 knots was


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Daily Herald, Adelaide, 1 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home

Australia's largest liner, the White Star Company's Ceramic, was thrown open
for public inspection at the Outer Harbor on Sunday. Taking advantage of.the
beautiful weather a large crowd of people journeyed to the harbor and great
interest was displayed in the huge vessel, the advent of which marks a
further advance in the shipping history of the Commonwealth. Except in
isolated instances the White Star Company has hitherto kept its passenger
ships at the Semaphore anchorage, but it is understood that, following the
Ceramic, the other vessels of the fleet will in future use the Outer Harbor.
The Ceramic created a favorable impression among those who went over her. It
is understood that the White Star line is building four more steamers of the
Ceramic's type for the trade between Great Britain and Australia. This
morning the Ceramic will continue her voyage to the eastern States.

The Register, Adelaide, 1 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home

The White Star liner Ceramic, the largest vessel which has visited
Australia, was thrown open to public inspection on Sunday afternoon. The
Railway Department put on four special trains, and each was loaded with
sightseers. A charge of 6d. was made by the agents (Dalgety & Co.) for
admission to the ship, the proceeds to be devoted to local shipping
charities. A large sum was thus collected. Although the crowd was an immense
one, the visitors were able to distribute themselves on the spacious decks
and in the general rooms of the vessel without undue inconvenience. The
Ceramic will sail for Melbourne at 6 o'clock this morning.


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Advertiser, Adelaide, 2 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home

To the Editor.

Sir-No inspection of the magnificent steamship, Ceramic, is complete without
a visit to the quarters of the European firemen. After traversing a long and
narrow alley, reminding one of a drive in a mine, one arrives at a doorway
opening into a small room which is uncomfortably filled with iron bunks or
bedsteads. I hesitate to give an estimate of the size of this room, as I do
not wish to say anything unjust to the British Board of Trade or the
management of the company, who are between them, I suppose, responsible for
the conditions I am about to describe; but if I say the room is 20 ft. by 14
ft. by about 9 ft. high, I think I am, if anything, overstating its size.
Within this room are 18 bunks; that is, accommodation for 18 men; and I was
informed that there were 15 men in actual possession at the time of my
visit. I was informed of other things besides, but as seamen are notoriously
fond of mouthing a grievance I prefer to speak of what was evident to my
eyes and nostrils. A few filthy blankets lay on each bunk, and on the floor,
stowed underneath the bottom tiers of the bunks, were sundry deal [?] cases,
into which the men had shoved such personal belongings as they were not
actually wearing. Boots, &c., lay scattered about the floor. There were also
buckets in which the men might wash the coal dust and grime from their hands
and faces when they came up from the stoke-hold, that delightful region in
which they spend their working-hours, and which by the courtesy of one of
their number I visited, but never wish to visit again. The entrance to this
place is by a door opening from the opposite side of the passage mentioned
above. I have been in shearing sheds, mining camps, and the quarters of
other bush-workers, and in the forecastles of merchant ships, but I have
never seen anything worse than the firemen's quarters on this up-to-date
steamer. As might be expected, the atmosphere was most offensive, and it was
impossible to stay long in such a place. And this is a ship where space is
almost unlimited and room is found for a gymnasium and other luxuries for
the passengers! It emphasises the difference between the treatment accorded
to those who pay and those who are paid. When not on duty, the firemen may
not go aft of the alley-way, which shuts them off from communication with
the more respectable part of the ship, but are allowed to exercise
themselves on the forward deck. Yet must they by no means converse with the
third class passengers, the only passengers with whom they would be likely
to enter into conversation. I have described one room. I looked into a
similar one. I do not know how many more there were, and I do not wish to
know. What I do wish to know is why at this time of the world's life a large
body of men exercising necessary and important functions on board a great
ocean liner should not be treated more as men and less like beasts. They
get, it is true, £5 a month and their food, whilst a working beast gets only
its food; but I have seen many animals better housed than these poor devils,
who live and move and have their being in the places 1 have described. It
may be said that these conditions are partly due to the conduct of the men
themselves, but if a large number of men are herded in a small room, which
is practically their living-room, for months at a time, it is impossible for
them to live decently. Even the most self-respecting must relapse into a
state of semi-savagery. I write in the hope of attracting the attention of
the Firemen's Union, which, if it cannot remedy, may at least try to effect
a modification of these conditions.---I am. &c.,

Waymouth-street, September 1, 1913.


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Argus, Melbourne, 3 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


A fitting reception for the largest merchant vessel that has ever come to
Australia was accorded at Port Melbourne last evening to the new 18,500-ton
White Star liner Ceramic, which bears this proud distinction. A large
number of visitors, many having friends on the liner, assembled on the
Railway Pier, and closely watched her movements up the harbour from the
moment when she appeared as a cloud of smoke on the horizon until she slowly
and majestically drew into her berth. Though the weather was somewhat
overcast it was fine, and an absence of wind enabled the task of bringing
the vessel alongside the pier to be completed with despatch. She was made
fast at about a quarter to 5 o'clock amid a perfect salvo of greetings
between passengers on board and friends on shore. The respective crews of
the Persic and the Royal Mail liner Orsova, which lay at the pier, were
interested observers of the event, and generally the scene well repaid those
who had journeyed down from the city to view it. Soon after the liner was
berthed her gangway was lowered, and passengers began to disembark or
awaited on deck the arrival of friends who came trooping up the steps from
the pier.

An excellent illustration of the size of the Ceramic was afforded by
comparing her with the Persic, another White Star liner, which lay on the
opposite side of the pier. From the decks of the Ceramic passengers "looked
down" upon the once-formidable "12,000-ton" liner of the fleet, and
naturally comparisons between the vessels were freely drawn.

It may be safely claimed that no nobler nor stronger-looking liner than the
Ceramic has ever been seen in these parts, and her success in the Australian
trade would appear to be assured.

Demonstrating her fine turn of speed, the Ceramic covered the distance from
Adelaide to Hobson's Bay in 33 hours, reeling off 16 knots an hour at
various stages of the passage without undue effort. This compares favourably
with the performances of the Royal mail liners, and shows that also in
respect of speed the new vessel is a great advance on other White Star
liners trading to the Commonwealth. It has been claimed for the Ceramic by
her owners that she represents a higher level of attainment than has
hitherto been reached in ships of her type, and that she
is, in fact, in a class by herself.

Leaving Liverpool with 440 passengers, the Ceramic had still 385 on board
upon arrival here. Expressions of satisfaction as to the ship and the way in
which their well-being had been studied were heard among passengers, and
generally the maiden voyage of the liner seems to have passed over with

Captain J. Stivey, R.N.R., who has command of the Ceramic, is well-known in
the Australian trade, his former charge having been the Afric. Associated
with him are the following officers:--Chief, Lieutenant F. F. Summers,
R.N.R., formerly of the Arabic; first officer, Lieutenant S. E. Stubbs,
R.N.R., late of the Suevic; second officer, Lieutenant G. Davey,R.N.R., late
of the Celtic; third officer, Mr. G. Spencer, late of the training ship
Mersey; doctor, T. W. Atkins, late of the Arabic; purser, Mr. J. T. Dean;
chief engineer, Mr. H. P. Owen, formerly of the Afric;, second engineer, Mr.
A. Wharton, late of the Cevic; third engineer, Mr. L. P. Bradshaw, late of
the Laurentic; chief steward, Mr. H. Kidd.

The Ceramic will remain here until Saturday next, when she sails for Sydney.


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
MAB note: Mr./Ms. Cameron's original letter was reproduced here on 2
September. I do not know who (s)he was.

The Advertiser, Adelaide, 4 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


To the Editor.

Sir-your well-known and widely-read journal has always been distinguished
for fairness to all classes of the community, and therefore I am not
surprised at the publication of a letter from Mr. C. J. Coventry on the
alleged bad treatment of stokers and firemen by the White Star line. What
does surprise me is, that a member of an honorable and learned profession
should take such a lamentably partial view. If a member of Parliament spoke
in similar terms in the House the public would simply say he was "playing to
the gallery," and any further interest in his remarks would end there. Our
University must be democratic indeed if such sentiments are common among its
under-graduates.-I am, &c,

The Advertiser, Adelaide, 5 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home

To the Editor.

Sir---"Graduate" accuses me of playing to the gallery. He, at all events, is
free from that charge, for an anonymous writer, however much he may display
his courage by writing under a nom de plume, can scarcely be said to be
playing to the gallery. Nor am I conscious of having done so. I think your
correspondent has made the mistake of supposing that the University is the
fount of all knowledge, omitting to notice the wider school of experinece,
[sic] of which he is too obviously not a graduate. But surely there is
something wrong with our University when one of its graduates (for such I
suppose him to be) perpetrates a blunder such as the following:---". . . and
any further interest in his remarks would end there." The University really
ought to take more care of its graduates.-I am, &c.,

Waymouth-street, September 4, 1913.


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Argus, Melbourne, 4 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


Clad in yellow overalls, which will be of a nondescript colour in the course
of a day or two, the whole of the engineering staff of the Ceramic spent
yesterday, as they will spend to-morrow and the next day, in examining the
main engines and the numerous auxiliaries of the great liner, for with new
mechanism put to the test of a 12,000 mile voyage some defects are sure to
develop. In this case, however, they have proved to be of a minor character.
Like Kipling's ship, the Ceramic has already "found herself."

Three propellers drive the liner, so that she is practically safe from total
disablement. The central propeller is driven by a steam turbine, while the
outside, or "wing," propellers receive their motion from reciprocating
engines of the ordinary type. The three develop about 9,000 horse power
between them. It is interesting to learn that the turbine (which does its
full share of the work), practically adds nothing to the coal bill. If it
were taken away, there would have to be the same number of boilers as there
are at present---that is, six each 15ft. in diameter and 19ft. long. Steam
enters the cylinders of the reciprocating engines at 215lb. to the square
inch; it leaves them at only 10lb. pressure. Supposing there was no turbine,
these engines, as one of the staff explained, could not extract more than
4lb. more, and the steam, now at nearly its last gasp, would have to be
turned into the condensers and pumped back to the boilers so much hot water.
But a pressure that the old-fashioned engine can make little or no use of a
turbine will accept with thanks, and so with this dwindling source of
energy, which otherwise would be nearly all wasted, the Parsons turbine gets
a full 3,000 horse power.

There is one point about the Ceramic's motive power equipment that should be
noted. Compared with the mail steamers, and not a few of the coastal
steamers, she is low-powered, for, whilst they have one-horse power or more
for each registered ton, the Ceramic, with a registered tonnage of 18,600,
has only 9,000-horse power, or less than half a horse-power a ton. Yet she
can steam at 16 or even 17 knots an hour---or as well as the best of them.
That is one advantage of the large hull; for it does not take anything like
the power to drive it at a given speed as it would to drive two hulls of
half the size.

One interesting detail of the engine room is a stokehold indicator, which is
attached to the frames of one of the main engines, so as to be always under
the eye of the engineers on watch. By moving an index hand they can let the
stokehold know exactly how they are to fire. According as this indicator is
set a gong will ring in the stokeholds at intervals of five, ten, fifteen,
or twenty minutes. Every time the gong rings the firemen will charge the 30
furnaces. This not only makes the work lighter, but it saves fuel.

The refrigerating installation is the largest of any steamer m the
Australian trade. And the advent of the Ceramic will be welcomed by all
those interested in the export of meat, fruit, and dairy produce. A notable
part of this equipment is the cold storage provided for the ship's
provisions, for with the full complement of 800 passengers and the crew
there will be over 1,000 people to provide for. The cold storage rooms are
kept at about 20 degrees below freezing point; and yesterday, with ice
glittering under the electric light, they were chilly chambers, which one
would have been prepared to take for granted. But this the cicerone
appointed by the purser would by no means allow. There was Australian mutton
(bought in London) to be seen and examined. There were Australian and
British trussed fowls (which rang with a hollow, metallic sound when struck
on their frozen breasts), whose merits had to be compared and pronounced
upon. And it must be remembered that the British bird was the better trussed
and the better grown. A solitary leek, the last of tons, was exhibited as
something that would be an unknown vegetable to the Australian native. Yet
it had a familiar look, too.

After twenty minutes or so in cold storage it was pleasant to got to the
genial warmth of the bakery, where Mr. Carroll, baker-in-chief, dwelt with
gusto on the perfection of the plant under his control. His pride is a
wonderful oven, where he can bake 1,000 hot rolls for each meal, besides
bread, biscuits, tarts and what not. "And how much coke would it take to
bake that lot?" Mr. Carroll asks. But seeing that you are about to estimate
in bags, and so blunder frightfully, he saves the situation by whispering
"eightpence halfpenny." The visitor feels on safer ground in the matter of
fuel consumption when he visits the saloon galley, and sees the 20ft. stove
all aglow with its four fire-boxes; surely it cannot burn much less than a
ton between daylight and dark? Mr. Griffiths, the chief cook, cuts this
estimate down by 50 per cent.

The Ceramic is easily the largest vessel that has entered Australian waters.
Her gross registered tonnage is 18,600. Her displacement on a full load
would be about 25,000 tons The next largest vessels were the Blue Funnel
liner Nestor and the battle-cruiser New Zealand.
Further convincing proof of the extraordinary interest aroused by the
arrival of the new leviathan "White Star" liner Ceramic was afforded
yesterday afternoon, when a large crowd of sightseers went down to Port
Melbourne to view the vessel. The number of people attracted solely by the
Ceramic was greatly increased by others whose chief mission was to see
friends off by the Royal mail Orient liner Orsova, but who subsequently
availed themselves of the opportunity to inspect the Ceramic.

Those people whose only opportunity to inspect the liner is on Saturday
afternoon will be pleased lo learn that the departure of the Ceramic has
been deferred until daybreak on Sunday. Admittance to view the vessel will
be by ticket obtainable through Dalgety and Co., Ltd , agents.


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Argus, Melbourne, 5 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home

So pressing was the demand for tickets of admission to the big "White Star"
liner Ceramic, that Dalgety and Co., Ltd., the agents, were yesterday
compelled to cease issuing them, so as to prevent undue overcrowding. It is
estimated that about 3,000 people visited the liner yesterday afternoon.


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Argus, Melbourne, 8 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


A gratifying response to the call of charity was made on Saturday afternoon
by visitors who were accorded the privilege of inspecting the large "White
Star" line Ceramic at Port Melbourne, over £65 being collected, chiefly in
small silver coins. It is estimated that between 4,000 and 5,000 people
visited the liner. They were shown over the vessel by members of the office
staff of Dalgety and Co. Limited, agents for the vessel.

The sojourn here of the Ceramic ended yesterday morning at 6 o'clock. She
passed through Port Phillip Heads about three and a half hours later, and
should arrive in Sydney early to-morrow morning.


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
Evening News, Sydney, 9 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


The Ceramic is in port and berthed at Dalgety's Wharf, Miller's Point. She
is the Olympic of the Southern Seas.

The newcomer is the largest vessel to visit Australia, and as she lies at
the wharf it has to be remembered that she is 675ft long, or 125ft in excess
of the Persic or other steamers of the White Star line.

Compared with other big vessel known at Sydney, the figures are interesting.
The Nestor, the Blue Funnel's 15,000-tonner, is 580ft long; the Niagara,
Union Company's 13,000-tonner, is 524ft long; the Grosser Kurfurst, N.D.L.,
500ft; the Orama, Orient line. 557ft long; the Argyllshire, F. and S. line,
526ft long; the Medina, P. and O. mail line, 550ft long, and the Benalla, P.
and O. Branch line, 500ft. It may be seen, therefore, that the Ceramic is
easily in the lead in this respect.

Drawing less than 27ft, the steamer made her way to Miller's Point this
morning without any fuss, and on arriving off the point a dredge was found
dead ahead. This meant that she had to be stopped, and manoeuvred abreast of
the wharf end. She swung round like a yacht, and dropped into the berth as
easily as a small boat. Pilot Mann was in charge, and had the big craft tied
up in a few minutes. Commander Stivey, R.N.R., does not attach much
importance to this, because he said to an "Evening News" reporter, "The
Ceramic is the easiest ship I ever handled, she comes to her helm instantly,
we don't have any bother at all."

The commander allowed the reporter to inspect the bridge, and to see the
latest installation there for the safe handling of big steamers. As a matter
of fact, the bridge is a deck, not the usual small space where officers are
likely to walk on one another's feet as they move about. There is heaps of
room, sufficient, indeed, for the deck officers to take all their walking
exercise, and then be well clear of the men on watch.

But the gear up on the bridge is the main point. The steam steering
equipment is of the noiseless order, and a tiny little wheel, which spins
round at a finger touch, works the helm. The absence of noisy rods and other
appurtenances was a striking feature. Then there were other patents. For
instance, when an officer wants to give a blast of the siren, it is not
necessary to dash off to the whistle halliards. All that requires to be done
is touch a little lever in the weatherproof corner of the bridge, and the
blast is sounded, if it is foggy weather, the lever is reversed, and the
horn sounds at the proper intervals. The machinery is automatic. A Morse
lamp key is also fitted in the corners alongside the whistle lever, so that
the officers do not waste time in getting to work.


Outside the wheelhouse and under shelter on the bridge are to be found a
fine set of telegraphs, telephones, and automatic levers for working the
watertight doors. The telegraphs are massive things, and Captain Stivey had
a joke at the expense of the Pressman. "Just try your strength on this
telegraph," he said. The reporter gripped the handles, and made a full speed
effort to shift it. He nearly fell over, the handles went away from him so
quickly. A little finger could move them.

That the watertight doors can be closed from the bridge is not altogether a
new idea, but the Ceramic's installation is the very latest, and second only
to the Olympic---the Atlantic leviathan. Not only are the doors worked, but
a means has been devised by which it can be ascertained how the gear is
acting without leaving the bridge. The telephones communicate fore and aft,
alow and aloft, while there is also a line to the wireless operator's
office. This latter is the latest American rule, and it has been adopted in
the Ceramic

To do the Ceramic, thoroughly, it would be necessary to take a whole day
off, and secure the services of a pilot like Captain Stivey to show one
round. There is so much to see. The saloon deck promenade is one of the best
ever seen. "Four times round and you have covered a mile," says the
commander, and "there is the main alley-way, over 500 feet long. No other
ship coming this way can boast anything like it, and the only other British
ship afloat with such a long lane is the Olympic. You see this Ceramic has
been built right up to the latest lines, eh!"

A visit to the gymnasium was equally interesting. There are no fantastic
fittings in this hall of exercise, but there are many useful devices in
there for keeping one in condition. The sliding seated row boats, the
bicycles, physical culture machines, punching balls and other means of
reducing weight, are all in evidence. Plain, useful machines, solidly built,
and not calculated to be easily destroyed.

The construction plan and internal fittings were fully described in the
"Evening News" on Saturday last.


Continuing his ramble on board the reporter joined in conversation with
officers and passengers. It transpired that the vessel left Liverpool one
day ahead of the Australia-bound mail steamer, and though the routes were so
different, the Ceramic was still a day ahead of the other vessel at
Adelaide, where mails and some of the passengers landed.


Between Liverpool and Capetown the vessel averaged 15 1/2 knots, to Albany
15 1/2 knots, across the Bight to Adelaide 16 knots, and about the same to
Melbourne. Between Melbourne and Sydney, however, speed was reduced in order
to meet with the wharf arrangements, and to allow the vessel to make Sydney
early this morning. "We could have got here at 8 o'clock last night had we
pushed her," explained the commander.


Incidents on the voyage were few, the ship made such good weather of it from
first to last. Between Capetown and Albany a strong south-east wind was
encountered, but this did not interfere with a fancy dress ball held on
deck. A few canvas dodgers were put up to keep the spray out, and the dance
went on. There were over 400 passengers taking part in that dance, and no
one left until the last quadrilles.

On arrival at Albany the passengers posted back to Liverpool a memorial
signed by everybody who could write, setting forth their appreciation of the
ship, food, and comforts. This was sent to the managers of the White Star
line directly from the passengers, and not through the captain or purser.

The Ceramic is bound to attract attention in Sydney. While at Melbourne
crowds visited the vessel, and £65 was collected for charities.

The engine-room staff comprises 14 qualified engineers, in addition to Mr.
H. P. Owens, R.N.R., the chief. This officer was formerly in the Afric, with
Captain Stivey; but he spent eight months on shore at Belfast watching the
building of the Ceramic at Harland and Wolff's yard. The engines are a
beautiful lot. There is an indicator to the stokehold, showing the speed of
the vessel, and there is another signal by which all the fires are worked
simultaneously. Away aft along the tunnel is a well-fitted workshop. No one
on deck knows anything about this, but it is there all the same, and the
engineers use it.

The Admiralty guns are worth looking at, so is the isolation hospital aft.
This is a place where infectious cases can be dealt with clear of the
every-day parts of the ship.


When the Ceramic leaves Sydney on September 24 she will be a full ship, so
far as cargo is concerned. She has the largest cool space of any vessel
coming this way, as her refrigerated chambers can carry 120,000 carcases of

The crew consists of 226 hands, and Commander Stivey has associated with him
on deck the following officers:---Messrs. Summers, R.N.R., chief, Stubbs,
R.N.R., first; Davey, R.N.R., second, Spencer, R.N.R., third, Ruddie,
fourth, and Bromley, fifth.

Leaving Liverpool, the vessel was deep laden and her draught was 33ft
6in---the deepest draughted ship to clear that port for many years. She will
not be down to that mark on taking departure from Sydney. But there is water
enough alongside the wharf should the occasion arise.


The life-saving equipment, among other things, includes 39 boats, the cargo
winches are noiseless, and work quickly, as some of the Sydney wharfies
discovered this morning. The lifting power is set down up to 35 tons, though
the Board of Trade tests up to 45 tons have been carried out.

Next voyage the Ceramic is to call at Hobart for apples, when it is expected
to establish a record for Tasmania in the matter of fruit export.

Meantime the liner is at Miller's Point, taking in 4000 tons of bunker coal.
When the bunkering is finished, Messrs. Dalgety and Company will arrange for
a public inspection.


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Argus, Melbourne, 11 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


An attempt to steal a Manilla hawser, 120 fathoms long and 8in. in
circumference, from the s.s. Ceramic has ended in failure The hawser, which
was valued at £50, was removed from the bow of the vessel between half post
10 o'clock on the night of September 4 and daylight next morning. Apparently
the thieves allowed the hawser to gradually slide over the side of the
vessel into the water in the belief that it would float ashore. They,
however, placed too much reliance in the buoyancy of the rope, for, after
floating some little distance, it became saturated with water, and sank. The
theft was reported to the Port Melbourne police, who immediately endeavoured
to trace the missing hawser.

Failing in their quest on land, Constables Brown and McCulloch decided to
drag the sea bed in the vicinity of the Ceramic's berth. The drag proved
successful, and within a few hours the great hawser lay safe but sodden on
the pier. No trace has let been found of the persons responsible for its


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
MAB note: In addition to this article, The Sunday Times published a number
of photos of Ceramic at her wharf and of the interior (primarily the
engineering areas) of the ship, at .

The Sunday Times, Sydney, 14 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


The presence of the Ceramic in port has caused considerable interest. Any
doubt about handling the huge ship off Miller's Point were set at rest when
Pilot Mann was berthing the vessel. He had to stop short on account of a
dredge, but this did not make any difference after all. The Ceramic swung
round like a little boat, and was placed alongside as quickly and as quietly
as possible. "She looks easier than the other fellows," said one of the
wharf hands, as he watched the operation. The Ceramic has attracted
thousands of visitors, and everybody who goes on board is struck by the
tremendous amount of deck space. She is just the ship for athletes. Just
fancy a deck over 500 feet long, and without anything about it over which
one might stumble or kick one's toes---a clear straight track 50 feet long
and about 20 feet wide! The alleyways are wide, the cabins are large, and
altogether she is a roomy, big steamer. The weather does not count,
apparently, as the passengers held a fancy-dress ball on the passage out,
and the steamer was plugging into a heavy head sea and in a south east gale.
You have only to look at the vessel to be perfectly satisfied that this
statement is not an exaggeration.


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
Evening News, Sydney, 16 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


Guns at any time are dangerous weapons to play with. The most complacent man
may lose his composure if even an obsolete blunderbus is levelled at his
head, however, playfully. Had the city in general, and the Ultimo Power
House in particular, this morning been aware of what was going on in their
midst with the two 4.7 inch guns of the White Star liner Ceramic at
Dalgety's Wharf, Miller's Point, some citizens might have been excused had
they looked up the next train for the mountains.

The occasion was the visit of Admiral Sir George King-Hall to the Ceramic,
at the invitation of the vessel's agents, Dalgety and Company. In view of
present-day naval developments in the Australian Commonwealth, the visit was
an important one. His Excellency, accompanied by Flag Lieutenant Seton,
arrived on board at 10:30 a.m., and was received in correct naval form by
Captain Stivey, R.N.R., the executive officers, and Mr. H. W. Richards, the
company's shipping manager.

The Admiral had not been onboard many minutes before he expressed a desire
to inspect the guns and their crews. The battery is situated astern, in
charge of Lieutenant G. Davey, R.N.R., who has under him a staff of two
gun-layers late of the Royal Navy, and six trained men of the Royal Naval
Reserve. The visit, it should be noted, was a surprise one, and it is to the
credit of the Ceramic's gunnery staff that, although thus "taken on the
hop," they gave a good account of themselves.

To any man who has had the discipline of the Royal Navy instilled in him, an
Admiral is an Admiral at all times and at all places. It was, therefore,
good to see these merchant ship navy men (if one may call them) wound up to
the highest tension, even though the Admiral appeared on their threshold
under no sterner guise than that of a private guest of the White Star
Company's Sydney agents. Mr. Davey, from the position of an officer of the
Ceramic in the midst of his peaceful commercial pursuits, at first glance of
an Admiral, became transformed into Lieutenant Davey, R.N.R., on board the
Dreadnought battleship Collingwood. For it was in that vessel, when flagship
of the First Battle Squadron, under the command of Admiral Sir G. C. J.
Colville that he did his final naval qualifying course.

The guns' crews were piped to quarters, and in a short time everything was
ready for the closest inspection. On arrival at the battery the Admiral
inspected the guns' crew, questioning the gunlayers as to their previous
Naval service. Then the officer in charge gave the order, "Exercise action!"
Shell and cartridges were whipped up from below, and the guns brought to
bear on what was described by the officer directing the firing as "three
chimneys on the port quarter." These happened to be the smoke-stacks of the
Ultimo Power House, the range being given as 2700 yards.

His Excellency personally inspected the gunsights when all was ready for
firing and expressed himself as satisfied with the range given, and the way
the guns had been cleared, loaded, and laid. His remark to Captain Stivey in
leaving the guns to go the rounds of the decks, and engine-rooms, was "These
men would be able to give a good account of themselves, I've no doubt."


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