News from 1936: Withdrawal of Ionic II

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Times, 19 December 1936


Service extending for more than 33 years is to be ended when the Shaw
Savill liner Ionic reaches this country from New Zealand on about
December 27. During her career the vessel has made 79 round voyages
between London and New Zealand, has steamed about 2,000,000 miles, and
has carried well over 1,000,000 tons of cargo. She has been a very
popular vessel in the service.

It is officially stated that the engines of the Ionic are "as good
to-day as ever they were," and that at the beginning of this year she
was averaging a better speed than during her earlier voyages. She is a
twin-screw steamer of 12,300 tons gross and was built by Harland and
Wolff at Belfast in 1902. The reasons for withdrawing her from service
are stated to be that her cargo capacity and passenger accommodation are
not equal to modern standards.

The vessel made her first voyage early in 1903 flying the house-flags of
both the White Star Line and Shaw, Savill and Albion Company, Limited,
by whom she was jointly owned, but during the last few years the Shaw,
Savill flag alone has flown at her masthead. Except for a few voyages as
a transport during the War, she has been in the New Zealand trade during
the whole of her extraordinarily long and successful career. It was
quite usual during her stay in New Zealand ports for visitors to go on
board and ask to be allowed to look at the cabin in which they travelled
10, 20 or 30 years ago.

In bidding farewell to the Ionic on her departure from New Zealand for
the last time, the Mayor of Auckland expressed a desire to acquire the
ship's bell for presentation to the Auckland War Memorial Museum as a
memento of the sterling service given by the Ionic to the City of
Auckland and in the safe carriage to and from war theatres of so many
New Zealand troops. The bell is therefore to be forwarded to New Zealand
in due course and presented to the City of Auckland by Shaw, Savill and
Albion Company.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Evening Post, Wellington 16 November 1936
Retrieved from the National Library of New Zealand web site,
Papers Past


There is something so human in the companionship of a favourite ship that
when at length her work is done and the time comes for her last voyage,
people who have known her in fair weather and foul feel the wrench as the
passing of an old friend. The sea has its favourites as well as the shore
and some vessels seem to take on a personality as feminine as the gender
imputed to them in the language. It was so with the old Mauretania when she
left for ever the ocean she had queened over for a generation, and her last
progress to the yard which was to see her disintegration into material for
more ships was the subject of obituaries in the Press that might have
attended the demise of a popular public leader. So it has been with the old
Ionic, the last of a trio of staunch and stately Home boats, on her
departure from Wellington on Saturday on her seventy-eighth and last voyage
in the thirty-four years of her career afloat. These three ships---the
Athenic, the Corinthic, and the Ionic---marked in their prime the apogee of
the Home boat, designed and built for the round trip before the opening of
the Panama Canal, when the route was via the Cape of Good Hope outward bound
from England, and homeward via Cape Horn. They were built to stand the
stormy seas in the "roaring forties" and no better vessels for the purpose
ever took the sea. Times have changed. The sea route is now in less troubled
waters and the demands of the trade are different. Overhead is the airliner
now spanning the ocean in days instead of weeks by steamer. The Ionic has
seen all these changes and makes her exit in all the dignity of a veteran,
with duty well done, making room for a newer generation.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
MAB note: The War Memorial Museum's web site reflects that as of 2015 Ionic's bell is in fact still in use by the museum; see William Arthur Ham - Online Cenotaph - Auckland War Memorial Museum

The Auckland Star, 9 April 1937
Retrieved from the National Library of New Zealand web site,
Papers Past


Over 60 civic dignitaries and representatives of the Auckland Harbour Board,
Auckland War Memorial Museum and shipping interests attended a complimentary
luncheon on the Shaw, Savill and Albion Company's R.M.S. Mataroa this
afternoon as the guests of the company on the occasion of the presentation
of the s.s. Ionic's bell to the Mayor, Mr. Ernest Davis. The bell, weighing
2 1/2cwt, occupied a central position in the dining saloon, where the
function was held, and was draped with bunting.

The bell tolled when the master of the Mataroa, Captain A. McIntosh,
who presided, rose and proposed the loyal toast, and again to command
silence for subsequent speakers. A novel feature of the gathering was the
tolling of 2 o'clock by Captain R. S. Lewis, Marine Superintendent of the
company, in formally handing over the bell, and the ringing of "Change of
Watch" by the Mayor in accepting the gift.

In making the presentation Captain Lewis welcomed the guests and referred to
the Ionic's record Association with New Zealand, and Auckland in particular,
especially during the war period from 1914 to 1918. The Shaw, Savill and
Albion Company had greatly appreciated the sentiment behind the offer of the
Mayor to purchase the bell for presentation to the War Memorial museum, he
said. His instructions were, added Captain Lewis, to offer the bell to the
Mayor as the gift of the company, and he had much pleasure in doing so. He
trusted that when the occasion arose for the bell to be struck that the tone
of it would be as resonant and true as when it was removed from the
forecastle head of the old Ionic.

In acknowledging the gift, the Mayor said he proposed to ask Sir Carrick
Robertson, president of the War Memorial museum, to accept the bell, as he
believed that the museum was the rightful place for it. He had in mind the
depositing of the bell in the museum, not for placing in a glass case, but
for use.

Sir Carrick referred to the pleasure of the museum authorities at accepting
the bell for safe keeping and intimated that they would be pleased to carry
out Mr. Davis' wish in the matter of keeping the bell for use. Captain
McIntosh also spoke.

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