Alan Shaw  living in Cleveland UK  ashaw353@yahoo.co.uk

 

I first joined the Chandris team in 1970 when I joined the Australis after working on a Swedish Ship called the Gripsholm. I spent nine months on there with two Photographers called Brian Evans and Ray Winship. The Gripsholm was a �Dry� Ship where the crew were not allowed to drink alcohol, so as you can imagine after nine months on that ship, having to smuggle a drink on board, I couldn�t get over actually being able to buy a drink in the public bars. On the Gripsholm it was strictly forbidden for any crewmembers to be seen with or fraternise with the passengers in any public room unless you were on duty. We were not even allowed to take the passengers pictures, only the Chief Photographer, Ray could do that and he was not allowed to take a passengers picture unless he was asked to. So when I joined the Australis and found out that there were other British staff on board I couldn�t believe my luck. On the Gripsholm, apart from the photographers there was only one other Brit on board, the night steward, so we didn�t get much time to see him.  

Ron, Alan & Carol '75

Alan & Liz Crowther '73

 

I soon settled in on the Australis and due to the constant stream of parties although we all worked hard, we all played hard as well and whereas the Passengers on the Gripsholm were paying in excess of $10,000 a trip, the Australis Passengers in some cases were being paid to be there! I seem to remember that there was a rule that the immigrants had to have at least �30 when they reached Australia or they would not be allowed in, so some of the Passengers, especially from the Eastern European countries could often be seen cleaning the Decks in order to earn enough money to disembark in Australia. I made friends with the ships Printer, Ron Lovelace, Christine Venn the Programme Co-ordinator and many of the other crew members, I think that the Chief Photographer was a guy called Graham Helliwell at the time. In all I did two trips on the Australis and one on the Ellinis, does anyone remember a girl on the Ellinis called Liz Crowther? She was the programme co-ordinator whose pastime was to do all that she could to give the printer a hard time, by doing silly things like letting him set up the Daily News sheet, getting it approved by the Chief Purser and then getting me to stand lookout for her outside of the print shop whilst she was jumbling up the typeface before the printer got back and rattled off 1000 copies for the passengers. He was a bit miffed to say the least as he was always being carpeted by the Purser for silly things like that. He knew who it was though as Liz was always up to some mischief. One night at a party in the hospital the Printer got so drunk that he passed out & Liz got the Doctor so plastered that she tried to talk him into Circumcising the Printer but he backed off an the last minute! If the Old Bat is still around I�d love to hear from her, she also worked on the Amerikanis and left to work in Chandris Head office in Piraeus, but I lost touch with her, if you see this article Liz get in touch..  

 

Charles, Alan & Alan '72

Ron & Alan '75

Carol, Alan & Dominique '75

 

Alan & other Trans Ocean Photographers '72

 

After leaving the Ellinis I Flew to New York to work for another company, Trans Ocean Photos. They put me on the Amerikanis where I worked with Alan Lipton, Charles Cannone and Richard Ammonette. Malcolm Baldwin was the Cruise Director and as I was leaving to join the Atlantis in 1971 Christine Venn joined the ship. Mo Crispin was on at the time, Hi Mo and I think that during that period we all had some of the most memorable times of our lives. I was not on the Amerikanis all of the time as from 1972 to 1975 I was switching between the Amerikanis, the Atlantis, the MV. Freeport , the Boheme and the Bolero so forgive me if I get a bit mixed up with who was where. I worked with Barry Ramsey on the Atlantis and Brian Evans on the Freeport, when I rejoined the Amerikanis for a Winter season in the Caribbean 1974 and the Bermuda run in 1975 I met up with Ron Lovelace again and a Nurse called Carol Emery who is now my wife. We have three Girls, Katie, Samantha and Alexandra,  two of whom are married and we have five Grandchildren. Carol and I have since lived in Greece for 5 years where we have met up with countless crewmembers on ships cruising out of Piraeus who we knew from our Chandris days. Some of them were by that time working in the offices of shipping companies like Epirotiki Lines, Kavounidies Lines and Blue Aegean Sea Lines  etc. and with the help of Costas Veloudakis,  the Shore excursions Manager from

 the Australis. Ellinis and Amerikanis we managed to form our own Ships Photographic Company and finished up with over twenty photographers working on 10 Greek ships in the Med and Caribbean .. John Carr, Barry Ramsey and his wife will remember those times as they worked down there with me for they same company Intermed Photos, of which I was a Director. Ron Lovelace also came to Greece with us and between Ron, Costas Veloudakis and myself we managed to beat off some stiff competition to secure the Photo Concessions on some of the best ships in the Med. 

 

 

Amerikanis tender in Grenada

 

Cabin party, Alan in middle, Malcolm Kennedy on right '75

Alan & bunnies on Atlantis '73

 

Hospital crew & photogs in Grenada '75

Captain Miskis 5th from right & Staff Captain Manares 3rd from right Amerikanis '75

Alan, passenger, Costas Veloudakis & Cruise Director Leonard Weir & his wife Amerikanis 72/73

We finally left Greece in 1982 and took over the Photographic Concessions on all of the Butlins Holiday Camps, as Filey was my first taste of Photography after I left School. I worked there and also did two seasons at Skeggy and Clacton , before going to sea. When I heard that the Photographic Departments were closing down because the Photographers, who were working on commission were getting too pushy with the Campers, I approached the Head office and convinced them that the Ships system could be successful on the camps they gave me the Concessions. We also secured the Photographic and Video rights for Every Juvenile Jazz Band in the Country and the rights to cover them at Wembley Stadium, all of the Passing out Ceremonies at Cramwell Air force Base and Sandhurst . I still found time to go to the States and operate the photo concessions on two Ferries running between Nova Scotia and Maine .   I parted with the Photographic Company, Intermed Photos mainly because one of the Directors who shall remain nameless was a first class prick and a control freak who would resort to any underhanded tricks he could think of to get his own way. I left the company knowing that in his hands the company was doomed and sure enough within two years he had lost the lot. I went on to try to charter a Passenger ferry out of Teesside, but once again I put forward a first class business plan to the Banks and any other ferry orientated company I could find. But I could not convince them to invest in it. So I decided to try to make the money myself. I drew �700 on my Barclaycard and put down a deposit on a small Two Bedroom Terrace House that was in a bad state of repair. I bought the property for �9000, spent �300 doing it up and sold it a month later for �21,000. With this I bought two more and doubled my money within another two months. I repeated this for eighteen months and by the end of this period I had property worth over �800,000 this included a church, a Vicarage 8 flats and about six houses. All still increasing in value as we were modernising them ready for sale, not bad from a �700 start borrowed on a credit card!  

I then used the valuations of the property to persuade the Banks to let me invest on the Passenger ferry. Unfortunately I could still not convince anyone to put up the �3,000,000 plus to get the project off the ground, I even went to Westminster to meet the Transport Secretary, Cecil Parkinson to get his support all to no avail. But eventually I found three German companies who were prepared to put up money to get the project off the ground. Once again there was a problem. All of these companies were only interested in Freight, and I could not convince them that Freight parked on the car deck does not spend money as passengers would so the only way I could get the project going was to chip in with them.  

We finally got the operation off the ground and chartered a 10,000 tonne Ro Ro Ferry in1990. Ironically they took the chartering of the vessel out of my hands and for some reason totally out of my control chartered a Greek ship which was being used to transport Camels from Egypt to Cyprus. I checked up on the ship and found out that it was a flat bottomed boat with a shallow draft that was specifically designed for use in the relatively calm waters of the Mediterranean , Not the Tempestuous North Sea in winter, which just happened to be the time that we had agreed to start the service. I voiced my concerns to the other investors but they fell on deaf ears so as a token gesture I bought  6%  of the shares in the company, enough to get me a seat on the board of the German company that we formed.  

As predicted the prospect of  a new service out of Hamburg to Teesside brought a lot of attention from the TV. and the Press and pretty soon the ships agents were being deluge by people wanting to use the new service. The problem was, as I had predicted, 90% of the enquiries were from families wanting to go on for  Mini Cruises or to go across with there cars for a holiday. This was the scenario that I predicted from both Teesside and Hamburg . But they had to turn everyone away as the ship did not have cabins, only 7 or 8 for the twenty or so crewmembers. Needless to say, what with the bad weather in the North Sea the ship only managed to make half of the crossings as it was deemed too dangerous for a flat bottomed ship with a shallow draft to cross the North Sea . At one time the radio room was not working and a full air sear rescue was put into action as the ship had sailed from Hamburg and could not be contacted. Only to find that due to the bad weather the Captain has docked in a small port on the mouth of the river Elbe to wait for the storm to abate. He could not inform anyone as the radio room was out of order. After that I decided to pull out of the deal before someone got drowned. Within a month the whole operation was shut down and a report was complied by the Directors and there findings showed that the reports from the agents on both sides of the North stated that we should of used a Passenger Ferry as they were both turning hundreds of car and mini cruise passengers away on a daily basis.  
After that little fiasco everyone blamed me for the failure of the service, the Bank pulled the rugs on me and refused to give me the money to finish the houses. I finally lost all of my properties and was declared Bankrupt in 1991. I had my house repossessed and had to apply for a Council House. They put us on the waiting list and in the meantime put the whole family into a one room bed and breakfast. As if that was not enough, when we went to the Bed & Breakfast establishment   the woman who was running it took one look at me and said �Hang on, I thought you owned the property next Door?�, I said �Yes but that was last week and a lot�s happened since then�. That was the end of my shipping career. 
Since then I have started a Haulage Company, we had ten vehicles but although I had contracts to deliver Newspapers though the night to newsagents all over the North East and we used to deliver washing machine parts ho Hotpoint in North & South Wales and Gaskets to Dyson but due to the price of fuel, insurance, repairs etc. we were paying out more that we were taking  so I closed down in1991. Since then I have had 4 Heart attacks, Two Angioplasties and a Triple Bypass. So I have now had to �call it a day�  but what fun I�ve had on the way!!!  

Ron has since died in January of this year (2004) and I am now enjoying a more sedentary lifestyle back in England . As we would say in Yorkshire �I started with nowt and I�ve got nowt left� but what a great time I had doing it.

 Alan Shaw.     ashaw353@msn.com

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