Sea Breezes & Talbot-Booth etc - Not a warship in sight!
Often very battered and worn looking, because a lot of them are very old and I have had them for many years, and refer to them a lot - I am almost self-contained as far as research goes.
Many of these books were withdrawn from British libraries years ago, and sold off cheap, being regarded as "obsolete, and of little value" Now - they are worth their weight in gold, even if you can find any!
The field of interest in these old books about merchant ships is immense, and I could never get through it all if I lived to be 200. I have tried for many years to get others interested, and although I have had some success, the vast majority of ship modellers seem to prefer an endless line of repetition of a handful of famous vessels about which everything is known, and which "fresh" material continues to mysteriously appear with monotonous regularity. Even during this Corona "lockdown" I have so many books, many largely unread, that I can keep myself occupied indefinitely.
Books written by myself. ALL rejected by mainstream publishers on account of "No-one is interested in merchant ships!" I paid to have them printed and all have sold out and most have been reprinted on numerous occasions, and are currently sold out. All still available in download form, and these continue to sell steadily!
Here some more of my books. This time, very small ones, many of which I was collecting in my schooldays that ended in 1959. They are quite valuable these days, and contain a wealth of information about the ships that were around in those days, many of which I sailed in myself. They contain names, building dates, dimensions, service speeds, owners, hull and funnel colours etc. Ranging in size from a few hundred tons to many thousands of tons, and not a single one of them armed with any type of weapon at all. But they were a valuable life experience for those of us who sailed in them, often only just out of school. By the time I was 18, I had already been to Baltic and Continental ports, Mediterranean, Australia, North Africa, West Africa, Canada and South America, and had many adventures in various types of ships from colliers upwards.
Bob, I often wonder about folk such as yourself, who have travelled the world and seen what it has to offer, yet you return and hopefully enjoy your retirement on the wrong and wet side of the Pennines?
No great mystery! One can get tired of blazing sunshine, storms, bad weather, and all the other things that went with it. After 31 years, I was just glad to get back to rainy old Lancashire. I now have the best of both worlds and am now an armchair adventurer, reading books, building models of them, and even communicating with old shipmates from almost 60 years ago now.
The merchant navy as I knew it has gone now, and I had the best years, and was even able to take my wife along for the last five years, something I could never have done in a warship! Even had our honeymoon voyage aboard from UK down to Cape Town and back
Here we are at our wedding blessing on honeymoon trip in 1987 at St Paul's Cathedral, Island of St. Helena, South Atlantic, with the governor & wife (left) Bishop of St Helena, captain and fellow officers.
This just about sums it all up!
A wry smile here. While I never got to travel much (did see a bit of the Med, India and USA) I did live and work all over Blighty, yet never felt at home until I returned 'home' and found a semblance of contentment. If it would have been possible, I'd like to have seen more of the world.
Five more books that contain a wealth of information, and numerous plans of British coastal ships of the not too distant past. I am making tremendous progress now in gathering together ship model builders from all over the world who prefer building merchant ships rather than warships. My Facebook group now has 3,539 members and is extremely active. Even if you are not a member of Facebook, you can view the activities here, as it is an "Open" group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1841532386133008/
I do not dominate this group, and it is a mixture of all types of ship models (as long as they are not warships) from a few tons up to over 100,000 tons, sail, steam or diesel powered. One of the members is currently displaying a build log of the famous American passenger liner United States!
I also have over a quarter of a million ship photographs, all stored on external hard drives that were given to me some years ago. These are a combination of all types of ship, including warships, and are a valuable source of reference for me.