September 2019 Speaker
The September meeting was again well attended and began with the AGM. Our chairman gave a comprehensive report on the past year and thanked past and current members of the committee for their contributions to our U3A. Our treasurer then gave us her report which was accepted by the members. The current committee were happy to stand for another year and as there were no other matters arising the AGM closed and we then welcomed Alan Cullen, one of our members to give us an insight into his interest in ships over past years especially the SS. Uganda.
The SS Uganda was built on the Clyde in 1952 and stayed in service until 1985. In that time it had four different lives and Alan related its first two to us at this meeting.
The SS Uganda began its life as a ship of the British India Company, and was recognised by her large black funnel with two white rings round it. She travelled from London down through the Suez Canal and onto Mombasa and Mozambique in 30 days. The ship was equipped with first and second class cabins and lounges for its passengers but also carried about 8,000 tons of cargo which would take week to unload. Many of the passengers were doctors, nurses, engineers and office workers who were on 3 year contracts working in the villages of East Africa.
In the early 1960’s Africa gained independence. Jet aircraft then took over and container ships came into operation, and the voyages became uneconomical. So in 1967 the SS Uganda was completely overhauled and became an Educational ship carrying 900 pupils in dormitories, with their teachers and a headmaster on board who was in charge of them all, (just like school) The pupils would have preliminary talks about the ports they would visit and also maybe some normal lessons on board as well. The ship stopped off at many Mediterranean ports and did trips as far as Iceland for environmental experience.
In the 70’s and early 80’s it was still a very good cruise ship, but then became a Hospital ship. We will hear more about that on another occasion.