The Hook Continental in the 1960's.

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by markskoda, 7 Oct 2010.

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  1. markskoda

    markskoda Member

    5 Oct 2010
    Czech Republic
    Oh yes I remember it well. Mum and Dad bundling we three kids onto the train at Liverpool Street as we set off for Parkeston Quay at Harwich to catch the night boat to Hoek van Holland. A porter with a big wooden trolley dealt with the luggage while we settled down in the big blue seats of the dining car where we would spend the whole journey. Cutlery and china (those big green cups and saucers) rattling as we sped through Chelmsford and Colchester and then along the Manningtree line to the boat. Customs clearance in the big wooden shed on the quayside and then on to the night ferry, usually the brand new s.s. Amsterdam. All mahogany decking and polished brass. She'd been in dock for 15 hours so there was plenty of time to get her spick and span. No quick turnarounds in those days! She was the latest and most luxurious of the night steamers. Built by John Brown on the Clyde in 1950, like her older sister ship on the same route, s.s. Arnhem. (Built 1947). Both owned by British Railways Board.

    We were on our annual visit to our grandparents (Oma and Opa) in Hannover.
    Carrying way over our allowance of tea and coffee, which were then very highly taxed commodities in Germany. Our journey started in Salisbury Wiltshire and we were steam hauled to Waterloo and then onto Harwich. On the other side power was electric or diesel according to the destination of any of the several trains lined up at the much more modern facility at The Hook. The TEE Rheingold stood alongside our Harz Mountains Express with it's two extra carriages destined for Warsaw and Moscow to be detached in Berlin. So very romantic and exciting.

    The night sailing was 8 hours. The cabins were stuffy and the fresh air vents whistled and wheezed all the way. There were little waxed paper cups and bottles of tepid water to cool us down. Everything was near the engine room on those vessels. We were woken by a smartly dressed steward with tea and biscuits, having slept very little.

    Nowadays, it's far too expensive to travel to my home in The Czech Republic by train and ship or tunnel. Ryanair or BMI baby will do it at a fraction of the cost, and are even cheaper than Eurolines/National Express. I have often travelled for less than a tenner return. I kid you not. Those fares really are available. Travel light. That's my tip. Nothing compares with how it was in the 60's however.
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