Mitchell Families Online


Migrant Ships

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SS Ballarat

Early in this (20th) century the P&O line was very interested in obtaining a share of the England-Australia traffic via the Cape of Good Hope. Several vessels had been diverted from the traditional Suez routes but the efforts were erratic, piecemeal and were doomed to failure. In 1910 an opportunity was presented to enter this trade with more prospects of success. One of the established traders, the Lund Blue Anchor Line suffered a tragedy. The Waratah, their newest and largest steamer disappeared without trace on the outbound voyage from Australia. The Lund family lost interest in ship owning and began looking for a buyer. The operation ideally suited P&O's needs. The remaining Blue Anchor fleet was purchased and re-named the P&O Branch Service.

The fleet inherited by P&O was old and run-down and could not effectively compete with White Star and the Aberdeen Line services. P&O decided to construct five new ships, the first, Ballarat (2) was delivered in 1911, all by 1914. The ships offered a one class service and quickly became highly competitive.

In 1914 the British government did not consider the service via the Cape of Good Hope to be essential, thus the Branch Service ships could be requisitioned for war service. The class saw extensive service in WWI. Ballarat was torpedoed and sunk in 1917.

Ballarat was built by Harland & Wolff, Greenock, Scotland. Power was by Triple expansion steam with twin screws. Her maximum speed was 13.5 knots and she carried 490 third class passengers (alternately 700 in steerage but not done in practice). Third class, also called "cabin" class, was a reasonable level of comfort, not the palatial levels seen on the crack mail liners, but acceptable. This type of vessel was termed "Intermediate" or "mixed" with equal space devoted to passengers and to cargo.

DateAdded 11 Nov 2013
Linked toJosephine Ainsworth Wooster (Emigration)

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