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Blue Funnel

A recent ‘paintings enquiry’ made me sit up.

Well actually all enquires make me ‘sit up’ but this one more so than usual, if that interests you, here’s why.

There was a time when I regularly painted classic merchant ships, mostly for former captains and chief engineers and they lead directly to my most famous painting, “Roaring Forties”.

Agapenor at Bombay, a detail

Interest expressed as Liverpool slang would say, a ‘Blue Flu’ or to, put it in a rather more gentlemanly manner, a Blue Funnel Line cargo liner.

The Blue Funnel name came about in a most curious way as did my connection with painting these renowned ships, more about here but a few decks further down.

Blue Funnel

I only have two photographs of the many Blueflu’s I painted and yet they played a significant part in my development as a maritime artist.

The last Blue Funnel ship painting I sold, actually sold fairly recently was from my stock; “Agapenor at Bombay (Mumbai)”.

A painting rich with the sights, smells and sounds of a largely forgotten age; enjoy.

Blue Funnel ship paintings
Blue Funnel ship painting of Agapenor, a bridge detail

Agapenor was among my paintings chosen and exhibited by invitation at the European Parliament, May 2011.

It was upon seeing an exhibition mostly of these ships that (Sir) Robin Knox-Johnson, whose career commenced aboard ships of this type, first asked to meet me.

A most fortunate meeting for us both.

Today the now world famous painting “Roaring Forties” is one of the results and another is an action portrait of his first ship, the B.I.S.N.C.’s lovely ‘Dwarka’.

Quite a few of my merchant ship paintings did appear as centre page spreads in the influential “Sea Breezes” when Harry Milsom was Chief Editor but regrettably I’ve no copies.

The visionary Alfred Holt founded his Company in 1866.

The company was very successful, buying other companies to manage and registering other names such as Ocean Steamship and Blue Funnel.

Holt and their various companies lasted 122 years.

As with most British merchant shipping, it closed mostly as a result of British government failure to adapt supportive policies for British shipping in a changing economic world.

Mr Holt is recorded as having been a railway engineer and in his time steam trains were cutting edge, high tech using compressed steam.

Mr. Holt thought ships much more interesting and that he could be improved steamships.

He rightly foresaw a great future for steamships, so he bought one.

Onboard he found thousands of Gideon bibles, a lot of blue paint (and you’re ahead of me now?) yes, he decided to paint the smoke stack a distinctive blue.

Copyright Gordon Frickers 18.05.2024.