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Visit to Madeira 25th Sept – 9th Oct 1954



South Farm Road
18th May 1954

The British Consul

Dear Sir,

I should be most grateful if you could give me some advice and assistance. I am most anxious to visit Madeira, and have planned to do so for many years, as my forbears were the Phelps family who were well known in Madeira during the last century, and I have heard so many stories of the island from the older members of my family.

I have consulted all available brochures from travel agencies, but I have no wish to travel by “luxury cruises” or to stay at expensive hotels. I have been told that fruit and cargo boats carrying passengers call at Funchal, and I should be most grateful if you would tell me which lines call there, and how I get in touch with them.

I have also been told that the Carmo, which used to be the townhouse of the Phelps family, has been converted into a hotel after they left Madeira. I should like to stay there rather than anywhere else if it is at all suitable, but failing that, I should like to get in to some small quiet pension, or with a private family. Perhaps you would be kind enough to help me in this matter, or tell me where I can obtain information.

Please forgive me for approaching you on this subject, but all the older generation of my family have now passed away, and I am finding it extremely difficult to obtain the information I want. The object for my visit is far more for sentimental reasons than anything else, and I should be extremely grateful for any assistance that you can give in helping it to materialise.

Yours faithfully

F.A. Roper

The British Consulate
24th May 1954


In reply to your letter of the 18th of May I enclose some “Notes for Travellers” which should answer all of your queries.
The “Carmo” is no longer a hotel but a public building and no doubt it would be possible for you to see over it should your visit to Madeira materialise.

I am, Madam,
Your obedient Servant
Signed C F Fladgate
H. M. Consul


Saturday 25th September 1954

Doc called me with early morning tea at 5.45 a.m. Breakfast at 6.45 a.m. and he saw me off on the Victoria train at 8.00 a.m. At Paddington I left on the special “Venus” boat train at 10.40. We did high speed non-stop via Reading, Taunton, and Exeter to Newton Abbot where we stopped while a second engine was put on at 14:10. We arrived at Plymouth about 15:20. Everything was very well arranged and I did not have to open anything in the Customs. Went on board the tender “Sir John Hawkins” and got yet another cup of tea and cake. I am a great believer in stocking up at frequent intervals when travelling and had been doing so on and off all day.

M.S. VenusThere was a long hold up before starting towards the M.S. Venus, but we eventually got on board and I found my cabin at once, also booked my seat in the dining saloon. We were scheduled to sail at 17:00 but did not actually get moving until 18:00. Another cup of tea and cake! My cabin is comfortable but quite minute. My cabin mate is very nice but absolutely colossal. She is very much the Laura type, and being so, is of course a hotel manageress. The Venus is a very nice looking vessel, masses of lounges and writing rooms and a small orchestra. The passengers all seem a nice type too.

Our departure from Plymouth was still further delayed by having to put back after we had started, in order to leave a galley boy ashore, who had developed some throat infection. We also had to wait to pick up the officer who had gone ashore with him. The result of all this delay was that they put on speed and absolutely slammed in to a south westerly swell.

We had boat drill before sailing.

CabinThe cabins are so small that any unpacking, apart from necessities, is hopeless. The Venus was built for the Bergen Run of one night only, and is quite unsuited for anything else. The ventilation below decks is appalling and the vibration worse than anything I have ever experienced. Her average speed is 15-16 knots, tonnage about 7000. The famous stabilisers are worse than useless, as they prevent her rolling easily, and bring every movement up with a jerk.
Dining locationLoungeI felt perfectly all right during the first part of the evening, and had an excellent dinner; all Norwegian cooking and staff. The food is superb. Later on I went down to my cabin to do some unpacking, but was knocked out by the bad air and vibration, and went to bed early feeling perfectly ghastly. It is not seasickness, but simply vibration and airlessness. My cabin has no porthole and is right aft over the propeller shaft, which makes things worse.

My cabin companion said she had never been seasick before, but was shockingly so during the night. I was not actually sick, but laid myself out flat in my bunk, and felt like Elijah under the Juniper Bush [1 Kings 19: 4]. Hardly any sleep all night, but hoped I should be better by the morning.

Sunday 26th September 1954

Dragged myself up on deck feeling like death, and couldn't manage any breakfast. Spent the morning roaming about seeking rest and finding none, and eventually joined the army of miserables who were laid out on pontoons in long chairs on the after deck, wrapped in brown rugs, looking for all the world like rows of doleful caterpillars. Eventually the nice Norwegian doctor roused me from coma and administered sympathy and dope. The weather all day was frightful, raining and blowing hard, and during the afternoon our siren was going as it got really thick.


The dope took effect and by 16:30 I was able to swallow a cup of tea, and by dinnertime, 19:30, I was able to go in to dinner and toy with some soup and a bit of fish. By the evening I was right on top of the world again.

Monday 27th September 1954

MenuSlept well last night and woke to a glorious day, sunshine, blue sea and white horses everywhere. The whole ship is much more cheerful.

Posted historic bottle and mug over the poop in the morning.

Treated myself to a manicure from the nice Norwegian hairdresser and “beautician”.

There was dancing and rather a lot of noisiness late at night as a finale to the voyage. I can’t realise this is the last day on board. It seems like weeks.


Tuesday 28th September 1954

Not much sleep last night what with the jollifications overhead till 03:00 and the cabin unbearably hot and airless. Got up on deck early and found a heavenly day with a tropical feel in the air. We had to get packed and out of our cabins by 10:30. Rather a bind. Spent the morning on deck. I have met a very nice girl, Janet Smith who comes from Swanage and remembers the Unwins!

MadeiraMadeiraWe sighted the islands of Porto Santo to starboard about lunch time and Madeira shortly afterwards. It was marvellously clear and the approach to Funchal is incredibly beautiful. A lot of us were busy taking photographs.
The last time I saw Madeira was en route for South America in 1936. We then passed to port and the whole island was dark and cloud covered.
MadeiraMadeiraThis time everything was crystal clear and sparkling, right up to the summits of the mountains with the white houses and their red roofs scattered up the slopes.
Madeira CoastlineMadeira CoastlineThe sea was a vivid blue, with dancing white horses.

It was the Isles of Enchantment materialised.
Diving BoysAs we neared Funchal I heard shouts and cries to starboard, and there were dozens of ramshackle little rowing boats, each containing one older man at the oars, and two or three younger men and boys, all shouting and yelling for coins to be thrown for them to dive for.
Diving BoysSome of the boys were tiny fellows apparently not more than seven or eight years old, but all of them could swim and dive like frogs. It was all very picturesque and exciting, but if one studied the brown half naked figures, one could see how thin and ill-nourished they are; and behind all the shouting and clapping their faces were drawn, and there was an almost wolfish look in their eyes as they watched for the coins.

A boat piled with wicker chairs and baskets came alongside too.

TradersWe arrived off Funchal at 15:00 B.S.T. but had to put our watches forward an hour as Madeira sun-time is the same as B.S.T. and Madeira was on their summer time. Their hour went back while we were there, and English time when back before we got home, all of which led to a lot of jugglery with the hours.
LaunchPresently the launches came out. Each bearing a flag with the names of the various hotels. The Savoy took about three launch loads (including the two “dizzy blondes” and their escorts!) The New Avenue and Reids took a lot more, and I was among the last sweepings for the Miramar and one or two other smaller hotels.

It was quite sad to see our close knit shipboard community breaking up.
QuaysideCars met us on the quay, and whisked us away to our various destinations. Most of the hotels are on the far end of town, about a mile along a wide avenida.
The MIRAMAR HOTEL is situated in the heart of the British residential district. Three front entrances facing the main road overlooking the Bay. Side entrance opposite the British Country Club, where residents and visitors meet.

Only a few minutes from the Casino and the Lido, Madeira’s best sea-bathing pool, one of the Island’s greatest attractions.

From the MIRAMAR HOTEL terraces, there is a superb view of the entire range of hills, town, bay and sea. Light, healthy, sunny. 350 feet above sea-level. All bedrooms are sunny and airy, have hot and cold running water, the windows being netted against flies. The better rooms have balconies.

The British Country Club is another attraction of Madeira. It has two hard Tennis Courts, Squash Court and a Mashie Golf Course on turf. The Club House has a spacious Lounge, Bar, Billiards and Bridge Rooms, Library, etc.

Special subscription rates of Esc: 30$00 for 15 days and of Esc: 50$00 for 30 days, etc: are made for short-stay visitors.

Attractive unique Madeira style bar-lounge in separate building. Log fire. Dancing during the Seasons. Beautiful and extensive gardens and lawns, replete with exotic flowers and fruits. Motor cars always in attendance. Constant bus services pass the Hotel doors at frequent intervals going into the town, or to the Lido bathing pool in a few minutes.
MiramarThe Miramar is almost the furthest out and has a most magnificent view across Funchal bay, also over the town and round the whole encircling range of mountains. In fact the view from this hotel is far better than the more expensive Savoy and Reids.
AnnexI am in the annex in a delightful corner room with a private balcony.

A long low building known as the “Cabin” with bar and small orchestra stands between the annex and the main building.
Views from Hotel Miramar TerraceViews from Hotel Miramar TerraceCourtyard and garden outside the "Cabin"
Views from Terrace at MiramarViews from Terrace at MiramarWe had a long wait at the Miramar before being allotted to our rooms, owing to the delay in delivery of the passenger lists.

We had some tea, and then I got chattering to a Miss Grey who was leaving in the Venus the same evening.

I told her I wanted to find the British Cemetery where my Grandfather and other ancestors are buried, so she conducted me via the most amazing back alleys till we found it. All the roads and pavements are made up of cobbles, mostly very small rounded pebbles, absolutely agonising to walk on.

The British Cemetery is totally unlike the sketch of it we have at home, and we couldn’t find any graves or family memorials. Later on I discovered that the cemetery was altered a good many years ago, but since that sketch was made, and many of the graves and tablets transferred, which explained it; as I should have certainly have recognised it from the sketch I know so well.

BananasFlower seller outside the "Cabin"Eventually we got back to the hotel. I was completely deadbeat, having had a very long and exciting day, and the heat and cobbles just about finished me.

Dinner was late, and the luggage very late in arriving, however eventually I got unpacked, had a bath, and tumbled into bed.

The cicadas simply scream all night, and music and dancing went on till quite late in the Cabin just under my windows. There are banana groves close under my windows and the subtropical trees and flowers are really marvellous.

Wednesday 29th September 1954

From a letter:

“It is just incredible, I am dazed and dizzy with loveliness. If a place in this world can be as exquisite as Madeira is this morning, must the other side be like? It makes me cry to think of. I am sitting out on my own little private balcony in my dressing gown with a coat around my shoulders having my breakfast all on my little own. Coffee, toast, rolls, and butter and marmalade.

“I specially ordered a “Breakfast Portugaise” though most of the others seemed to be ordering eggs and bacon!

“On my right a banana grove in the hotel grounds slopes up almost level with the balcony, with masses of bunches of fat little green bananas. I tried a banana at dinner last night. You know how I loathe the big coarse bananas one gets in England, well you and Aunt Janey were perfectly right: these short little green fat bananas are as different as chalk from cheese and are perfectly delicious.

“I have a corner room in the annex, facing west and south. The banana grove slopes up hill to the west ending yards away. There is some sort of small building with a cascade of mauvey–pink morning glory all over it. To the south immediately below my balcony is a vine covered walk leading to the main hotel about 60 – 70 yards away with lawns to the left, and what will be a glimpse of the sea when the mist has cleared. Also a huge candelabra cactus reminiscent of that in the Pass of Angostura. The sun is just breaking through the mists; the air is full of the scream of swifts, and the tap – tap – tap of workmen laying cobbles. The car horns would take you back, back to wherever they always do – is it Santiago? Last night the cicada were screaming themselves, and me, quite silly; but I don’t mind them, it is all part of it.”
Avenida leading down to Funchal from MiramarAvenida leading down to Funchal from MiramarAfter breakfast I set off down the big avenida leading down to the town. Near the Miramar it crosses a very deep ravine, filled with trees and vegetation, which we are told is a favourite place for committing suicide. There are several of these ravines, about four I believe, running through the town from the mountains behind. The others are smaller than this one and at present are dry, boulder filled water courses, but at certain times of the year the water comes down in spate.
HammockScenes In FunchalIt was intensely hot walking down, and I kept dodging from one patch of shade to another.
Bullock CarroBullock CarroAn old woman wrapped up in a black shawl begged from me as I passed, my first experience of what was to become an all too familiar routine.
Governor's PalaceFunchal MapI went first to the Tourismo in the square opposite the Governor’s Palace, and booked up trips for Friday and Saturday.
Phelps LargoPhelps LargoThen on past the cathedral seeking for the Carmo, the old ancestral townhouse of the Phelps family, of which Aunt Janey Phelps had told me so much.
Phelps LargoCarmoI found Largo do Phelps, a square named after Aunt Janey’s eldest sister, my great aunt Elizabeth, who founded the embroidery industry here in 1858. At the corner of the square is the Carmo Church, and just beyond is the great old house. The glory is now sadly departed, as it is all made over into offices etc. and an open-air cinema is being built in the patio.
Phelps LargoDespite that, it was one of the greatest moments of my life to see the actual house of which I have heard of so much, and in which the furniture used to stand which I came to know so well when living with Aunt Janey just after I left school.
CathedralCathedralEnglish visitors can’t move anywhere in the town without being pestered by touts and I had a lot of trouble to shake off several who firmly attached themselves to me, clamouring to show me wine stores, embroidery shops, the market and anything else they could think of. However I eventually got a taxi back to the hotel.
SchoolThere are quite a lot of busses, but they are such frightful old bone shakers, all apparently tied together with string, besides being appallingly crowded, that I avoided them like the plague. I did go in one on about two occasions, which was quite enough. I was very much struck by the youthfulness of the conductors. They looked like boys of 14 or 15 and probably were, as education is at a very low ebb in the island although efforts are being made to raise the standard.
SavoyFunchal From Savoy HotelMy table companion at meals was a most interesting girl, Diana Cragoe. She had worked for many years in Madrid and spoke Spanish like a native. She had also travelled a great deal, so we found plenty of interests in common.
Running CarroI rested during the afternoon as I was frightfully tired with the heat, and my feet were already blistering from the cobbles.

Later on Janet Smith came round from the Savoy and invited me round there after dinner. I introduced Diana, and we arranged to meet. After tea Diana and I strolled out towards the Lido, but it was so hot that we didn’t get there. The vegetation was fascinating, vines growing on trellises everywhere and melons trailing over the roofs of cottages. There were also groves of sugar cane and of course bananas everywhere.
BayBayIn the evening Diana and I went round to the Savoy.

It is a far larger and more dressy place than the Miramar, but looked very pretty in the dark with illuminations along the terraces and spangling the trees.

Illuminations hung about trees look garish and crude in Brighton, but in the warm exotic dark of Madeira they fit with the atmosphere and are most attractive.

Thursday 30th September 1954

OutingYesterday evening a party of us joined up to hire a car and go for a day’s outing over the mountains. The hotel arranged the car and provided a picnic lunch. The party consisted of Diana, Mr Deeks, a married couple (George and Doris – can’t remember their surname) and myself. We set off at 10:00 in blazing heat. Having been warned, and also having experience of the Andes, I provided myself with a coat. I wasn’t feeling too good, and was a bit hesitant about going, but decided it would probably pass off.
MonteWe started climbing at once through the outskirts of Funchal up to a village called Monte. At first the vegetation was purely subtropical, vines, melons, bananas, palms etc. but by the time we got to Monte it had already began to change. Monte is only 3.75 miles from Funchal but the altitude is 1804 feet and the gradients were terrific. My ears were cracking as they had never done in going over the Andes. There we got up to an altitude of 17000 feet but the distances were far greater and none of the gradients anything like as fierce.
Monte. Note the carrying hammock.At Monte we stopped for about half an hour and the others went for a walk to the church along a path from which I believe was a magnificent view. I was feeling too ill to attempt it, the altitude was getting me down and I felt I couldn’t get enough oxygen. I just walked about the plaza and took a couple of photographs. There were men about with the hammocks in which one can be carried up the mountains and it is from here that the running carros slide down the cobbled road into Funchal.

Children run behind the car throwing in bunches of the lovely pink and blue lilies that grow everywhere, and always with the cry, “Escudo, Escudo monnai, monnai for bread.” It is fatal to give them anything, poor little things, as one is immediately overwhelmed with a screaming fighting mob. We threw coins over that back of the car while we were moving, or they would have been in the car and fighting all over us; and on looking back there was always a welter of grubby struggling urchins in a heap in the middle of the road.

An Escudo is about 1/- to them, though only 3d in our currency.

Leaving Monte we seemed to climb almost vertically, and I felt sicker and sicker. I had experienced a certain amount of mountain sickness in the Andes, but that was at a far greater altitude. I never want to experience mountain sickness again; it made me feel absolutely like death.

Virgin and ChildThe vegetation, and temperature, was changing rapidly. At our next stop, Terreiro da Luta, there were cacti, sugar cane, pines, eucalyptus, bananas, vines, oaks, palms and giant ferns, all within quite a short distance, and from there on we were almost entirely among pines, oaks, and eucalyptus. Terreiro da Luta is 5.5 miles from Funchal, at an altitude of 2876 feet so those few miles feel as if they are vertical. At Terreiro da Luta is a huge statue of the Virgin and Child, erected as a monument to Peace. This statue is floodlit at night, and can be seen clearly from Funchal, where it appears to be only about half way up the vast basin of mountains, whose topmost edges tower far above. The statue stands on a small eminence on the mountainside, approached by a flight of steps.

I did not attempt to go up there, but sat on a low wall and wished that I might die, while the others went up.
Pico do Arieiro, taken from PoisoAfter leaving Terreiro da Luta we went on, up and up, the road being cut out of the mountain side, with great wooden ravines below, and breath taking slopes above. We were far above the cloud line, and everything below seemed shrouded in mist. After a time we got above even the pines and eucalyptus line, and came out on a bare, bleak area, reminiscent of the west coast of Scotland, or the Falkland Islands, or Dartmoor, or anywhere utterly bare and treeless. It was very much cooler by now, despite blazing brilliant sun. The highest point of the road, the actual watershed, beyond which the descent to the north side of the island began was at Poiso, 8.5 miles from Funchal and 4593 feet altitude. Here we stopped for a few minutes and took photographs. I just managed to get out of the car and walk across the road to get them.
Views from PoisoViews from PoisoLeaving Poiso we dropped down steadily till we entered the tree line again. This north side of the island seemed much cooler than the south face of the mountains. The great central ridge runs like a backbone east and west along the length of the island, sending out vast spurs like ribs on either side. The roads wind along the sides of these great spurs, with huge ravines between.
BalcõesRibeiro FrioOur next stop was at Ribeiro Frio 2624 feet and 12.5 miles from Funchal. We stopped for a long time here, while the rest of the party went for a walk round the Balcões, (the Balconies) which I gather is a footpath round the side of a ravine, with a wonderful view. I had to sit with my head more or less on my knees, and have seldom felt so ill in my life. I thought the others were never coming back and began to think that I should die before they did. They must have been gone quite an hour and all seemed very tired when they got back to the car. I felt better directly we began to move and I could get some air and wind in my face, but the mere name Ribeiro Frio will give me qualms to the end of my days.

The vegetation repeated itself in reverse as we dropped to sea level on the north coast. We stopped at a charming roadside estaminet at Saõ Roque do Faial at about 14:30. It is only 20.25 miles from Funchal and almost at sea level. Here everyone got out the vast packets of sandwiches etc. provided by the hotel before we left in the morning, and proceeded to consume them with much gusto. I cautiously peeled a morsel of bread of one sandwich and nibbled about one mouthful and then packed up.

We then went on to Porto da Cruz, a lovely fishing village under the shadow of a colossal block of mountain standing out in the sea, “Penha d'Águia” (The rock of the eagle). I believe I did actually see an eagle sailing about in the dizzy abyss under the rock.

We then struck inland, climbing again, to Portela 2034 feet, the road clinging in and out round the great sprawling mountain spurs.

It was about here we stopped again and the party got out and walked around a cliff path for the view. The usual mob of clamouring children materialised and I was told that some of those from the other cars thought it a great joke to throw coins among the bushes which grew down the cliff face, in order to see the children plunge down after them. Our own party was disgusted about it, as the cliff was over 1000 feet high and the children were utterly reckless in their eagerness for the coins. They had probably plunged down the cliff scores of times before, but it struck us a very poor joke. I did not actually see it, as I stayed in the car, but if I had, I am afraid I should have had some remarks to make to those jokers.

Machico, 17.25 miles along the coast east of Funchal.Our next stop was at Machico, 17.25 miles along the coast east of Funchal, a perfectly lovely little village in a bay on the south coast. We had crossed the island again at the narrow eastern end since leaving Porto da Cruz. At Machico we had tea in a charming open air café, quite the English style. It is a far more sophisticated place than any of the other villages we had passed through, and is a popular residential area for the well-to-do.

I was beginning to feel better by this time and was able to swallow a spot of tea.

We returned to Funchal along the coast road, with the sea on our left, and everything looked perfectly exquisite. Via Santa Cruz, Gaula, Canico and S. Goncalo, all of these being charming villages, with a great number of large and wealthy houses and quintas everywhere.

We arrived back at the hotel at about 17:00. I fell into bed immediately, and remained there, much to the consternation and sympathy of the nice little Madeirian chambermaid.

mountain spursThis photograph is not on the run I describe above, but it gives a very good idea of how the mountain spurs run down from the central backbone, and of the intersecting ravines.
Scenery on the mountain roads Scenery on the mountain roads.

Friday 1st October 1954

Girl with flowersSlept well last night and felt much better, though my first move was to go down to the Tourismo and cancel my bookings for mountainous drives today and tomorrow! The man was extremely nice when I explained my mountain sickness yesterday, and refunded my money at once.


Janet and I met up for coffee then I went to the cathedral. It is an uninteresting building outside, but inside is very different. It dates from the fifteenth century, and has a wonderful carved cedar ceiling in what we would call Perpendicular panelling. The huge choir stalls, with some rather crude Miserere seats, are all in cedar, and all the candlesticks and candelabra are of solid silver. Down the length of the nave are six vast shrines, three on the north wall, three on the south, reaching almost to the roof. They are of the most fantastic flamboyantly Rococo style, very overpowering and over-ornate. An old sacristan took me round, and we managed to understand each other very well. He took me through into the Sacristy, which was panelled in heavy teak. All round the walls were huge, built-in drawers, all of them decorated with the small, very deep, panels which reminded me immediately of some of the Madeira made chests of drawers that Aunt Janey had. Above these were enormous canvasses of oil paintings of ecclesiastical subjects, too age darkened to decipher. Between the paintings the carved panels rose to the ceiling. The carvings were so deeply undercut that I could slide my arm up inside. The drawers contained masses of church vestments and embroideries, all worked by the nuns, some of which are over 300 years old; all heavily encrusted with gold.

English Church

I then made my way to the English Church. It is a strange looking building in a very inconspicuous position in a side street, and was built by the efforts of the British Community in the first half of the last century. It is pretty certain that the Phelps family had a good deal to do with the building of it, and they certainly worshipped here for very many years.

The reason for its odd circular shape and inconspicuous position is that the powerful R.C. faction in Madeira refused for a long time to permit the Church of England to erect any place of worship. When at length permission was obtained, it was with the proviso that the church should not bear any architectural resemblance whatever to a church.

Up to about the same period, circa 1840, no Protestant was even allowed burial in the island. All Protestants dying in Madeira had to be taken out and buried at sea. Such is Christian Charity.

The British Cemetery was granted at about the same time, though it has since been cut through and the position altered.

A sort of cobbled alleyway leads from the street to the church, which has a small open area around it, overlooked by the Chaplain’s house. The British Chaplain appeared as I was looking at the outside of the Church and I introduced myself, and said I wanted to find my grandfather’s grave, and any records of forbears. He was most friendly and pleasant, and took me into the church. It is circular with a dome roof, there is no proper Chancel, but the Altar is up a couple of small steps at the east side, with a small pulpit and reading desk to the north and south. There is quite a good little organ to the north. It is a strange unpretentious little place, but I was strongly aware of the spirit of courage and faithfulness which led that little Protestant community to build it in the face of so much opposition.

In the portico is a list of all the incumbents, and among them I saw a Phelps, somewhere about 1870.

English Cemetery

The Padre directed me to the English Cemetery, but was not able to conduct me personally, as he had hurt his foot and was very lame. I found my way there from the opposite direction to that I had taken with Miss Grey the first day.

Outside of the wall of the English CemeteryThe photograph to the left shows the outside of the wall of the English Cemetery on the right. This area was in the original cemetery which was cut into when this road was made.

The small memorial to the left shows the original extent of the cemetery.

The animal which the lads are playing with was a small black pig.

The Cemetery is surrounded by a high wall, with solid iron and wood doors, which are usually kept locked. They were open on this occasion, as Mrs Padre was there with some other English visitors. When Miss Grey and I had gone before, we had had to knock up the janitor, and entered through his own cottage garden.

The whole area of walls surrounding the oldest part of the cemetery was covered almost edge to edge with memorial tablets which had been built in on their removal from their original positions in the first cemetery. Many of the coffin shaped grave stones were broken and nameless and the tablets in the walls were overhung and shadowed by bushes and cascades of creepers. I spent a long, long time going around the walls, picking my way behind bushes, and drawing aside the curtains of climbing plants. I knew from the old sketch at home that there was a mural tablet to my Grandfather and a Great uncle, so I knew what to look for.

memorial tabletsSuddenly, from a dark corner, shadowed by trees, and almost hidden by shrubs, that familiar name leapt out at me, the name that is now my eldest brother’s and his eldest son’s. JOHN WADDINGTON HUBBARD.

This, outshining all relics of my far more noteworthy Phelps forbears, was what I had come to Madeira to find.

Alongside the tablet to my Grandfather is a similar one to a young Great uncle, who, as a medical student, also contracted lung trouble, and came out to Madeira to stay with the Phelps family, and died there.

Tablet to my Grandfather Tablet to my Grandfather

In memory of John Waddington Hubbard of 16 Kensington Square London
Born July 10th 1823
Died at Funchal June 15th 1871

Tablet to my Great uncle Tablet to my Great uncle

In memory of George Evans of Market Bosworth Leicestershire, England
Born 17th May 1825
Died 25th January 1847

Little is known of my Grandfather in the family archives, the main thing being that my beautiful and talented Grandmother was well-nigh ostracised by certain of her relatives for choosing to marry a young doctor, who, though of good old East Anglian descent, was not of the “country” class, as they were. It was an ideally happy marriage, though all too short. In the early forties my Grandfather developed a lung complaint, and was brought to stay with the Phelps relations in Madeira, in the hopes that the climate would aid his recovery. It did not, however, and he died at the age of 48, leaving my Grandmother with four small children. Even my father, the eldest, had hardly any recollections of his own father. The little that I have ever heard of my Grandfather’s short life, has always appealed to me very deeply. In a crayon portrait of him by my Grandmother, though admittedly not a flattering likeness, he is shown as being fair, with thick curly red-gold hair, which I believe my Father inherited. Coming fairly late in my father’s life, I never knew his curls except as silver.

It was exceedingly difficult to get photographs of the tablets, owing to the deep shadow from overhanging trees, and to a shrub almost directly in front. Besides which a mass of other shrubs and undergrowth made it almost impossible to stand in any suitable position for focussing.

There must be other family graves here, but I had no time to look for them. The most recent seems to be in 1904, [Philip Arthur Frank Phelps, Died 12th July] and this is the only one in the church registers. The details of this were given to me in a note by Mr Cole, the churchwarden.

English Club

British Country ClubAfter a rest in the afternoon, Diana and I went round to the English Club, which is only a few minutes walk from the Miramar. It is a delightful place, with lovely gardens and tennis courts, and visitors can join as temporary members, and enjoy all the amenities, including the use of an excellent lending library, at a very small charge. The club house, Quinta Magnolia, was formerly the residence of a very wealthy man who took a great interest in botany. The grounds contain quantities of rare trees and shrubs, all of them totally strange to me, but most curious and some very beautiful.

The views of the mountains from the veranda, where teas are served, are really breath taking.

I borrowed the book “Oriflamme” in which it is mentioned that a Duc de Brissac was one of the last lovers of the du Barry, and was torn to pieces during the French Revolution, and his head was rolled into the du Barry’s salon by the mob who had murdered him. It was curious to think that he stood in much the same relationship to the Phelps family, as they do to me. Aunt Janey, the youngest of her family, bore the name of de Brissac.

In the evening Diana and I went round to the Savoy and spent another pleasant session with Janet.

Saturday 2nd October 1954

Eastward from poolDiving in open seaIt was the hottest every today. One of our party reported that the thermometer in the centre of town was registering 100ºF, (in the sun) and we were told that heat such as this was quite unusual. In fact the whole week I was in Madeira was an exceptionally hot spell. In the morning Diana and I went along to the Lido, and had a lovely lazy time sipping cold drinks at the umbrella covered tables, and watching the bathers.

It was delightful there.

Diving in open seaDiving in open seaThere is a big seawater bath, and plenty of facilities for bathing and diving in the deep water of the open sea alongside, with diving boards, chutes, ropes etc. All very attractive.


Slipway west of poolRocks west of poolNeedless to say I didn’t bathe, but kept in the shade as much as possible. Diana wailed at not having brought her swim suit. She is very dark, and quickly acquired a lovely tan. I, who never tan at all, go about looking like a ghost among all the beautiful brown skins. All our Venus crowd were turning a richer colour every time I met them, whereas the heat, not to mention Madeira fever, made me more pallid even than my usual.

On the way back from the Lido we stopped at an enchanting shop opposite Rieds Hotel, and spent a long time looking at embroideries, baskets, hats etc. Eventually I bought a really exquisite blouse for the equivalent of only 35/- and a table runner, and Diana made several purchases as well.

I rested all the afternoon as the heat was terrific. Janet came round after dinner and half a dozen of us hired a car and went out to the fishing village of Camara de Lobos.

There we went to a little inn which was in the pure native style; the only illumination was from candles on the tables stuck in holders made from the jaw bones of cat fish. The little bar was made of part of a fishing boat, and the walls were festooned with nets. There was a quaint little plunky-tunky orchestra, and a fisher boy sang and danced between the tables, with a little girl of about twelve. The lad sang Portuguese songs in the same queer rather raucous, but fascinating type of voice we had heard singing in La Paloma, in Mollendo, Peru. It was packed out with English visitors, but the atmosphere was so homely and free and easy that it was really delightful. They passed round the most fantastic straw hat for everyone to wear, and the air got thicker and thicker with cigarette smoke and candle fumes, and more and more people kept crowding in, till there was barely a square yard for the boy and girl to dance. They both danced barefoot, and eventually one of our honeymoon brides kicked off her shoes and danced with the boy amid great applause. It was good fun, as no one got tight, but everyone was absolutely full of joie de vivre and bonhomie etc.!

It was very late before we got home.

Sunday 3rd October 1954

Madeira summer time ended in the early hours this morning, a fact of which I was cheerfully unaware. I thought my nice little waiter had forgotten to bring my breakfast up, and went across to the dining room feeling rather peeved. He met me there with a stare of amazement, but I had by that time realised my mistake and grinned and pointed to my wristwatch, with gestures indicative of the fact that I had just seen my mistake. He grinned back at once, and we understood each other perfectly.

I met Janet at the English Church for matins, and she introduced me to a Miss Eileen Cole, to whom Janet’s sister had given her an introduction. Janet’s sister had met Miss Cole and her father, who is churchwarden, when she was in Madeira a year or so ago. There must have been 30 to 40 people there, and it was an extremely nice service. No choir, of course, but the congregation singing was very good. It was a real thrill to me to be there, where my ancestors used to go. There was quite a sprinkling of visitors, and in the pews were little notices saying that as the total number of English residents did not exceed about 100, visitors were to support the church as generously as possible. I am glad to say that the offertory bags appeared to be absolutely stuffed with notes.

Janet and I and about a dozen others stayed to H. C. As it was so near St Michael and All Angels, the Padre gave an extremely good address about the angels. The first hymn was “Praise the Lord ye Heavens Adore Him”, to the tune of the Austrian National Anthem, and the Psalm was no: xci; the “air raid” psalm.

After the service we chatted to Miss Cole and her father, the churchwarden, a charming old gentleman, and they invited us to tea with them on Tuesday, just before we leave.

In the afternoon Diana, Janet and I met Miss Cole and an American lady for tea at the English Club.

After dinner Diana and I walked down the long slope into the centre of the town. The lights over the water and up the mountains at the back of Funchal were absolutely wonderful. We had a coffee on the quayside, and it was really heavenly there.

The lights of Funchal by night.The lights of Funchal by night.

Monday 4th October 1954

Our last full day here, as we sail at midnight tomorrow. I felt I had a lot to do as I had had to waste so much valuable time in resting and keeping quiet owing to the heat and Madeira fever.

British Consulate

The padre had told me that all the early records of English families, births, marriages, deaths etc were not kept at the church as I had expected, but at the British Consulate. I wanted to see all I could, so directly after breakfast I made my way there. It is just next to the Tourismo in the Central Plaza.

The Consul, Mr Fladgate, was on leave in England, but I was shown to the office of the Vice Consul, Mr Boileau. He was most kind and interested when I told him of my Phelps relationship, and immediately opened the safes and dug out huge leather bound tomes, in which the entries go back well over 150 years. He found the entry of the birth of my Aunt Janey in 1842, amongst others, which was a great thrill. She died in 1926, and I had lived with her during the last few years of her life.

Mr Boileau smilingly warned me that he was obliged to make a charge of 2/- for every register opened, but at the end of our most friendly chat, when I asked the damage, he said he could not possibly think of charging anything to a relative of the Phelpses. He then suggested that I should go and call on Mr Noël Cossart, the head of the wine firm of Cossart, Gordon & Co., and told me that Mr Crossart has a wonderful collection of early records of English families in Madeira, and he would be able to tell me more about the early history of the Phelps family and time than anyone else.

Mr Noël Crossart

Accordingly I made my way to the establishment, which was only a few yards away, in the same block. It is entered under an archway which leads to a cobbled courtyard, with very high cream washed buildings all around. There are a number of wooden outside stair cases and balconies, all draped with creepers, and it was very hot and most picturesque. A Madeiran employee in blue dungarees came up, and I asked for Mr Noël Cossart. The man showed me up one of the staircases into a huge dim cool room, smelling of wine, so dark after the glare outside that I was almost blinded for a few minutes. There was a long bar across one end, and tables and chairs, made of cut down barrels, grouped about. Everything was old ancient dark wood, and impregnated with the fumes of wine.

In a moment or two Mr Cossart appeared. He was most charming, and seemed genuinely excited to meet a Phelps descendant. He gave me a tiny glass of some exquisisite wine, and went to get out some of his collections of old records. He has apparently made a most careful study of the subject, and turned up the most amazing items for me; old wine lists and invoices going back 150 years, letters and notes etc. I could have spent hours browsing through them.

The name of Phelps appeared over and over again from 1786 onwards, and I made quick notes as we turned over the pages. The Phelpses had been the leading English family in Madeira for so many years that they became known as the “Phelpses of Madeira". A Phelps (my father’s family) married a Vizard of Dursley (my mother’s family) in the early years of the last century, and on a tablet in the church at Dursley, Gloucestershire, he is mentioned as “… Phelps of Madeira”. The Phelps family originally came from Dursley, and went to Madeira as vine growers and wine merchants in the 18th century.

During Aunt Janey’s their position was such that they had the entertaining of all foreign royalty etc. visiting the island, and Aunt Janey told me that as a child she remembers being taken to the drawing room after dinner and sitting on the knee of Emperor Napoleon! It was in order to help the women on their great vineyard estates, that Aunt Janey’s eldest sister Elizabeth, started the little embroidery school, from which has now grown the industry which is the greatest source of revenue to the island; greater even than the wine trade. During the time I lived with Aunt Janey, I remember her showing me the big folio of original drawings made by Great Aunt Elizabeth. What became of these at Aunt Janey’s death I do not know, alas.

In going through the old records with Mr Cossart I was able to tell him many items which I had been told by Aunt Janey, and these he entered amongst his notes. One of these early notes was to the effect that in the first half of the last century the whole island was in a bad state from lack of trees, and that many trees had brought in and planted by the activity of “an English Lady”. I was able to tell Mr Cossart that this lady was Mrs Joseph Phelps (Aunt Janey’s mother, nee Elizabeth Dickinson 1797- 1876.) I also told him that Great-great-aunt Elizabeth used to procure seedlings of various trees, and when the family and guests went out picnicking in the mountains each member of the party was given a seedling tree, and asked to plant it at the picnic spot. For many years after the resultant clumps of trees were known as “Mrs Phelps’s Picnic Places.”

When I told Mr Cossart this he thought a moment, then said, “Yes, of course, I remember years ago hearing mention of Mrs Phelps’ picnic places, but never knew what the name implied.”

I longed to spend hours going through all the folios of records, but had promised to meet Janet at 11:30. Before I left, Mr Cossart took me round some of the old buildings and wine stores. The main buildings were divided by a narrow cobbled alleyway, only about 10 – 12 feet wide, open to the sky. Mr Cossart told me that this used to be one of the main streets of Funchal in the early days. The buildings used to be monastic, and the alleyway was spanned at one point by a little building at first floor level, which used to be a chapel. It is now only a store room and passage between the upper parts of the building.

We went through acres of vaults where the air almost made me drunk. I remarked on this to Mr Cossart, who smiled and said he did not notice it as he was always in it, “But if you really want to smell something, come in here,” and he unlocked a smaller darker vault, roof high with casks in which the oldest wines of all were stored. I took a couple of sniffs then exclaimed “Sorry, I’ve got to get out of here, or you have to be carrying me out,” and retreated hastily into the courtyard. The smell of the wine was marvellous, but completely overpowering. Mr Cossart pointed out one smaller cask that had been originally laid down in1795! It has been “topped up” at intervals since, I believe, but the original wine is still there, and in superb condition.

Madeira wines are the only ones which never deteriorate with age, and this is believed to be due to the fact that they are subjected to heat during the maturing process. They are kept at a temperature of 100ºF for eight months; this is now done artificially, but it originated in the early days when quantities of Madeira wine were sent to the East Indies in sailing ships. The voyage took eight months, and the average heat in the hold was 100ºF This was found to have such a remarkable effect on their maturing qualities also giving them a distinctive bouquet that this has become a regulation process with all Madeira wines.

At the hotel I had asked the wine steward for a bottle of something really special, and he produced a Malvoisie 1905. It was exquisite, almost a liqueur, and only cost the equivalent of 10/-.

Most of the woodwork in the wine vaults were enormous old timbers from sailing ships, and the huge storage vats, which must have been 12-15 feet in diameter and towered, cone shaped, into the darkness overhead, were of satin wood, a rich golden colour and silky to the touch.

In a corner sat a very old man at a small table. On the table were a number of blocks of wood, about six inches long, tapering down from 3” at one end to about 2 “ or 1.5” at the other, Behind him hung a mass of what appeared to be narrow strips of leather, which he was binding over and round the blocks of wood.

I asked what he was doing.

“He is making bungs for the big casks, “Mr Cossart explained, “and those strips are not leather, but the outer fibre of banana trees.”

He went on to say that the old man was 86, and had been in the firm’s employ for over 70 years. He was long past active work, but was so attached to the firm that he would not take his dismissal with the pension offered, so had been given this quiet, but highly skilled job, at which no one could equal him. These fibre covered bungs are more efficient than any other type, on account of the slightly compressible nature of the thick covering of banana fibre, which makes a perfect fit.

Before leaving, Mr Cossart told me to call on Mrs Farra the head of the largest embroidery firm in the island, assuring me that she would be delighted to meet a descendant of the founders of the industry.

It was hard to tear myself away from this most interesting place, and from Mr Cossart’s friendly and most interesting company, but time had flown and I knew that Janet was waiting for me.

We met and had coffee, then went to the cathedral, which Janet seemed to find a lot more interesting than she had anticipated. I told her I wanted to call on Mrs Farra, so we made our way to the embroidery establishment.

[Aunt Frances subsequently sent Mr Cossart her Notes on the Family of Phelps of Maderia. NGH]

Mrs Farra

Mrs Farra is English, young, attractive and a real enthusiast about her firm. She seemed really thrilled when I introduced myself, and called her husband (who I think is Portuguese) also another gentleman, a member of the firm, who was writing a brochure on the history of the embroidery industry in Madeira. He again I was able to give them some details of the Phelps’s history, which seemed to please them very much.

Mrs Farra took Janet and I all over their huge establishment, where we saw every process, from the draughtsmen who design the patterns, the pricking out of the transfers, the gauge by which every stitch is recorded for pricing purposes, the piles of work newly brought in from the women’s cottages, filthy dirty and crumpled, the laundries where it is washed, the huge ironing rooms, where scores of women work with electric irons plugged to overhead cables, the cutting girls who snip out the open work at incredible speed, to the final racks on which the exquisite finished articles are place ready for sale or export.

I told Mrs Farra of the folio of original designs which Aunt Janey had had, and described one or two as nearly as I could remember after all these years. Mrs Farra recognised my description at once, and said that is one of the old original designs which is still in use, a vine leaf with grapes, and gave me a charming table mat in that design, as a souvenir. I was really delighted with it.

[I was presented with a letter giving a history of the Madeira Embroidery Industry.]

As it was lunch time by now Mrs Farra drove Janet back to the Savoy in her own car, and Mr Farra took me to the Miramar in his. They are obviously extremely wealthy, but a most unassuming and delightful couple. They seemed to be most popular with all their employees, judging by the smiles that followed Mrs Farra everywhere, and all the working conditions in their factory were excellent. The great roofs were light and cool and everywhere was well ventilated and spotlessly clean, and all the women and girls looked happy.

Cabo Girão

In the afternoon four of us, Diana, Gertrude O’Gorman, Mr Deeks, and I hired a car and went out to Cabo Girão, the second highest sea cliff in the world.

Câmara de LobosWe set off along the exquisite coast road westwards, over which we had gone in the dark on Saturday night, to the village of Câmara de Lobos.

The village lies in a little bay and is extremely picturesque.

Many artists, including Sir Winston Churchill, come here for the sake of the beauty, and glorious colourings of the sea, red roofed houses, and mountains.
group Diana Cragoe (L)
Gertrude O’Gorman (R)
group Diana Cragoe (L)
Gertrude O’Gorman (C)
Self (R)

Beyond Câmara de Lobos the road wound crazily in and out of huge ravines cutting down from the mountains inland. At times we were quite a long way inland before the ravines were narrow enough to bridge. The cultivation terraces, many of them not containing more than a few square yards of soil, clung dizzily up the sides of the mountains. How the people ever get to these tiny cultivation areas is a mystery. On looking up at a huge mountainside almost overhead, the dry stone retaining walls of the terraces look like the stone roves of the Cotswolds; like stone tiles almost overlapping each other.

Swinging round a violent curve we saw ahead what appeared to be the road shooting up almost vertically over a forest covered crag, the top of the road appearing as a horizon line between the trees far up in the sky. We were fairly well broken in to violent road conditions by this time, but I voiced the feelings of the party when I observed firmly: “If that’s our road going up there, this is where I get out and walk!”

Fortunately our road swung away to the left at the foot of that frightful incline, and climbed at a rather more reasonable gradient round the foot of the crag. We thought afterwards that that cutting though the forest might have been a timber chute.

View over Fauchal Bay from the top of Cabo GirãoCabo GiraoEventually we came out on top of Cabo Girão. It is a stupendous cliff, 1804 feet sheer down to the sea, with the most breath taking views along the coast, right beyond Funchal and round the bay, and vast basin of mountains behind.

The usual crowd of urchins materialised, and one in particular was the most devastatingly persistent little horror we had met anywhere. He was under our feet at every step reiterating “Escudo, Escudo, Escudo,” in an utterly expressionless voice, then coughed all over me as I was changing a film.

Grande Curral

men carrying crude wine in goatskinsWe passed groups of men like these carrying the crude wine in goatskins; we also saw them carrying loads of grapes in huge tall baskets.
View from Pico dos BarcelosWe could not spend very long at Cabo Girão as we also wanted to see Grande Curral [Curral das Freiras], a village at the bottom of a crater. We retraced our route as far as Câmara de Lobos, then cut up into the interior via S. Martinho and Pico dos Barcelos, and S. Antonio. The road twisted madly up the ravines, and the views were absolutely incredible. This road was far more primitive and unfrequented than the one over which we had gone one the previous run, though the surface and construction were in very good condition.

The mountains got higher and craggier, and the afternoon was getting late, till at last we seemed to be clinging to the edge of a vast black pit with towering bare rocks all around, behind which the sun was sinking.

Grande CurralSuddenly the car stopped, and the driver remarked” Finish here, no more road,” and how right he was. The road stopped abruptly on a small open area of not than a few square yards, and on getting out, we saw that we were on the very edge of a huge dark abyss which yawned below. Creeping cautiously to the edge of the little platform we looked over, and there, more than a thousand feet below, were scattered houses and a church.


A terrifying footpath, hardly more than a goat track, led down from our platform, and this is the only means of approach to the village. All produce, food, commodities, building materials etc. have to be carried on men’s shoulders up and down. A pile of planks and tiles were lying near the car, waiting to be carried down. We asked in amazement why people should ever have chosen to live in such a position, and were told that the bottom of the crater, and the cultivation terraces up the sides, form the richest growing area in the whole island. This is, of course, on account of the volcanic nature of the soil.

An English man once walked down to the village and back again. He was a strong walker, but it took him three hours, and he was utterly exhausted by the time he got up again; yet the inhabitants of the village think nothing of it, even carrying heavy loads.

We spent the evening at the Savoy with Janet, who is staying on another week.

SceneryTerracesWe did not actually go over these roads today, but they give a very good idea of the scenery and the cultivation terraces.

Tuesday 5th October 1954

We had to get packed and out of our rooms by 10:30. It was most frightfully hot, and the mere effort of packing nearly laid me out. I met Janet in town later in the morning, and in the afternoon she, Diana and I went to tea with Mr and Miss Cole.

Diana, Mr Cole, Self, Janet, Mr MartoliniJanet, Mr Cole, Diana, Mr Martolini, Eileen ColeMr and Miss Cole have a charming villa beyond the Miramar, with a most glorious view from the balcony.

Miss Cole’s maternal uncle, Mr Martolini, lives with them. He has spent most of his life in Egypt, and when he mentioned Port Said, I said, by way of making conversation, “Did you know anyone of the name of Broatch there?” The old gentleman absolutely gasped and replied ”Cyril Broatch was my boss,” where upon he and I fell into each other’s arms and could talk of nothing else the whole of tea time. (Cyril Broatch is the husband of Doc’s sister.) I really thought he would have a heart attack with excitement. It certainly was the most curious coincidence that we should have met under such utterly fortuitous circumstances. Mr Martolini had been in Cyril’s firm since 1904, and of course knew Gen and their children well.

We sat on the balcony as dusk fell, and watched the moon rise over the banana groves just below, and the sea beyond, while the myriad lights sprang up over the mountain slopes. It was utterly lovely, and I hated to feel we should be leaving so soon.
We had to get back to dinner at 19:00 and the cars came at 20:30 to take us to the quay. Numbers of friends that were staying longer came to see us off, including Janet. Once on board Mr Deeks, Diana and I hung over the bulwarks watching all the launches bringing everyone from the other hotels. The “dizzy blondes,” who were staying on, came to bid fond farewells to their devoted escorts. They were both in extremely décolleté evening dresses, and posed with much elegance in the most effective positions under the light. They tried to look heartbroken as Jimmie and Charlie came on board, but didn’t succeed very well. I should think they must have been thankful to see the back of them, as they both drank like fish. We heard afterwards that Jimmie was a dipsomaniac and had had several haemorrhages while at the Savoy.

Funchal Bay at nightAll the boats with diving boys and things for sale, came alongside. It was really a wonderful picture, the lights along the water front and glittering all up the huge black sides of the mountains behind Funchal, and under our sides the little boats each carrying a flare. The boys dived for the coins by the light of the flares, and the reflections on the dark water and on their gleaming brown bodies were an unforgettable sight. The shouting, yelling, and clapping went on non-stop until we drew out at midnight.

We stayed on deck for sometime afterwards until the lights of Funchal were blotted out by a great black headland.

I shared a cabin with Mrs Powell, my cabin companion on the outbound voyage. The cabin was next to the one we had before, and the airlessness and vibration were as bad as ever, but this time I was forewarned and got some dope from the nurse directly I began to feel bad; so managed better.
The home bound voyage was just the same as the outbound, but in reverse. I missed Janet, but was quite happy with the companionship of Diana and Mr Deeks. It was most amusing to see how the cliques had crystallised out, and to watch the numberless mushroom romances which had developed. Most of the passengers were the same, though there were a good many others taking the place of those who were staying longer on Madeira.

Wednesday 6th October 1954

SaloonThe only item of note was that I had my hair washed by the hairdresser – manicurist.

He dealt with men and women alike in the same little cabin. Everything was beautifully clean and professional, but it was rather a novelty to sit under the drier and see men come in for hair cuts etc.

Thursday 7th October 1954

Menu CoverTurning perceptibly colder, and everyone is gradually reverting to warmer clothes.

I won 11/- on the horse racing in the saloon.

Friday 8th October 1954

Everyone looked very dull and ordinary in English cold weather clothes, and quite different from what they had been looking in sun-tops and fantastic Madeira hats.

We had to pack early and have our luggage out of the cabins by 10:30 which was an awful nuisance as we were not disembarking till next morning. We put into Falmouth for refuelling about 19:00.

There was a grand farewell dance and party in the evening which went on till well after midnight, and I staggered into my bunk well after 01:00.

Saturday 9th October 1954

Did not get much sleep as we had to be up in time for 6:15 breakfast!

There was a dock strike in London and they wanted to push us off as soon as possible in case the strike spread to Plymouth. Quite a number of the other ships queued up behind us, having been sent into Plymouth instead of London.

It was a glorious morning, and Plymouth sound looked really lovely. We disembarked on the tender “Sir John Hawkins” at 07:30. There was a long wait at the customs but I got through unexamined. Had a lot of goodbyes to all my friends as almost everyone was going up to Paddington on the boat train, and a bare half dozen, including myself, were going on the south coast route. Had a long wait for the train at 11:09 and an extremely hot and tiring journey back to Worthing where I arrived and was met by Doc at 17:00.


FunchalThis has been a truly wonderful experience.

I have planned to go to Madeira for so many years, ever since hearing so much about it in my youth, and I can’t realise that I have really achieved it at last.

F. A. Roper 1954





Images taken 1954