THE REVIEW’S ‘How It was Then’ feature of 50 years ago, relating to August 2, 1962, had Shipping Lines correspondent John Aitken searching through his maritime records for a reference to the then almost new motor cargo vessel Montrose, which sank in the Detroit River close to the high level Ambassador Bridge spanning the river border between the USA and Canada.
The Montrose, which had a 44-strong crew made up of mainly Italian nationals, a British master and officers plus a few other had discharged general cargo at Detroit and was bound for Fort William, Ontario to load grain for a Mediterranean port.
Prior to then the same owners Montship Lines Ltd. and managers Buries Markes Ltd., had operated a smaller 1300-ton Montrose which had been built in Hamburg, West Germany in 1955.
The 440-foot long Montrose mentioned in the ‘Review’ two weeks ago however was built by Bartram & Sons Ltd. at Sunderland in 1961.
She had been the subject of correspondence to the paper in May of that year when a Mr. E. Preston of Prescott, Lancashire included with his letter a photograph of the ship on her way through the English Channel on her maiden voyage to Oran in North Africa.
The press report noted that she was fitted with the first British-built Gotaverken-designed (Swedish) marine diesel main engine assembled by the North Eastern Marine Co. Ltd. at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Her service speed was given as 15 knots.
His letter had been triggered after reading in an earlier edition of the minesweeper HMS Montrose.
He also recalled an older Montrose, built in 1922 which had sailed under the Swedish flag.
“So perhaps”, he concluded, “the name of Montrose is better known around the world than one might think”.
In the ‘Review’ of 30th October, 2003 local reader Tom Robertson was prompted to write in to describe a later Montrose, also Swedish-owned, which traded to Montrose port in the early 1970s.
A mention of the owners of the ill-fated ship appeared in the ‘Review’ in January, 2009, when the seafaring careers from the early 1960s of local men Dave Thornton and Bill Norrie were noted and their ship La Primavera sailing from the Great Lakes to the Mediterranean on a similar trade route to the Montrose.
* The pages of the ‘Review’ in days past beyond provide ample evidence to the town’s importance in maritime affairs.
We found in the August 15, 1834 issue: “We understand that the handsome new steam-vessel Mazeppa, belonging to Aberdeen, intends, for the better accommodation of of persons visiting Edinburgh or Aberdeen, or returning from these places by her to Montrose, to come up our river, which she can do with safety at all times of the tide.
“The number of people who proceed hither by steam to Edinburgh and Aberdeen is truly astonishing. One day this week there were no fewer than 40.”