10 December 2020
President Harry Jackson tonight provided all visitors to our ZOOM meeting with a display of 'Monte Rosa/Empire Windrush a Ship & its Postal History'
This ship was a large passenger liner with considerable cargo capacity built in Germany in 1930 for the Germany - South America run and for cruising (Mediterranean or Norwegian Fjord coast). For the time, its propulsion was unusual for a ship of its size, being by diesel engines (hence the prefix MV). Harry divided his display into four parts, according to episodes in the ship’s career: 1) as a pre-war liner / cruise ship, 2) wartime service, 3) post-war prize ship and 4) the “Windrush” legacy. Each of these periods was illustrated by covers and stamps with postcards, contemporary photographs and press cuttings. The MV Monte Rosa was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine in 1940 and used in a variety of tasks including as a moored Luftwaffe barracks at Stettin. Although badly damaged, she was allocated to Britain as a prize boat in 1945, renamed HMT Windrush and refitted as a troopship. It was one exceptional voyage that resulted in a significant historic event in modern British social history. Finding the ship would be half empty on the return to Britain from the West Indies in June 1948, the managing agents sold discounted passages mainly to Jamaican men who wanted to emigrate to the UK for work. The Windrush arrived at Tilbury 21 June 1948 with about 1,000 passengers, about 500 of whom were West Indian men. After this, the vessel continued her trooping duties until 1954 when an explosion in the engine room led to a fire causing her to sink off the Algerian coast. With the exception of 4 crew members, killed in the initial explosion, everyone else was saved.
The post-war immigrants from the West Indies became known as the Windrush generation. From 2012 on changes in British immigration policy and laws found many of these people unable to prove their settled status (through no fault of their own) which led to deportations and to disruptions to the lives of many. It caused a national scandal in which wrong doing was recognized eventually. In 2018 an approach to Royal Mail for a commemorative stamp to mark the 70th anniversary of the Windrush voyage was rejected and a parliamentary petition for one ruled as a matter not within government authority. However, the Kingsway Project, which was also looking to commemorate the same 70th anniversary discovered the Royal Mail’s Customised Stamp Sheets. These sheets were aimed primarily at companies to advertise their products, by selecting one of 27 stamp designs (the size of a Machin) and designing an adjoining “label” of the same size carrying the advertising message. The Kingsway Project used the Customised Stamp Sheet system to produce a “Windrush 70” sheet of 20 stamps; Harry displayed a “Windrush 70” sheet and gave information about this short-lived Royal Mail product.
We were fortunate to have Annette Robinson of the Kingsway Project (Birmingham) attending our meeting. She outlined the story of these stamps. 500 sheets of 20 first class stamps, alternating with 20 labels, were produced to the Trust’s design, approved by Royal Mail. The presence of a religious symbol, a cross, led to a delay and the product was finally signed off in 2018 with a few days to spare. Royal Mail discontinued this product after that date.
Towards the end of his display Harry played a short TV news clip from BBC Midlands Today which announced the release of these very special stamps. This clip was informative and appreciated by us for setting the issue in a human context.
12 November 2020
As a consequence of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world the society had no alternative but to cancel physical meetings of its members. Avenues were explored as to how we could possibly stay in touch and continue to hold meetings and presentations and this resulted in the the use of the video conferencing tool ZOOM.
Using ZOOM the first meeting of the society for the year was held tonight where three officers of the society elected to hold short displays as seen below.
Francis Podger provided the first display using Powerpoint. This was a display of 'Singapore - A Miscellany of Items'. and Francis began by outlining what he would show during the display. He began with a Share Certificate which was stamped in advance and stamped under 3 different stamp duty acts. Francis gave a detailed explanation of why the certficate had to be stamped three times due to the increases in revenue charges. He then displayed some Postal Stationery beginning with a GB 2 1/2d postal stationery envelope used in Singapore followed by 2 envelopes, Oxford to Singapore and Dutch East Indies to Singapore. Francis finished with 2 letters incoming to Singapore. The first one was a South Africa Registered Agent letter and the other from India was to the Colonial Secretary.
Charles Lloyd then displayed a series of letters from the different Mobile Post Offices(MPO) in South Africa in the 1950's. Charles explained that there were 14 MPO's in South Africa and that they could be Bilingual or Unilingual in that they could have it shown as English first or Afrikaans first. All registration labels were shown as English first.
Last to display was Norman Kelso who provided another powerpoint display of 2d Blue letters. Norman explained to everyone that 2d blue stamps were issued between 1840 and 1876 and that in all 15 plates were used during the printing although having been prepared plates 10 and 11 were rejected. He also mentioned that plates 1 to 6 had no identifying plate number shown on the stamp whereas plates 7 to 15 have the plate number identified on the stamp. On display were a number of different 2d blue letters from a number of different plates covering letters sent within the UK, sent to locations in Europe and and internationally to America. Also shown were letters which were underpaid.
This page was last modified on 19th December 2020
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