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Maritime non-fiction / Shipspotting

When freighters ruled the waves

Ocean Freighter Heyday, by Malcolm Cranfield

Ocean Freighter HeydayFor author Malcolm Cranfield, the heyday of ocean freighters sits firmly in the three decades following the Second World War and up to the mass adoption of containerisation.

These were the in-between years when family run shipowners were still hands-on enterprises, and often led by a seafaring patriarch.

This hardback, full colour picture book looks at British and other northern European ships serving the international trades till the end of the 1970s. It is split into four sections: well-known shipping lines; freighters; freighters in rivers and port approaches; and the slightly older and slower tramp ships.

Fully 97 of its 98 pages are given over to images, including the front and back covers, with short captions to provide context.

While Cranfield gets the credit for pulling the title together, it is clearly a group effort, with thanks being extended to family, friends and collaborators who shared photos, facts and memories.

Sometimes the work lacks a sense of cohesion and obvious signposting which could have been remedied with more professional editing and design input. For example, while the reader is told there are four sections, it is hard work to distinguish them without any dividing pages or delineated chapters.

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Ocean Freighter Heyday will stir the living memories of retired seafarers, and the families they regaled with tales of the sea. As such it deserves a place on the coffee tables and bookshelves of readers in the maritime community.

Ocean Freighter Heyday
By Malcolm Cranfield
Coastal Shipping Publications
ISBN: 978 19137 97027

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