P&O & BI Monogramed Blankets
from either RMS STRATHMORE
or RMS STRATHEDEN.
72 Inches Long by 61 Inches Wide
Fine Slate Gray Wool
P&O & BI Logo Sewn In Center
Original Vintage P&O Lines Item
Most Likely Dating From the 1950s
Price: $45.00 plus shipping
What, you may ask, were P&O Lines bedspreads/coverlets doing on board the SS RITA, the former WINDSOR CASTLE, a Union-Castle Line ship?
In the early 1960s, following the introduction of the SS CANBERRA and SS ORIANA to the then P&O-Orient Lines fleet, P&O began to purge its eldest tonnage. Among the last pre-war liners to be disposed of were the 1935-built STRATHMORE and 1937-built STRATHEDEN. Instead of following their fleetmates to the shipbreakers, they were bought by Greek billionaire John S. Latsis, who renamed the two ships MARIANNA LATSI and HENRIETTA LATSI, respectively. Their existence under the Greek flag was somewhat cloistered and mysterious, but both ships are reported to have served as Islamic pilgrim transports and hotel ships at the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah. At one point later in their Latsis days, the two ships exchanged names. In 1969, both liners were sold to La Spezia breakers, but apparently, Mr. Latsis kept their stores, as I would ultimately discover.
While visiting the MARGARITA L, MARIANNA 9 (ex PRINCIPE PERFEITO and MARIANNA VI (ex AUREOL) at Eleusis in 1998, I was shocked and delighted to find an abundance of P&O blankets, table cloths and silverware. In addition to the original stores and fittings from each ship (Union-Castle, Companhia Nacional de Navegacao, and Elder Dempster), there was also silver, crockery and linens from Royal Mail Line, DFDS, and the German cruise ship REGINA MARIS. All of these companies had ships that were ultimately bought by Latsis, who recycled the stores for use on his then "current" fleet. Veritable floating museums, indeed!
I rescued these coverlets in September of 2005 from a linens trader who had just obtained them from the RITA's (ex WINDSOR CASTLE, MARGARITA L) breaker. There were many types of blankets, including several styles of P&O, Royal Mail Lines, and variety of Union-Castle and related companies. They are beautifully made with pleats interspersed by bands of white and beige. I have cleaned them, but there are some minor spots and stains here and there on some and perhaps an occasional fray, which is to be expected for their age. I will offer the ones in best condition first.
I do not know exactly when these were made, but the logo appears to be the one P&O British India used in its brochures in the early post war years.