Question 1

Jack Mainland: “What made you choose a seagoing career? How did it all start? What did you sail as?”

Bill Ballingall: “As a youngster, the family went to Arbroath during the summer holidays. I was fascinated by the Fishing Boats I saw there, and my father sometimes wangled an ‘all nighter’ on one of these boats. I could see he got a huge kick from these trips, and I guess it rubbed off on me. Later, at Stewart’s, I enjoyed technical subjects, under Mr Malcolm, head of the Technical Department and it seemed these two aspects came together and stimulated my interest me in becoming a seagoing engineer.

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For family reasons, I had to leave school after the 4th year, and without any school leaving certificates. This was in 1958. Around this time BP were advertising in the press for prospective marine engineers, and on the basis a letter my father wrote, and background references from school, BP arranged that I be given a technical interview by the Principal of Stow College in Glasgow. Subsequently, BP took me on as a Marine Engineer Cadet, and put me through college in Glasgow, followed by practical experience in Yarrow’s Shipyard on the Clyde, and a 6-month spell in South Shields Marine and Technical College

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In 1961 I was sent a rail warrant to get myself to Swansea, and with a bunch of other officers, I joined my first ship, the ‘British Duke’ an oil tanker of 12,000 tonnes, in Milford Haven. My very first wages with BP Shipping, were £16-15/- (sixteen pounds and fifteen shillings) or (£16.75p). A month…

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