The move to Southampton
The modern world had moved on and the shipping industry was beginning to wane. London had always been a busy port for centuries but eventually cargo boats became container ships and the River Thames was no longer able to accommodate such large vessels so P&O decided to move on and as the London Docks began to close they moved their entire operation to Southampton. This came as a terrible blow to our father as he was near to retiring age and the company wanted him to retire early. I can remember the day he came home with the news and how distressed he was, me embarking on a working life could not understand why he would have wanted to go on working!!! Anyway somehow he managed to persuade the company to keep him on so the house was sold and he and Mum moved to a leafy suburb of Southampton. I can remember the first time I went there being quite amazed at the smartness of the area, much more upmarket than our family home in Essex but somehow it never seemed like home to me as I only visited when on holiday from college or later with my own children but I think Mum and Dad were happy there.
Dad's working life continued much as it had before and he made new friends – a pilot(sea not air) lived just down the road from them and continued to play golf and tend another garden. Eventually it was indeed time to retire but I think that this time he was happy to.
So his retirement started with a round the world trip on the SS Canberra to see his beloved daughter in Australia. What a trip that was for them both out by the Cape and back through the Panama canal. Reunited with his daughter and her young family in Australia must have been an emotional time for him because above all else I would say family was very important to our Dad.
There were other trips to Australia, by air – something Dad hated to do, flying was something he never actually grew to love at all, with his feet firmly fixed at sea, it was in his blood!!!
Retirement was a quiet time for Dad, tending his garden, playing golf, visiting family and friends. I think it was a time when I really got to know our Dad and found him a gentle, loving man who would have done anything for anyone but with a wicked sense of fun and a complete love for life. In the spring of 1978 my first daughter was born, Dad's first granddaughter and he was besotted with her but sadly was not going to see her grow up or meet his two later granddaughters as quite suddenly, a few months after my daughter's birth Dad died after a heart attack tending his roses in the back garden.