'Yacht' piano allocated to the SS Guildford Castle

December 10, 2009

guildford castle

Hi, sorry to trouble you but I am the piano technician for John Broadwood & Sons... we have in our hands a fairly plain folding piano sometimes called a 'yacht' piano. nothing special about it and it needs a lot of work. The interesting thing is that apparently the shipping line (presumably Union Castle) comissioned 30 of these from Broadwoods in about 1910, and this particular beast was allocated to the Guildford Castle and stayed on board for the whole war being used by troops on the ship. At the end of the war the other pianos went back into store but this one was sent to an officers mess in Surrey where it served for a good few years. I'd like to find out more about it, perhaps some photos somewhere - can you point me to any archives anywhere? It would be nice tto think that someone or someones who were on the ship at the end of the war were so attached to the piano (which is very small though quite as heavy as your usual upright type) that they liberated it for use in their mess. I don't know if you can help but good old Google threw you up.

Many thanks,
Tim Smithells.


Here are some details of SS Guilford Castle including a photo,

      Launched 1911: ss GUILDFORD CASTLE



      built by Barclay Curle & Company Glasgow,
      Yard No 488


Propulsion: steam, quadruple expansion, twin screw, 13 knots
Launched: Friday, 11/08/1911
Built: 1911
Ship Type: Passenger Cargo Vessel
Tonnage: 8036 grt
Length: 452.1 feet (BP)
Breadth: 56.1 feet
Owner History:
Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company
Status: Wrecked - 30/05/1933

Remarks: Completed: October 1911

Served as hospital ship 1914 - 18 then went back into civilian service with Union Castle on the London to South Africa service before being transfered to the round Africa service

On 31st May 1933 she was in collision with the Blue Funnel STENTOR near Oste Riff, Elbe and two lives were lost. Pilot error was blamed. The next day she was beached and declared a total loss.

Photo supplied by John Ward~McQuaid

Last updated: by Bruce Biddulph from the original records by Stuart Cameron


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