Celebrating World Maritime Day

Today (24th September) is designated by the United Nations as World Maritime Day. This is an annual event occurring on the last Thursday in September which celebrates the professionalism and courage of seafarers employed on the world’s merchant fleets. Though the aim of the day is to look at current issues, this year’s theme being “Sustainable Shipping for a Sustainable Planet, obviously seafaring is an age-old tradition. So, I thought, I would take the opportunity of being able to delve into our collections (possibly for the last time) to bring you some photographs connected to the sea and seafaring.

Photo. 01 is an album of views of Tanjong Pagar Docks, Singapore, produced by the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company in the 1890s. These give an idea of the range of work going on in the docks as well as the variety of boats from many countries:

“Three Chinese Cruisers in Dock”


“Meal hour…Men leaving off work”

Photo. 02 is an album of views, mainly of Hong Kong and Macao, the majority of which are the work of William Pryor Floyd.  Floyd came from Cornwall, England, but by the 1860s was working as a photographer in the Far East. In 1863-64, he worked as an assistant in the photography studio of R. Shannon & Co in Shanghai.  He then moved to Macau to establish his own studio along the Praya Grande before joining the Hong Kong studio of Silveira & Co in 1866-67, soon becoming its owner.  Floyd & Co’s ‘Victoria Photographic Gallery’ was at 62 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong, a photograph of which is in the album.

Macao (1860s)


Waterfront View, Hong Kong

Photo. 22 is  collection of views of Hong Kong and China dating from the second half of the nineteenth century. If you look carefully at the photograph below you will see that the large vessels, lying off from Hong Kong harbour have been named by an unknown hand as Calypso, Saphho and Helen:

Hong Kong Harbour

Photo. 54 also pictures the Far East consisting of 23 loose prints from nineteenth century China and the surrounding areas. Photo. 54/(012) gives an alternative view of Hong Kong harbour from the one above:

Hone Kong Harbour

My final selection is from Photo. 55 which are views of the Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States produced by the photographers, John Little & Co, in 1923. This image shows the harbour at Penang:

“The Harbour, Penang, S.S.”

Having said that was my final image, I realised that all the photographs I’d chosen were from the Far East. So my “final, final” images are of Colombo. These are from Photo. 07, a set of view of India, Sri Lanka, Aden and North America by W.L. Skeen & Co.:

Dundra Head and View towards the harbour, Colombo