The Blue Funnel Line



The Sarpedon, 7,797tons, was originally named Ajax, and in February 1958 she carried what was perhaps her most unusual cargo since she was built in 1931. The Sarpedon loaded a full South American Circus at Hong Kong for Singapore, comprising of animals, eight attendants and 550 tons of equipment. The circus had been featured in two films, “The Big Circus” and “Night Life in Europe”. It consisted of six elephants, three camels, two zebras, two lions, two tigers, six chimpanzees, three bears, two monkeys, one baboon, one eagle and six dogs. In addition, there were nine caravans, seven motor vehicles, three motorcycles and various trailers, tents, etc. the freight charged was £1,000.

It transpired however, that the Circus had suffered so poor a season in Hong Kong that this sum could not be raised. Even after various securities, including the circus managers’ jewellery had been lodged. However, after a safe arrival at Singapore it was arranged that payment could be made after their two month season had begun. Better attendance must have been experienced because the freight was soon paid, the securities returned and Blue Funnel’s temporary association with the world of the “Big Top” given a happy ending.


Built 1931 as the Ajax transferred in 1957 to Glen Line renamed Glenlochy.

1958 reverted to Blue Funnel Line renamed Sarpedon, 1962 scrapped.


Many thanks to Gwyn Jones for this information.

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