Recently I was in the Aldgate area of London and thought I would retrace my youth trying to find Beaufort House, St Botolph Street where l had my first interview with P&O.
Beaufort house was the headquarters of the passenger division. Of course it was long gone and in its place is a massive skyscraper also called Beaufort House.
Beaufort House in the 70’s was a low white building , built in the style of a cruise liner. But what I remember most about it was the paternoster lift system, continually on the go so that you could hop in and hop out at the required floor.
The construction of new paternosters is no longer allowed in many countries because of the high risk of accidents.
The cruise booking office was also in this building. It consisted of a very large carousel on which traveled manuel ledgers for each ship and cruise. Telephone operators were sat at work stations around the carousel. When they answered a call you would wait for the carousel to come around with the require cruise ledger. And then search for cabin availability for the passenger. After the initial cabin was offered and passenger details taken, the paperwork would be passed to the back office to be completed and fares collected. I worked on the carousel as a purser cadet for a few days and loved every moment. It was great for learning the layout of the ships and various cabin types.
No computers in those days.
Does anyone have photographs of the old Beaufort house, l have searched the internet without any joy.
I found this.
I was interviewed in Leadenhall street in 1965, but then it was a very imposing building with columns at the front. It must have been the one that was demolished in the late 60's to make way for the one pictured. Although I was interviewed there, I was never required to go back during my nearly 5 years service so did not see the new building. Sadly, I have no photos.
I was just turned 20 at the time and being about to complete my apprenticeship in Pompey dockyard, they said they wanted me to start with P & O asap as I "new one end of a ship from the other"! So I did.
Hi David. During my Long Service 1974/75 I worked from the Beaufort Street Office with the Passenger Division and Marketing. On my first day visit I duly arrived at 9am and the doorkeeper advised me that no one came in before 10am and offered me his little office and cup of coffee till someone appropriate arrived about 9.30am. (Incidentally I was Passenger Manager Melbourne at the time).
I was officially taken round and to be introduced to the relevant people. I asked how I should address, being in London and more formal than Australia.
I was told "if I introduce you to Jack Smith call him Jack: If I introduce him as Mr Jack Smith and you can call him Mr Smith or Jack because you are senior enough and if I introduce him as Mr Smith use that name accordingly unless he tells you other wise!). Off we went and eventually we caught the Paternoster, an experience! As we got into the lift a voice said who have you got there Jones and he replied Mr David Dickinson Passenger Manager Melbourne. He replied welcome to London Mr Dickinson and whilst I wasn't told who he was fortunately I recognised him and said "Thank you my Lord!" It was of course Lord Inchcape. I was invited to join him and his fellow Directors in the Board Room for Luncheon that day. After he got off and of course we missed our relevant floor and had to round again. My host said he had worked in the London Office for nearly 30 years and had never seen the Board room.
If I remember correctly there were 3 Luncheon areas. One in the basement as a sort of "working mans" pub and social room. Another upstairs for middle and senior management and of course the Board Room. I must say I was very impressed with the Board Room Luncheon as they did themselves rather proudly!
I enjoyed my 10 days working at Beaufort House and the hospitality shown to me. Many of my hosts had been on exchange to Australia over the years so knew quite a few. Cheers, David.
there are some really good photos/sketches on pandoscno.co.uk/buildings - don't think it is the newer building you are referring to, but very interesting
Beaufort House was in St.Botolphs Street, this was where The Passenger division was located. I cannot remember what departments were in the Leadenhall Building.
It was good to hear your memories of Beaufort House. As a lowly cadet I never even saw the door to the Board Room. We were allowed to use the basement bar/lunch area. I seem to think it was called the POSH Club. It was here that I was first introduced to Stella Artois which was on sale at a little over cost price. We were also given Luncheon Vouchers. My memory is a little vague but I think they were valued at 30p per day. Occassionaly we would venue out to a pub for a slap up roast dinner.
Hi David! At least our "aged" memories are still going well. I remember Luncheon Vouchers well and they were also given to us in Australia for those working with Orient Line but not P&O! So when we merged in 1960 P&O staff were introduced to Vouchers and told only one a day, (When we had "feasts" we made sure they were put in as individual ones and not a row of 5. At integration the new ex P&O Passenger Manager used 5 in one day and he got a
"bollo..ing! A good laugh all round by his staff!!!
Luncheon vouchers were a post war idea to ensure that we starving and rationed Brits at least once a day got something to eat.
Returning to UK for an extended visit, I was researching Beaufort House & found this thread.
I recall 2 visits to Beaufort House. First time was the day I joined the cadet ship MV Otaio as a cadet in August 1975. After the intro meetings we made our own way to the ship at Royal Albert Docks.
Next time was November 1978 when I signed my Passenger Division contract as 3rd Officer.
Went there in my sea school uniform in 1969, prior to joining Chusan, a visit to remember. Oh not to forget the medical, such as it was!
Hi, By way of introduction, I found this thread while surfing the net and trying to find info about my time from 1968 to 1973 while working for the New Zealand Shipping Company then P&O General Cargo Division and lastly for Bishopsgate Insurance (a P&O company). After that I decided to have a working holiday in Oz with all intensions of returning. However, I met my (now) wife and the rest, as they say, is history. I realise this thread is titled P&O Passenger Division - 1970s but I too started in Beaufort House and later moved to the (new) P&O building (the cheesegrater) in Leadenhall Street. I was intrigued to see David Dickinson is originally from Woodford Green and now resides in Lorne (same State but not quite next door!). Not sure if there was any interaction between the Companys/Divisions.
Hi, I too have been looking for pictures of Beaufort House, I joined P&O passenger division in the typing pool in 1969 and left from Head Office in Pall Mall in 2000 to move to Cumbria. I have lots of great memories and I remember the paternoster lift but I was too afraid to get in it! Although the main building was Beaufort House I have been trying to recall what the side entrance in Middlesex Street was called. Can anyone help please.
Can anybody tell me if the telephone number was AVENUE 8000
I’m pretty sure it was.
I recalled to someone the other day who asked me when I joined P&O. It was in 1968 and for some bizarre reason I recited the the phone number 01 283 8000. I used it to talk with RF Pittam who was our Personnel Chap for Deck and Radio. 283 is AVE so it was Avenue 8000.
What weird things sit in our memories
All the best for the New Year
I’m sure I remember R. F Pittam I think his first name was Richard.
I could be right (or wrong) was the building in Middlesex Street called C&I Building or long version Commerce and Industry
When I joined P&O in early July 1970, I wondered what would happen in those lifts if you went past the top or bottom floors.
I was there again a few days later and was looking at some papers I'd been given while going down in the lift when everything went dark. To my relief the lift went down below Ground level, across and returned up the other shaft.
I was in Simpsons last year...still a fantastic tradition...beef carved off the trolley ...followed by spotted dick...awesome!!
If only those panelled walls could speak!!
Saving up hard for the next trip!!
When I went for interview with P&O in 1965 the company name was P&O Orient and Beaufort House was located in Gravel Lane, at right angles to Leadenhall Street, a fairly unprepossessing building it consisted of three floors. It housed the management and board but not passenger ticketing which was housed elsewhere - the Strand? As with other shipping companies it employed a Master at Arms resplendent in uniform who would stand at the corner of Gravel/leadenhall directing bemused visitors (such as me) toward the offices. by the 70's however these guys were long gone as indeed was the old Beaufort house.
Hi, I joined P&O in 1969 and you are quite right as to where Beaufort House was situated. The booking office was based at 16 Cockspur street, near Trafalgar Square if I remember rightly. I believe the building was taken over by a bank (can’t remember which one) and all the original features of the booking office were restored and the metal P&O sign outside was still there. This was a few years ago so not sure what it will be like now.
I remember Beaufort House very well, going for an interview there in 1973 as an 18 year old. My interview was for a Purser Cadetship and I recall the interview panel very well. The interview seemed to go ok - I had the necessary qualifications and don't think I stuffed up my answers to the questions.
I didnt make it ! Incredibly disappointed, I was told that I needed to get another years experience under my belt. I returned to Beaufort House in 1974 after a years work in kitchens & bars in the Cotswolds & Lake District. This time I made the cut, passed the medical so it was onwards & upwards !
Together with 10 or 11 others, I started my Cadetship at Beaufort House. I remember a very tight schedule involving fire fighting & lifeboat courses, lectures, getting kitted out with uniforms, luncheon vouchers, the basement cafe & and a cruise on Canberra. The cruise was amazing - all of us did a few days in the galley, on the bridge, engine room, main bar & even the laundry ! I loved every minute.
Whilst at Beaufort accommodation was a bit of a problem. Some of the more destitute amongst us found a Salvation Army Hostel nearby St James, which was brilliant - a bit old,but it had a TV and full size snooker tables !
Another memory at the time was that the IRA was in town - everyone seemed to be a bit on edge. There was the odd explosion, and signs everywhere to not leave bags etc unattended.
Hi Terry. I too remember the training course at Beaufort House. I believe I joined P&O a year or two before you, I was trying to remember where l first sailed with you, was it Island Princess ? Like you as a new recruit I stayed in the Salvation Army Hostel which was somewhere behind New Scotland Yard. On my first day there I arrived with three suitcases and had to struggle up to the third floor. Do you remember the delightful washing facilities at the end of the corridor. It was absolute luxury when P&O took us to Southampton and accommodated us in the Merchant Navy Hotel.
On moving back to London I decided to stay in the Merchant Navy Hotel near Lancaster Gate, even though it was costing me almost as much to live as I was being paid. It was only for a few weeks so l thought it was worth it. It was during my time there that l first met Stuart Bennett who was to become my first SAP when l joined Oriana later that year.
Yes ! I remember you well - it was a fantastic time on IP with a great bunch of people - I will drop you an email
I worked at Beaufort House from 1976-1978/9 (can't remember the exact year). I worked as a graphic designer producing a range of leaflets for 'special' cruises from cities/ areas around the UK. I was lucky enough win a prize for designing a barge that P&O hired that formed part of a Thames Paegent that sailed to commemorate the Queen's Silver Jubilee. The fitters did a fantastic job constructing rooms and graphics but they couldn't do anything about the rain. It teemed down continuously and the steel band hired for the night had to regularly empty their steel drums/instruments over the side. I was situated next to the carousel and was always in awe at their ability to deal with all types of people. The basement bar hadn't been opened very long when I joined and as the years went by, new management came in and they didn't agree with having licensed premises on site. My wife and were lucky enough to go on two 'discounted' cruises (these were strictly on a last minute basis within a week sometimes of sailing!) Canberra was a wonderful ship and during the 70s was a premier holiday location with status decreeing that you dressed for dinner in a DJ or very smart black lounge suit. It makes me laugh these days that cruising is now considered cool and hip. Back then when we told people we were going cruising, they always said, oh, its for old people, you wouldn't catch me going on one. In fact the on-board entertainment was right up to date with a great disco and current cabaret. They were up-market holidays and probably just outside most peoples holiday budget. Sitting on deck eating a great breakfast, looking the mountains of Funchal harbour and looking forward to the toboggan ride excursion down the mountains is still part of our wedding memories.
I was lucky enough to be on the barge for the Queens Silver Jubilee on the Thames. I was on leave and along with four or five fellow officers we were in full mess kit and as you say by the end of the evening we were all soaked to the skin. The atmosphere was fantastic and especally as we went under the bridges the people on top cheered us on. It was a very wet evening outside and inside as l seem to remember the booze flowed all evening.