Memories of Lord Nuffield

It was interesting to read the story of Lord Nuffield (Bill Morris) in your August issue. Many years ago (1956-9), I was a Steward on the RMS Arcadia of P&O lines, on the run down to Australia. At that time the ship was considered the Commodore’s ship of the fleet, and carried a lot of influential people. On one of the voyages we carried Lord Nuffield. He sat on my table along with his male secretary/ advisor. What a couple of gentleman they were. I still remember that throughout the voyage and during the stay in Sydney, he would have porridge for breakfast, but it had to be made with milk. This carried on throughout the tropics until the last day on arrival back in London.

During the stay in Sydney he used the ship as a hotel, so I had to be around for his meals. At breakfast each day I would ask if he would be in for lunch and dinner. Sometimes it would be yes other times no.

Every Saturday night he would order a bottle of Brown Ale and pass it to me when no-one was looking. He was not the snappiest of dressers. He usually wore an older brown suite with a crumpled cotton shirt and tie, but his shoes were never without a perfect shine.

I believe that on the outbound trip, he won the deck quoits tournament. He was considered a VIP with P&O and everything that could be done for him was done. On one voyage, I had only four people to look after apart from Lord Nuffield. On my other table, I had the managing director and part owner of the British Paint Works and his secretary. Those were the days when a trip to Australia would take four weeks. Everyone would arrive excited but well rested and fed. There weren’t many aircraft in those days and if you did fly, then you would stop whenever it got dark. There are not many of my passengers that I would call a perfect gentlemen, but Bill Morris was one of them.

Keith Moody