Sea Pie Supper 2020

Another successful Sea Pie Supper was held at St. Mary’Stadium, on Friday 7th February.

Nearly 500 members and their guests, representing all aspects of the maritime world, both localy and nationally, were present to witness the outgoing Captain, Rachel Dunn, install her successor, Captain Andrew Moll,  as Club Captain for 2020.

After toasting ‘Our Guests’, Captain Moll introduced the Principal Guest and Speaker, Dr Stephen Payne OBE MNM, the Naval Architect who designed the QM2. Dr Payne gave a speech detailing his life and the events that led up to the design of the vessel and responded with the toast to The Cachalots.









Distinguished Guests present were, l to r above,

Standing: Rev’d Reg Sweet RN, Major Colin Moss (17 Port & Maritime Reg. Marchwood), Mr Brian Johnson (CEO MCA), Prof Anthony Hill OBE (Director, NOC), Capt Peter Selby (RFA), Mr Alistair Welch (Port Director, ABP Southampton), Cdre Jeremy Bailey (Naval Base Commander, Portsmouth), Mr David Merrington, Rear Admiral John Lang (President, Winchester Sea Cadets), Capt Ian McNaught (Deputy Master, Trinity House, Stowaway), Capt John Lloyd (CEO Nautical Institute),  Capt Jim Barclay (Master HCMM),                            

Seated: Clr Jacqui Rayment, Mr Malcolm Le May, Mrs Sarah Le May (High Sheriff of Hampshire),  Mrs Christine Atkinson, Mr Nigel Atkinson, (HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Stowaway), Capt Dunn, Capt Moll, Dr Stephen Payne OBE MNM, Lady Mary Fagan LG DCVO, (Stowaway), Capt Christopher Fagan, Clr Sue Blatchford (Sheriff of Southampton),


Sea Pie Supper 2019

Another successful Sea Pie Supper was held at St. Mary’Stadium, on Friday 8th February.

Nearly 500 members and their guests, representing all aspects of the maritime world, both localy and nationally, were present to witness the outgoing Captain, Flemming Pedersen, install his successor, Captain Rachel Dunn as Club Captain for 2019.

After toasting ‘Our Guests’, Captain Dunn introduced the Principal Guest and Speaker, Captain Ian McNaught, CVO, MNM, FNI, Deputy Master of Trinity House, and installed him as the Club’s latest Stowaway Member, now 10 in number. After a well delivered, and received, speech, Capt McNaught responded with the toast to The Cachalots.


Other Distinguished Guests present were, l to r above,

Standing: Rev’d Reg Sweet RN, Mr Brian Johnson, (CEO MCA), Mr Alistair Welch, (Port Director, ABP Southampton), Capt John Lloyd (CEO Nautical Institute), Lt Col Paul Eaton MBE (C/O 17 Port & Maritime Reg. Marchwood), Capt McNaught, Capt Chris Clarke MBE (RFA), Dr Stephen Payne OBE MNM, Capt Robert Booth, (Master HCMM), Prof Anthony Hill OBE, (Director, NOC), Rear Admiral John Lang, (president, Winchester Sea Cadets).                           

Seated: Mrs Amanda Barnes-Andrews, Clr Stephen Barnes-Andrews, (Mayor of Southampton), Mrs Christine Atkinson, Mr Nigel Atkinson, (HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Stowaway), Capt Pedersen, Capt Dunn, Lady Mary Fagan LG DCVO, (Stowaway), Mr Mark Thistlethwayte, (High Sheriff of Hampshire), Sir Malcolm Edge KCVO, (Stowaway).



There were 19 Captains and Past Captains also present and the opportunity was taken to capture the picture above.                                                                   

Standing: Captain Rachel Dunn, Robin Plumley (’17), Peter Grant (’12), Les Morris (’08), Andrew Tinsley (’04), George Angas (’06), John Mileusnic (’09), Ian Odd (’14), Post Captain Flemming Pedersen, Staff Captain Andrew Moll,  Seated: l to r,  Jeremy Smart (’98), Lionel Hall (’96), Ian Thomson (’91), Ivan Downer (’88, who was 95 on the day), Chris Phelan (’78, Senior Past Captain present), John Noble (’89), Reg Kelso (’92), Terry Hughes (’97), Terry Clark (’00).  

After the supper and the speeches a Prize Draw was held, the prize of an iPad again being generously donated by the Southampton Shipowners Association. It raised a record £4104, over £4000 for the first time, (last year £3825), that sum to be divided equally between the three local Seafarers’ charities: the Mission to Seafarers, The Apostleship of the Sea and the Sailors’ Society.

During the evening the assembly was entertained by a 19 strong group from the City of Southampton (Albion) Band, under the direction of Mr Nick Dawson.

The evening ended with the traditional sea shanties, which were again led by Shantymen, ‘The ‘Ansome Cabin Bouys’, below.


Shep Woolley, right, confessed that the name may breach the Trade Descriptions Act.


Sea Pie Supper 2018

The Sea Pie Supper that was held at St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton, on Friday 2nd February 2018 was a very successful event and hopefully,  enjoyed by all those who attended. Further details as time permits.

Sea Pie Supper 2017

The Sea Pie Supper was held at St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton, on Friday 3rd February.

The Principal Guest and Speaker was Mr Nigel Atkinson, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, who has honoured the Club in his acceptance of the Fellowship of The Cachalots as a Stowaway member. He was duly installed as such by the incoming Captain, Robin Plumley MBE.

Distinguished Guests at the SPS

Standing, left to right: Past Capt Gerry Cartwright (MC), Capt Flavian K D’Souza (Master, HCMM), Cdre Duncan Lamb (RFA), Cdre Jeremy Rigby (Naval Base Commander, Portsmouth), Prof A E Hill (Director, National Oceanography Centre), Capt Ian McNaught (Deputy Master, Trinity House), Capt Sir Malcolm Edge (Stowaway), Capt John Lloyd (Nautical Institute),
Seated: Mrs Sophie Riem, Rev’d Canon Dr Roland Riem (Acting Dean of Winchester), Mrs Christine Atkinson, Mr Nigel Atkinson (Lord  Lieutenant of Hampshire), Capt Leslie Morris, Capt-elect Robin Plumley, Mrs Sarah Floyd, Mr Tom Floyd (High Sheriff of Hampshire), Dame Mary Fagan (Stowaway), Captain Christopher Fagan.

Fifteen Past Captains were also present and were encouraged to stay still long enough to capture the picture above.
Standing, left to right: Odd (’14), Morris (’08 and ’16), Salter (’11), Cartwright (’10), Mileusnic (’09), Grant (’12), Capt-Elect Plumley, Boatsteerer Ken Dagnall.
Seated:Stirling (’02), Smart (’98 and ’15), Kelso (’92), Noble (’89 and ’13), Downer (’88, Senior Past Captain present.), Thomson (’91), Hughes (’97), Clark (’00), Tinsley (’04).

After the ‘Sea Pie’, the outgoing Captain, Leslie Morris, introduced his replacement, Captain Robin Plumley MBE, as the new Captain of The Cachalots, under the watchful eye of the MC, Past Captain Gerry Cartwright.

Honorary Shantyman David King and his father, Geoff, were in fine voice leading the traditional shanties at the end of the Sea Pie Supper.
Unfortunately they announced that this would be their last Supper, having taken over the reins from Tony Davis in 2005 and appeared annually since. We now seek a new Shantyman to lead us in the ‘Call & Response’ style of singing that we enjoy so well.

Sea Pie Supper 2016

The Sea Pie Supper was held on Friday, 5th February, at St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton.

Capt. Chris Wells gives his speech

529 Cachalots and guests attended.

Principal Guest and Speaker was Captain Chris Wells, Master of Queen Mary 2.

Distinguished guests were Mr Nigel Atkinson, the Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Lady Louisa Portal, High Sheriff of Hampshire and Councillor Cathie McEwing, Sheriff of Southampton.

The Captains with Distinguished Guests


Captains & Stowaways

Stowaway Members, Dame Mary Fagan, Admiral Lord West and Sir Malcolm Edge were among the guests. As were Duncan Lamb, Commodore of the RFA, Capt. Ian McNaught, Deputy Master of Trinity House, Capt. Jim Conybeare, Master of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, Capt. Robert McCabe, President of the Nautical Institute and Rear Admiral John Lang. The Very Rev’d James Atwell, Dean of Winchester Cathedral, said Grace.

After the ‘Sea Pie’, the outgoing Captain, Jeremy Smart, installed Captain Leslie Morris as his successor and the evening finished with the traditional sea shanties.

The same venue has been booked on Friday 3rd February for the 2017 event.

Sea Pie Supper 2015

The 2015 Supper was held, for the first time, at St. Mary’s Stadium in Southampton on Friday 6th February. Over 500 members and guests attended and by all accounts the event was enjoyed by all. Vice Admiral Sir Alan Massey, CEO of the MCA, was the Principal Guest and Speaker and his speech was both informative and amusing and hit all the right notes for such an occasion.

Outgoing Captain Ian Odd handed the con to Captain Jeremy Smart who was an old hand, having previously been Captain in 1998.

Next year’s event has been booked at the same venue for Friday 5th February and tickets will go on sale to members on 12th November.


                                   Distinguished Guests at the Sea Pie Supper 2015

Jeremy Smart (Captain Elect); Dame Mary Fagan (Stowaway); Admiral The Lord West (Stowaway); Capt Christopher FaganRear Admiral John Lang (President, Winchester Sea Cadets); Sqn Ldr David Le Mare (Cdre, RAFYC); Cdre Jeremy Rigby (Naval Base Commander, Portsmouth); Mrs Sally Thompson (CEO Business South); Mr Alex Campbell (Chairman, Southampton Seafarers’ Centre); Mr Nigel Atkinson (Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire); Mrs Christine Atkinson; Cllr Sue Blatchford (Mayor of Southampton & Admiral of the Port); Mr Gregory Thorne (Mayor’s Consort); Capt Ian McNaught (Deputy Master, Trinity House); Capt Robert McCabe (President, Nautical Institute); Vice Admiral Sir Alan Massey (CEO MCA, Principal Speaker); Maj Gen Jamie Balfour (High Sheriff of Hampshire); Mrs Lorna Attwood; Commodore Rob Dorey (Cdre RFA); The Very Rev’d James Attwell (Dean of Winchester); Capt Ian Odd (Club Captain).


Sea Pie Supper 2014

Another successful and well attended event at the City Cruise Terminal on Friday 7th February saw an increase of members and guests to 585.

Once again, the large departure hall was transformed into a buzzing social venue as those present tucked into their Sea Pie fare and were entertained by the 30 strong City of Southampton (Albion) Band.

Our thanks go to ABP for the venue and to Halo for the excellent catering and service.

Outgoing Captain John Noble installed his successor, Captain Ian Odd, who then introduced the Principal Speaker, Andrew Winbow, the Director of the Maritime Safety Division at IMO.

Captains and Distinguished Guests at the SPS 2014

from left: Capt. Robert McCabe, Snr Vice-President, Nautical Institute, Capt. Ian McNaught, Deputy Master, Trinity House, Capt. Ian Odd, Captain Elect, The Very Rev’d James Atwell, Dean of Winchester, Mrs Lorna Atwell,  Vice-Admiral Sir Alan Massey, CEO MCA, Captain Christopher Fagan, Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, Dame Mary Fagan, Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Capt. John Noble, Andrew Winbow, Director, Maritime Safety Division, IMO, Councillor Ivan White, Mayor of Southampton and Admiral of the Port, Commodore Rob Dorey, Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Mr Rupert Younger High Sheriff of Hampshire, Capt John Hughes, Master, Hon.Co.Master Mariners, Mr Nick Ridehalgh, Port Director, Southampton, Capt. David Stocks, Boatsteerer, Mr Gerry Cartwright, MC

The Mayor, as Admiral of the Port, brought with him his badge of Jurisdiction, The Silver Oar of Admiralty. The Jurisdiction, but perhaps not this particular oar, dates back to 1451 and was granted by Henry VI. The oar was ably carried by one of the six Town Sergeants, whose history dates back even further.

The Silver Oar of Admiralty

In another departure from the usual routine the Southampton Shipowners Association had generously donated a prize, an iPad Mini, which was raffled in aid of Captain Noble’s charity of the year, The Mission to Seafarers. Those present were encouraged to place a currency note of their choice (to avoid a weight of coins) into an envelope with their named place cards. We should have seen it coming but the haul included a $10 note and a 5 euro one! But after exchange the total came to a magnificent £3262. So, well done to everyone, even those bragging of recent foreign travels.

The evening concluded with the traditional and spirited singing of Sea Shanties, led by our Hon Shantyman, Mr David King. This year  ‘The Leaving of Liverpool’ was included; not really a shanty, more a folk song, but nobody was being pedantic at that stage of the evening.

Blue Funnel men were well represented

Sea Pie Supper 2013

We can report that the 2013 Sea Pie Supper was considered to be a resounding success. Held, for the 2nd time, at the City Cruise Terminal, Southampton, any teething problems experienced last year at the new venue seem to have been resolved.

Building on that experience, various small changes were made to layout of the main hall and the reception areas. As an aid to relieve immediate congestion guests were offered a choice of a free drink on arrival, red or white wine, Prosecco or soft drink and encouraged to proceed through to the main dining area where two bars were available for pre-dinner drinks. Table service was also available throughout the evening.

Over 560 members and guests were entertained by the 28 strong City of Southampton (Albion) Band during dinner, where the original three decker ‘sea pie’, a layered dish of meat, vegetables, fish and broken biscuits has now been replaced by a more refined Beef, Red Wine, Mushroom & Tarragon Pie.

After dinner the outgoing Captain, Peter Grant, installed the new one, John Noble. Captain Noble then proposed the toast to ‘Our Guests’ which was responded to by the Principal Guest, Captain Ian McNaught, Deputy Master of Trinity House, whose spirited and amusing speech was well received.

The evening finished with the traditional singing of sea shanties, led by our Hon. Shantyman, Mr D.King.

Captains & Distinguished Guests at the Sea Pie Supper, 2013. From left to right:

Captain David Stocks, Boatsteerer. Captain John Hughes, Chairman, Southampton Seafarers’ Centre. Captain John Freestone, Master, The Hon. Co. Master Mariners. The Very Reverend James Atwell, Dean of Winchester. Mrs Lorna Atwell.  Commodore W. Walworth, Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Councillor Mr Derek Burke, Mayor of Southampton and Admiral of the Port. Mrs Christine Atkinson. Captain Peter Grant, Outgoing Captain. Mr Nigel Atkinson DL, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire. Captain Ian McNaught, Deputy Master, Trinity House. Commodore J. Rigby RN, Naval Base Commander, Portsmouth. Captain Malcolm Edge KCVO, Stowaway Member. Mr Hallam Mills, High Sheriff of Hampshire. Mr Doug Morrison, Port Director, Southampton. Captain John Noble, Captain Elect,  Mr Philip Wake, Chief Executive, Nautical Institute.

The SPS attracts a diversity of marine professionals and represented were  Harbour Masters, Masters, Pilots, Tugmen,  as well as port authorities and berth operators: ABP, Exxon, BP Hamble, DP World, Solent Stevedores.

On the mobile side were Williams Shipping, Whitaker Tankers, Solent Towage, Svitzer Tugs and Salvage. These companies brought with them representatives of their own customers: APL, NYK, CMA CGM, MOL, Freightliner, Hyundai.

Ferry companies were there including both the local Red Funnel and Wightlink, as well as one from the capital, Thames Clippers.

Support, maintenance and refurbishment services were also there: Furuno, Leedham Marine, Testbank, Turbo Services International, Martins Rubber, Moss Marine Construction, even an International producer of marine coatings, Jotun Paints.

Global maritime expertise was also there: Marico Marine and Global Marine Systems.

Inspectors and surveyors were there with BA Marine and the Bahamas Maritime Authority was again well represented.

Amity World Travel, specialising in both business and leisure travel was there again and ‘marine leisure’  was supported by officers from some of the local Royal Yacht Clubs.

Sail Training International was there, as was the Association of Sail Training Organisations and at the same table was a well respected naval architect/author with his wife and son, a marine photographer.

Merchant Navy training was represented by the Warsash Maritime Academy and previous such establishments were remembered by some Old Conways  and an equal number Old Boys from the South African training ship General Botha.

The MCA  has three tables and present were high ranking officers from both that organisation and their parent organisation the DfT .

On the legal side were the P&I Clubs and Marine Law firms, including LA Marine and Ince & Co.

And where would we be nowadays without all our modern communications, websites and what-have-you and the able assistance of CData Services,  our own services provider.

Our thanks go to the caterers, Halo, for helping us to make the event such a success and hopefully we will be able to build on it in future years.

Also to ABP for the use of the venue which, for a few hours on a Friday night, seems to be transformed from a mundane passenger transit facility and comes alive to our unique mixture of formality and informality, black tie and sea shanties, with a good atmosphere and the company of shipmates and what we used to know as ‘Board of Trade Acquaintances’. One of our distinguished guests likened it to ‘a good run ashore’.

Sea Pie Supper 2012

At the annual Sea Pie Supper on 3rd February 2012, which was held for the first time at the City Cruise Terminal in Southampton, 576 members and their guests were present as Captain Ivor Salter handed over the Captain’s Collar to his successor, Captain Peter Grant.

Captain Grant’s first duty, after proposing a toast the guests, was to install  Admiral The Rt.Hon. The Lord West of Spithead as a Stowaway Member of the Club.

Admiral Lord West responded with a very well received speech in which he rued the “Sea Blindness” that would seem to be afflicting this country at present.

The evening ended in the traditional manner with rousing sea shanties and “Land of Hope & Glory”.

Other Stowaways present were Dame Mary Fagan, DCVO, Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, with her husband Captain Christopher Fagan, and Captain Sir Malcolm Edge, KCVO.

Captains and Stowaways, new Captain Peter Grant on the right.

Distinguished Guests included Mr Nigel McNair Scott, High Sheriff of Hampshire, Councillor Mr Terry Matthews, Mayor of Southampton and Admiral of the Port, Councillor Mrs Anna McNair Scott, Chairman of Hampshire County Council, Vice Admiral Sir Alan Massey, KCB, CBE, Chief Exec. Off. of the MCA, Commodore Tony Radakin RN, Commander of Portsmouth Naval Base, Captain Terry Jewell, FEI, MNI, Master of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, Captain James Robinson FNI, President of the Nautical Institute, Mr Doug Morrison, Port Director of ABP Southampton and Mr John Hughes, Chairman of Southampton Seafarers’ Centre.

Copied below is a report that appeared in the March 2012 edition of our newsletter, The Cachalot. It covers the speech made at the recent Sea Pie Supper, previously reported here, by our Principal Guest, Admiral The Rt Hon The Lord West of Spithead GCB DSC ADC DUniv.

After his induction as a Stowaway Member of the Club,  Admiral Lord West gave an informative and entertaining speech in which he spoke of his great affinity with the Fourth Service, the Merchant Navy, and his concern about the ‘sea blindness’ which is affecting the nation. A concern strong enough for him to have cause to berate the government about it from the floor of the House.
As befits an ex sea dog, amongst his own and  probably preaching to the converted, his speech was interspersed with many jokes and anecdotes unsuitable to be reproduced here. The serious message, taken from his own notes, can be found below.
Before sitting down to a standing acclamation he proposed the toast, “To the Cachalots of Southampton, may they continue and flourish for ever”.

The new Stowaway’s speech was well received

In 1945 the Royal Navy had over 1,500 major combatants, including 52 aircraft carriers and several thousand aircraft. Its power and capability with that of the merchant marine had ensured the survival of our nation through the German wars in the first half of the 20 century.  In the final analysis it was our maritime capability that – as has been the case for centuries – was crucial for our national survival.   However, having fought earlier, longer and more completely than any other of the victorious powers, Britain was broke and the world order had changed.
Indeed the decline of the RN from the most powerful navy in the world had started post WWI.  Although in many ways the navy of WWII was only possible because of the huge past investment.  So in 1945 Britain embarked on the ruthless liquidation of the organisation that had been central to British identity for as long as she had been a single nation. By 1946, over 840 major warships had been scrapped and a further 727 in various stages of construction were cancelled.  By 1948 the home fleet consisted of one cruiser and a handful of destroyers and frigates.
The decline of our merchant marine really started to happen in the 60’s but the seeds had been sown much earlier as with the UK shipbuilding industry.
One has to deplore the neglect of maritime history today. To  describe the 17th, 18th and 19th century British state without mentioning the Royal and Merchant Navies is quite a feat of   intellectual virtuosity –yet it happens.   It is almost as if somebody is trying to airbrush out our maritime significance,  historically and now.  
British dominance of European waters was the longest most complex and expensive project ever undertaken by the British state. Few aspects of national life were unaffected by it.  The sea is the lifeblood of a global system that links nearly every nation – the super highway that has enabled globalisation.  More than 90 per cent of goods traded internationally are transported by sea. Last year, UK imports and exports were 55% of our GDP, a  higher percentage than almost any other nation on earth.  Over 95% by volume of that trade is carried by sea.  With container ships carrying 5,000 plus containers the price of carrying individual items is laughably small.  We live in a just-in-time economy.  Disruption would have devastating effects. The maritime sector adds over £26.5 billion and 531k jobs to our national wealth each year.
Not withstanding all this, the recent SDSR further emasculated our maritime forces to an extent that is changing Britain into a different nation by default. This sea-blindness applies to the  merchant marine as well as the Royal Navy.  
…. I believe there are real dangers of an extremely chaotic and violent world developing over the next decades fuelled by competition for energy and minerals, pressures on food and water, global imbalance of wealth and demographic pressures, religious intolerance, nuclear proliferation and so on.
In the final analysis our national survival will depend as it always has, as an island nation, on a strong maritime capability.
One example of all these pressures is piracy. Something the RN had effectively eliminated worldwide by the beginning of WWI. Just to give some idea of the scale, -23k ships each year pass through the sea area off Somalia. The cost to the shipping industry so far about £10-12bn–$274m paid in ransom—and as we speak about 10 ships and 100 seafarers held hostage.
So far 60 seafarers have been killed. With the agreement by UK government to armed guards on ships there is a great deal to be resolved and I hope the Somalia conference in London on 23 February focuses world attention on piracy and where we go from here.
Having been a bit of a prophet of doom, I remain optimistic because of the innate quality and stoicism of the British people.

Just how apposite his message was, may well be illustrated by our failure to get any part of the occasion reported in the local press. We supplied them with words and pictures, but to no avail.
That one of the largest maritime gatherings in the UK, attended by both The Lord Lieutenant and The High Sheriff of the county, along with The Mayor, (who is also the Admiral of the Port), the Head of the MCA, the Port Director and other maritime VIPs, and a Principal Guest who is not only a Lord, an Admiral and a national hero, but Chancellor of the local University and Maritime Academy to boot, can be deemed to attract such little interest as to be not worth reporting says it all really. If it is not football, ’stenders or c’lebs off the telly, then you might as well forget it!  “

On Friday 2nd March the Daily Echo published a brief report entitled, ” City’s Master Mariners to greet royal ‘stowaway’ ” which stated;

HUNDREDS flocked to Southampton’s City Cruise Terminal in aid of charity.

More than 600 people attended Southampton Master Mariners’ Club’s Sea Pie Supper, to enjoy a night of food and entertainment.

On the night, members of the club announced that HRH The Princess Royal had become an honorary stowaway member, following in the footsteps of her father, The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip.

The Historic event was first held back in 1931 and has since grown into one of the country’s largest maritime events.

Included was the group photo of the VIPs,  below.

There was no mention of Lord West or his speech on Sea-Blindness, which would just seem to illustrate his point.

Some background and history of the SPS:

Today, the “Sea Pie Supper” is undoubtedly the most prestigious event in the social calendar of The Southampton Master Mariners’ Club, with club member and their guests, in evening attire or dress uniforms adorned with decorations, sitting down to wine and dine in glittering surroundings as they are entertained by police or military musicians prior to being addressed by “a personality” and then indulging in the boisterous rendition of sea shanties – but it was not ALWAYS thus.

A Club historian records that the term “Sea Pie” was accorded to a weekly gastronomic delight aboard cargo vessels comprising the “left over” scraps of meat, vegetables, and fish from the meals prepared over the previous six days and that “it was greeted with much keen anticipation by the ship’s company”. It was prepared in layers and in abundance. Suffice to say that although today’s “Sea Pie” fare has come a long way its origins are still recognisable!

Since its inception in 1928 the Club has always endeavoured to stage a mixture of formal and relatively informal events annually and, in the early years, the Sea Pie Supper fell into the latter category. The most sedate occasion was the formal Annual Luncheon, held initially in the South Western Hotel and later aboard one of the many liners that graced the Port of Southampton in that era and the guest speakers included Royalty, Admirals of the Fleet, a former Speaker of The House of Commons and men highly prominent in the world of shipping nationally and locally.

The annual Sea Pie Supper was, for many years, held in the South Western Hotel (and later the Polygon Hotel before its popularity dictated an increase in the seating capacity necessitating a move to the Guildhall) and Club members and their male guests dressed informally (“sports coat and flannels”) and the entertainment comprised singers “sprightly cabaret artists and entertaining after dinner speakers”. Beer was the preferred tipple.

The first Annual Luncheon was held in 1929 (where the guest of honour was Admiral of the Fleet, Earl Jellicoe of Scapa) and the first Sea Pie Supper was held in 1931 where the guest speaker was Mr. M.G.H McHaffie, Project Manager for the construction of the new Western Docks.

Thereafter, records of the event are few and far between until 1951 when it is recorded that at the event in the Polygon Hotel the guest speaker was Commander S.E.Baretto, Peruvian Navy and the after dinner entertainment was provided by B.C.Hilliam (“Flotsam” of “Flotsam and Jetsam” fame) and a Mr. Harry Riley who presented “Cartoons”. Inevitably, the singing of Sea Shanties rounded off the evening.

The event continued to be staged at The Polygon until 1977 when it moved to the Guildhall and the dress code became “Black tie or Mess Undress”. The guest speaker on that occasion was Admiral Sir Terence Lewin, the entertainment was provided by the band from HMS Collingwood and by Club member Barry Swindells and his banjo. A ticket cost £4.00.

Throughout, lady guests were not welcome but lady entertainers were and, for some ten years from 1964 the members were entertained by a local troupe called “The Vera Noyce Singers”. The group comprised ladies “of a certain age” and they were great favourites with club members and their male guests. In 1967 it had been decided to invite the Mayor of Southampton to the 1968 event but, horror of horrors, the new Mayor (elected after the decision was taken) was a woman –Mrs. Kathy Johnston.

Not to be outdone the Club promptly cancelled the invitation and invited the Town Clerk, Mr. A N Schofield and the night proceeded as planned. At the end of the evening, in keeping with tradition the Boatsteerer (Captain Percy Cooper) proposed a toast to the “Vera Noyce Party” and, at that stage, a party member stepped forward, removed her shawl and revealed one Mrs. Kathy Johnston, Mayor of Southampton in all her regalia. The entire assembly stood and cheered and within a few years ladies were welcomed at the event by most, if not all, Club members.

The Entertainment Committee has always sought to update and improve the facilities offered to those attending this popular function and, in 2010, the traditional long supper tables accommodating 24 diners were replaced with smaller round tables seating ten. Understandably, given the economic situation globally and nationally, the attendance at the 2011 was very slightly down on previous years but our guest of honour (and favourite Stowaway member!) Dame Mary Fagan (Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire) was given a warm welcome. The City of Southampton (Albion) Band provided the entertainment and, yet again, the evening ended with a raucous rendition of Sea Shanties

In 2012 we moved the venue and the Sea Pie Supper was held at the City Cruise Terminal.  Catering was undertaken by “Halo” who are based at Southampton Football Club and the event was deemed to be a success by most of the attendees.

A full report, together with photographs and a transcript of the speech made by the Principal Guest and new Stowaway, Admiral The Lord West of Spithead, can be found in the ‘News’ pages.