SS Canberra was an ocean liner, which later operated on cruises, in the P&O fleet from 1961 to 1997. She was built in Belfast, Northern Ireland at
a cost of £17,000,000. The ship was named on 17 March 1958, after the federal capital of Australia, Canberra. She was launched on 16 March 1960, She appeared in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are
Forever. In the 1982 Falklands War she served as a troop ship.
P&O commissioned Canberra to operate the combined P&O-Orient Line service between the United Kingdom and Australia. However a refit in 1974
saw Canberra adapted to cruising. Unusually, this transition from an early life as a purpose built ocean liner to a long and successful career in cruising, occurred without any major external
alterations, and with only minimal internal and mechanical changes over the years. She was the first British passenger liner to use alternating current as power.
There are several operational and economical advantages to such electrical de-coupling of a ship's propulsion system, and it became a standard element
of cruise ship design in the 1990s, over 30 years after Canberra entered service. However, diesel engine and gas turbine driven alternators are the primary power source for most modern electrically
Canberra had a bulbous bow, two sets of stabilizers, and two funnels side-by-side. The lifeboats, which were made from glass fibre, were placed three decks lower than usual for ships of her
On 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, which initiated the Falklands War. At the time, Canberra was cruising in the Mediterranean. The next day, her captain
Dennis Scott-Masson received a message asking his time of arrival at Gibraltar, which was not on his itinerary. When he called at Gibraltar, he learnt that the Ministry of Defence had requisitioned
Canberra for use as a troopship. Canberra sailed to Southampton, Hampshire where she was quickly refitted, sailing on 9 April for the South Atlantic.
Nicknamed the Great White Whale, Canberra proved vital in transporting 3 Commando Brigade to the islands more than 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km) from the United Kingdom.
Canberra was sent to the heart of the conflict.
After a lengthy refit, she returned to civilian service as a cruise ship. Her role in the Falklands War made her very popular with the British public,
and ticket sales after her return were elevated for many years as a result. Age and high running costs eventually caught up with her and she was withdrawn from P&O service in September 1997 and
sold to ship breakers for scrapping on 10 October 1997, leaving for Pakistan on 31 October 1997.
POOR OLD REX!
The Rex cinema in Fratton Road opened in 1914 as the Globe Electric Theatre with seating for 540. In 1937 it became the 1937 and as with so many
buildings at that time during World War II, it was used as a furniture store for bombed houses. The Troxy which had also been built along Fratton Road also got used for the same purpose. After the
war finished the Rex was cleared out and then re-opened as a cinema until in 1983, when films became poorly patronised due to the large number of cinemas around, and it became a Pool Club. But in
time that popularity fell away and so it was closed and then demolished in 2001. After lying empty for a couple of years, lack of housing was a problem and so the dreaded blocks of flats started to
rear their presence and that is when the derelict site became the permanent demise of the Rex cinema.
FROM THE PARISH REGISTERS OF
ST GEORGE, HANOVER SQUARE, LONDON
2nd June, 1843
Alice Maud Mary, daughter of Her Majesty Queen Victoria and His Royal Highness Prince Albert. Buckingham Palace, born April 25th, 1843.