DOWN TO THE DOCKS WITH 2,000,000 BRICKS
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The Marston Valli Brick Co., Ltd Executes a Co loss Order for Bespr, Bricks, and Roc Transport Scores Making It Eas ("NOVERING the first stage. of a 1,,,notable voyage to the East, the
5,000-ton cargo vessel S.S. " Lovstad " ploughs on steadily. Each of its three cavernous holds has a tightlocked load of brand-new Marston Bespres bricks, and every ton of its capacity is being used.
Back at London last week—at the West India Dock—the " Lovstad " received its cargo. Every one of the 2,000,000 bricks, from the Bedford works of the Marston Valley Brick Co., Ltd., was transported by road. It was the first time a ship of such large capacityhad been cargoed exclusively by road transport in the London docks, said the Port of London Authority, and a foreman stevedore made it clear to us that the whole job had been a good one to handle, from the point of view of loading to schedule. He was loud in his praise of the way in which road haulage had tackled the job.
All in the Day's Work.
As a matter of fact, the brick company is extremely proud of the way the whole ta§k has been carried out, although no extravagant attempts were made to treat it as an extra-special occasion, nor was the normal work or output of the factory affected in any way.
Work was commenced on Monday. November 7, with an estimation of its being completed within 10 days. All the necessary arrangements were made at the brick factory and with the stevedores (T. F. Maltby and Co., Ltd.), and the Monday saw the lorries begin to shuttle between Bedford and the West India Dock. They were the corn
a22 pany's own E.R.F.s and Bedfords, the latter carrying 2,500 bricks each, whilst some of the E.R.F.s carried 3,500 and others 6,000.
Admittedly, things did not go too well in the earlier stages. Road transport was well up to schedule, and bricks were taken off the lorries quick enough, but the six loading gangs on the boat—four of 15 men and two of 14—could not stand the pace so well. Each man was handling only two bricks at a time, and that was not enough. They would have to handle four if the schedule was to be preserved. On Tuesday the gangs were saying they never wanted to see bricks again.
Another trouble was rearing an ugly head. Certain gangs were working faster than others, and it was seen that the ship was settling too much by the stern. Mr. P. J. Anthers, transport manager of the Marston Valley Brick Co., Ltd., who was keeping an eagle eye on progress in the loading, made hasty calculations and devised a system of keeping the gangs working at a steady rate.
Keeping an Even Keel.
It was absolutely necessary that the ship be kept on an even keel while loading. Orders were given to relinquish the idea of loading one type of brick in one hold, as had been the original intention Now, every man would have to handle all three types, these being the Marston Bespres " Pin Rustics,'"` Plain FIettons " and " Slotted" or "Keyed "variety.
From that time, then, the company was faced with added difficulties in loading arrangements, in that these would have to be varied hourly, to enable the vessel to remain on an even keel. Mr. Anthers and his assistant continued to advise the stevedores, and kept in constant touch with the works by telephone. Matters were proceeding better now with the gangs. They were handling bricks in fours, and their speed of working was increasing.
By Thursday the handling had settled into a smooth rhythm, and the teamwork was excellent. The derricks (four to each hold) had been swingingi busily throughout, and now it became necessary for the two P.L.A. cranes to be brought into action as well. Dockhands lifted the bricksoff the lorries and loaded them on to scaleboards, which were whisked up by the cranes and let down into the vast holds, where men were ready to pack the bricks.
Getting the Swing of It.
It had been interded to load the ship at the rate of about 190,000 bricks per day, but so perfect now were the arrangements that that number was being increased by 60,000 per day. On the first day 193,000 had actually been put in the holds between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.; by Wednesday they were loading 270,000 by 7 p.m.. and by Friday, 270,000 by 4 p.m. On Saturday the loading was 838 tons ahead of schedule! The company had good reason to congratulate itself, as also had the stevedores, for great difficulties had been cleverly overcome.
Although the number of bricks per hour taken by the ship could be ascertained, it was never possible to know how many of each type were being handled. Also it was found that on any day the gangs speeded-up hour by hour, partly as they became more practised and partly as the ship became more heavily laden. Obviously the height of the load in the holds
increased, whilst 'the ship sank 'lower and the distance from dock to deck became less. Those were more important factors than might be appreciated from the mere statement. A So the plan was adopted of bringing, for the first hour each morning, double the number of bricks that the gangs could handle.
As has been already noted, this big order—the largest consignment of bricks shipped overseas from the London docks—was executed without any interference in the normal output and everyday business of the company. It is also of great interest to note that after having arranged with the stevedores for the following day's loading, arrangements had to be made with the works' manufacturing department to enable bricks to be drawn straight from the chambers and loaded.
Serving 'em Hot!
This avoided any unnecessary handling of the bricks, such as would be caused by first drawing them from the chambers and then stacking on the ground, only for them to be picked up again within a few hours and loaded on the vehicles. So satisfactory were the arrangements maintained, after the preliminary trickiness, that many bricks reached the ship while still hot.
The demurrage charge on the job was per hour, and if the cranes were kept waiting longer than five minutes, extra charges were liable to be made. The company had nothing to worry about on that score, however.
So it was that the " Lovstad " left its berth two whole days ahead of schedule, an effort worthy of the highest praise to all concerned, and particularly to the Marston Valley Brick Co., Ltd. The miles travelled by the road motors had numbered 650,000, petrol had been consumed to the extent of 4,500 gallons, and fuel ail to the eictent of 1,700 gallons. The average tonnage conveyed to the boat per day was 575.