With the introduction of cheaper, shorter routes, P&O would revolutionise the family holiday for all, while still venturing into other industries. New types of ships, and a new Chairman in Sir Donald Anderson, allowed the company to enter new realms of travel, freight forwarding and the fuel industry. The latter saw P&O supplying the gas and oil rigs of the North Sea from a fleet of small ships.
Making its debut in the 1960s, the roll-on/roll-off Hull-Rotterdam service was designed with cargo transportation in mind, and is a route that is still used to this day. Using powerful motors to dispatch and on-board lorries, shipping containers and the like, this method revolutionised many businesses, forgoing the need for cranes.
An era for change, the 70s saw a company rebrand, placing the now-familiar P&O flag at the heart of the Company’s identity. European travel was given a fuller focus, with the introduction of the Dover-Calais, Dover-Zeebrugge and Liverpool-Dublin routes, and the end to Indian and Australian voyages. With older ships proving expensive, money was instead put towards cruise travel. By 1972, the Spirit of London was bought and launched as P&O’s first cruise liner.
‘P&O! There are other shipping companies with names which can be conveniently reduced to initials, but these are meaningless outside limited circles and the companies concerned frown upon such familiarity. Not so, P&O! For over a century every Britisher with the slightest knowledge of the East has understood what these letters stand for and none but a pedant would dream of giving the name in full.’
– Commander C. R. Vernon Gibbs, 1963. Reproduced by kind permission of P&O Heritage.
Dining on board
While the face of travel was ever-changing throughout this era, there was one thing which remained a constant – the joy of the onboard dining experience. Putting a focus on the 1970s, the following comes from Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes.
The 1970s were a time when families started to venture abroad, sunning themselves in places like Benidorm, or taking a ferry to France for a spot of oh la la. Many families still holidayed at home, and British seaside resorts were still popular places to visit, with Blackpool topping the charts. Caravan holidays were popular too and every weekend you could delight in playing count the caravans as you joined the queues of weekend traffic.
Back at home, people enjoyed an evening soiree. These parties were a chance to unwind after a long week at work and enjoy good food, good drink and good company. Canapes were all the rage and cheese logs could often be seen on buffet tables, accompanied by sausage rolls, devilled eggs and vol au vents.
A cheese log, which was also sometimes called a cheese ball (yes, you guessed it, shaped like a ball instead of a log), was the highlight of a buffet table and so very seventies. Cheese logs are easy to make by mixing cream cheese with herbs and spices before shaping into a log and chilling overnight. The next day it would be rolled in fresh herbs and nuts. It’s utterly delicious served with oatcakes, cream crackers or for a real 70s vibe, some crispy Melba toast.
All images © P&O Heritage Collection, used by kind permission.
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