Moldavia (1922)

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Introduction

The name Moldavia was used by P & O Line for two ships:

  • A passenger/refrigerated cargo ship completed in 1903 and described HERE.
  • A passenger/refrigerated cargo ship completed in 1922 and described on this page.

Moldavia was a passenger liner that was completed in 1922 and remained in service with the same company until 1938 when she was scrapped. At first she was used for the UK to Australia service but later became a cruise ship.

I have created a website recounting a specific cruise on this vessel in 1936 based on an album of photos and souvenirs purchased on eBay that you can access HERE.

Moldavia
Moldavia in her original configuration with one funnel - therefore before 1928. From the Allan C Green collection Image H91.108/1402 [115]

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Passenger Liner/Cruise Ship
Registered owners, managers and operators Peninsular & Oriental SN Co
Builders Cammell Laird & Co Ltd
Yard Birkenhead
Country UK
Yard number 839
Official number 145973
Call sign GDVZ
Classification society Lloyds Registry
Gross tonnage 16,556
Net tonnage 10,065
Deadweight N/K
Length 552 Ft 4"
Overall Length N/K
Breadth 71 Ft 7"
Depth 38 Ft 4"
Draught N/K
Engines 6 steam turbines DR geared to 2 shafts.
Engine Builder Cammell Laird & Co Ltd
Engine Builder Works Birkenhead
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details 4 single-ended and 3 double-ended boilers
Power 2,602 NHP
Propulsion Twin Screw
Speed 16 knots

Moldavia
Moldavia in transit - location not known but after 1928 when a second (dummy) funnel was fitted [46]

Additional Construction Information

Moldavia was built from the finest warship plates that had been left over from construction during WW1.

The Lloyds Register entry for Moldavia has the following additional information about her:

  • 4 decks - main deck, upper deck, shelter deck and shade deck with promenade and boat decks above.
  • Fitted for oil fuel
  • Fitted with radio direction-finding equipment
  • Fitted with refrigeration machinery by J & E Hall Ltd. It was based on Carbon Anhydride (CO2) with brine and air coolant, and had insulation made from granulated cork.
  • 2 refrigeration units and 4 compressors
Moldavia
Moldavia in dock - date and location not known. [94]

Career Highlights

Date Event
1 December 1916 Ordered but construction delayed on account of WW1
1 October 1921 Launched
19 September 1922 Ran trials and delivered to P & O

Moldavia
Launch of Moldavia announcement in the Liverpool Echo on 1 October 1921 funnel was fitted [155]

Moldavia
Moldavia with two funnels - therefore post 1928 refit. From the Allan C. Green collection image H91.108/1606 [115]

Moldavia
Moldavia at an unknown wharf in Australia post 1928 refit. From the Allan C. Green collection image H91.325/1414 [115]

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew 350
Cargo Capacity 208,880 cubic feet of refrigerated space in 7 compartments
Passengers As built: 222 First Class, 175 Second Class
1928: 222 First Class, 175 Third Class
1930: 830 berths - Third Class and Tourist Class

In January 2021 I was contacted by Ann Truesdale. Her father William Chales Twist (1906-1967) was the dispenser on Moldavia from 4 September 1931 to 11 December 1931. Ann provided the image of the list of officers below and the following additional information:

My father William Twist was the ship's dispenser. He went to Australia 6 times in the early thirties. He had obtained his apothecary qualification when serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps from 1923-31. It must have been a shock to return to Liverpool after 4 years away from home in Aden and Malta to find himself in the midst of the Great Depression. He was lucky to get a job on the Moldavia.
Moldavia
Officers List from Moldavia 1931 [200]

Passenger Accommodation

Moldavia
The Forward Dining Saloon from a P & O 'letter card' that was on sale to passengers to write home on or keep as a souvenir [94]
Moldavia
The Lounge from a P & O 'letter card' that was on sale to passengers to write home on or keep as a souvenir [94]
Moldavia
The Smoking Room from a P & O 'letter card' that was on sale to passengers to write home on or keep as a souvenir [94]
Moldavia
A two-berth cabin from a P & O 'letter card' that was on sale to passengers to write home on or keep as a souvenir [94]

Status and Service History

Status

Moldavia was broken up in 1938.

Service History

Date Details
13 October 1922 Moldavia sailed from Tilbury on her maiden voyage to India. There was criticism from some that she only had one funnel, and this was felt to be insignificant for a liner of her size and it marred her appearance.
1923 Moldavia was transferred to the Australian intermediate route: Tilbury – Marseilles – Port Said – Colombo – Fremantle – Adelaide – Melbourne – Sydney.
26 December 1923 A fire broke out in a cargo of fibre from Colombo as she approached Fremantle. The fire brigade had to flood the hold which destroyed not merely the cargo but also a substantial proportion of the passengers' heavy luggage.
1925 Gross tonnage was re-measured at 16,436
1928 Moldavia was refitted and second class accommodation downgraded to third class. A second dummy funnel was added aft of the real funnel, which had the effect of unbalancing Moldavia's appearance. The boilers were converted to burn oil fuel. Tonnage was then 16,543.
1930 There was another refit and all accommodation reclassified as third class or tourist (emigrant) class, with 830 passengers. Passages to Australia were available for as little as £38.
1931 Steam superheaters and new propellers were fitted which increased her maximum speed to 17 knots.
21 July 1935 There was a fault with the port turbine after leaving Monte Carlo on a Mediterranean cruise. Repairs were carried out at the naval dockyard at Gibraltar.
Moldavia
Report on repairs from The Scotsman 25 July 1935 [156]
17 September 1937 Moldavia left Tilbury on her final Australian voyage. She was laid up on her return.
5 April 1938 Moldavia was sold for £38,000 to John Cashmore Ltd. to be scrapped and handed over at Tilbury on 11 April. She arrived at Newport, Monmouthshire for breaking on 18 April 1938.

Advertisements and Voyages

A cruise in 1928

I am grateful to Heather Clare for the photos and information about a cruise in 1928 [198].

In 1928 Heather's great uncle Harry Hudson Rodmell (1896-1984) took a cruise on Moldavia. Harry was a painter and commercial artist and specialised in marine art but was also accomplished in etching, lithography, carving and illustration. He studied at the Hull School of Art before enlisting in the Royal Engineers in WW1. He was commissioned to produce work for many major shipping companies including P & O, Canadian Pacific and British India Line. He served with the Royal Observer Corps during WW2. A lot of his artwork was used as advertising posters and his work appears regularly at auctions and can be found in several art galleries including Hull and Liverpool

Poster
Example of a poster by Harry Hudson Rodmell [91]

The photos below were taken during the cruise.

Life on Board
Photo on board Moldavia - Harry Rodmell on the left [198]
Life on Board
Photo on board Moldavia - Harry Rodmell on the left wearing a beret [198]
Life on Board
Photo on board Moldavia - Harry Rodmell on the far right [198]
Life on Board
Photo on board Moldavia - Harry Rodmell on the left [198]
Life on Board
Photo taken during an excursion - Harry Rodmell on the right wearing a beret [198]
Life on Board
Photo taken during an excursion [198]
Life on Board
Photo taken during an excursion with Harry Rodmell with presumably a local young girl standing in front of what might be a war memorial. [198]
Cruise Advertisements from 1935

The image below shows a 1935 advert for cruises. This appeared in many national and regional newspapers.

Moldavia
News cutting from The Scotsman 15 February 1935 advertising P&O Cruises in Mongolia and Moldavia [156]

The image below shows a July 1935 advertisement showing that both Moldavia and Mongolia were servicing routes to Australia as well as cruises with Tourist Class passages from as little as £30 to Bombay and £39 to Australia.

Moldavia
News cutting from The Dundee Courier 26 July 1935 advertising P&O passages in Mongolia and Moldavia [156]

The image below is also from a 1935 advertisement and rather more exotic-looking. Maybe aimed at a different readership?

Moldavia
News cutting from The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News advertising P&O Cruises in Mongolia and Moldavia 22 February 1935 [157]
A Cruise in 1936

In August 1936 Moldavia took passengers on a Mediterranean cruise that was documented by one of the passengers in an album. I have used this to reconstruct the cruise. You will find it on the Benjidog website A Cruise on Moldavia in 1936 HERE.


The image below shows an April 1936 advertisment for a 23 day Spring cruise on Moldavia calling at 'Athens, Istanbul, Santorin etc.' at prices from £23.

Moldavia
News cutting from The Courier and Advertiser 3 April 1936 advertising P&O Cruises in Moldavia at prices from £23 [158]

The image below shows an April 1936 advertisement for an early 14 day Summer cruise on Moldavia calling at 'Barcelona, Palma, Algiers Etc.' at prices from £14. A similar advert appeared for a cruise to 'Portugal, Spain Etc.' starting on 3 July 1936.

Moldavia
News cutting from The Western Daily Press and Bristol Mirror 24 April 1936 advertising P&O Cruises in Moldavia at prices from £14 [158]

Tourist Postcards

Like most companies operating passenger services, P & O sold various postcards and souvenirs on board ship for passengers to take home. Many of them showed a generic vessel with a name added for issue to specific ships.


Moldavia
This postcard shows Moldavia leaving Gravesend on 4 August 1934. She had presumably just left Tilbury Docks. [94]

Moldavia
This postcard is an artist impression of the vessel - possibly in the Suez Canal judging by the dhows. [94]

Moldavia
This postcard is supposed to show Moldavia at sea. I also have a virtually identical postcard for Morea. [94]