Alec Fredrick Osborne.

Alec passed away Friday 10th October at Cardiff University hospital. He had problems with his legs for the last few years. The funeral took place in Cardiff, and his ashes were interned at Pendeen Church, Cornwall.

Head stone for Alec Osborne   Close up of headstone

These are the photographs I took of Alec’s stone.

I took a back view of this one on the right to show the location at Pendeen Church, as I did not know if you are going to put them on the Ship Mates site and in case someone wished to come and see where the stone is situated. Probably most member are quite elderly and would not be in the area. Avril.

  View of Pendeen churchyard

Alec was born in Pendeen in Cornwall on August 18 1926. He left  school at 14 to become an apprentice fitter and turner in the local tin mine where he was employed for 10 years before commencing a sea going career in March 1950 with the Reardon Smith Shipping Company. Starting as a Junior Engineer Officer on the ss ‘Indian City’ Alec progressed through the ranks and studied at every opportunity eventually gaining his "First Class Engineer Certificate" in 1958 before embarking on his first voyage as Chief Engineer Officer in November 1959 at the age of 33 on the appropriately named MV ‘Cornish City’. Such was his dedication and service to the Company he was invited to become Engineer Superintendent based at the Greyfriars Road head office of Sir William Reardon Smith & Sons and became partly responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Reardon Smith fleet which also involved extensive travel to attend ship repairs and routine drydockings.

In 1969 Alec was put in charge of the supervision team overseeing the construction of seven geared bulk carriers at Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in Glasgow which because of their handy size were rarely idle and became known in the maritime world as the ‘Cardiff Class’. He also headed up many other important projects mainly abroad, including Japan where he made many friends and where his technical knowledge, skills, and attention to detail combined with his patience and sense of humour were invaluable.

Alec was also an active Member of the Institute of Marine Engineers and was chairman of the South Wales branch where he brought the same dedication to the role, which included hosting the annual dinner, as he did to all aspects of his career.

He continued in his role as senior superintendent until the company went into receivership in 1985 whereupon he transferred to the newly formed Cardiff Ship Management, a company created from the broad based and experienced technical department of Reardon Smith under the auspices of Transportacion Maritima Mexicana or TMM for short. Alec adaptable as ever carried on his duties with the same enthusiasm and dedication and even spent some months in the TMM Mexico City head office where he delighted in the sometimes challenging daily commute by metro and then for the final couple of miles by a crowded ‘collectivo’ taxi. It was during one tour of duty in Mexico City that Alec was to experience a massive 8.1 earthquake that shook the city at 7.19 a.m. on the 19th September 1985. Alec already up and about was the first out into the park behind the office, he could certainly move when the occasion demanded it!

Alec continued to be employed as senior superintendent until he retired at the age of 65 but then even in retirement he kept himself busy taking on the editorship of the Reardon Smith Shipmates Newsletter which involved collating notes, photos, and stories from former colleagues. He also enjoyed working on his allotment along with his ex clerk John Stanton and ever the engineer was even responsible for installing a header tank to get around a hosepipe ban.

“In a corner of a Cornish field will remain forever Alec Osborne”!
On Sunday 18th January. Alec's ashes were buried in the parish church of Pendeen, his final resting place and at that same church where he hand pumped the organ for 5/- per half year.  His headstone will reflect starting as an apprentice in the local mine to becoming a chartered engineer.
It is nice to think that Alec’s wishes have been met and he is safely settled in Cornish Soil”

I am especially saddened to hear of the passing of Alec. Together with Capt Harry Lloyd-Evans we endured a twelve month voyage on the "Great City". It was my first trip as Mate. Kept in frequent contact when Alec took over the production of "Shipmates" and visited him at the funeral of Mike Thomas. As is always the case, I had not been in touch recently.
He was a fine shipmate, a genuine chap and Marion and myself will remember him always. John Cann. Posted on forum 11 October 2014.

Very sorry to hear of the passing away of Alec. He was a very fine, understanding chap with a great sense of humour. I recall drydocking the Prince Rupert City in Hakodate and as usual we were taken out by the yard managers. Playing a particular "funny" game we thought that Alec was getting into the swing of things and laughing and joking about. However, he was getting redder and redder in the face, by the minute and it transpired that he had a fish bone lodged in his throat!! Soon got it out and after a drink of water, it all started again. My sincere wishes to his family. Terry Davies. Posted on forum 11 October 2014.

Very sad to hear that Alec had passed away. So many memories of working with him at Devonshire House and elsewhere. Particularly my first day as a Super. 6 months in the office says Tom Major, on your way to Middlesbrough this week says Alec. Two days later in at the deep end on Tacoma City. Alec won. A great mentor, friend and bloody good engineer. David Litson. Posted on forum 11 October 2014.

I was very sorry to hear the news of Alec crossing the bar. I first sailed with him when he was a young Chief Engineer on the Cornish City in April 1960, with Mark Higgins as Master. I was a young deck apprentice in my third year.
He was a real gentleman, a good shipmate and a great supporter of us lowly apprentices. In fact he was the one who pushed me to learn the Collision Regs, parrot fashion, which I managed to do during the 12 month voyage. When our good friend Tim crossed the bar, it was Alec who grabbed the reins of the newsletter and did a great job for many years in maintaining the link for us old shipmates. Tony Crowther. Posted on forum 11 October 2014.

Alec was the first Super attending a vessel that I met when I originally joined RSL, and his company and his assistance were a pleasure from some of my previous experiences elsewhere. Whenever he came aboard a ship, no matter how serious the circumstances might have been, he easily slotted into the seagoing ways of the officers and crew aboard, very much born out by the comments of others who had the pleasure of sailing with him.
He was one of those rare individuals, particularly amongst the seafaring community, who was both a good listener as well as a wise and humorous narrator. As Tony C points out, the lead he took, along with the able assistance of Oliver Lindsay, in taking over the running of Shipmates when Tim Lawson passed on, undoubtedly kept the spirit of RSL alive and well, long after the demise of the company. Though he was not enthusiastic himself of computers and such like technology, without the foundation stones that he very much helped to lay in keeping our community together, I doubt we would be reading and posting our memories here. RIP Alec. Mike Jones. Posted on forum 12 October 2014.

So sad to learn of Alec's passing, what a great guy and wonderful company. Please pass on our condolences. Marian & Reg Smith. Posted on forum 12 October 2014.

What sad news. As everybody knows Alec was, during my 17 years with the Company, one of the main stalwarts of the Technical Department and was a rare character in that he was able to befriend everybody. Even though this incident happened in 1962 during my first trip to sea as an Eng. Cadet on "Queen City", I can still see him standing on the quayside in Wallaroo (he was C/Eng. on the "Atlantic City") as we began to depart and on the first engine movement blew our main engine relief valves. Alec shouted to our C/Eng., Steve Willis, "you won't get far with that bag of nails" to which Steve replied "Alec you do not understand that was our turbo blower cutting in !!" Alec almost fell over backwards chortling. His passing away is a great loss - R.I.P. Alec. Jon Hewson. Posted on forum 13 October 2014.

Very sad to hear that Alec has passed away. He was always a kind and helpful man to me , both as Master, and especially when I worked as Superintendent, and we spent a lot of time working together in various shipyards in many parts of the world.
I will always remember Alec when we worked together in Amsterdam Drydock over a period of months , and after the days work , before the evening meal, we would meet up at a little bar named the Kleine Karseboom ( Little Cherry Tree) which was run by a very old lady, who would regale us with stories of the War , when all the bikes in Amsterdam were stolen by the Nazis etc.
Alec would tell her about his travels and experiences , and they really became good friends, however, sadly, that all ended when we finished the job. My condolences to his family , and all who knew him.
R.I.P Alec. Keith Fulker. Posted on forum 13 October 2014.

Sad to hear of this of "RSL's" gentlemen, like several others of his time, the backbone of our company. Always the professional. His legacy will live on, in those he inspired. Graham Mapplebeck. Posted on forum 13 October 2014.

Very sorry to learn of Alec's passing. He was one the stalwarts in the old firm. I worked with him when I stood by two of the 840's fitting out in Govan and later a big one in Sunderland. A great humour and a very good super. I remember back in 1966 on the King City in Southampton when I was Mate with Dan (Cardiff) John as first trip Master, Alec was attending to assist in dealing with a big leak through the stern gland in the propeller shaft tunnel. I went below to see if I could lend a hand. Alec was right up on the gland and turned round and in that lovely West Country accent of his shouted out " get me brass bar - I'm going to twat this thing! He was a great guy. Condolences and thanks for his life. Bryan Boyer. Posted on forum 13 October 2014.

Very upset to hear of the passing of my old friend and colleague Alec . We passed many a happy hour together swapping yarns and remaniscences , mainly from him to me it must be said ! He was a real gentleman and a great Engineer . Please advise when you have details of his funeral . I will make every effort to get there ,but can't guarantee it as I' m up to my neck in all sorts of things at the moment ! Look forward to hearing from you. Ian Jones. Posted on forum 14 October 2014.

I must be one of the few who never sailed with Alec nor did I ever meet him. That was my loss. I knew him through the many stories I heard from others about him as an engineer and a person. He remains of of the legend of the Company. RIP Alec. David Ricketts. Posted on forum 15 October 2014.

I had known Alec for about 44 years, he was the Superintendent and I his clerk. In the first 16 years we never socialised apart from say Christmas or our respective institute dinners.
This all changed when he retired, he joined our allotment and became a regular feature. He helped out with the construction of greenhouses and the general repairs of the machinery. If anyone had an alternative way to repairing these items he would get quite crabby, best left to it. Nevertheless he was well liked and respected by all the members. He did'nt deserve the suffering he endured over the past few months but like Alec he put a brave face to it. In the end it was a welcome relief to have the surgery.
Margaret and I will miss him, he was a generous man and always remembered our childrens birthdays and special events. He was a good man.
FOOTNOTE: The best advice he gave me, I was going to London to arrange insurance, a little apprehensive of the 'big boys' in the capitol, over a pint he said "Always remember your the one with the money in your back pocket." PROPER JOB. John Stanton. Posted on forum 17 October 2014.

Thank you John for your reminiscence re Alec. I doubt many of us who had the privilege of knowing him would visualise him digging on an allotment!! As Charlie Boyer said - if it didn't grow, he would "twat" it!! I feel a vote of thanks is due you. I happen to know how much he relied on you to help him in one way or another. We have lost a Company character. May he rest in peace. As you say, he did a PROPER JOB. John Cann. Posted on forum 17 October 2014.

Disclaimer: The statements on this page are the views of the person who posted them on the forum. The events took place many years ago and in most cases rely on those people's memories, and so we cannot guarantee the accuracy although every effort is made to check it.