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Mooltan Guest House

History of Mooltan

An old picture of Mooltan Guesthouse from a Rose Series Postcard

This is the story of the ships - the supposed story is that the original Mooltan owners went on a cruise on the Mooltan and came back and renamed Spring View to Mooltan as the symbol of luxury.

Mooltan -The Ships
The first Mooltan was a troop carrier and hospital ship in the first World War. For Australians, the image usually associated with 25 April, 1915 is that of Australian soldiers charging bravely up the steep and barren slopes of Gallipoli. Less appreciated is the picture of an Australian nurse on that same day attending to hundreds of battered and bleeding men on the decks and in the confined wards of a hospital ship. Serving on a hospital ship was the closest the Australian nurses came to the fighting during the Gallipoli campaign.

Then the new Mooltan and her sister ship Maloja were built by P&O in 1923 by Harland & Wotff Ltd, Belfast

TONNAGE: 21039gross Dimensions: 625 X 7 3ft (190.5 X 22.3 m)
PROPULSION: Quadruple expansion/twin screws

The first P & 0 liners to exceed 20 000 tons, this pair were constructed on adjoining slipways, and spent most of their careers operating together. Mooltan was launched on 15 February 1923 and Maloja on 19 April. They were fitted out to carry 327 first class and 329 second class passengers, and looked very powerful. However, they were rather underpowered with their outdated quadruple expansion machinery and could only manage 16 knots.

Designed for the mail service from Britain to Australia, on completion both ships made a return voyage to Bombay, Mooltan in September 1923, Maloja two months later. Mooltan made her maiden departure for Australia from Tilbury on 21 December 1923, being joined by Maloja on 18 January 1924.

In 1929, P & 0 reorganised their services, combining the Indian and Australian routes on an accelerated schedule. To attain the higher speed required, Mooltan and Maloja had exhaust turbines fitted, increasing their speed by one knot. This pair had been painted in very drab colours, black hulls and funnels and dark brown upperworks, but when the new "Strath" liners entered service with their white hulls, the upperworks of Maloja and Mooltan were repainted a light stone colour. At the same time their accommodation was altered to 346 first class and 336 tourist class.

On the day war broke out, Maloia was in the Red Sea, outbound to Australia. The voyage was terminated at Bombay, where she was converted into an armed merchant cruiser. This included removal of the mainmast and the top half of the aft funnel. Eight 6 inch guns were also fitted, and Maloja was sent off to patrol the Indian Ocean. Mooltan was requisitioned in Britain, and converted in a similar manner, then sent to the South Atlantic. In March 1940, Mooltan joined the Northern Patrol, operating near the Faroe Islands. In 1941 both vessels became troopships, later taking part in the landings in North Africa, Sicily and the Italian mainland. After the war they repatriated troops, Mooltan arriving in Australian waters again in August 1945. Both vessels were returned to P & 0 in July 1947, and refitted by Harland & WoIff, Mooltan in Belfast, Maloja in London. They were given austere accommodation for 1030 tourist class passengers only. The aft funnel was rebuilt, but no mainmast was fitted, and they were repainted in their pre war colours. Relying heavily on assisted migrants to fill the ships, Maloja left Tilbury on I0June 1948, followed by Mooltan on 26 August. They sailed independently of the mail ships, calling at Aden and Colombo en route to Fremantle and other major Australian ports. On the return trip, fare paying passengers were carried, and extra ports included. For some time they regularly called at Bombay, to collect British officials and their families returning home.

The demand for migrant passages declined, so on 30 September 1953, Mooltan left Tilbury on her final voyage to Australia, departing Sydney on 24 November and Melbourne four days later to return to London on 7 January 1954. Maloja made her final departure on 5 November 1953, leaving Sydney on 2 January 1954. Both liners had completed 80 round trips in peacetime to Australia. They were sold to British Iron and Steel for scrapping.

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