RMS Orion / SS Orion


23,300 GRT, and 203m in length.

A postcard from Grant in South Australia.

Built as RMS Orion by Vickers Armstrong in 1934, she was the first single-funnelled ship to be built for the Orient Line since the turn of the century. She was also the first ship to be painted in the Orient Line’s corn-colored livery, sporting a pale yellow hull.

She was the first British ship to ever have air-conditioning. In fact her entire interior design was ground-breaking in that she departed from the formal english styles found in wealthy British homes of the time, and adapted a more open-air and spacious layout that was better suited to tropical cruising. Wide promenade decks, slideing glass doors, removable walls, and chromium / bakelite fittings made her feel roomier and breezier, which was a welcome relief in the hot ahd humid tropics.

She was launched by the Duke of Gloucester. But, unusually, he was in Brisbane at the time, and the ship was in Lancashire, UK. He launched the ship by pressing a button in Brisbane, which transmitted a radio signal to the dockyards untimatley causing the ship to slide down the slipway into the water – quite revolutionary for the 1930’s.

She served as a troopship during the second world war, and was involved in a damaging collision with Battleship HMS Revenge when Revenge’s steering gear jammed.

She had an extensive fit-out after the WW2, and voyaged to Australia and the USA.

The National Archives of Australia record that she brought many immigrants to Australia during the late 1940’s, and the 1950’s, eventually being broken up fopr scrap in 1963.

What a fascinating history.

109 Replies to “RMS Orion / SS Orion”

  1. I also left UK on 30 march 1962 arrived in Wellington 7th May , ship was on anchor at Aden passengers were shipped ashore , iwas 16 and half

  2. we did a trip back to the uk in 1953. I was 15 at the time. A great ship had lots of fun. We stayed in uk and pick the orion up after it had done another trip to Aust. and back.

  3. We left Tilbury Docks on 19th or 20th December 1961 and traveled through the Mediterranean sea, stopped in Athens, then Piraeus sailed down the Suez Canal. We stopped in what was then Bombay and then made our way to Fremantle. My family and I left the ship in Adelaide (Outer Harbour) on 21st January 1962. We had a wonderful time on board, celebrating Christmas, New Year, Crossing the Equator and my 14th Birthday. I have been trying to find out if Jimmy Barnes and his family were on board this voyage, I believe they were. Anyway, I live in Victor Harbor now and am retired. My husband is Australian and is very involved in the Victor Harbor Men’s Shed. I broadcast on fleurieu fm community radio and love it.

  4. I was on the Orion leaving England in December 1961 and arriving in sydney in January 1962. I remember a fair bit of the trip as I was 7 at the time. Does anyone know how to find the passenger list for this trip, I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find it.

  5. Hi. I was 4 years old when our family travelled from UK to Sydney. Arriving December 1962. My parents wanted a wonderful new life in Oz and they certainly achieved that. As a child I remember the playroom with a slide that went around the corner. Days when the pool was emptied and we could play in the shallow water with the walls towering above our heads. Merchants in boats alongside the ship, and Mum and Dad buying gifts. I still have a horn shoehorn! Anyone else on this journey got memories?

  6. Bob Hopper I was on that voyage. We ‘Little Brothers’ were also on H deck, very close to the waterline. I remember that Great Australian Bight crossing too. Did she ever roll? A rumour swept through the ship that other vessels were asked to stand by.

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