‘A continuance of active migration is necessary for the company to justify the investment of £15,000,000 sterling in this ship… We have grown with and made a significant contribution to Australian development so far and intend, if we can, to continue to play our part in Australia’s future.’
Sir Donald Anderson (speaking as Deputy Chairman of P&O)
The ship to which Sir Donald Anderson referred was CANBERRA. Like ORIANA, for the Orient Line, she was conceived in the mid 1950s during the growth of the assisted passage scheme. Both ships were the largest being built in the UK at the time and could carry twice as many passengers as their predecessors. They were designed to be fast, economic in scale and efficiency and equally suited to emigrants and tourists with combinations of cabins from six-berths to First Class deluxe doubles. At full throttle they could reduce the journey time to Australia to just three weeks.
By the time ORIANA and CANBERRA entered service in 1961, P&O had acquired the remaining share of Orient Line and the two companies operated, for a time, under the new name P&O-Orient.
Both ships represented a fusion of Britain and Australia, using artists and designers from both countries and decorative themes which charted the voyage from a cosy British pub, across the Pacific to sunny outdoor spaces for swimming and relaxing. The route of many a 'ten pound Pom'…