P&O Massilia

by Ella York

P&O Massilia was launched in 1884, although other sources cite 1891, weighing in at 2,9695 tons. In this instance I have preferenced information obtained from P&O heritage. Although their archives hold sparse information on the ship, included is a photograph dated April 1884 on the occasion of her maiden voyage, ‘MASSILIA (1884) leaving the Thames on her maiden voyage’ and a charming crew photo from 21st October 1889 There was an earlier vessel, also the Massilia built in 1860 for P&O’s Southampton/Alexandria service.

P&O Massilia courtesy of P&O Heritage
P&O Massilia courtesy of P&O Heritage

SK Datta first travelled to Europe aboard the Massilia to attend both the 5th Meeting of the World’s Student Christian Federation and the 15th World’s Conference of the Young Men’s Christian Association in Norway. Both his mother and his aunt approved as it was during the vacation period from his studies and would not interfere with their plan for him to complete. This required Datta to travel from Lahore to Bombay (Mumbai) for departure to Europe. Once he arrived in Bombay (Mumbai), his was disappointed with having to wait for 10 days for departure. The Massilia sailed from Bombay (Mumbai) 1 July 1902, stopping in Aden and then through to Marseilles where Datta disembarked. 1902 passenger lists are elusive at this time, especially when it comes to passengers embarking or departing outside of the UK!

From Marseilles, Datta travelled to Sorø, Denmark. He was invited there as a delegate to 5th World’s Student Christian Federation conference commencing 1 August 1902. Datta then travelled to Norway for the 15th World’s Conference of the Young Men’s Christian Association in Norway, held 20 Aug 1902 – 24 Aug 1902. Other WAYMCA delegates included Annie M Reynolds, Morse, Karl Fries, John Raleigh Mott, von Moltke, WC Chen, Uichiro Sasamori, Fred B Shipp, James Stokes, Oscar Carl August Bernadotte (President), Munck af Fulkila Ebba Henrietta.

Datta returned to India 1 October 1902 and the Massilia was later scrapped in 1911.

Writing this post has drawn from the Heurist database we are creating. This database is a significant project outcome, with the references used from Barns’ biography SK Datta and His People held at the British Library. Future posts will cover our work with Heurist, I’m especially looking forward to sharing geographic and network maps.

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