Martlesham Shipping experts reminisce to mark 50 years of the Port of Felixstowe

on 29 September 2017

Globex Directors Andy Wilding and Shaun Rudduck have accrued over 80 years’ of shipping experience between them, both starting their careers in the industry in the early 70s and have seen first-hand the incredible growth of the port and the major changes in how the shipping world operates.

Managers at Martlesham-based shipping firm, Globex Freight Management, are sharing memories of shipping over the past 40 years, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Port of Felixstowe.

The Port of Felixstowe opened in July 1967 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout the year, marking its status as the UK’s largest container port, handling some of the biggest vessels in the world.

For Andy and Shaun, the port they were introduced to in the early 70s was a far cry from the ‘miniature city’ found in Felixstowe today.

Shaun says “I started working at the port in 1974 as a port messenger.  My job was to take documents from office to office, couriering them around by moped – effectively a port postman!

“When I began work there, there was no Dock Gate 2, but slowly it grew as ro-ro births were added and new terminals built as the river was dredged.

“Following my role as a port messenger, I moved onto clerical work, learning how the whole shipping system worked.  Everything was very personal then, you knew everyone’s name and who you were dealing with.  I remember taking some papers to a ship’s captain once.  I had to go on board to deliver it and was immediately offered some Russian vodka for my efforts!”

For Andy, who began work at Ipswich port, which at the time was far bigger than Felixstowe, his time at the port began in 1979 when major expansion was underway and major lines moved to Felixstowe.

He says: “The shipping world we know today is drastically different from what Shaun and I knew back in the 70s.  Cargo was ‘conventional’ rather than containerised like today, so there was huge variation in the items we were handling every day.

“I was part of a freight forwarding unit and absolutely everything was carried out on paper. We had one computer for an office of 12 staff and nothing could move on or off the port without physical, paper copy ‘unit load notes’.  We also had to produce ‘T1’, ‘T2’ or ‘T2L’ documents for shipments to cross European borders or between ports.  Nothing happened without these and I even remember playing in a 5-a-side football tournament in Felixstowe one weekend and having to stop the match to go and produce one of these for a driver.

“Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) was then introduced in the early 80s, which was a quantum leap for the industry and allowed information to be sent to customs electronically.  Maritime Cargo Processing (MCP) introduced the port users to ‘FCP80’ to embrace this new modern era in the international freight management chain (today known as ‘Destin8’). Everyone was fascinated by it and didn’t want to be left behind so embraced the technology and developed their own systems.”

Today’s shipping industry has global significance and is extremely fast-moving, with containers moving from port to port far quicker than ever before thanks to processes that now take hours rather than days.

Shaun says, “Its’s great to see the huge development in the port over the past 50 years.  It really put Felixstowe on the map and has been fantastic for the town and the county.

“Although there are things we miss about the old days, the speed of work means we can now handle consignments for our customers far quicker and have access to a multitude of partners to make sure their cargo gets safely to its destination.  Although the personal element of hand-delivered, paper records is long gone, we do our best to provide a friendly, personal service that our customers trust.

“Here’s to even further growth for the Port over the next 50 years.”

Andy concludes: “There may be no more football in the yard on the port, and the ‘Little Ships’ port pub may be long gone, but Shaun and I still have a number of colleagues who have been in the industry as long as we have, so it’s a fantastic world to be part of.

“The experience we gained from those first years at the port has given us the knowledge we need to bring our services in house.  We know how to deliver excellent freight management from start to finish, which is what we pride ourselves on for our customers.”

Globex Freight Management is based on Anson Road Industrial Estate in Martlesham.  To find out more about the shipping, warehousing and transport services they offer, visit www.globexfm.co.uk or call 01394 676162.