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The 'Kinfauns Castle' as a troopship

Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art
Gallery locationNot on display
VesselsKinfauns Castle 1899

Object details:

Object ID BHC2282
Description The 'Kinfauns Castle' (9664 tons gross) was built by Fairfield at Govan, on the Clyde, for the Union Castle Line and was launched in May 1899 for their regular South African traffic. She was requisitioned by the Admiralty at the start of the First World War and, as HMS 'Kinfauns Castle', served as an armed merchant cruiser until mid-September 1915 and subsequently as a troopship until July 1918. She then saw the start of conversion to become a minelayer but the end of the war forestalled this. She was handed back to Union Castle in February 1919 and in 1927 did one more trooping voyage, on charter, to Shanghai and back before being sold for breaking up. Despite this clear First World War history for the ship, the internal evidence of the painting suggests it is more likely to show it making a much earlier voyage to South Africa, probably taking out troops to the Boer War (1899-1902) on a regular run including other passengers, some of whom can be seen amid the crowd further back on deck. The dress shown, especially of the women waving on the quay, is more consistent with that date, as is that of some of the soldiers (including white pith helmets and wide-brimmed hats). Were this a departure in 1915-18, especially of a requisitioned ship, it would almost certainly also have been in dazzle-painted anti-submarine camouflage and probably flying the blue ensign of the auxiliary services rather than the red merchant ensign. More generally, the bright colour and patriotic enthusiasm of those both on board and on the quay suggests this is a world yet to experience the horrors of mechanized war as introduced much closer to home by the 1914-18 conflict. De Lacy here represents the British Empire still unclouded by doubt, let alone by direct European threat to its existence.
Date made circa 1900-05

Artist/Maker Lacy, Charles John de
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Painting: 400 mm x 900 mm
  • The 'Kinfauns Castle' as a troopship (BHC2282)
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