Pretoria Castle (1)

In 1942 she was replaced by one of the new light cruisers and sold to the Admiralty for conversion into an aircraft carrier. With fifteen aircraft and equipped with one catapult she was commissioned on 18th March 1943 but was used purely for training purposes.  The conversion took place at Swan Hunters on the Tyne.

She was re-purchased by Union-Castle in January 1946 and rebuilt to her original specification but, because a new mail ship was under construction with Pretoria Castle as her designated name, she was renamed Warwick Castle.

Resuming commercial on 13th March 1947 she initially served on the mail run until the new mail ships joined the fleet and then reverted to the Round Africa service in 1950.

On 26th July 1962 she arrived at Barcelona where she was scrapped.

PRETORIA CASTLE (1) / WARWICK CASTLE (4) was built in 1938 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 17383grt, a length of 594ft 7in, a beam of 76ft 4in and a service speed of 18.5 knots.

Sister of the Durban Castle she commenced her maiden voyage as the Pretoria Castle on the 20th April 1939.

During her second voyage she damaged her rudder when she grounded in Delagoa Bay necessitating repairs at Prince Edward Dock, Durban.

On completion of that voyage she was requisitioned for use as an Armed Merchant Cruiser being fitted with eight 6 inch guns together with AA and machine guns.

With a black hull and buff upper works and funnel she was commissioned in the November and based at Freetown in Sierra Leone.

Small watercolour of Pretoria Castle in 3 Guises

Taken up by the Admiralty and converted first to an Armed Merchant Cruiser, and later to an Escort Carrier. She spent most of her time as the Trials Carrier for development of Naval Aircraft and flight deck operations. She was returned to her original configuration and re named Warwick Castle.

Artist - Jim Rae

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