Capt. Arthur David LINKLATER

Captain Arthur David LINKLATER 1879 - 1955

Work for the Calcutta Port Authority
on the River Hooghly and as a Hooghly Pilot.

A bringer of new things

ambulance.jpg While ‘underground’, Arthur applied for employment with the Port department of the Madras Presidency, born out by a memorandum addressed to him at the British India Marine Service Club, Hastings Street, Calcutta, dated 13th August 1907 which also noted "there is no vacancy at present." He also acquired basic first aid skills; there is a Certificate of Proficiency from the St. Andrew's Ambulance Association. An entry in the 8vo Commonplace Book dates this to 2nd July 1908.

As mentioned above, what, where or exactly when Arthur took to mining I am unsure, but he felt emboldened on the strength of it to apply to the Department of Mines in India to take their "Examination for coal mine managers' certificate of competency." Their rather tart reply dated 18 January 1912 states
In reply to your letter of the 13th instant, I have the honour to say that it is necessary to have had at least three years practical experience in the underground working of coal mines to sit for a 2nd class certificate and five years for a first class certificate...
experience which he presumably lacked!

A note among Arthur's papers suggests another post he considered applying for was with the Hunter River Sewerage Board, Sydney, Australia. His note reads; His friend Mr Percy [- ? -] District Engineer, Public Works Dept. Harbours and Rivers and President of the Hunter River Sewerage Board. He states no trouble to get an appointment in the "Harbours and Rivers" at a salary of £275 per a. Application form given by him, and to be addressed to The Chairman of the Public service Board, Sydney. Can stay with McRay and name Mr McRay as a reference for character. There followed a reply dated 24th August 1912 from the Chief Engineer for Public Works, ‘Newcastle District’ [in New South Wales] and addressed to Mr A. D. Linklater, River Survey Vessel Diligence, Port Commissioners, Calcutta, India and reads; Replying to your letter of the 2nd July, may I say that there is very little opening in our Service for Hydrographic Surveyors, and I think any one in a fixed position with some years of service behind them would be unwise to take the chance of coming here with a view of obtaining work in this particular line of the profession. Mr. McRay had, prior to the receipt of your letter, spoken to me about you and I promised to look into the matter when I received your letter. However, unfortunately I cannot write in the optimistic strain that naturally I would wish to, but should an opening occur I shall keep your letter by me so that I can communicate with you, and at that time see what your views nay be.

Also in 1912, at some time in July he applied to the Marine Department of the board of Trade for an appointment as a Nautical Surveyor. They sent him the necessary forms and qualifications required which I assume he submitted on 29th August as on 19th September 1912 they replied; In reply to your letter of the 29th August, applying for an appointment as a Nautical Surveyor under this department, I am directed by the Board of Trade to inform you that, as you do not appear to have been in command of a foreign going merchant steamship, a qualification which is deemed essential for this appointment, they regret that they are unable to entertain your application at present. It will, however, be open to you to renew your application when your qualifications are fully in accordance with the requirements for the appointment.

Some of these schemes were hatched after Arthur had secured a post with the Commissioners of the Port of Calcutta in August 1910, yet was still free to rejoin B.I.S.N.Co., which it seems he contemplated as late as 1913. A letter from B.I.S.N.Co. dated 7th May 1913 reads;
Your application of 2nd instant for permission to rejoin the Company's service has been considered, and as a result we beg to intimate that we are agreeable to your reinstatement as a special case, and because of the good record for character and ability which your name bears in the Character Book of the Company... It suggests he was seeking a new horizon offering better prospects than those immediately ahead, while keeping a weather eye astern. I have no record of his actual application to the Commissioners of the Port of Calcutta, but an advertisement dated 5th December 1911 provided a ‘job description’ and invited applications for an appointment as Probationary Chief Officer of the Despatch Vessel Retriever and was duly preserved by Arthur and pasted into his ‘Folio Commonplace Book’ A character reference from the Commissioners for the Port of Calcutta dated 31st January 1917 E. N. Constable, R.N., Deputy Conservator gives a fix on his starting date on the Hooghly; This is to certify that Mr A.D. Linklater has been employed in the service of the Commissioners from 27th August 1910 to 30th January 1917 when he resigned of his own accord. During that period he has been employed as chief Officer and Commander D.V. Retriever and his general conduct in every way satisfactory, a very capable officer. From this it seems that Arthur was already employed by the Commissioners when they advertised the post of Chief Officer of the D. V. Retriever

One of the requirements of the job was that the successful applicant qualified for a Pilot's Certificate entitling him to navigate any of the Commissioners' vessels and to obtain a Tug Master's Certificate. He will on obtaining a Tug Master's Certificate (provided his conduct and ability be approved) be confirmed in his appointment... Arthur was duly confirmed in this appointment and, as will be seen, in the process obtained his Hooghly Pilot's Certificate. The ‘Folio Commonplace Book’ referred to above was a sort of journal come scrap book that he kept during part of the time he worked for the Commissioners and contains a few rich seams which will be opened up next. Put on your hard hat!

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