A Voice From The Past…

Posted by on Dec 22, 2007 in Overseas Visitors Club, Travel
A Voice From The Past…

Hi John,

You don’t know me but recently I was given copies of your Old Blue Truck pages on the OVC, London. (My comments in red italics – JRP)

Very, very interesting but you have several things not quite right in your history of the OVC. (!!)

It was started by Max Wilson (SA) and Chone Dresden (SA) and Brian Barrett (OZ) in 1954 at #3, Templeton Place when they acquired this old house, tore the inside out and opened up in the basement as the Globetrotters Rooms. They annexed #1, Templeton Place and that was followed by the acquiring of 28 Trebovir Road and 39 Longridge… Then they got Websters Hotel and renamed it Craig House at 2 Templeton Place.

Yes they did acquire other hotels but they also started Trek Airways to S.A. in 1956; opened up OVC places in Toronto, Sydney, Johannesburg and Durban in 1957 … and by 1958 the HQ at #3 was just too small so then they acquired 180 Earls Court Road (and all the houses along Nevern) and that is the place you know as the HQ. That is where you have your photos of… they also annexed the old OZ DownUnder Club…

By then thousands were pouring in and Max began annexing ocean liners…

In I think 1963 the enterprise was sold to the Chandris group (Up to this point I had no issues with Hugh’s notes – The club had a very close operating relationship with Chandris and several other shipping companies – but there was no ownership – Around 1963 – ownership in the club passed to the group headed by Nick Tarsh – with Neil Herman and David Lawson – JRP) but Max bought the company back in 1969 (don’t think so – JRP) but the airlines and the anti SA biz forced it to fold… (just a bit simplistic…)

Max died in the 1980s in the UK, Chone died in the 1990s in London but i do not know what happened to Brian who in the late 50s went out to SA to take over that end of the biz… Managing the OZ/NZ end from 1960 on was one Trevor Fewings who at present lives in Sydney. Now he could tell you things….

Head of the restaurant at #3 Templeton Place was Maggie who married a South African and lived for years in Port Elizabeth. They retired to Christchurch, New Zealand but as recently as the start of Dec, 2007 moved to Port Macquarie in NSW. She also could tell you things

If you want to read stories about the club’s early days and the guys and gals read my books … “No 3, Templeton Place,” published in the U.K. in 1998. Coming out in March of 2008 in South Africa is “Earls Court, The OVC And Me.” The first can be read on the net as it is in the Google library.  In the latter book is the tale on how the cops became involved in the club.

I could go on and on but I think I shall stop and let you ask questions if you are interested.

Hugh de Souza
109 – 1535 Nelson Street, Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6G 1M2

I’ve been back in contact with Hugh – and will keep you all posted… I think his knowledge of the 50s is very strong – but I’m not so sure about the 60s – JRP


  1. the old blue truck
    December 22, 2007

    Thanks Hugh
    I’ve sent you my queries by email – and I’ve located your book on Google. Your voyage may have been 10 years earlier than mine – and the ports different (I sailed from Wellington on the Northern Star) – but the characters and the escapades are very similar! I’m enjoying the book – and would like to buy a copy – any ideas?
    Please stay in touch.
    Alles van die beste
    John Polson

  2. Kathy Boyle
    June 4, 2010

    Oh Hugh, you have brought back so many memories! I found this page by accident.
    My girlfriend and I were amongst the first Canadians to arrive at the OVC in late September 1956! I met my Australian husband of 52 years in the kitchen of 39 Longridge Rd. on boxing day that year. What wonderful glorious days those were. So many of the names you mention are familiar to me. We naturally belonged to the Toronto Club, and visited the Sydney one as well.
    Times were so different then. We were all so naive and green! Not like the younger generation of today, who go off on overseas holidays, spend a week here and a week there, and think they know everything!
    Thanks for reminding me of so many great times.

    Kathy Boyle

    • JRP
      June 4, 2010

      Welcome aboard Kathy!
      Hugh still visits the site from time to time and will hopefully get your message… We’re currently giving the site a major re-work at the moment – hope you enjoy it. Any photos you would like to share – or stories to tell?

      Kind regards

  3. Maureen Spencer
    February 13, 2011

    Hi John:

    My name is Maureen Spencer (nee Lelyveld) and now live in Chicago, Illinois. My daughter, Hayley, recently wrote to you after having delved into the history of The OVC, knowing that it played a large part in our youth and also where I met my Australian husband, Robert (Bob) Spencer.
    Myself and a girlfriend arrived at the OVC in early1957 via Union Castle line and joined the OVC. We left London in the summer of 1958. Knew Max Wilson and Chone very well. Chone married a girl from Durban (my hometown) name Aldine Honey, who I believe is still around, either South Africa or Australia? I used to waitress at the OVC downstairs when Mr. Fenner was the chef. My future brother-in-law is Don Spencer who used to sing downstairs where we used to dance as well. He now lives in Sydney and made a name for himself as TV host in London and is the founder of Australian Children’s Music Foundation in Sydney doing wonderful work with children. I look forward to reading the two books for a trip down memory lane and trying to connect you with others who came through the OVC. Two come to mind, Wendy Parker, now Ethelston, who married Mike Ethelston who worked behind the desk at the OVC. Both from South Africa, but now live in the Channel Islands. I went to school in Durban with Wendy. I could write forever, but I am sure that is not the aim here.
    Maureen Spencer

    • JRP
      February 13, 2011

      Welcome aboard Maureen – and congratulations on your 50th wedding anniversary! I look forward to hearing from (or of) any of your old OVC memories and friends.
      John Polson


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