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The city of Crater lies within the crater of the old volcano and was the centre of commerce of Aden, housing many business institutions, shops and the dwellings of local inhabitants.
Here are some of my photographs taken in the city and its surrounds.

St Mary's Garrison Church sitting high on the hill overlooking Crater city, March 1965.
The church was completed in 1871. Sadly I have read that the roof collapsed some years after this photograph was taken by me. Seemingly it was repaired but now sits on a lower level between the walls than seen above.

The Aden Minaret was originally believed to be part of the Manara Mosque and is located near to the GPO building. It has 6 stories and is 21 feet high. The very low roof height on the top story would have made it extremely difficult for the Muadin to call the faithful to prayer as he could not have stood upright, February 1965.

The Public Library in Crater, February 1965.

Shops in a street in Crater, March 1963.

Adamally & Co in Crater sold a range of top quality tools including those from the British 'Britool' manufacturer. I still have a number purchased from this shop that have served me well over the past 45 years. There was very little one could not purchase in Aden from these quaint old shops, March 1963.

The Chartered Bank, Crater, January 1965.

The offices of Luke Thomas Shipping Agents, April 1965.

Chaos! April 1965.

The car park adjacent to the Police Barracks, close to Crater Pass.
(Note the shacks in the gash in the rocks.)
(My thanks to Jack Morgan who identified the location of this photograph and the two that follow.)

The Police Barracks.

The Police Parade Ground.

Petrol and service station on the road out of Crater leading to Crater Pass and Ma'alla. In this photograph it can be seen that the bridge across the pass, as seen in the Ma'alla approach pictures, has been destroyed by the rock blasting to accommodate the new two lane road, February 1965.

Ras Marshag Lighthouse. The original lighthouse on this site was first built in 1866 and made operational in 1867. It is located at latitude 12º 46'North, longitude 45º 03' East.

Holkat Bay with the W/T masts at Khormaksar just visible in the distance.

Holkat Bay.

A view of Sirah Island with the W/T masts of Khormaksar just visible in the background.
This picture was taken on the road from Ras Marshag and Holkat Bay, looking to the north.

Another view of Sirah Island and the fort from Holkat Bay, looking to the north.

Sirah Island and Fort from the causeway linking it to Crater, February 1965. The Sirah Fort on top of the island dates back many hundreds of years and played an important historical part in the defence of the old port of Aden at Front Bay.

Sirah Island from Front Bay, looking to the south, January 1965.

The Harbour

My wife always accused me of being a lazy photographer but the view of the harbour from our flat in Tawahi enabled me to photograph a few of the many ships that entered the port from a good vantage point.

P & O 'Arcadia' (2) built in 1954 she remained in service with P&O until 1979.

One of the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers which I believe is HMS Bulwark judging by the radar scanner configuration.

HMS Hermes, December 1962.

I believe this to be the Swedish American Lines Kungsholm (3), built in 1953, sold to Norddeutscher Lloyd in 1965 and renamed 'Europa'. She was replaced by Kungsholm (4) in 1966.

View towards Flint Island, also known as 'Quarantine Island', with a Blue Funnel Line ship moored behind it. The P & O cargo ship with black funnel to the left appears to be 'Salmara'.

Clouds were a familiar site in Aden but in the four years we lived there I can only recall it raining once.

February 1964

February 1964

View out from Ma'alla wharf toward oil storage tanks, December 1962.

Slave Island noted for dhow construction yards, January 1965.

April 1965

A Clan Line cargo ship, April 1965.

Flint Island, January 1965.

A view through our lounge balcony door of a P & O ship berthing.

Lighters used for unloading cargo from ships at moorings.

P & O 'Canberra' on her maiden voyage through Aden.
With acknowledgements and thanks to Ann Swallow for allowing me to use this photograph.

A view of Tawahi from one of the Somali owned boats that took me out to ships in the harbour. The same boats were used to board ships in the outer harbour. In rough seas boarding a light loaded super tanker by jumping on to a rope 'Pilot Ladder' with a bag of tools and instruments at the right moment became almost second nature even if extremely hazardous when the sea was rough.

A good picture of the Hogg Clock Tower and Prince of Wales Pier from the harbour.

P & O 'Oriana' in the process of berthing.

B. I. 'Uganda', June 1961.
This photograph was taken by Ann Swallow when her family boarded her to leave Aden.
With acknowledgements and thanks to Ann for providing this photograph.

The Swedish East Asiatic "Jutlandia".
My thanks to Dugie McNab for correctly identifying this vessel. Whilst looking like a sailing ship she was actually diesel powered with her exhaust running up one of the masts. Dugie served as a Pilot with the Aden Port Trust from October 1960 until October 1967.

P & O 'Oronsay'.

Steamer Point & Tawahi

It was always difficult to define the boundary between Steamer Point and Tawahi. Whilst our address was Tawahi, the shops around us were often said to be in Steamer Point. The following photographs were taken by me using my Braun Paxette Super III Automatic purchased at one of the shops in Steamer Point from which we bought many of our luxury goods in those days including my Rolex watch, a Sanyo transistor radio and other treasures, all of which remain in use to this day.
Here are a random selection of photographs taken around Tawahi and the coast road to the Gold Mohur swimming club where my wife and I had a membership and spent such leisure time as we had available. They are presented in no specific order.

P&O Building at Tawahi, location of Marconi Marine's office and workshop, February 1965.

P & O Building from the harbour side looking towards the shacks on Shamsan.

Tawahi from the roof of the P & O Building with my wife surveying the harbour.

Me feeding one of the two resident gazelles outside the Crescent Hotel 1962. These timid creatures seemed to like tobacco but lived a miserable existence. We always felt they deserved to live in a sheltered grassy park rather than in their shabby 'home' outside the hotel.

Bedded down in the dirty sand in what little shade they could find outside the Crescent Hotel.

A view down on the Victoria Park Gardens and the town of Tawahi. Many of the dwellings high up on the hillside were made of old packing cases or whatever discarded materials, including cardboard cartons, that were available.

The statue of Queen Victoria in the Victoria Park Gardens, Tawahi.
With acknowledgements to Mrs N Lilburn.

My wife walking down the Crescent with the Rock Hotel to the right.

The Crescent Hotel and Arab lads playing a football match in the foreground.

The P&O Building at the opposite end of the football pitch.

Bhicajee Cowasjee - a favourite local shop on the Crescent with the Marina Hotel in the background.
With acknowledgements to Mrs N Lilburn.

National & Grindlays Bank at Steamer Point with the Victoria Hotel in the background and the popular Italian restaurant to the left of the bank with blue sun blinds over the windows.

View from Steamer Point toward the Crescent and National & Grindlays Bank, February 1965.

Aden was a place of extreme light and shadows which caused severe problems for patrolling security forces during the rise in insurgency with the terrorist hiding in the shadows.

Sunset highlights the mountain and deepens the shadows.
Our local BP petrol station on the corner of the road from Steamer Point to the Crescent close to the P & O Buildings.

Looking from the Crescent toward Steamer Point. The last block of flats (white) on the left of the photograph is Palida Terrace with the Aden Bookshop underneath and the BP Petrol station on the right hand side. February 1965.

Palida Terrace above the Aden Bookshop in Tawahi. Initially we occupied the flat with the first railed balcony (flat 3) but moved to the second balcony (flat 5) during the latter half of our time in Aden.

The side street between Palida Terrace and Orient Pharmacy, March 1963. The flats above the department store were rented by Aden Public Works Department for staff.

The famous "Orient Pharmacy" agents for "Boots". This shop was in the block next to our flat in Palida Terrace and the photograph was taken from one of our balconies. Some street traders have set up stalls awaiting the disembarkation of passengers from a visiting ship.

The passengers have started to arrive. Note the postman on his traditional red bicycle.

Another day, another ship.

A rare sight - a cat scavenging in the rubbish alongside a goat which appears to have been tethered to the old oil drum with a piece of rope. Goats were a familiar feature in the back streets of Aden and seemed to survive on eating the glued seams of cardboard cartons. At the time it is highly probable that the glue used was a bi-product of fish meal or crushed animal bone which would have been nutritious. February 1965.

Photograph of a young Arab boy on his donkey taken from the balconey of my flat.
In June 1962, two labour MP's, George Thomson and Bob Edwards came to Aden as guests of the Aden Trade Union Congress and addressed a meeting of Yemeni workers. Soon after their departure to the UK general strikes followed. This was a street protest against the handing of governance to the Federation of South Arabian States in 1963. Our neighbour and his heavily pregnant wife were jostled in their car by the protestors and very frightened by the incident.

As is often the case in street protests the men were proceeded by their women folk dressed in burkhas and ululating loudly. This noise was very intimidating at the time.

The protest over, people start to return to their normal business.

A Federal Regular Army Camel Troop heading for the Office of the Chief Minister for Aden in Steamer Point. These photographs were taken from our balcony in Palida Terrace, December 1962.

The Office of the Chief Minister for Aden in Steamer Point flying the new Federated States flag.
March 1963.

A close call. This photograph was taken from our balcony after terrorists exploded a grenade in the street outside our flat in Tawahi. The white particles on the pavement are pieces of rendering from the wall blown off in the blast. The heavy curtains over the open windows in our flat protected us from flying shrapnel and debris. It was reported that the grenade detonation had been accidental - either the terrorists failed to throw the grenade or had fumbled with it on withdrawing the pin and dropped it in their haste to get away. April 1965.

The Seamen's Mission at Steamer Point. Their Church organ was in need of repairs when we first arrived so in exchange for my repairing it I was allowed to use it whenever I wished to practice. A popular meeting place for a cold beer by all the residents of Aden, March 1963.
On June 19th 1965 at about 19.00 hours terrorists threw a hand grenade into the Mission. The perpetrators were caught in the back streets of Tawahi by the Security Forces.

Another view of the Mission, February 1965.

The Catholic Church of St. Francis of Assisi at Steamer Point, February 1965.
I am grateful to Diana Lobo for advising me of the correct name for this Church which I had believed was called "St. Anthony’s".
Bishop Paul Hinder, in Abu Dhabi, has confirmed that the Church was dedicated to St Francis of Assisi and that according to 'The History of the Church in Arabia' by Fr. Egidio Picucci it was consecrated on the 26th June 1892. Sadly the figure of Christ with his arms outstretched ‘calming the seas’ situated above the main entrance became a target on nine different occasions for attack by insurgents.
"St Anthony’s" was the school which was situated behind the convent close by the Church. The Church compound is now separated by a wall from the road and the main entrance to the Church is no longer used. The school, confiscated by the Communist government, has not been restituted to the Church and a wall has been built between the school and the Church areas.
The Catholic Church of St. Francis of Assisi, March 1963.

The Ministry of Health buildings, which later became the Office of the High Commission, located near to the Catholic Church of St. Francis of Assisi, March 1963.
(My thanks to John Ducker for identifying this building for me.)

Aden Broadcasting Service located on the main Steamer Point road in the vicinity of the Harbour Signal Station, March 1963.

Renamed British Forces Broadcasting Service, January 1965.

The Baptism of my son Mark. Photograph taken outside Christ Church Steamer Point, 24th May 1964.
Left to right, rear row, Major Stan Symons (Royal Corps of Signals) personal friend and Godfather to my son, Stan's wife Marie (holding Mark), Elsa (my wife) and Mrs Sheila Webster. Front row the four daughters of Stan and Marie and two of their friends.

A good view of the Hogg Clock Tower, known locally as 'Little Ben', from the road at Steamer Point, February 1965.

The Police Commissioner's residence, located between the Aden Forces 'Lido' and Gold Mohur Bay.

Another view of the house and the bay beyond with the Gold Mohur lighthouse in the distance.

Elephant's Trunk on the road from The Gold Mohur Club to Steamer Point, March 1963.

Fishermen on the beach at Gold Mohur Bay.

View across to Little Aden from Gold Mohur /Telegraph Bay beaches.

A popular pastime - digging out your car when it gets stuck in soft sand, Telegraph Bay.

H.M.S. Sheba, the Royal Navy Base in Aden, December 1962.

The famous Gold Mohur Club, now the site of a modern hotel.

Sunset from the beach at Gold Mohur Bay, December 1962.

A rare treasure, the Christmas Card sent by Mrs N Lilburn to her parents in the U. K. - 1961.
A view across Tawahi towards the Crescent Hotel and P & O Building.
With acknowledgements to Mrs N Lilburn.

A 'Christmas Greetings' card from my own collection. The photograph was probably taken from the roof of the Crescent Hotel or the Hotel Annexe looking across the P&O Building. The centre white block of flats with the short balconies is Palida Terrace and the adjacent white block on the left hand side is Baharistan Palace, circa 1961.

The Port of Aden

Once one of the busiest bunkering ports in the world and our home ('Ons Tuis') in the period from 1961 - 1965, Aden was strategically placed to service ships passing through the Suez Canal and Red Sea. Vessels of all nationalities and classes including both cargo, passenger and naval with their auxiliary support ships were frequent callers.
The BP Refinery at Little Aden served to process crude oil brought into Little Aden from the oil producing Gulf States for onward shipping in refined form to their final destination and for use in bunkering ships calling at the Port of Aden.
Deep water moorings were provided to accommodate the large passenger vessels and aircraft carriers and could complete bunkering in some four hours at these moorings. The port provided a full 24 hour 7 day service to shipping requiring refueling, water, vitals and repairs.
Aden was a tax free shopper’s paradise and there seemed to be nothing that could not be purchased from the many shops situated in the Crescent within short walking distance of the Prince of Wales Pier, where passengers and crew from visiting ships were disembarked during their stay in port, to avail themselves of the local amenities. From cameras, binoculars, transistor radios and Rolex watches, some fine tool shops, stockists of kits for model enthusiasts, through to top of the range clothing and jewellery, there were shops catering for every possible need of visitors and residents.
The local markets stocked an excellent range of fresh vegetables grown in the Aden Protectorate with local bakeries and food shops providing a wide range of meat and luxury foods either shipped or flown in from across the world to provide the local civilian and armed forces families with a superb choice of food. Initially milk was only available as a deep frozen product but during our period of residence in Aden a new plant was established to process reconstituted milk which was nigh on equal in taste and consistency to 'fresh' milk.
The photographs presented on this website were taken by me, unless otherwise stated, during the period I was based in Aden in the employment of the Marconi International Marine Communications Company repairing communications equipment, navigational aids (radar, echo sounders and direction finders), Sperry gyro compasses and autopilots fitted to ships of all nationalities and classes.
Dates given after picture titles are the processing dates on my transparencies and the actual date the photograph was taken would have been some month or so earlier. Where no dates are given the photographs were probably taken between September 1961 and December 1962 when the processing laboratories did not date the photographs. My black and white photographs were developed and printed in the bathroom of our flat in Tawahi.
The Mission to Seamen’s Club, at Steamer Point, was a great meeting place for a cold beer on a hot day when work permitted and the Shalimar restaurant with its attached open air cinema, the Shenaz, was a popular resort of locals. Eventually, as the insurgency lead by the Front for the Liberation of South Yemen (FLOSY) and the Marxist National Liberation Front (NLF), who were sworn to rid the region of the British, increased their activity and the political situation worsened, these favourite haunts became target 'hot-spots' for grenade throwers so sadly fell out of popularity on security grounds. Many of the cafes frequented by military personnel and their families along the main street of Ma'alla met with the same fate.
The Aden Airport Restaurant was a personal favourite for intimate special occasions where the quality of the cuisine could match the best available in a top class London restaurant and benefited from the daily import of produce from the scheduled flights into the airport. There, my wife and I enjoyed a number of excellent meals and good wines rounded off with the best of Napoleon Brandy and coffee.
For those who were interested, Aden offered some surprising activities including golf on a compacted sand course, gliding, go-cart racing and, as I was keen on building model aircraft at the time, a disused airport surrounded by sand dunes was a great place to fly (and crash) them. My interest in Amateur Radio enabled me to set up a radio station under a licence granted by the Governor of Aden and I held regular scheduled contacts with my brother-in-law in Durban, South Africa, and other amateurs around the world who desperately wished to add Aden to their list of contacts.
Our accommodation, provided by the company, was in a large air-conditioned flat in Tawahi with outside balconies from which we had a good view of the harbour and could track the movement of shipping whilst being ideally placed and just a short walk from our offices located in the P & O Building at Steamer Point, Tawahi. To compensate for the hot climate these flats had walls approaching some 80 cms thick, very high ceilings and ceramic tiled floors.
The water supply in Aden was pumped up from deep wells and there was never any need for a hot water supply to baths, showers or sinks - the 'cold' water supply soon ran hot due to the sun heating the piping system during the day. Initially the brackish taste of the local water was found to be rather unpleasant and for many months we were unable to enjoy 'English' tea or boiled potatoes due to the tainting by the water. However, some six months later and it seemed more palatable providing it was either chilled or boiled! Fortunately the local 'Stim' factory produced a very pleasant lemon flavoured cold drink and plentiful supplies of fresh limes squeezed into a glass of lemonade were great thirst quenchers during the hot days. 'Aden tummy' was a common complaint until one realised the absolute importance of scrupulous vegetable and fruit cleaning and became accustomed to the local water.
Aden was a truly fascinating place to live in once one became accustomed to the climate and although the incidence of attacks on civilians at the commencement of the rise of the Arab factions intent on removing the British presence started to increase towards the end of our contract my wife and I still recall our life there and the memories shared during those years with nostalgia.
Ultimately the British Forces evacuated Aden at the end of November 1967 and the BBC correspondent of the time, Brian Barron, recently recalled the final withdrawal of ships sailing away from Aden in his report, some 40 years later, when he revisited Aden. This report, for those who might be interested, appears on the BBC's website at: -

This website is best viewed using a broadband Internet connection as the pictures are quite large. I considered using 'thumbnails' but decided that full size pictures are less troublesome for the viewer and the historic value of them justifies this method of presentation.
Whilst reasonable effort has been made to obtain consent to reproduce those images which have been sourced from other than my personal collection, or named persons who have given their permission for reproduction of their personal photographs, if any images infringe the rights of the owners of applicable copyright they will be immediatlely removed from the site upon receipt of their instruction to do so. However, as this web site serves no commercial purpose, it is hoped that they will not raise any objection or make such instruction.

Steamer Point and the Crescent from the 'Barren Rocks'.
This photograph appeared on the cover of the Port of Aden Annual dated 1964-65
and is reproduced here with acknowledgements to the former Aden Port Trust.

Key to numbered buildings & places of interest: -
P & O Building in which the office and workshop of Marconi's Aden depot were located
Crescent Hotel
Port Trust Head Office
Rock Hotel
Crescent recreational area used for football matches , military and pipe band displays, etc.
Palida Terrace - location of our flat with balconies overlooking the harbour to west and east
Prince of Wales Pier - disembarkation point for visiting ships' passengers and crew
The Hogg Clock Tower, known locally as 'Little Ben', built between 1894-1895
Victoria Park Gardens and location of the statue of Queen Victoria
National and Grindlays Bank, Steamer Point Branch
The two aircraft carriers are probably HMS Albion and Bulwark or Hermes.
The passenger liner to the right of the picture is P&O 'Oronsay'.

Port of Aden Signal Station.

The new harbour offices, April 1965.
Aden Harbour Berthing Plan

Due to the size of this document it is presented here in three sections: -
Left (West), Centre and Right (East).

Left (West) Section - the Harbour entrance and deep water berths.
Centre section.
Right (East) section and shallow water berths.

This map was published in the Port of Aden Annual 1964-65 and is reproduced here with acknowledgements
to the former Aden Port Trust.

Port of Aden Statistics

The following twelve month statistics show the high volumes of imports and exports and the considerable number of vessels and tonnage passing through the Port of Aden each month of the year.
Total value, excluding trade, from January 1963 to December 1963

Imports (£)
Exports (£)

From April 1963 to March 1964

Steam and Motor Vessels (including Warships
and Government Craft)
Country Craft


Net Registered



These statistics were published in the Port of Aden Annual 1964-65 and are reproduced here
with acknowledgements to the former Aden Port Trust.

Ships Agents in Aden 1961 - 1965
Luke Thomas & Co (Aden Shipping) Ltd.
Cory Brothers & Compnay Lyd., Aden
Mitchell Cotts & Co (Aden) Ltd.
Savon, Ries & Thabet Shipping Co., Ltd.
The Hala Shipping Co., Ltd.
Cowajee Dinshaw & Bros. (Aden) Ltd.
The Parade

On the 30th November, 1961, the rifle battalions of the Aden Protectorate Levies were taken over by the Federation and the event was marked by a parade and RAF fly past. The new force was known as the Federal Regular Army and included British servicemen.
These photographs, which were taken from the roof of the P & O Buildings overlooking the Crescent parade and recreational ground, are part of that celebration. It was clearly a well publicised event as can be seen from the large turnout of onlookers.
The original slides in my possession are now 46 years old which accounts for the variable quality of these photographs.


The following photographs of this memorable parade and trooping of the colour are from the personal collection of Mrs N Lilburn and reproduced here with her kind permission. Mr Lilburn served with the RAF in Aden from December 1960 until September 1962.
Taken at ground level, they give a different perspective of this unique occasion in the history of Aden, described by the BBC and the Daily Telegraph as 'the finest parade ever seen in Arabia'.


Noted for its straight road running between Tawahi and the Crater Pass, the Ma'alla 'Straight' was progressively built up during our time in Aden with large blocks of flats, many housing married service families, with local shops, a petrol station and café style restaurants.
During the period of rising insurgency the flats became prime targets for Arabs firing rockets from the hills overlooking Ma'alla from which they could make a rapid escape. Marconi Marine had a storage facility in one of the back streets where large pieces of equipment, cable drums, etc., were kept.

View from the balcony of El Baz building in Ma'alla looking towards Khormaksar. Note the W/T aerial masts at Khormaksar to the far left.
With acknowledgements to Mrs N Lilburn.

A typical back street scene - possibly taken in Ma'alla or Crater. Note the ever present goat in the street.
With acknowledgements to Mrs N Lilburn.

Ma'alla from the road to Crater Pass, January 1965.

The block of flats in Ma'alla where our friends who served in the forces lived, March 1963.

Ma'alla Straight, Luke Thomas offices to the left.
With acknowledgements to Dicks Photos.

Crater Pass - widening of the road from Ma'alla to Crater has commenced and the bridge is still evident in this photograph. Sadly this was eventually destroyed as the 'gap' in the rock was opened up by blasting operations, March 1963.

The second carriageway has been laid down, March 1963.


Open days at RAF Khormaksar airport were one of the highlights of the year for the local civilian population and the families of service personnel.
Tragically, at one of these events, when the crowd were being entertained by various flying demonstrations by the Black Arrows Display Team, two aircraft made a high level approach to the airfield and were intended to dive, pull out and make a low-level simulated attack on the airstrip. Two distinct bangs were heard by the watchers accompanied by a large plume of smoke and flying debris as one of the planes failed to pull out of the dive. Both the pilot and plane were lost. Sadly it was reported that the pilot who lost his life had only two further weeks to run on his tour of duty. Various reports say that some of the onlookers were seriously injured.
At this air show we were treated to the sight of an Avro Vulcan 'V' bomber which was flown to Aden from the UK specifically for the open day event arriving during the show to the delight of the onlookers - a magnificent sight.
Here are some of the superb aircraft photographed by me at one of these events, probably in 1961.

Handley Page Victor - RAF Khormaksar, Aden circa 1961/2

Vickers Valiant - RAF Khormaksar, Aden circa 1961/2

Gloster Javelin - RAF Khormaksar, Aden circa 1961/2

Hawker Hunter - RAF Khormaksar, Aden circa 1961/2

Hawker Hunter - RAF Khormaksar, Aden circa 1961/2

Comet 4C - RAF Khormaksar, Aden circa 1961/2

Blackburn Beverley - RAF Khormaksar, Aden circa 1961/2

Aden Airways civilian airport was located close to the RAF airport at Khormaksar and was notable for its excellent restaurant.

The offices of Aden Airways, December 1962.
As both of our company vehicles were parked outside, Hillman Minx Estate in foreground and Austin Cambridge between the pick-up and red car we must have been meeting or sending off one of our staff.

The civilian airport terminal buildings at Khormaksar, December 1962.

I believe that this and the following three photographs were taken on the road from Ma'alla to Khormaksar, in December 1962.

A camel drawn water tanker.

Flats on Khormaksar beach road.
The four aerial masts at Khormaksar were another landmark that is often seen in the background of photographs taken in or around Khormaksar. I believe that they were in use in WW II but with the advent in changes in long range communications technology they fell into disuse.
As the cost of continual maintenance was considerable the decision was taken to dismantle them during the period we were resident in Aden. In itself this was no mean task. I do not know if the exercise to take down all of the masts down was ever completed before the British had to leave Aden.

One of the W/T masts, February 1964.
One of the masts has been partially dismantled, January 1965.

Located on the road from Khormaksar to Sheikh Othman and Little Aden the salt works were a landmark that dates back to the late eighteen hundreds.
The old windmills were used to pump sea water into the pans where it was allowed to evaporate and leave behind the raw salt crystals. The windmills would then pump more water into the pans and from pan to pan until the level of salt built up to a point where it could be harvested and sold.
In more recent times the windmills were replaced by mechanical pumps.

The old windmills used to pump the sea water into the evaporation pans.

Harvested salt ready for sale. The birds in the foreground foraging in the water are flamingos which were a familiar sight in the shallow waters by the salt works.

Accommodation at Khormaksar camp.
With acknowledgement to Mick Allen for this and the following two photographs.

Another photograph of accommodation at RAF Khormaksar known as 'Twynhams'. This photograph was taken from outside the MT 'hut'.
Tawila Tanks

The Tawila Tanks were generally known as "The Tanks" although when we visited them with our friends and their children we were told that they may have been constructed on the orders of the Queen of Sheba to provide a source of water for her armies and they became known as "The Queen of Sheba Tanks" to many locals. Some sources refer to them as "Solomon's Tanks" or "The Cisterns".
As can be seen from the photographs presented here they represented a quite extraordinary feat of engineering. Whilst little accurate information is available on their true history they are mentioned in the Al-Musnad inscriptions.
Built in a cleft in the volcanic rock, which surrounds the city of Crater, the system of tanks and waterways feeding them were cleverly designed to collect and store rainfall. Originally there were 53 tanks in total all excavated out of the volcanic rock and plastered with a stucco type finish similar to crushed marble, but only 13 remain.
Whilst the plaque in the wall of the lower waterworks indicate that the tanks were accidentally discovered by Lieutenant Robert Lambert Playfair in 1854 other sources state that Commander Haines was aware of them in 1835.
These photographs were taken and processed in March 1963.

The plaque in the wall at the lower "Coghlan" tank.
Our friends Stan & Marie Symons and their four daughters on a day's outing to the tanks.
(Arab lads always loved to be included in the photo shoots!)
View of the tiered tanks and the interconnecting water courses.

Another view of the interconnecting water courses.

Looking down into one of the tanks with some stagnant water still in it.
Steps set into the rock along one of the fissures that drained into the tanks.

A good view of a lower tank showing the extent of the engineering involved in the construction.
A view down toward the city of Crater.
A large fissure in the surrounding rock eroded by the flow of rain water over many years.
One of the large lower tanks, possibly the Coghlan tank.
Another large fissure in the rocks which would have been a main feeder for the tanks.
One of the high tanks looking toward Jebal Shamsan.

Another view of the larger lower tanks.

A view up toward the top tanks.

All of the tanks were connected by pedestrian walkways and stairways.

The "Tawila Gardens" at the entrance to the tanks.

Little Aden

Little Aden was the location for the BP refinery which processed crude oil brought down from the Persian Gulf States for use in bunkering ships calling at the Port of Aden and also onward shipping to the rest of the world. It was the largest single employer of labour in the area and many of the employees were Yemenis. This was to prove an important factor in the growth of the insurgency that occurred over the period of time that we were resident in Aden arising from the seeds of unrest planted by the Aden Trade Union Congress and subsequently fuelled by broadcasts from Radio Cairo and Sana'a.
These propaganda broadcasts had a considerable impact on the local Arab population. Our Company driver and handyman, Mohammed 'Morace', frequently discussed with me his belief that BP were secretly extracting oil in Little Aden and 'robbing' the Adenis of their birthright. No amount of assurance to the contrary would convince him otherwise.
The refinery staff were well cared for with local shops, schools, housing and recreational facilities, including a sand golf course and a Go-kart racing track. As I was involved with the repair of equipment on the many tankers calling at Little Aden we were given an honorary membership of their excellent beach club.

Go-karting at Little Aden.

BP employee housing - the beach road at Little Aden.

Fina Luxemburg berthed at the refinery's oil terminal, Little Aden.

View approaching Little Aden - the ever changing sand swept slopes had a unique beauty.

View of BP Refinery at Little Aden with the 'flame' burning off gas.

Observation Hill, Bandar Sheikh, with it's 750 steps to the summit.
(My thanks to Jonathan Wilkins, webmaster of www.bpadenkids.com, for assisting with the identification of the location of several of these photographs taken around Little Aden.)
Ghadir Bay.

Shark Island, Bandar Sheikh.

'Warning Mines' - I was unable to recall where I took this photograph. However, since posting this website I have been advised by Bob Collyer that he has a similar photograph of this sign taken on a trip out to Little Aden in 1964. It is on the roadside at the location of what is believed to be an FRA (Federal Regular Army) camp. Bob served in Aden as a Corporal in the RAOC (Royal Army Ordinance Corp) from mid 1964 to mid 1966. This photograph was processed in February 1965.
(Jonathan Wilkins has identified this as 'Wedge Hill' which was blasted to provide building materials. It is the first thing to be seen when crossing the bridge to Little Aden and is now the site of a new housing complex.)

Looking out across the desert on the road to Silent Valley from the refinery area at Little Aden. Sadly, local inhabitants frequently discarded their rubbish as they drove along the road.

The BP Refinery, Little Aden.

Oil storage tanks and employee housing.

Another view of the storage tanks.

View across to twin peaks and oil storage tanks.

My wife on the beach road at Little Aden.

Houses on the beach road at Little Aden.

Silent Valley Cemetery - The British Military Cemetery for fallen comrades, built in 1965.
With acknowledgements to Mick Allen who provided this photograph.
The Federation's Secretariat building at the newly formed federal capital at al-Ittihad ('union'), located within the Colony of Aden boundary midway between Sheikh Othman/Khormaksar and Little Aden. A parade, which included the Federal Regular Army Camel Mounted Troop, was held in front of this building when Princess Alexandra visited al-Ittihad in December 1961.

I am unable to be certain of the location of this apparently newly built mosque but wonder if it was part of the development of al-Ittihad, April 1965.
Aden's Postage Stamps

These two covers are from my personal collection. The old set, prior to the introduction of the Federation stamps, were notable for their portrayal of places of interest in and around Aden and the dhows that were built in Ma'alla and Slave Island. These vessels traded around the the Red Sea, Persian Gulf and as far afield as Zanzibar.

Last Day Cover before the handing of governance of Aden Colony to the Federation of South Arabia,
30th March, 1965.

First Day Cover under the Federation of South Arabia,
1st April, 1965.

Marconi Depot staff were kept extremely busy due to the intensity of ship movements but when there was an opportunity to relax we could enjoy a variety of amenities.
Due to our association with shipping and the refinery we enjoyed honorary membership of the BP Club at Little Aden, the Port of Aden Pilots Club and the Italian Club and had our own membership of the Gold Mohur Club. Typically the clubs had restaurant and bar facilities and safe swimming areas protected by shark netting.
Through friendship with serving members of the armed forces we also enjoyed many hours at their club on the beach at Tarshyne as guests and, from time to time, invitations to parties held by the officers of ships in the harbour to attend on-board cocktail parties.
Amateur Radio and model aircraft construction, using locally purchased kits, plus 'picnics' on the beach were favourite pastimes.

My Amateur Radio Station, call sign VS9ACH, comprised a Drake 2B receiver, KW Viceroy Mk III transmitter, Astatic D104 microphone, Vibroplex 'Bug' key and a Marconi Type 365 Morse key.
The antenna for this station was on the roof of the flats at Palida Terrace and was a full size 20 metre ground plane. Regular schedules were held with my brother-in-law, ZS5LU, in Durban and with a net of radio amateurs in Mexico. There were very few amateurs licensed to operate in Aden and contacts with them were highly sought after by amateur stations around the world.

My 'QSL' card. These cards are used to provide a written acknowledgement, or confirmation, of a contact established with another Radio Amateur Station and provide details of time, date, signal strength and the station equipment used for the contact.

Keilcraft 'Snipe' - a free flight model powered with an ED 1 cc diesel engine. We had great fun flying this model on a disused airport and chasing it in the car across the desert to recover it when the fuel ran out.

'Condor' and 'Wasp' were control line models that we flew (and crashed) at the same disused airport.
My wife suggested that I should take up boat modeling until I pointed out that boats could sink!

A picnic on the beach!

A cold beer out in the desert!

Elsa - on the beach.


These pictures do no fall into any one of the more specific menu headings that I have chosen and in some cases are photographs to which I can no longer put a location or name to. However, they have been included because they are thought to be of interest.

Removals Aden style! An old truck axle and a good camel is all that is required.

The camel drawn water tanker was a common sight on the roads, selling water to Arab dwellings that did not have piped water supplies.

A heavily laden camel train on it's way to or from the Protectorate.

Gardens at Sheikh Othman.

Gardens at Sheikh Othman.

A new road but where did it go to and where from? The vegetation seems to indicate that perhaps it may have been near to the Sheikh Othman gardens, April 1965.

A border post, possibly at Lahej? Wherever it was my wife recalls that we turned back as we were unsure of the wisdom of proceeding any further up country on that day due to the increasing attacks by insurgents.

Trucks waiting at the border post.

A number of buildings had impressive wrought iron gates, March 1963.

A small camel train on the beach.

Fishermen on the beach.

Another camel train, probably near Khormaksar.

Tail end Charlie now wants to be the leader!

An ever hopeful salesman.

Colony of Aden Driving Licence.

My wife, Elsa.


Elsa with our son Mark on the side balcony of our flat in Palida Terrace.

The Marconi Marine staff. Left to right - Mohammed, ?, Sandy Aitkenhead, Mrs Sheila Webster, Phil Webster (Depot Manager). This photograph was taken shortly before we left Aden and returned to the U.K., April 1965.
Maps of Aden

Whilst it is only some forty years since the British left Aden it seems that many people do not have any real knowledge of where Aden is situated.
I have generated this map to show the location of Aden and the surrounding countries as they were in the early sixties. Today Aden is part of the Yemen.

The Middle East.

Map of Aden showing locations of Tawahi, Crater, Ma'alla and Khormaksar.
With acknowledgements and thanks to Mick Allen for permission to reproduce this map.

Bandar Tawahi with Little Aden in the south west corner and Aden in the south east corner. The new federal Capial of Al-Ittihad is located on the road mid-way between the two. The rectangular black 'block' in the north east sector is the town of Sheikh Othman. The hatched areas to the south of Sheikh Othman and to the north of Little Aden are salt works. Photographs of these salt works appear on the Khormaksar page.
With acknowledgements to Brian Redfern who 'rescued' this map from the office of Brant & O'Dell (architects and consulting engineers) in the P&O Building, Tawahi.
Brian worked in Aden from September 1961 until November 1964. The map was used by some of his colleagues who went gliding from the Bir Fadhl airport near to Sheikh Othman. The original map indicated the permitted airspace the gliders could use. I believe this was the same airport where I flew my model aircraft.

Map of Little Aden.
With acknowledgements to Brian Redfern.

The complete map used by the gliding club members is presented here in PDF format courtesy of Brian Redfern. It can be opened using the following link by viewers with Adobe Acrobat Reader. This enables it to be seen in greater detail using the zoom and scroll features incorporated in this programme. The pencilled lines with arrow heads indicate the permitted flight paths of the gliders.

This little map was printed in the leaflet titled 'Focus on Aden', produced by the Public Relations and Information Department, August 1959. Illustrations by B Doe, A.R.I.B.A. Printed at the Government Press, Aden, to whom full acknowledgements are made.
With my thanks to Ann Swallow for providing me with this copy.


I make no excuse for including this page as Djibouti had strong dhow trade links with Aden.
In 1965 trade union activity in Aden actually forced shipping to divert to the rival port of Djibouti.
These photographs were taken when I flew to Djibouti from Aden to fit a new auto-pilot to the M.V. 'Arago' - a liquid petroleum gas tanker - which was berthed there.
The transparencies were all processed in February 1964.

The LPG tanker, M.V. 'Arago', February 1964.

The harbour control offices and customs.

A view of the harbour and coastal patrol vessels.

A distant dhow leaving the harbour.

A view out from my hotel balcony.

Another view from the balcony.

Downtown Djibouti.

Government house - I had hoped to get a closer view but an armed guard on the entrance gates made it abundantly clear that would not be permitted!

War Memorial.

A typical back street scene.

About Me
After leaving school in 1955 I attended Norwood Technical College, London, during the period 1956 to 1957. At Norwood I studied Marine Radio and obtained my Post Master General First Class Certificate of Competence in Radiotelegraphy and Authority to Operate, the required qualification to serve as a Radio Officer on British ships in the Merchant Navy at that time and a Board of Trade Radar Maintenance Certificate.
Upon qualifying I joined the Marconi International Marine Communications Company Ltd. and went to sea as a Radio Officer from 1957 until 1960. In the latter part of 1960 I transferred to their shore staff at the Company's East Ham (London) Depot where I was employed in the repair and refurbishment of marine communications receivers brought in for attention from ships in the Port of London docks.
I was offered a position in the Aden Depot of Marconi Marine in 1961 and, accompanied by my wife, took up the post on 31st August 1961 and worked in Aden until April 1965, repairing communications equipment, radar and other aids to navigation, Sperry gyro compasses and auto pilots on ships of all nationalities passing through the Port of Aden.
More information on my career as a Radio Officer in the Merchant Navy can be viewed on my web site www.oldmarconiman.co.uk together with details of the ships I served on.


Here are links to sites of interest to those wishing to know more about Aden in the 1960's: -


I would be delighted to hear from anyone who worked in or visited Aden in the 1960's.


(Protected email scrip courtesy Joe Maller - http://www.joemaller.com)

Recommended Reading

The following books are 'must' reading for those wishing to gain a deeper insight into the events leading up to the last days of the occupation of Aden by the British.
The tourist information office.

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