The replica half model of the ssCaledonia is a familiar sight for passengers who have travelled with Swan Hellenic since 1996. The model is of the 1894 P&O passenger liner, which was built by Caird & Co. of Greenock and remained in service until 1925. With a top speed of 18 knots, Caledonia could accommodate 365 passengers in first class and 175 second class passengers. Named in May 1894 by Miss Ethel Barnes, the daughter of the then Managing Director of P&O, Caledonia was the largest ship built for the company at that time with a gross tonnage of 7,558.
She was built at a cost of £233,729 and was considered a very good sea-going vessel, offering a considerable degree of comfort. Her maiden voyage was on 5 October 1894 from London to Bombay, which was to be one of her regular routes, as well as the sea passage from London to Calcutta. In 1913 she made three Mediterranean cruises and during the First World War continued to operate the Bombay Mail Service. In 1917 she was commissioned for troop transport in a capacity where she carried over 100,000 troops without loss. In 1925 Caledonia reached the end of her sea going career and was sold for scrap in Bombay.
The history of the half model which is located on board Minerva is not fully known. It is very likely that it was made during the time when the vessel was built in the 1890s, as it was not uncommon to commission replicas of ships at the time of building the original. The half model, which is located in the Wheeler Bar on board Minerva is on loan from DP World, and was originally part of the P&O Group heritage collection.
Having joined Minerva back in 1996 the model was transferred to the Wheeler Bar of Minerva II in 2003 during the hand over in Valletta, Malta. When Minerva II completed her service for Swan Hellenic in April 2007 the model was taken off the ship during the dry dock in Gibraltar. She was then ‘sailed’ back to Southampton on board a P&O cruise ship, as it was not permitted for the model to travel by road or air! The model was then kept safe prior to May 2008, when Minerva again commenced cruising and she was once again placed on board in the Wheeler Bar located on Bridge Deck.