The Barker List is a double page A4 sheet of contact numbers of agents and related industries for the Port of Richards Bay and was the brainwave of one of Richards Bay’s pioneers, Chris Barker, who during the 1980’s recognised an urgent need to contact relevant parties as quickly as possible without having to page through telephone books.
From the outset Chris collected a R50 donation from each company listed, and for the past 30 years approximately R2000 per year has been collected and split between the NSRI and Seafarer’s Club.
Chris died in 2005 but The Barker List had become such a tradition within the shipping fraternity that Maritime Couriers & Tours undertook to carry on with the Barker List as a living memory to Chris.
Chris was an Englishman through & through, who said that Richards Bay was the last colonial outpost. He stayed in a rondavel overlooking the Bay which he called Fort Barker and the British Ensign was prominently displayed flying from a makeshift flagpole.
He always wore a tie, no matter what day of the year summer or winter. This tie would accumulate spillage so you could tell what Chris had had for breakfast/lunch/dinner. Chris drank milk stout beer, and visited watering holes from as far afield as Babanango/Mtunzini/Mtubatuba.
At golf fundraising functions held at Felixton golf course on behalf of Seafarer’s Club, Chris would pitch up wearing his Pith Helmet and antique hickory shafted golf clubs – and tie – and play an acceptable round of golf.
When he first started at Richards Bay at Ellerman & Bucknell , he only had one suit, black in colour, which earned him the nickname of the ‘Undertaker’. Fortunately this suit was eventually lost/worn out/stolen and never replaced.
Chris was highly respected as an agent, and training supplied to his occasional apprentices was strict but good, and all thus taught by him had a good foundation in agency work.
Chris had a wry sense of humor. Derek Wood recalls a story of Chris sitting in a pub having a drink & bite to eat, close to Christmas, when some of the shipping fraternity invited Chris to join them, to which Chris replied that he was busy with his ‘staff’ party.