|THE B DECK FORWARD LOUNGE, THE FORWARD LOBBIES & THE BELSKY MURAL
|Forward on B Deck on Senlac was a large lounge with fixed seating for 234 passengers. Similar in style to the aft and side lounges, this area was again fitted with overhead luggage racks.
In Greek service, the whole area has been comprehensively refitted for use by Distinguished (first) class passengers as required, although it is also sometimes available for other passengers, depending on demand.
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|Below: The B Deck forward lounge on Express Apollon in 2000 - looking forward/across to starboard. The fittings are fairly uninspired although it is comfortable and tidy enough space. (Picture courtesy Richard Seville)|
|The Forward Lounge|
|The Forward Lobbies & the Belsky Mural|
|Below: Looking aft in the lounge in 2000 towards the bar servery which has been installed against the space's aft bulkhead. (Picture courtesy Richard Seville)|
|Below: Despite being in fairly good condition as it was, Hellas Ferries spent money on replacing all the seating in this lounge in the early years of the century - this is the same scene in July 2003, with the now fleet standard Everest branding applied and a bland, flowery scheme for the seats.|
|Below: Looking forward on the starboard side of the lounge in 2003 - around the perimiter the sofa-style seating has escaped the Hellas Ferries refit and remains yellow.|
|Aft of the forward lounges on A and B Decks were lobbies and the main staircase, dominated at its forward end by a huge three-deck high mural stretching up from A Deck, through B Deck and up to the boat deck above. This depicted as its centrepiece a scene from the Battle of Hastings with three soldiers in chainmail with arrows raining down on them. The mural was the creation of famous Czech-born sculptor Franta Belsky, and was made up of a series of square fibreglass panels. Originally coloured mainly mid-blue, after the ship moved to Greece the entire mural was retained and carefully repainted, including the legend 'SENLAC' in the feature panel (sisters Hengist and Horsa also retain the mural in full although on the former, the feature panel has had the 'HENGIST' name plastered over, whilst Horsa's feature panel has been removed and replaced by a mirror).|
|Above: Seen from the Boat Deck forward lobby is the top half of the Belsky mural with the main feature panel as it is today - repainted but otherwise intact. The original spotlights still highlight this vast artwork. (Picture courtesy Richard Seville)|
|Below: A close-up of the lower starboard section of the mural on Hengist, between A and B Decks, showing some of the other panels and demonstrating the original colours. As built, the ship featured wood effect panelling on the undersides of the staircases. (Picture courtesy Bruce Peter)|
|Below: On board Express Apollon in 2003.|
Franta Belsky was perhaps most famous for sculpting four generations of the British royal family, including a bronze bust of the Queen dating from 1981, which is located in the National Portrait Library in London. Other notable creations include the Queen Mother and the London monument of the Queen's assassinated cousin, Lord Mountbatten. Belsky also sculpted the bust of Sir Winston Churchill outside the British Embassy in Prague, and the memorial to Czech and Slovak RAF pilots killed in the Battle of Britain and during World War Two. Two busts of former U.S. President Harry S. Truman, created in the early 1970s, are in the Presidential Library, Independence, Missouri and at the Truman Dam on the Osage River. Truman apparently asked for Belsky specifically having seen one of his earlier Churchill sculptures.
Belsky was later president of the British Association of Portrait Sculptors and his successor, Anthony Stones, described him as one of the most important sculptors in Britain's post-war history. He was renowned for taking extreme pains over his sculptures and it was his habit to seal inside each of his castings a Guinness bottle, a copy of that day's newspaper, a six-penny coin, and a note declaring that Franta Belsky was the artist responsible! It is unknown whether this practice was maintained on his Sealink commissions.
Belsky died in the UK in 2000; the murals on each of Hengist, Horsa and Senlac live on, mostly intact. Whether the ships' current Greek owners appreciate the value of the works of art sailing on their vessels is perhaps open to question.
|Below: The same area of the mural on Express Apollon in 2003 - for the Senlac Belsky switched the minor feature panels around with parrots (below) on the starboard side and the fish seen above on Hengist to port.|
|Below: The entrance to the shopping area from the B Deck forward lobby, seen on either Hengist or Horsa in their original state (even though they were equipped with supermarket areas aft of this, the Folkestone pair retained small counter service shops at the forward end, seen here). Despite the difference in the shops themselves, the lobby itself was otherwise identical on all three ships. Throughout the ships' lobby areas the flooring was a dark khaki colour.|
|Below: The forward lobby on Express Apollon - though the former shopping arcade is now locked and out of use, the display cabinets at its entrance remain, although they are now empty.|
|Below: One deck up, on A Deck, is this lobby, aft of the main bar (now the main distinguished class lounge). In this view looking across to starboard on Express Apollon, the mural can be seen stretching away below to B Deck and above, up to the Boat Deck.
Of note are the transparent balustrade panels, which were used throughout the staircases on the three sisters, and remain today.
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