BANK LINE PLUS……………………………………………..

This is a maritime site built around the iconic British shipping line – the Bank Line. Just one of the many shipping enterprises that carried on the proud heritage of ships and shipping throughout the ages from the British Isles. The cap badge below shows the company flag. The founder and owner, a man of great vision and ambition built up one of the largest fleets of sailing ships that spanned the world’s ports. Andrew Weir, the Lord Inverforth, then went on to grow a fleet of steam and diesel vessels through two world wars maintaining a fleet of approximately 50 vessels that covered the globe. After his death in 1955, fresh family interests and the rapid onset of containerisation led to the demise of the company after a long struggle to adapt. However, sailing on the vessels and experiencing the ups and downs, visiting ports large and small all over the world on long voyages was a unique something that could not be bought. For many it was a life changing experience, and this dedicated site is an attempt at a tribute to that incredible story.

A nostalgic look at the Maritime world.

Welcome to – Bankline- Plus. This is a site for mariners everywhere, old and new. Modern seafarers face the same perils but with vastly different resources and tools. It is full of photos, articles, accounts, and much more. It was started to celebrate the achievements of Andrew Weir, the Lord Inverforth, between 1885 and recent times, but now includes interesting posts from all around the marine world. Please explore the site and enjoy all of the material. Use the ‘Q’ symbol to search for a particular item or vessel. Grateful thanks go to all of the contributors.

A book detailing 1950’s life in the Bank Line. Available on AMAZON


“Voyaging with Icons” is the title of an inexpensive ebook available on AMAZON . It describes several long voyages back in the days without air conditioning or bars on board!


The old ‘ white ships’ photos – both twin screw, running between Calcutta and Durban with many stops between. A pungent aroma of rich spices was strong in the alleyways, coming from tween deck ventilators situated there. Plenty of anchor work, cargo and passengers, and a sort of poor man’s ” Somerset Maugham” atmosphere onboard!

A trio were built, but the third vessel named INCOMATI was torpedoed off of the W African coast in WW2. One person died.

The apprentices ( Ian Harvey and the author) with a girl passenger.

A TESTBANK voyage in 1969

This report covers a voyage back in 1969 and is kindly provided by Peter Ferrer who was 2/0 onboard. His detailed notes and plans etc follow. Although this is 1969, it is a typical ‘go anywhere’ Bank Line voyage, looked upon with great nostalgia today, and not only by those serving in the company – as evidenced by the envious comments sometimes read on ‘facebook’ about the Bank Line experience.

A new book is underway – available 2022

A new book is underway… It will be the full story of the fate of the SPEYBANK – The capture by the German raider ATLANTIS, conversion to the DOGGERBANK, loss in error to U-43, and the agonising boat journey of the survivors which left only 1 man alive. Plus some accounts of the victims of the German ships, including the Blue Funnel ship yielding most important secrets. This tale is better than fiction!


Grateful thanks to Peter Ferrer who has sent in the following pictures and details of his voyage as second apprentice on the FLEETBANK way back in the 1960’s!

2nd Trip Details on M.V. Fleetbank Apprentice P G Ferrer

Below are the details of a typical copra run when I was 2nd apprentice.  I didn’t take many notes but did record all the crew, ports, distances etc which are shown below.  Digital cameras were not invented and as an apprentice money was short, so taking pictures was at a premium.  Many accounts have been written of the Copra run and mine was no different, but Washington Island and Christmas Island were an experience not to be forgotten.  

The view from the remote Washington Island. The stranded SOUTHBANK in the foreground with the FLEETBANK standing off.

Washington Island

Southbank wreck on Washington Island

A distant view of the stranded and wrecked SOUTHBANK on Washington Island 1965. Taken from the FLEETBANK – photo courtesy of Peter Ferrer

Southbank forepart seen through the trees with the Fleetbank further out. Photo courtesy of Peter Ferrer

A full account of the tragedy with pictures can be seen on this site ( search for Southbank)

The wreck shortly after grounding

The last 100 articles……


(Use arrows below – left or right – to scroll through the last 100 posts – enjoy the trip!)

Places we visited….


Kobe was a regular call for Bank Line vessels

The ‘old’ ERNEBANK visited Kobe with bagged sugar for discharge

The Kobe, or Great Hanshin, earthquake struck in the pre-dawn hours of January 17, 1995, with a magnitude of 7.3 near the city of Kobe, about 350 km (210 miles) southwest of Tokyo. It killed more than 6,400 people. Damage was estimated at $100 billion.

Pictures of the modern port

See the book below. Available on Amazon

“Merchant Navy Apprentice 1951-1955”

Links to the archives….

Previous articles………

This is a list of some earlier posts in a random order. Just click on the heading and download any to read.

First trip Fleetbank….

This true account kindly submitted by Peter Ferrers who joined the Fleetbank as an Apprentice in May 1964.

The FLEETBANK was one of the highly successful ‘ Copra’ vessels serving for 17 years. Usually, but not always, voyages lasted around 5 months loading from US Gulf ports for Australasia and returning home through the Pacific islands with Copra. The programming of vessels in the Bank Line was always subject to change and for those onboard this meant a level of uncertainty and some curiosity re the length of voyage and the itinerary.

For an even earlier account from the 1950’s see the book, ” Merchant Navy Apprentice 1951 – 1955″ available from Amazon as either an e book or a printed version.

Vagaries of a first Command

Geoffrey Walker has kindly submitted the following article detailing the ‘ups and downs’ of serving as Master on deepsea vessels. Geoffrey commenced his sea-going career in the 1960’s in the Bank Line.

The author of the article maintains a maritime site, full of interest at

An original article

The Auxilliary cruiser Michel

Read the interesting story of a war-time raider!

One of the victims

Written by Geoff Walker. His Maritime site can be viewed at

The link to the full article is above

See Bank Line ebooks to buy with paypal at Printed versions on Amazon.

John I Jacobs & Co Ltd – London

An interesting and original article written and edited by Geoffrey Walker. See his speciality maritime site at

The whole article may be read by downloading – click the link above

Christmas is approaching -Bank Line ebooks are at


A slide show featuring Pikebank,Tenchbank, Roachbank, Dacebank, Ruddbank, Troutbank. Please use the arrows to see the images…

The newly formed Sunderland Shipbuilders completed all 6 of the ‘ Fish’ class Bank Line vessels in 1979. They were purchased in turbulant times, as the rush to containers challenged the whole industry. Designed with the maximum flexibility for the rather unique trades of the company, they were a partial success. Most stayed 8 years before being sold on.

Other companies….

Court Line Ltd

The Errington Court was the Empire Favour

( The Bank Line Empire Franklin was renamed Hazelbank)

Click on the link to see the whole article

This original article written and edited by Geoff Walker whose site has more…

Bank Line ebooks are at

Classic ships – A slideshow