Like so many of the sailing ship fleet, and of that era, she went missing at sea in 1917 when under Norwegian owners. R.I.P.
Left the fleet in 1978 and became the Greek owned GOOD SPIRIT until 1984 when broken up under the name of DISCOVERY
The LAGANBANK was built in 1978 and sold after only 3 years. She then had 13 years as the Greek vessel AMPHION. Scrapped in Vietnam a bit early in 1994 after suffering a fire.
The Singapore owned NEW LARK from 1978 to 1983. Scrapped in China Nov 83.
Tweedbank was built in 1964 and after 10 years trading, she grounded in the Barrier Reef, Austalia, near Cairns. She survived this and was sold in 1979, taking the name of GOOD LION. 4 years later was wrecked on the Spanish coast.
Built 1965 and sold in 1979 when she became the FAMILY UNITY. Sold on again in 1982 to Bengal Liner Ltd who named her BENGAL STAR. Finally scrapped in Chittagong in 1988, a 23 year career.
THE COPRA RUN
It doesn’t seem so long ago,
Joining sometimes in the snow,
But what a life on the Copra run,
Cruising round the Pacific sun!
First, a visit to Gulf Ports,
The hectic loading of all sorts,
Sailing down to the Antipodes
Then island hopping in Southern Seas.
There were those times, – a precious thing,
When island folk began to sing,
The natural lazy way of life,
Free from worry, free from strife.
It was a gift, we never thought,
Just a job that we had sought,
But looking back it was something special
Joining on that Copra vessel.
A new lightship SHIRRABANK floating out and thrashing the water
From the Sept 81 magazine announcing the loss of the Gulf/Europe service.
SOME SERIOUS CRANEAGE THERE!
Greek owned. 1998 Chartered in for the Bank/Ellerman service but off hired in Dec 1999. The name was abbreviated to RICKBANK and then sold to become the YAAD-EL-MOSTAFA. Scrapped 2009.
Subsequent names: SANJOHN BAY (1981)SOTIRAS(1985)APOCALYPSIS(1987)SEA GLISTER(1988)VIGOROUS SWAN(1991)LUCKY 25(1998 and scrapped)
December 1978 Magazine extract…
From the Bank Line magazine 1978 when the ship was sold and became the IRINI G.F. under the Greek flag.
artist is Tony Westmore
This is a photo taken in Lyttleton harbour showing the Bosun (left) and AB’s – all from Liverpool and on the Liberty MAPLEBANK. The rather beautiful models are made from chicken breasts mounted on a base, and sold for beer money. circa 1956
The ‘ ISLE OF ARRAN’ was sunk by a U boat in 1917
The days when just about everyone had a fag in their hand! Author on the left with Jim Haig on the right.
One of 5 vessels built by John Readhead, South Shields in 1937 to 1940. Only the TEVIOTBANK made it safely through WW2, the others all being lost. The TIELBANK was torpedoed by U 124 and 4 people died. 7 years later, the company renamed one of the purchased Liberty ships – TIELBANK.
Taken from an old 1980’s magazine….
This is a true story about a boy’s good spirited journey through life, and the slow transition from being a naive, innocent, and wild eyed kid in the London blitz, to a somewhat reflective and philosophical old man residing happily deep in Cornwall. It is a path that all men tread more or less, but having the good fortune to follow a seafaring career, topped up later with a world wide shipping career, makes this a varied and somewhat gifted life. The time spent at sea, and in the Bank Line in particular, had a deep and lasting effect, and why wouldn’t it? It was far more than a set of job descriptions. Meeting so many nationalities at all levels, from the Pacific islanders to the urchins of Asia and Africa , and grappling with ever changing demands at sea and in port made for a rich education. The only thing that never waned throughout all the years was a love of the world and its people, and a breathless admiration for the sheer beauty of our surroundings, coupled with boundless enthusiasm and optimism.
Chesham was near the American air base at Bovingdon, and the high street always had many smart uniformed Americans. My memories of the airmen and the activity are still vivid. In the town, the flyers couldn’t have been more generous to us scruffy lads. They parted with gum and money, which we asked for shamelessly. ” Got any gum, chum ? ” were the magic words that did the trick, and I can still hear it ringing in my ears. It never failed to work. In later life, I read all the books on the air war I could find, fascinated by the horror and torment of the daily battle. It gave me a slight appreciation of what those young smartly dressed American boys were going through mentally, and I could imagine what their thoughts might be as we youngsters held out our hands. They sacrificed so much more than mere gum. A major attraction at this time, was the display of crashed German planes In the park. The centre of the bandstand was used for wrecked German planes placed on display, and linked to the ever present need for money for the war effort. This area, with it’s swings and the lake was our playground, and I was attending the church school that lay next to the church bordering the park. Suddenly, it was the town focus, with war bond drives, and displays of all sorts, all designed to stimulate the flow of cash. There were endless campaigns, characterised by a huge wood and cardboard thermometer in gaudy colours placed near the planes. This colourful creation had a moveable column of pretend Mercury which was raised in line with the daily contributions. Buckets were distributed around for the money, which people gave to generously. A target was set at the top of the display, and there seemed to be yet another giant wood and cardboard thermometer towering over us in the park, when the previous target had been met. The downed planes were beyond fascination for young boys! We were allowed to sit in the often battered cockpits, and the smells and sights of the instruments, together with the weird and wonderful array of knobs and levers made this an unforgettable moment. It was heaven for lads of the right age, like me. We fought to climb into the magic pilot’s seat. Best of all for me was the seat in the Perspex bubble, either at the nose or on top of some of the exhibits. There were fighters and bombers, and we eagerly awaited the next arrival, which came on the back of a trailer towed through the town centre. At that age, there was never a thought for the poor soul who may have lived and died at the controls.
I think the most emotive part of this experience was seeing the swastikas plastered all over the wings and fuselage.
Printed in the Bank Line Magazine of September 1982
This old Bank Line favourite started life as the CHRONOS for Howard Smith of Melbourne, Australia in 1915. Became the CABARITA in 1929 and purchased by the Bank Line. Served right through WW2 to 1952 (32 years) before spending her last 10 years with Pakistan owners as MAULABAKSH. – after 42 years afloat went to the scrapyard in Karachi.
The three vessels mentioned above were built for the EAST ASIATIC COMPANY in 1909, and changed hands a few times before the Weir purchase in 1927. FORAFRIC was owned by a HK company from 1935 and was bombed and sunk in the Philippines in 1941.
This ship had quite a career. Originally the NARA in 1977 owned by Chargeurs Reunis S.A. on their S African service. Chartered by the Bank Line as MARABANK 86 to 87. Was the Greek CHRISTINE 1 until 1989 when she became the RICKMERS NANJING on charter to Deutsche Afrika Linie. In 1990 purchased by an Andrew Weir subsidiary as OLIVEBANK under the flag of Panama. In 1993 fitted out for 10 passengers. In 1999 went under the British flag to breakers for just over $1.0million.
1964 – 1979 then sold on. Later names: ARGONAUT (79/82), MASTURA ZAHABIA (82/85), GOLDEN SINGAPORE then scrapped 1985.
Within a few weeks, I was told that I would be acting third mate. Shock, horror! There was I still working out my ass from my elbow at 16, and I was catapulted up to the bridge deck to keep the 8 to 12 watch. In the event of course, all went reasonably well, especially as there were sympathetic fellow officers to lend a helping hand. The second mate at that time was a rare bird, who managed the Herculean task of sitting his tickets effortlessly without recourse to school. He was later to rise up to become the company superintendent for South African ports. To set the mood of life in 1952, there is nothing better than the pop tunes of the day, and I recall that Johny Ray was all the rage, singing about ‘ Just crying in the rain ‘ and ‘ The little white cloud that cried’. Other hits were Jim Reeves with ‘ I love you because’ and Guy Mitchell with his ‘ Red Feathers’ !
Life on board the Inchanga for me fell into a pattern. The stint as third mate lasted only briefly, when I reverted thankfully back to apprentice duties. However, on the bridge watch there was one memorable night sailing through the Maldives Islands at night which is burned in my memory. Down below a party was in full swing, and I could hear the muted music and laughter from the saloon. The Captain had a reputation as a lady’s man so it all fitted. On the bridge we were swooshing silently through the tropical night, phosphorescence in the bow wave, and a balmy breeze out on the bridge wing. At this time, the Inchanga had yet to be fitted with radar, so we were sailing blind through a quite narrow passage and relying on the last star sight position, which meant that I was hanging over the bridge wing straining my eyes to see any sign of the islands or surrounding reefs. I was apprehensive in the extreme. Events in the Bank Line fleet over the next few years more than justified my terror, as it happened. There seemed to be a fatal attraction to the many islands we visited, lit and unlit, with consequential casualties.
Back as apprentice, a twice daily routine was the unlocking………….
This book is available to purchase on AMAZON or from this site by following the ‘books’ link on the first page.
One of the so called ‘ White Ships’ that ran between India and S.Africa. During WW2 she served on the Atlantic, sometimes as ‘Commodore’ vessel in convoys. Her sistership INCOMATI was lost to a torpedo in 1943 (see articles on this site)
1962 built, and served 16 years before going under the Greek flag as GOOD TRANSPORTER for another 6 years..
House Magazine number 9 (Dec 81) free to anyone interested. £5 to cover UK p&p. Overseas postage at cost. Please leave a request in the comment section below, or email email@example.com
The pilot ladder over the side
https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=169502c4aa89. (set the pieces from easy to difficult by clicking on ‘ play as’)
Sailed the Oceans for 24 years. 1957 to 1973 for Bank Line, then as AEGIS BEAUTY under the Greek flag for 5 years. Her final 3 years were under the flag of the Maldives as MALDIVE SEAFARER. ( A nice touch given the Bank Line’s familiarity with the Islands.)
The white line was painted out from the ships in the fleet during 1950/51
paper Forthbank.pdf (1.33 MB, 6 views)
From the HOUSE MAGAZINE February 1980
THIS WAS PUBLISHED IN THE ” HOUSE MAGAZINE” DATED SPRING 1977
(from ‘bankline nostalgia’ on facebook)
There is the official report of this tragedy elsewhere on this site – search ‘ Thornliebank’
See POLERIC elsewhere on this site for the ship’s interesting history as a cattle carrier and as a passenger ship
16 Years in the fleet and then she became the AEGIS LION. Came to grief in 1973 near PUNTA ARENAS.
NB: The Riverbank was sold after 6 years service when the trade was abandoned…….
History: This beautiful vessel with a full cargo of aviation spirit from Trinidad and heading for Avonmouth hit a mine almost at her destination when off of the North Devon coast, and blew up and sank, killing 49 persons. It was only a few months into WW2 but the Bristol channel had already been mined. ( see below an extract from wrecksite).
The British motor tanker Inverdargle struck a mine laid by the U-33 on November 9, 1939 in the Bristol Channel, southwest England. All of the ship’s complement of 49 died. The 9,456 ton Inverdargle was carrying aviation fuel and was bound for Avonmouth, England.
Built by John Readhead in S. Shields during the depression years. Sold on in 1955 and had another 4 years trading as INCHJURA for HK owners. Scrapped in Osaka 1959
The island of Samuri in PNG, a regular copra loading port for Bank Line vessels. This small island was once a major port due to the deep water.
Built in Rostock for the Hamburg America Line as VALENCIA. Ceded to GB after WW1 and named HUGHLI for James Nourse. Purchased by the Bank Line 1927 as TINHOW. Sunk by U 181 in 1943 with 75 people lost.
THIS IS A 4 MASTED BARK BRIEFLY OWNED BY ANDREW WEIR IN THE YEAR 1900. SHE DISAPPEARED WHEN FULLY LOADED WITH COAL, AND UNDER RUSSIAN OWNERS…
PUBLISHED IN THE APRIL 1979 HOUSE MAGAZINE
Built in 1914 by Blohm and Voss, Hamburg, as SECUNDUS for Hamburg America Line. She survived the war, but was handed to France as a prize in 1920. Twin Screw and 400 ft long. After service for French companies, she was sold to the USA Barbar U.S. Lines and became SAGAMI, then MINDORO. In 1933, Bank Line purchased her, 10 years later she met her end when in 1943 she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine near the Maldive Islands with the loss of 28 persons.
One of the massive 18 ship order placed in 1924. 5 of these vessels gave over 30 years service in the Bank Line fleet, including the FORRESBANK which was 33 years old at the loss.
A TANKER bult for Mexican Petroleum in 1922and managed by Andrew Weir from 1922 to 1931 and then sold to Standard Oil. She had severl owners before scrapping in 1959. A WW2 survivor.
The lead ship of 6 built in 1953 at Harlands in Belfast.
SOLD TO GREEK OWNERS AFTER 6 YEARS AND BECAME THE “VENETICO”
The Death of A Lady
It had to come some time, but why on my tour of duty !. December 14th 1999 marked a bad day in the annals of my seafaring career and also that of all of us on board. That dreaded message from the office, ‘Please call Superintendents Department as soon as possible’.
These messages are only bad news. So, onto the phone and, ‘sorry old son’ the voice said, ‘ but I have to inform you that Clydebank has been sold to the breakers, after completion of the ship’s present employment, you should proceed to India where arrangements are being made to beach the ship at Alang breakers yard’. Silence from my end. Not much to say really. A few pleasantries, Merry Xmas and all that,
(Redundant just before Xmas ??, who knows), and off to break the good news to all.
At this point it is worth mentioning that the ship had a full complement of passengers (8) determined to enjoy the Xmas and Millennium celebrations at sea, the ship was on charter loaded down to her marks, only three weeks out of Europe to East Africa and Indian Ocean islands and a long term rubber contract to fulfil from Indonesia to USA. Absolutely no thoughts of scrapping / sale etc. Bemusing really. Anyway, down to the officer’s bar, (where else ?), ‘got some bad news chaps’, and proceeded to inform all of the decision to scrap the ship. Of course the questions and speculations were rife. The officers took all in their stride as was to be expected but the passengers were, for the most, by degrees, angry, upset, philosophical and disappointed. Who could blame them really.
Sailing from each of the ports after the news had leaked out was to prove very emotional and not a little upsetting. Leaving Mombassa, Spica, a company contracted to prevent stowaways boarding lined the quay with all their employees to wave a sad farewell. Of course, being a founder member of the cynics club, I could also say they were saying farewell to a regular and lucrative source of income !!.
Departing Reunion was equally emotional. The ship had been dressed overall with all hands on deck. Wives, officials and stevedores on the quay to bid a fond farewell. Now just seven more days and the end of the line.
Next an urgent message from the local agents dealing with the ship’s entry into India. ‘ Gujurat is a dry state, please declare a nil bond and ensure there is no alcohol on board on arrival’. What no booze !! tut tut. Here then follows the most bizarre experience of my seagoing career. 100 litres of Gin, 80 litres of Vodka 120 cases of Beer plus much more, all deposited into the Indian ocean. Lots of sad faces. But hark, do I hear the Psst of a can ?, surely not especially after explicit instructions from yours truly.
Needless to say, Uncle George the electrician, being a canny ,or is that mean, Scot had sequestered an emergency supply and a jolly good job to as on arrival the first demand from the boarding Authorities was for a Xmas ‘gift’.
Arrival Bhagnavar, the port of entry for Alang, produced a ten strong boarding party comprising Customs Officials, Agents and Surveyors, together their respective carrywalas all determined to relieve the ship of a many moveable objects as possible in the shortest space of time. It all ended up, after a five hour battle, with honours even. I was granted permission to proceed, and promptly moved the ship down to the holding area. There were six other ships waiting their turn to beach but ships, like house transactions, require the moneys to be paid over before the final act, hence the queue. Twenty four hours later, I received word from the Owners that the moneys had, in fact, been paid and I was authorised to take any further instructions from the new owners. ( Nerd Shipping, would you believe !!).
These further instructions came shortly after and I took the ship down to ‘Death Row’. This is an area a couple of miles off the beaching area, to wait for high water thus ensuring the ship went as far up the beach as possible. You see, the method is to stand off the beach a couple of miles, wind the engine up to full speed and see how far it is possible to get the ship up the beach before grinding to a halt. You can imagine ten thousand tonnes, travelling at some twenty miles per hour takes a lot of stopping. It doesn’t quite work out like this, but the basics are correct.
So, the word comes down, ‘sorry captain, there’s no Pilot available tonight, just follow my instructions, weigh anchor, and let me know when you are ready’.
At this point I would point out that it is 4 am, there are some 170 breakers facilities within a three mile stretch of the beach and from some two miles out all I can see are lights, lots of them !!. More bleats on the radio, ‘are you ready Captain ?’. ‘OK’ said I, just where do you want me to point the ship at ?’. There follows lots of directions from the Beaching Master in the form of courses to steer and the only other question, ‘is your engine up to full speed yet ?’.
Now, you have to remember that all my professional life I have been trained to avoid the beach like the plague. Owners tend to take a dim view of any groundings, which usually result in ‘Termination of Employment’ unless a suitable con job can be dreamed up by the offending party. Well here I am, 4 in the morning, pitch black, eighteen knots plus and headed for the beach. At the mile mark I can make out the silhouettes of many ships in various stages of deconstruction. The ship to beach before me was a 150.000 tonnes tanker. Have to go up alongside her. Can’t miss really. Out of the gloom she appears and as my ship touches the bottom, she takes a big shear to starboard, straight towards the tanker.
Didn’t quite panic, not that sort of chap really, a quick wheel over, straighten up and,…… strangely, no fuss, no drama, just a gentle slide to a stop. Main engine trips out of its own accord on overload but as the after end of the ship and generator sea suctions are still in the water at least we have electrical power.
‘Abandon Ship !!. All hands to the boats’, all very dramatic but the only way I and the crew can leave the ship in safety. Thirty seven men and one woman. Some of the men having been on board for a year or more can accumulate a lot of gear. ( Just go take a look in your garage !) The boats are duly loaded, the senior engineers go down the engine room and shut the ship down, all the lights go out, the fans stop, all those noises that have become familiar over the months, all stopped, very strange. The emergency generator, air cooled suddenly cuts in automatically but provides only emergency lighting. This will trundle on until the fuel runs out.
As the forepart is the only part of the ship in the water we have to leave by lifeboat. ‘lower away’ is the cry, both lifeboats down to the water without incident, on towards the beach, past the bow towering high above us, proud even now. Boats now beached and lots of help to unload into waiting transport.
A final look back, 27 years of trading, countless ports, myriad of personalities involved with her, both on board and ashore. Many hundreds of thousands of miles travelled. Seen all the emotions, joy, sorrow, fear, despair. Seen all that nature can throw at her and survived them all.
But this, the final cargo, the final port, the final voyage, the final ignominy. so very, very sad,
The Death of a Lady.
6th January 2000 22.53 hrs GMT.