All posts by fairwinz

About fairwinz

retired and active - Portrait painting. Writing books and maritime articles..

Places we visited…


Abidjan on the Ivory Coast was one of the more interesting ports visited by Bank Line ships when discharging on the West African coast. The very French atmosphere, nicely laid out boulevards etc gave it a continental feel – a total change from the cities up and down the coast. It was a hint of charm and sophistication that made shore trips there memorable.

The old ‘war horse’ IRISBANK visited twice in one 2 year voyage, both times to discharge gunnies from India for the produce exports.

More views of this beautiful city

ABIDJAN, on the Cote D’ivoire is centrally situated in the Gulf of Guinea.

Places we visited…



In the 1950’s and 60’s Bank Line ships occasionally loaded sulphur at Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, in the Bay of Campeche. The 1958 CRESTBANK visited.

The subsidiary Cia. Exploradora del Istmo, S.A. Headquarters were established in Coatzacoalcos in 1950, and production from their Nopalapa plant commenced in 1957.

Places we visited..


The ERNEBANK of 1937 discharged bagged sugar from Cuba at Moji Port

A recent picture

Moji-ku is a Japanese ward of the city of Kitakyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture. It is the former city of Moji which was one of five merged to create Kitakyūshū in 1963. It faces the city of Shimonoseki across the Kanmon Straits between Honshū and Kyūshū. The ward’s area is 73.37 km². It had a population of 114,754 as of 2000.


The 1924 built COMLIEBANK at Wallaroo Dec. 1924 on her maiden voyage. Note the sailing ships still loading grain.

Wallaroo in the Spencer Gulf, S Australia was one of a number of ports frequented by the Bank Line ships. Loading grain and sometimes discharging phosphate rock were the reasons to visit. Most would probably agree that these smallish ports were a treat, mainly due to the very friendly and welcoming folk .

Places we visited….


A call to the port city of Auckland in New Zealand was a regular feature of life in the Bank Line. Often the first port of call after the long Pacific crossing from Panama, and the start of a most welcome trawl around the N.Z. ports discharging general cargo and often sulphur loaded in the U.S Gulf Ports. In the days after WW2, when the Liberty ships were in the fleet, crewed by European seamen, it was often the beginning of a drunken revelry too hard to resist, and progress around the ports of North Island and South Island was dependent on having enough sober crew to proceed!

The last vessel ever built for the Bank Line – WILLOWBANK berthed in Auckland 1980’s

It is hard to do justice to the beauty, the surroundings, and the climate of this area with scenic beauty and the water vista out to the islands and seawards. A perfect location for water sports and the sailing enthusiast alike.

As it was – Queen St. Auckland 1950,s

Places we visited…


The port for Lima

The big port of Callao in Peru was a Bank Line call, usually to discharge gunnies from India, and it was one of many on the long run up the S American west coast ending often in Quito, Equador.

The LEVERNBANK that stranded at Matarani Peru, nearby. See the report on this site by searching, ‘ levernbank’

A card from 1910 – This was a busy sailing ship port

Places we visited….


Suva in the Fiji islands was a regular call for Bank Line vessels that provided a steady stream of ships picking up Copra and sundries, like meal. The old Suva was a welcome call with all of the Pacific island charm, but today it is well and truly on the tourist trail, with all that that means. Staged shows, walks, performances, etc. A stream of huge liners call regularly and have transformed the wealth and economy,for the better or maybe the worst. A military junta runs Fiji but it is a popular destination. Back before the flood gates opened it was a different and slower paced world. Occasionally a Bank Line ship ran into trouble with the many reefs around the island, as evidenced by the Maple grounding. ( See below)

1950’s SUVA high street


An interesting and original first hand description of Saigon in Vietnam in the years when it was a blend of oriental and French charm. Some lucky mariners made it there on Bank Line ships in the 1950’s and 60’s.

To read the whole article download by clicking on the red button above

Written by Geoff Walker who served his time in the Bank Line on the Levernbank and Weybank. His specialist maritime site is

Places we visited…..

Baton Rouge

Downtown Baton Rouge in recent times

Baton Rouge to load lub oil and derivatives was an occasional Bank Line routine. Usually there was little time for shore excursions, but the charm of this old world capitol made it memorable. First came the very long winding journey up the mighty Mississippi, 135 miles past New Orleans, a total of 231 miles from the entrance in the Guf of Mexico.

The SOUTHBANK made a memorable visit

The Delta (bird’s foot) entrance to the Mississippi – The SW pass bottom left.

River view

To move goods up and down the Mississippi, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains a 9-foot shipping channel from Baton Rouge, LA to Minneapolis, MN. From Baton Rouge past New Orleans to Head of Passes, a 45 foot channel is maintained to allow ocean-going vessels access to ports between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Places we visited…

Dar Es Salaam

The entrance today

Another regular call for Bank Line vessels was Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. The ‘white’ ships like the ISIPINGO pictured, called each voyage south on her Calcutta to Durban schedule, usually after the Mombasa stop. In those days it was the anchorage but a run ashore was always enjoyable. The rich and pungent aroma given out by spice cargo is forever linked with this tropical stop off.

As it was

The East Coast of Africa

Places we visited…..


( Puerto Enginerio White)

The port in the distance

Another port frequented on some Bank Line voyages – usually to load grain, was Enginerio White, the quirky named port for the big city of Bahia Blanca, a short ride away. On a visit on the Eastbank, loading went on no more than 2 hours a day! (A few rail waggons would appear mid morning and tip in the grain, and that was it for the day). This gave us a month in port to exhaust our funds and enjoy the delights of the bars in the city.

The port with grain silo in the foreground

A tourist Hotel pool

A tourist hotel pool today

Places we visited…..


The fondest memories of life in the Bank Line ships often included a visit to Yokohama. This beautiful city, full of delights is situated in Tokyo Bay and has now been upgraded beyond all recognition. The 1950’s visitors usually spent time at an anchorage to discharge and an evening run ashore offered many pleasures…

Yokohama today

There are accounts of a visits to Yokohama on this site. One such is in the article headed ” Around the world in Coronation year” which tells of a memorable stay in 1953 discharging sugar from Cuba .

Places we visited…

Monte Video

Lucky ‘Bank Liners’ occasionally got to Monte Video in Uruguay to discharge gunnies from India or maybe other cargo. It was a chance to savour the delights of this Uruguayan city with everything that a visitor would ever want, from art and architecture to the usual seaman’s delights.

A map of the River Plate, with Monte Video opposite Buenos Aires. The river is wide and brown coloured, despite the map above. It also holds the remains of the German cruiser “Graf Spee” after her scuttling in WW2.

Places we visited


New Zealand

Many ex Bank Line folk will have very pleasant memories of visiting Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. Situated under Mount Manganui, the local people were always exceptionally friendly and welcoming. Bank Line ships discharged their cargo from the US Gulf and other cargoes here, leading to lasting memories of many leisurely days ashore.

Thanks to Google Earth


The loss of the Levernbank on the coast of Peru has been covered extensively on this site. Here is a summary, courtesy of the ‘wrecksite’ online, and a first hand account by one of the engineers. Grateful thanks to both.

M.V. Levernbank 
With regard to strandings and losses, I was 5/Eng on the Levernbank when she foundered off Matarani, Peru, back in 1972. I was on watch with the 3/Eng at the time the ship struck rocks during the early hours somewhere around 03.00 hrs. The propeller also hit rocks as the ship turned away which wrapped the blades round the rudder this took the main engine out and that was it. Within what seemed seconds the crew were into their paying off suits, jackets stuffed with cartons of fags, and ready for the off. The crew and those officers who wished to leave the ship were taken ashore by fishing boats. The ship had torn open from the stem back to No2 hold, 23 foot of water in these holds within minutes,these holdswere loaded with bales of paper pulp which started to expand with frequent loud bangs as the ships plates parted, and the tween decks buckled. The deck officers, myself, the second and third engineer stayed on board, keeping pumps and generators running, for the two days she lasted before the Peruvian Navy took her in tow.The Peruvians intended to tow the ship to a suitable place to beach her but the tow parted and she went back ashore close to where she originally grounded.  At the end when Captain Steers gave the oder to abandon ship, the forward deck was almost awash and sitting on the poop you could look over the top of the funnel, time to go, and we were taken off by local fishing boats. The ship had a good crowd onboard, Levernbank on that trip was probably best described as a happy ship with loads of laughs and good humour,as well as hard work, it was such a pity that the voyage ended in this way. As I remember it, Capt Lewis Steers, C/O Harry’Matt’ Dillon,C/Eng Stan Gough 2/Eng Alec Wood ( I don’t speak to junior Engs before 7 AM),3/E Geff Miller 4/E Fred Kennedy, 6/E Arnie Atkinson, 1 EL?. 2 EL Terry? (from cardiff) 
Last edited by jedward

The ship was loaded on the Bay of Bengal West coast S.A. service, we had done what I imagine was the normal run up the coast discharging at Punta Arenas, Valparaiso, Antofagasta and other ports I can’t remember now. 

We had radar problems which were supposed to have been sorted in Durban, but the only real outcome was that the Sparky had his camera pinched by the radar ‘engineer’, and the system went back on the blink as we crossed the bar out of port. 

As I recall, Matarani would’nt accept vessels at night, so the plan was to stop and drift until daylight, seems anchoring was not possible, not sure why but the Chief reckoned the sea was too deep – don’t know myself. Anyway as we tracked along up the coast there seems to have been an understimation of our actual distance from shore. The turn to seaward to drift was interrupted by a bump, which I took to be a collision with a fishing boat but which was in fact our first contact with the Peruvian mainland, the engine was still full ahead at this time, when we suddenly got standby followed immediately a double full astern ring followed, and then by a major bang and the engine stopped dead. I ran down the tunnel to see the tail shaft about three feet out of line with the last two bearing pedestals tipped over by about 30 degrees. I reported this to the second who condsidered the best thing to do was put the kettle on!

When dawn broke and all was revealed, the ship was inside a small cove and was a perfect fit, couldn’t have got it in there if you wanted to. The cove or inlet I suppose was enclosed by high cliffs upon which were stood several of the local population taking the michael. 

A tug was sent from the port to assist but went off in the wrong direction, a couple of distress rockets soon had it coming our way. The tug towed the ship out to deeper water where we attempted to asses damage and keep the ship afloat in the vain hope that assistance was a realistic prospect – it wasn’t. The ship was abandoned aboard local small anchovy fishing boats, and so onwards and upwards after an enforced stay in Peru whilst our illegal immigrant status was resolved ( all discharge books etc, including the overtime records were lost).


On August 17th, 1975, the British cargo Lindenbank was on a voyage from Kimbe to Europe with a cargo of 5.300 tons copra, 1.100 tons palm oil, 1.100 tons coconut oil, 500 tons expeller meat, when she ran aground, on a reef, off Fanning Island. She was abandoned as a total loss. Read more at wrecksite:

There is an account of the efforts to free her and also the official report on the grounding (in which the Master and 3/0 were fined) – all on this site. Just search ‘ Lindenbank’

OLIVEBANK – her maiden voyage

In 1893 the spanking new 4 masted steel bark Olivebank

Olivebank under sail
Olivebank under full sail

sailed into Tacoma and tied up along the NP wheat warehouses below the city. These were the waning days of the age of sail as steamships and trans Pacific passenger liners were becoming the elite vessels in the great harbors around the world. But because hard wheat and cut lumber were important, durable bulk exports from Tacoma, that shipped well on long voyages in the enginless holds of the big windjammers, Commencement Bay remained a familiar port of call for true sailors well into the 20th Century. Tacoma was a sort of sanctuary for the last generations of mariners who depended on the wind-who navigated by cloud movement, barometers, sail charts and trusted currents.

Olivebank crew 1893.cropped

This striking portrait of the Captain and officers on the upper deck of the British registered ship Olivebank, is a study in purpose and pride. The image is a strongbox of  technical details, portraiture and narrative. These are young men steering a new born vessel, 325 feet long and just launched from the famous Glasgow shipyards on September 21, 1892. In their posture and gaze each of them, in their own way suggest a determined competence, particularly Captain Petrie in his embroidered cap, flower boutonniere and heavy gold watch chain.  The other’s wear the formal vested suits and silk ties of merchant seamen, literate adventurers who had brought their ship around the world to the booming country around the inland waters of Puget Sound.


Above them, Tacoma’s elegant new City Hall building was nearing completion across busy Pacific Avenue from the Northern Pacific Railroad Building. The towering Romanesque County Courthouse loomed in a fresh silhouette above the city.  There was a massive brick hotel building under construction to the north and busy sawmills and boatyards lining the waterfront. Downtown Tacoma was busy with fashionable new brick buildings, packed streetcars and the novelty of electric street lights and signs.

Tac Waterfront

The point-in-time captured in the portrait of these seafarers was soon to pass. A world wide economic depression was about to stall Tacoma’s growth and the great shipyards of maritime nations were about to slow the building of commercial sailing vessels. The discovery of gold in the Klondike in 1896 and the start of the Spanish American war in 1898 propelled Seattle ahead of Tacoma as a commercial and population center in the Pacific Northwest. As the operation of commercial sailing vessels faded Tacoma, like other seaports, began to reshape its wharfs and loading docks to accommodate steamships and commercial motor vessels. The big sailing ships became part of the background.

The Olivebank lasted longer than most of the great sailing vessels that visited Commencement Bay. It changed to Norwegian registry and was well maintained for long voyage coal shipping. In 1939, the deep hulled ship hit a wartime mine off Denmark. Only 7 of its 21 man crew were saved.


This photograph is from a wonderful album and collection of images from the Burroughs, Holt, Dickson families going back to the 1880’s. Watch for stories from the photos and research to follow. Thanks to Bruce Smith for the discovery.

Loading Copra – down memory Lane!

Bleeding bags into the hold. ( Note: With wooden hatchboards the bags were bled into gaps between the boards – more tricky with steel lids.)

Photo credit: Tad Kucharski

The FORRESBANK at Honiara

Photo credit: Charlie Stitt

Roy Weir ( Grandson of Andrew Weir) visiting the Pacific Islanders – on a recruitment drive, maybe!

BANK LINE VOYAGE CHARTER – an account of time on th M.V.CRESTBANK

6 August 1980 – 19 September 1980

Joined Birkenhead – Paid Off Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Captain Young.

The privately owned Liverpool shipping company Thos & Jas Harrison, more commonly known as ‘Harrison Line’ regularly chartered vessels off the spot market to maintain their liner cargo schedules. Harrison Line personnel chosen for Supercargo duties were all ‘Pursers’ as we also did, in addition to our onboard administration function, a lot of cargo work on deck during the discharge phase of the voyage, producing cargo plans, making notes on damaged cargo, tally books for the discharge clerks in each port and of course ensuring the special cargo under lock and key went ashore to the right owner!

Obviously, there were those in Harrison Line who were regularly chosen to sail as ‘Supercargo’ in all sorts of varied general cargo ships, of all nationalities and standards and after 5 years of wondering why I wasn’t in the ‘Supercargo’ club I finally received the call. I was to join a ship in Birkenhead, the company didn’t know yet what nationality, just that the ship would be in the West Float at 0800 the following Monday. I conjured up all sorts of images, some badly maintained Greek or Monrovian tramp ships, could have been anything. I was secretly hoping for one of those immaculate white SKOU ships…

Imagine my delight and surprise when I was told it would a Bank Line ship called the CRESTBANK, and even better, it was just 2 years old. The ship itself was far better than any of the ships I’d sailed in with Harrisons’ and my cabin was to be the ‘Owner’s Suite’. Excellent.

I joined at the appointed time and made myself known to the Chief Officer – a great guy and I cannot for the life of me remember his name. He asked me if I fancied breakfast and off we went to the Duty Mess. In Harrisons our crews were mainly locals…Liverpudlians (scouse) or West Indian (Barbadian or Trinidadian) so it was a surprise to meet such a nice polite and gentle Goanese/Indian? (not sure) pantry steward. I’ll always remember, the Mate asked me what I wanted, and not to faff around looking at the menu too much, I just said the full English please. Imagine my surprise when he returned a few minutes later with a fried egg and a sausage. I looked at the mate to say ‘what’s this’ and he said…’oh yeah, Monday we have a sausage, Tuesday bacon etc…crikey I thought, Harrisons were great feeders after all. 

I do remember the curry breakfasts and every Thursday we had chips as a treat with breakfast. I liked these catering ideas so much I introduced them in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary years later where I served for over 30 years. I used to call them Bank Line Breakfasts – the older hands thoroughly enjoyed them, but the younger guys brought up on CocoPops couldn’t get their heads around having curry for breakfast! 

Another thing I noticed was crew members going ashore to buy ‘carpet runners’ for their cabins – to make them more homely and comfortable. I did find this very strange as Harrisons provided pretty much everything for the cabins.

At this time, revolution was happening in Poland, with Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement gaining traction, and I used to sit in the shack with the Radio Officer and listen to the World Service. It was quiet up on that deck, me, the RO and the Old Man. 

I do also remember that at this time, 1980, Bank Line had drastically reduced their trip lengths in order to retain personnel and to attract new blood. I think you had come down from 2 years to 6-9 months. These trip lengths were staggering, in Harrisons we were used to 6–9-week trips to the Cape or the Caribbean. Harrison bulk carriers, operating globally tramping, were 4-month max trips. The Mate was hugely disappointed with this decision by the company, after all, he said, you hardly know where anything is after 6-9 months!

Part of the cargo was a large consignment of brand new Mk1 2 door V8 Range Rovers for discharge in Mombasa. We had a great time with those, firing them up and manoeuvring from the ships side in the tween deck of hatches 3 and 4 to the loading point, then legging it down the gangway to drive them off at full speed down the jetty to the vehicle pound. It was great sport.

When we were halfway through the Dar Es Salaam discharge, word came through that the next port for the CRESTBANK would be Durban to load a bulk cargo of maize for the Far East. Obviously, there was no need now for any of that beautiful brand new used once dunnage we had used to stow the cargo! The Mate sidled up to me and asked what were the intentions of Harrison Line for the dunnage – I kind of knew that this was a loaded question and asked what were his suggestions for it? He suggested we sell it and go ashore for a slap up meal! Rude not to, so we did. 

I was sad to leave the ship, I’d made some new friends, experienced a new company with different operating methods and was very envious of their globetrotting mystery tour lifestyle – as opposed to operating a liner trade schedule. 

Those few weeks in the CRESTBANK remain with me to this day and I’m very proud to have been a tiny part albeit briefly of that legendary British shipping company.

Rupert Drew

Ocean Fleets 74-75

Harrison Line 75-86

Royal Fleet Auxiliary 86-16 

Many thanks to Rupert for this snapshot of life aboard

NAIRNBANK on an ED charter.

( See the hardwood logs on deck)

Bank Line’s 1966 Belfast built NAIRNBANK is seen passing Portishead inbound for Avonmouth from Takoradi, on charter to Elder Dempster, on 10th August 1968.

Later: 1979 GULF HAWK (Abbas Gokal’s Gulf Shipping Group)

Photo credit – Malcolm Cranfield

GULF HAWK arrived at Alang on 25.4.86 for breaking


The 1974 Sunderland built SEA GLISTER, operated by Parakou Shipping of Hong Kong, is seen passing Rozenburg, inbound for Rotterdam, in 1990.


Later: 1991 VIGOROUS SWAN – 98 LUCKY 25 (Shen Yang Shipping, Dalian)

BU Alang 30.5.98

BEAVERBANK was the 4th vessel from the dozen named the ‘ FLEETBANK’ class. Unlike her namesake of 1953 that served for 17 years, the ship above was sold on after only 7 years as the worldwide container demand accelerated.

Photo credit – Malcolm Cranfield

The ex CLOVERBANK of 1973

Sultan Shipping Co. of Athens’ 1973 Sunderland built BAHIA III is seen passing Rozenburg inbound for Rotterdam towards the end 1985 or in early 1986.

Ex – CLOVERBANK – 77 SIENA – 78 CLOVERBANK – 81 COLORADO – 85 (also Sultan Shipping Co.)

Later: 1986 MARIE H. – 97 MARIE A.

BU Mumbai 14.5.99

Photo credit – Malcolm Cranfield

SHIRRABANK in wartime

Here is the 1940 built SHIRRABANK in Melbourne at the end of WW2, still with the liferafts on the mast shrouds. She was one of 3 vessels ordered from Belfast, and her sisters were the ERNEBANK and the ARAYBANK which became transformed to the Italian passenger vessel NAPOLI . ( see the story on this site). The author had a memorable round-the-world trip on the ERNEBANK in 1973. All 3 ships had wood decks and open rails when built.

Photo credit – State Library of Victoria

Ships in the Annals of Maritime History (part 1)

An interesting first article detailing notable ships that have entered Maritime History

Written and edited by Captain Geoffrey Walker, an ex Bank Line apprentice who later sailed extensively as Master for several other owners.


The GOTHIC featured in the article

Click the link above to read the whole article

See Geofrey’s site at


2 views of the 1962 INVERBANK

Bank Line’s 1962 Doxford built INVERBANK is seen arriving at Eastham in rain on 6th August 1978, under her new name of IRINI G.F., owned by Loutra Shipping & General Enterprises Ltd (G.M. & M.G.Frangos) of Piraeus. 

She had been recently sold by Bank Line in the East and was taken on charter by a British liner company, probably Anchor Line; her new owners had not yet had the ship’s hull painted grey. 

Bank Line’s 1962 Doxford built INVERBANK is here seen as IRINI G.F. at anchor near Mersey Bar on 24th August 1980, the photographs taken from one of the pilot cutters. She had been purchased in 1978 by Loutra Shipping & General Enterprises Ltd (G.M. & M.G.Frangos) of Piraeus. 

IRINI G.F. had recently arrived at the anchorage from Churchill with a cargo of grain for discharge into one of Birkenhead’s silos, at the time occupied with another ship. 

IRINI G.F. finally arrived at Chittagong on 14.7.84 for breaking

Photos courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield


( The vessel that rescued 1000 refugees from the China Seas when sailing as SIBONGA)

The 1976 Sunderland built AGIOS SPYRIDON, owned by Nicholas G.Moundreas of Piraeus, is seen arriving at Heysham on 27th September 1997 with a part cargo of timber from Brazil.


Sailing from Chennai on 7th April 2000, AGIOS SPYRIDON soon arrived off Alang on 20th April 2000 for beaching and breaking.

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield


An original article from Captain Geoffrey Walker based in Melbourne. Geoff started his career in the Bank Line and had a long and successful career as Master of a variety of vessels trading around the Pacific rim and in Far Eastern waters .

To read the full article click above to download

See for more…..

CHRYSOVALANDOU, the former BIRCHBANK, built by Doxfords at Sunderland in 1958 and purchased by N.J.Pateras in 1970, was photographed approaching the locks at Brunsbüttel on 30 June 1971 bound from Hamburg for Poland to load her last cargo from Europe bound for East Pakistan where she sadly hit a mine and sank on 22 November that year. Her nominal owners were, ironically, the Holy Peacefulness Shipping Company.

Photo credit:- Malcolm Cranfield


The 1978 Sunderland built VENETICO, owned by Fafalios of Piraeus, is seen arriving at Heysham, Lancashire, on 5th May 1988 with a cargo of timber from Belem. 

The author spent 8 years based in this tidal harbour on ferries running nightly to Belfast. The service comprised purpose built container ships ( 1961!) cattle boats, and the 21 knot mail ships, all sailing nightly at different times. Nothing the size of the VENETICO entered in those years.

Ex- FENBANK – 84

Later: 1993 DIMITRAKIS (Aegeus Shipping – D.G.Pateras)

Broken up at Alang 12.10.99

Photo credit – Malcolm Cranfield


The 1974 Sunderland built SEAGLISTER, operated by Parakou Shipping of Hong Kong, is seen passing Rozenburg, inbound for Rotterdam, in 1990.


Later: 1991 VIGOROUS SWAN – 98 LUCKY 25 (Shen Yang Shipping, Dalian)

Broken Up at Alang 30.5.98

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield

The FIRBANK seen as FAFALIOS. She was the SIBONGA of rescue fame under the command of Captain Healey Martin in 1979

(See the Sibonga page on ‘facebook’ for more details.)

The 1976 Sunderland built FAFALIOS, operated by Fafalios of Greece,is seen passing Rozenburg inbound for Rotterdam on 24th April 1984.



BU Alang 20.4.00

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield

NELLA ex Bankline


There were 5 vessels ordered from John Readhead in S Shields just prior to WW2. They all had names beginning with T. i.e. TIELBANK, TESTBANK, TEVIOTBANK, THORNLIEBANK, and THURSOBANK. Only the TEVIOTBANK (above) made it through the war.

She was sold to the Italians after 17 years service when she became the NELLA for 16 more years.

The Italian owned, Panama flag, NELLA was photographed in the River Elbe approaching Brunsbüttel locks on the morning of 28th June 1969 on a voyage from Melilla to Lübeck.

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield



Cyprus Maritime Co. Ltd. of Athens’ 1979 Sunderland built MULTI TRADER is seen at Birkenhead on 23rd February 2001. She had arrived on 4th February from Belem via Nantes with a cargo of timber which was poorly stowed and so difficult to unload – this cargo has of course long since been containerised

TENCHBANK was introduced in 11/79 and was the 6th and last of the ” Fish Class” vessels. Sold in 1987 when she became the EASTMAN. 2 years later she was bought by a London based company and then became the TAMATHAI. IN 1995 Panamanian interests bought her and renamed her CLINTON K. 1997 saw her owned by a HK company and a new name of JOSEMARIA ESCRIVA. A year later she was the MP TRADER of Greek Cypriot ownership, who then renamed her MULTI TRADER in the year 2000 which was her name until 2008 when she went to the breakers at Alang.

Photo credit for the MULTI-TRADER – Malcolm Cranfield

The 1939 WILLOWBANK on her maiden voyage

There were 4 ships ordered in 1937 from W Doxford. The ESK,TEES,ETTRICK, and the WILLOW. Only the ESKBANK and the ETTRICKBANK went on to survive the war.

An interesting snap of Auckland taken in 1939. The second big vessel from the left is the new WILLOWBANK completed 3 months earlier in the year that WW2 started. Sadly, she was torpedoed 1 year later when fully loaded with maize.

At 19.38 hours on 12 Jun, 1940, U-46 fired a stern torpedo at a ship in convoy SL-34 about 220 miles west-northwest of Cape Finisterre and missed the intended target, but hit the Barbara Marie that broke in two and sank. At 19.46 hours, another torpedo was fired which hit the forward part of Willowbank and caused the ship to sink by the bow. The master and 50 crew members from Willowbank (Master Donald Gillies) were picked up by the British motor merchant SWedru. Read more at wrecksite.

Credits: ‘’ and the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.



DEEBANK aground in Port Philip Bay in 1936.

Photo courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Australia

The DEEBANK was one of 4 vessels ordered from Workman Clark, Belfast in 1929. They were the DEEBANK, TRENTBANK,( Bombed and sunk in 1942), FORTHBANK, and LINDENBANK. ( Stranded in 1939). The DEEBANK ( above) served until 1955 when she became the Panamanian DEELOCK. In 1967 she changed hands again, becoming the Japanese vessel ZUIMEI. Scrapped in 1971 after 42 years afloat.


This is the old WESTBANK, outbound from Rotterdam, and seen as the SANTA HELENA in 1970. Just finished discharging a full cargo of grain from Buenos Aires. Built in 1948 and sold in 1967 when she became the SIMBA followed by a new name – SANTA HELENA in 1969. Broken up in 1974.

The author was an apprentice on this ship, joining her in Durban in 1952. The WESTBANK, then one of the latest ships in the fleet had just had a very narrow escape after grounding at full speed in the dark on the unit island of Juan De Nova in the Mozambique Channel between Madagascar and the African Coast. A B.I. tug called ARUSHA managed to free her on the next spring tide, and she was repaired in Durban before heading home to Immingham with a cargo of manganese ore. A huge steel beam was welded along the hull at bilge keel level for extra strength.

More pictures and an account can be found on this site.

Photo above courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield

Napoli 1948-71, ex Araybank 1940, sunk off Crete 1941, salvaged 1947, at Melbourne 15th May 1949

This vessel started life as a Bank Line ship – the ARAYBANK built in 1940. Hardly recognizable here after a massive rebuild when she was turned into the Italian emigrant ship – NAPOLI.

7 months after she was launched WW2 was raging, and she was sunk at Suda Bay in Crete when discharging military stores. After the war, Achille Lauro of Italy purchased the wreck which was towed to Genoa, and fitted with a 9 cylinder engine. Accommodation was added for 650 passengers. She served on the Australian route, before switching to the central American and Caribbean services for a further 20 years from 1951 to 1971.

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield


Andrew Weir’s 1957 Belfast built CLOVERBANK is seen passing Portishead, outbound from Avonmouth on 19th September 1970. She had been sold at Avonmouth to Y.C.Chang’s Pacific International Lines (P.I.L.) but oddly sailed from Avonmouth in P.I.L. colours still as CLOVERBANK.

She was soon renamed KOTA RAKYAT and finally arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, on 28th December 1981 for breaking.

CLOVERBANK was the lead ship of a 17 ship order from Belfast.

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield

The Trepang Hunters

This is an interesting article penned by Captain Geoffrey Walker concerning the harvesting of Trepang in Asian waters

The full illustrated article can be read by clicking on th download link above

Readers interested in Maritime matters, accounts, pictures, and ephemera should have a look at Geoff’s site at


A nice view of the 1929 built FORTHBANK loaded down. See the line boatmen under the bow.

This was the author’s first ship, joining in July 1951 in Cardiff and sailing for Point Fortin Trinidad to load drummed bitumen

The white line on the hull indicates a date earlier. The company progressively removed the white stripe on the hull in the early 50’s. and it was gone on this ship by 1951.

A typical ‘old timer’ in the fleet at that time. See the lattice type derricks, radial davits for the boats, open rails and wood sheathed decks that glistened when wet. No running water, hot or cold in the accommodation – only hand pumped and carried by buckets.

She was a steamer. Took part in the Sicily landings in WW2 and was the first ship to berth in Italy after Taranto was opened.

Had a 30 year lifespan, the last 6 under the Italian flag as POTESTAS.

She had 3 sisters – Deebank, Trentbank, and Lindenbank. The Deebank had a 42 year life under 3 owners, The Trentbank was lost in WW2, and the Lindenbank stranded on Arena island in 1939.


Ramon De Larrinaga

An article re ” The Larrinaga Steamship Company ” Older Bank Line hands will remember the ubiquitious ‘La’ boats seen around the world keeping company with Bank Line vessels.

Click on the link to download and read. Written by Captain Geoffrey Walker in his great style. See his own site at


The ex SPRUCEBANK as the DEPPY seen in Malta. She was the last vessel from a massive 21 ship order from W Doxford known as the FIRBANK class. Launched in 1964 from Sunderland.

In 1979 she was sold to Cypriot owners and became the BRISTOL and 4 years later, the Greek owned DEPPY. Sold in 1985 by public auction.

Photo is by kind courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield


Type:Cargo Ship
Builder:J Readhead & Sons Ltd
Yard:South Shields
Yard Number:511
Dimensions:5087grt, 2981nrt, 423.7 x 56.7 x 24.8ft
Engines:T3cyl (25, 42 & 71 x 48ins) 524nhp
Engines by:J Readhead & Sons Ltd
Propulsion:1 x Screw, 11.0knots
Reg Number:165927
03/02/1938Bank Line Ltd (A Weir & Co, managers), Glasgow
1955SOARMA – Soc Armamento Marittimo, Genoa, Italy; renamed NELLA
16/02/1971Broken up
Comments:16/02/1971: Arrived at La Spezia for breaking up
23/02/1971: Breaking up commenced by CN Santa Maria



Photo courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield

There were 5 sisters built between 1937 and 1940. The Tiel, Thurso, and Thornliebank were all torpedoed and the Testbank was destroyed when an ammunition ship blew up alongside. The TEVIOTBANK (above) served for 17 years before going to Italian owners who ran her for another 16 years as the NELLA (pictured above).