All posts by fairwinz

About fairwinz

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

Houston ship channel night run – a video – click on the link below…

To all the old ‘Bank Liners’ out there…. You can smell the sulphur and chemicals watching this – pure nostalgia!

Tamapatcharee, alias Ruddbank

The Ruddbank, built 1979 as one of the ‘ Fish’ class vessels, had a long and interesting career. Here goes! Sold to Lamport & Holt 83 and became the ‘ Ramsey’. Made 5 voyages to the Falklands on charter. 1986 became the ‘ Lairg’ in the Vestey Group. 1989 then became the ‘Napier Star’ which somehow enhanced her looks… 1891 sold to Tamapatcharee Shipping HK and took the same name. 1995 purchased by John McCrink (company – South Asia Shipping) who called her ‘Lady Rebecca’. 1999 sold to the International Transport Workers Federation and called ‘Global Mariner’. In 2000 sunk at mile 194 on the river Orinocco after a collision with the ‘ Atlantic Crusader’. The ‘Global Mariner’ had just left the berth and collided when making a turn in the river. A court case found her 100% to blame. See :

Pictures from Geoff Walker – see his book ” A Tramp for all the Oceans” elsewhere on this site.

Isle of Arran – with ‘painted ports’

This beautiful vessel was in the fleet 1895 to 1915 when she was sold to a Liverpool company. 2 Years later in WW1 she was captured by a U boat off of Ireland, and then bombed to destruction. Pictured here in Australian waters.

HISTORICAL NOTE: She was captured and sunk by Fredrich Moeck in U46 who, 3 days later torpedoed a big liner, the Argyllshire, 12,000 tons, and claimed her as lost. However, she managed to reach Falmouth and was repaired to sail on, and to reach the breakers yard at the end of her life.

5 ships sunk in 1 week of February

Sailing Ship FORTHBANK – a beautiful hull profile…

This ship had an interesting career…. Built in 1877 as ‘NEBO’ for a Glasgow company. Changed hands again, before Andrew Weir purchased her in 1894. She became the first ‘ FORTHBANK’ for 15 years before changing name to ‘LEONIDA’ and Peruvian owners in 1909. (a little unusual). Wrecked 2 years later on the S American coast.

POLERIC – a ship with an interesting history

This was a 1900 built ship, a steamer with twin screws and completed as Consuelo for T Wilson of Hull, and used as a cattle carrier for 8 years running cattle between New York and the UK! Then in 1908 named Cainrona by new owners, Cairn Line who ran her between Canada and the UK with 50 First Class and 300 third class passengers. A fire in 1910 led to the rescue of 879 passengers and there was one death. Joined in with Tortona and Gerona which were all then bought by Cunard and she was renamed `Albania. In 1912 Bank Line became the new owner and she became POLARIC. She lasted until 1925 when a cargo of grain shifted and she had to be towed in to New York. Scrapped in Osaka 1929 – a 29 year coloured history!

Here she is as Consuelo

Salamis – Purchased in 1911 for the South Africa-India Trade.

Built in 1899 the Salamis carried 50 1st class passengers and also 650 deck passengers. In 1900 she had transported the New South Wales Naval Brigade with their guns from Australia to Shanghai, and as part of an Interntional brigade that fought to save foreign residents. At that time she was owned by the ‘Aberdeen Line’ that ran to Australia. In 1919 she became the ‘ Kamarina’ in Canada Steamships, and ran to the West Indies. Broken up in Trieste 1924. She was in the Bank Line service from 1911 to 1919.

Incomati – the Bank Line ‘ white ship’ lost in WW2. More information courtesy of

Type:Motor passenger ship
Tonnage7,369 tons
Completed1934 – Workman, Clark & Co Ltd, Belfast 
OwnerAndrew Weir & Co, London 
Date of attack18 Jul 1943Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-508 (Georg Staats)
Position3° 09’N, 4° 15’E – Grid EV 9933
Complement223 (1 dead and 222 survivors).
RouteTakoradi (16 Jul) – Walvis Bay – Durban – Middle East 
Cargo7000 tons of general cargo, including 3600 tons of cocoa, 2600 tons of stores, mail and 2 aircraft 
HistoryCompleted in April 1934 for Bank Line Ltd (Andrew Weir & Co), Belfast. 
Notes on eventAt 07.56 hours on 18 July 1943 the unescorted Incomati (Master Stephen Fox) was torpedoed and damaged by U-508 about 200 miles south of Lagos. At 08.18 hours, the U-boat began shelling the ship, setting her on fire and left the wreck in sinking condition. One crew member was lost. The master, 101 crew members, eight gunners and 112 passengers were picked up by HMS Boadicea (H 65) (LtCdr F.C. Brodrick, RN) and HMS Bridgewater (L 01) (Cdr N.W.H. Weekes, OBE, RN) and landed at Takoradi. 

Weybank – fog in Hong Kong harbour – a true account with illustration!

How it might have looked!

The Weybank‘s opening scene commenced as we approached Hongkong Island from the south between Cheung Chau Island and Ap Liu Chan (Lama Island) and picked up a pilot. Our troubles started when we soon ran into thick pea-soup fog. Apart from having a pilot aboard we had our radar running as we slowly turned east into the strait known loosely as Victoria Harbour. We were moving at „slow-ahead“/“half-ahead“ intermittent speeds and keeping our eyes glued not only outside but on the radar screen. On the radar we could pick out vessels (steel targets) moored at bouys in the harbour but small vessels such as junks, being built from wood and therefore bad radar beam reflectors were another story. We could pick out the larger cargo junks but smaller ones would only appear as a smudge with luck on the radar screen with every two or three revolutions of the radar antenna. I was standing on the bridge half-asleep staring ahead like all the rest of us into the soup, almost drowsing off until the next blast from our fog horn would cause me to jump out of my skin before slowly drowsing off again. Suddenly, all hell broke loose, „F…, F…, What the F…!“. I and all the others in the wheelhouse saw hard on our port bow a red/orange flash of colour rise up above the f‘ocsle. A junk had cut across our bow but with our slow speed we didn‘t just slice through her. Our bow rose up on contact and with our weight pushed her down as we went over her. We had hit her close to her bow section and this caused about two thirds of the rest of her hull on our port side to rise and twist out of the water smashing her hull, masts and sails against us in the process. We all ran to the port bridge wing just in time to see the crumpled wreckage scrape down the length of our hull before being given a final farewell whack from our propellor. I can‘t remember seeing any of the junk‘s crew, not even any that might have jumped or been thrown into the water but I remember to this day seeing the wreckage disappear aft into the fog surrounding us. We were in territorial HK waters and therefore by law not permitted to transmit in MF or HF. The question of sending an SOS or XXX type of signal however never arose. We were in VHF contact with the pilot station.The pilot picked up the VHF handset, did his thing and then we continued on our way. No „Stop Engines“ or any other such command. To be pragmatic about it, it was a sensible decision. Stop engines and become unmaneuverable in the middle of Victoria Harbour in thick fog? A no brainer! I still though to this day wonder if anyone in the HK harbour authority bothered to try to locate the wreckage/possible survivors or if they just took the stance „ one f…… junk less“. 
We crept along our way until we somehow reached our delegated mooring buoy where a couple of small sampan boats were waiting (who needs radar on a sampan?) to pick up our mooring lines. The fog didn‘t lift for the rest of the day, our gloomy introduction to HK”.


Steamer ” Gifford” built 1913 and involved in 2 world wars…

The ‘ Gifford’ joined the fleet in 1913 and had the bad luck to be in Hamburg at the outbreak of war, when she was interned. Given a new name of ‘ Sperrbrecher 9’ she successfully worked as a blockade runner for the Germans. She was returned to Britain at the end of the war and was sold at auction, becoming the ‘ Sheaf Mount’. After changing hands again, she was first flying the Greek flag, followed by the Italian flag for A Lauro at the start of WW2. Seized by the Americans, she was registered in Panama and named ‘Plaudit’, meeting her end in 1942 being torpedoed by U181 off Port Elizabeth. Some career!

Thursobank – one of 5 vessels built around the start of WW2. Only one survived – the Teviotbank which had 33 years in the fleet…Three others were torpedoed and one, the ‘Testbank’ sank after a Liberty ship blew up alongside…..

At 05.09 hours on 22 March 1942 the unescorted Thursobank (Master Ralph Bryan Ellis) was hit on port side amidships by one G7e torpedo from U-373 about 200 miles south-southeast of Nantucket and sank by the bow five minutes after being struck by a second G7e torpedo, which was fired as coup de grâce from the stern torpedo tube at 05.35 hours. The master, 22 crew members and seven gunners were lost. 29 crew members and five gunners were picked up after three days by the Havsten and landed at Halifax on 28 March. Upon arrival, the surviving Chinese crewmen were arrested for mutiny, having placed the few British survivors in front of the lifeboat, throwing the oars away and refusing to share the food and warm clothing with them.

Empire Steel, a motor tanker managed by Andrew Weir, and torpedoed in 1942 in the Atlantic with great loss of life…

At 03.00 hours on 24 Mar, 1942, the unescorted Empire Steel (Master William John Gray) was hit by two torpedoes from U-123, caught fire and exploded. The U-boat finally sank the burning tanker with gunfire northeast of Bermuda. 35 crew members and four gunners were lost. The master, six crew members and one gunner were picked up by the American tug Edmund J. Moran (towing the Robert E. Lee) and landed at Norfolk, Virginia. Read more at wrecksite:

36 vessels in all were under the management of Andrew Weir, and 5 were torpedoed and lost.

M.V. Cedarbank of the Beaverbank Class. 1955

Centre spread from a 1955 Journal of Commerce supplement

Another of the Copra vessels which were so successful. Like all of the Bank Line fleet, there was no certainty of routing, but a homeward run from the Pacific Islands was always a good possibility. In the fleet for 18 years before becoming the ‘Pola Monika’ for another 6 years trading.


Sad and fascinating that only a handful of the above ships made it through to old age. The others were wrecked, abandoned, torpedoed, mined, burnt, or went missing at sea.

The lucky ones were the River Falloch, Trongate, Loch Ranza, and Gantock Rock. Survival chances of making old age or going to scrap – around 8%!

Another view of the 1955 built Foylebank, one of 6 from Harlands…

18 years in the fleet, and then Foylebank gave another 10 years service under the Greek flag under a new name of ‘ Patroclos’. These 6 ships built for the Bank Line were a great success before containers arrived, and they formed the backbone of the Pacific Copra loading programme back to Europe, and in particular, Bromboro dock, Birkenhead. Valuable coconut oil from pre crushed copra carried in tanks was part of the cargo and helped achieve a full load both in space and deadweight. The Copra was crushed and used in a variety of products by Messrs Lever Bros. The distinctive, and not unpleasant smell was overwhelming when climbing out of the taxi alongside when joining one of these vessels discharging. Often, the warm oil, (achieved from steam heating coils) would be flowing out in a throbbing pipe to tankers, and any spillage would quickly solidify into white streaks down the ships side. It could be a miserable wet day, raining, snowing, or blowing, but, hard to explain, there was always a feeling of euphoria as the sensation in that dock immediately and strongly conjured up images of the tropical Pacific islands!……….


A 1955 advertisement by Harland & Wolff in a Bank Line supplement of the Journal of Commerce. It shows a selection of the ships built by H & W. for the company. They are Comliebank, Laganbank, Araybank and Fleetbank, Beaverbank, and Cedarbank. The large ship is the M.V.Foylebank completed in 1955.

These were all fine ships that served the company well, but in 1964, the last ship built for the Bank Line was launched – the M.V. Weybank. She completed a 17 ship order. All subsequent orders went to Wm Doxford or other East Coast yards.

Aymeric, a steamer built in 1905. One of 3 vessels ordered from Russell & Co. Port Glasgow.

Torpedoed in May 1918, only 6 months before the end of the war. She was loaded with coal, heading for Port Said, and in the Mediterranean when caught by U63 (see below). Number of survivors not known.U63 survived the war to surrender and be broken up at Blyth, Northumberland.

AYMERIC SS was a British Cargo steamer built in 1905 by Russell & Co Port Glasgow, Yard No 544 and Engines by Rankin & Blackmore. She was owned by Andrew Weir & Co., Glasgow. She was torpedoed by German submarine U-63 about 145 miles Sw by W of Cape Matapan, when on route from the Clyde for Port Said with a cargo of coal. Read more at wrecksite:


Details of the author………

This new book details many aspects of Andrew Weir’s company – The Bank Line and of Andrew Weir himself, and his family. It contains amusing anecdotes of personalities, and of the trials and tribulations of operating a world wide fleet of vessels, often to remote parts of the world. There is also an interesting summary of the world-wide network of businesses, Agents, and contacts that Andrew Weir created.

The author, Alistair Macnab, is well known to Bank Line personnel, having served ashore as a superintendent in the Gulf Ports, managing the very hectic schedule of a relentless stream of ships arriving, usually in ballast. The efficient loading, in a variety of ports, and getting them full and down, before their departure often for the Panama canal and onwards to Australasia, was a key part of this work.

There are many interesting black and white illustrations.

Comments or enquiries are welcome!



WILLOWBANK SV was originally the full rigged ship Ambrose, with double top sails. Originally ordered by J Smirthwaite of Sunderland and launched by Master Ambrose Schilizzi (son of the owner) in 1885: When bought by Andrew Weir it started the nomenclature for his fleet (to be) having “Bank” as a theme for the ships. On the 22nd December 1895 at 4:30 am in thick weather with a Sw gale running, SV WILLOWBANK was in collision with the Red Star liner SS Berlin (5,526/95) and sank in 5 minutes, 12 miles west of Portland. Ss Berlin was on a cruise en-route from Antwerp to New York, while SV WILLOWBANK, loaded with nitrate was making for Hamburg via Falmouth from Caleta Buena. One life was lost. Chipchase Nick 19/09/2009 Built of iron by Wigham Richardson and Co of Newcastle. Owned by Andrew Weir and Co. ( Bank Line ). Lost in collision with SS Berlin approx 50 28 N  02 45 W on voyage Peru to Hamburg with a cargo of Nitrate of Soda. Some sources say that Berlin also sank but that does not appear to be the case.


Hollybank – 1964 built

A cargo ship. Hollybank (2)], 4 (Vietnam), 5 148.5 metres long overall, 137.5 metres perpendicular to perpendicular, speed of 15 knots, signal letters GMHV. The vessel was designed to carry vegetable oil, hence two Lloyd’s Register gross tonnages. Built for ‘Bank Line Limited’, of London, Andrew Weir & Co. Ltd. the managers. On her 2nd voyage, from Hull to Australia & New Zealand, the vessel made it only as far as Amsterdam or Rotterdam & when it left port there it broke down & limped back to Hull for repair. Visited Auckland, New Zealand, on Oct. 23, 1975. The vessel was sold, in 1979, to ‘Atticksky Cia. Maritime S.A.’, of Panama, (of Greek ownership), & renamed Nikitas F. The vessel was detained for 8 days in Vietnam in 1979 because stowaway refugees seeking to escape were found in the ship’s engine room. The Chief Engineer was forced to confess to people smuggling and the ships’ Greek owners were also fined. At Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The ship’s master at the time was Samothrakitis Komniwos. In 1987, the vessel was sold to ‘Newport Marine Ltd.’ of Valetta, Malta, & renamed Nonas. On Mar. 2, 1990, the vessel arrived at the Alang, Gujarat, India, ship breaking facilities of ‘R. I. Kalathia & Co

M.V. Eastbank

This 1947 built ship with classic lines has a special place in the heart of old timers, being often their first ship and an introduction to the famous or infamous ‘ Copra Run’. The author was 2/0 on her for a great 8 month trip in 1958. None of us probably learnt of her interesting and remarkable career after the Bank Line days. See the extracts below…. It all adds up to a 30 year career for our old ship…. ( See the article on this site called ” Southbank and her sisters”, for a description of the round the world ” Eastbank” trip of 1958.)

Gowanbank under construction at Belfast in 1968 – The last Harland built vessel for the company after a long history…

M.V. `Gowanbank` 10,365 grt, completed by H&W on 30th January 1968 for Andrew Weir Ltd. She was sold foreign in 1979 and broken up in 1985 after a career of only 17 years. She was the last vessel H&W built for the `Bank Line` and she was the last bridge `amidships` vessel built in the UK.

The story of the Empire Attendant……

The Empire Attendant was a ship managed by Andrew Weir on behalf of the M O W T (Ministry of War Transport). She had been a B I ship as shown above, but was converted to cargo carrying in 1940 after being bombed. B.I. gave D names when they were the first British company to fit Diesel engines to a passenger ship, and the ship started life as the Domala. (see lower picture) After conversion in 1940 she looked like the top picture.

She was bombed and set on fire in the English Channel, when 108, mostly Indian seamen were lost. Protests were made by India to Germany. After conversion to a cargo ship she was under Andrew Weir management, and sailed with military stores to Durban, but was torpedoed on 15th July 1942 by U582.

She was rebuilt as steam merchant Empire Attendant for Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). Notes on event: At 03.30 hours on 15 July 1942 the Empire Attendant (Master Thomas Grundy), dispersed from convoy OS-33, ( she became a straggler, 20 miles behind the convoy and with engine trouble) was torpedoed and sunk by U-582 south of the Canary Islands. The master, 49 crew members and nine gunners were lost.

Wener Schulte who sank the Empire Attendant was lost with all his crew of U582, just 3 months later. See map above.

Olivebank – A stunning picture of the Master and Officers…

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.

A Tramp for all the Oceans

Introducing a new book:-

A Tramp for all Oceans  

by Geoffrey Walker

Published : 2019

A nostalgic chronicle of ships and the sea told by the Author from his experiences sailing around Asia and Oceania during the golden years of shipping throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The narrative encapsulates this fascinating bygone period of charm, mystery, and wonder. From many decades based in Asia, the Author tells his sailors anecdotes of the adventurous years he spent tramping the sea routes of Africa, India, the Far East, and Oceania, under the Red Duster, from Apprentice to Captain. Calling at large and small Ports alike, some little more than clearings in the jungle, up barely navigable rivers or not even marked on an Admiralty Chart. 

The book captivates the last of an era when ships all possessed their own “heart and character, when crewed by what may be described as “different breed” of seafarer, and which now only lives on in maritime nostalgia.

Available from  or Amazon Books

The book is not intended to be a technical narrative in any way whatsoever, but rather, it is written in a very personalized way to appeal to a wider readership and those who may have a nautical interest, whilst not necessarily having a maritime background.

Please note, Geoffrey served in the Bank Line, notably on the Levernbank, which was later wrecked on the South American coast. ( see Levernbank account on this site).

Shipping Today and Yesterday Article. 2016

The Sailing Ships of Andrew Weir
Shipping & Trading Co. Ltd.

by John Richardson


S1605-28- Beechbank-10

Russell & Co of Port Glasgow launched the Beechbank on 3rd February 1892 with yard number 289. She was a four masted barque measuring 2,288 grt with the dimensions of 277.5 x 42 x 24.2 feet. After tramping around the world when mainly carrying coal from either South Wales or Newcastle, NSW, the Beechbank was sold in 1913 to E. Monson of Tvedestrand, Norway. Early in 1916 during WW1 when she was on passage from Iquiqui towards Copenhagen with nitrates, she was firstly intercepted by a British armed merchant cruiser when sailing north of Scotland, and ordered into Kirkwall, Shetlands for examination. On the same day she was hit by a terrific storm and lost many of her sails, spars and became badly damaged. Then another British armed merchant cruiser HMS Ebro came to her assistance and escorted her into Kirkwall. Once seaworthy she went to London for a major refit. During her repairs later in the year of 1916, she changed hands to O. Stray of Kristiansand who renamed her Stoveren. He kept her until 1922 when she went to Norsk Rutefart of Norway. The four masted barque was scrapped in 1924.

However, during her career in Andrew Weir’s fleet, on 5th January 1907 an apprentice named Victor Harbord joined the Beechbank at Port Talbot. He was making his first trip to sea. His first ship’s destination was to the Peruvian port of Iquiqui, (pronounced aye kee kee) with a cargo of coal. Victor came from a family of sailors of which his father Captain Richard Harbord OBE, and his three elder brothers, were all seasoned seamen who’d been brought up in sail. Young Victor had wanted to pursue a life in steamships, but his father told him that if he wanted to get any money from him for his indentures, then he had to start off in sail. Therefore, it was due to the wishes of Victor’s father that the young man signed his four year indentures with the Andrew Weir Shipping & Trading Co. Apprentice Harbord remembers only too well the day he joined his first ship in Port Talbot. It was on a cold and icy day of January 1907. Mr Webb the mate welcomed him on board at the top of the gangway, took him to the saloon and introduced him to Captain John R. Bremner, then put him to work breaking the ice off a load of dunnage on the quayside, and then stow the planks on board. Also in his memory was his first rounding of Cape Horn, and what he’d heard about that notorious stretch of water turned out to be true, indeed the Beechbank took a 15 day pasting in sailing around The Horn, and Victor recorded some notes on the ordeal.

22nd March 1907 – Ran into very bad weather, ship labouring with heavy seas coming aboard.

26th March 1907 – Latitude 60°25′ South Longitude 72°48′ West. Still beating around Cape Horn.

31st March 1907 – Still beating to windward.

2nd April 1907 – Shocking weather. The ship is labouring heavily. Mate’s and apprentice’s rooms flooded out. The ship is taking a lot of heavy water on board. Two men are lashed to the wheel.

6th April 1907 – Rounded Cape Horn, Very cold weather, heavy seas and snow squalls.

Victor and his six other apprentice shipmates had lots to learn. As well as climbing the rigging, they had to set and furl canvas as well as stitching it, and ensure that every rope was always in its proper place. There was also boxing the compass, learning how to steer with quarter points, and many other sailorising jobs. Then of course there was the holystoning the wooden decks, a task which was otherwise known as ‘bible practice’.

On arrival at Iquiqui the apprentices had to supervise the coal discharge, and then ensure that the hold was thoroughly cleaned before loading at Pisagua. After loading a cargo of salt petre the Beechbank’s next destination was Cape Town. From there the ship went to Adelaide in ballast where on arrival she anchored awaiting orders. On Sunday 24th December 1908 the ship berthed at Port Augusta, and then on Christmas day the ship was ‘dressed’ and thrown open to the public. Captain Bremner invited Reverend Wilkinson and his friends on board and they returned the compliment by taking the seven apprentices on a picnic. Beechbank left Port Augusta on 15th March 1909 and made a 109 day passage to Belfast. Victor went home on leave and rejoined at Cardiff where his ship was loading coke for Albany, New York.

At the end of the nineteenth century the victuals on ships would never come up to today’s standards. On the Beechbank there was a daily ration of eight ‘Liverpool Pantiles’. These rock hard biscuits were normally ages old, full of weevils and had to be thoroughly soaked before being eaten. Salt fish and salt pork as well as South African dried stringy meat named biltong were other additions to our cheap meal allowances. Another one was ‘Harriet Lane’ a tinned meat product that’s regarded as being a bit of a luxury. Apparently, the name for this tinned meat got its name from a London meat canning factory in the mid nineteenth century. It so happened, that one of the women workers in the factory named Harriet Lane, who regularly prepared the stewed meat for canning, suddenly disappeared! Because she’d recently had an altercation with her employer, he was accused of chopping the woman up and putting her into the huge stew pot to hide the evidence. Despite police intervention nothing was ever proved, but the name of ‘Harriet Lane’ stuck. Furthermore, that woman’s name was given to all the stewed meat products that came from that meat canning factory. Moreover, because the Londoners would no longer eat the products of that factory it was sold off cheaply. Therefore, it came as no surprise when ship owners revelled in the cheap food and bought all that was left and used it for crew meals. As a result of it all, and even many years after the meat canning factory had gone out of business, tinned meat was forever after called ‘Harriet Lane’ on ships of sail. A cup of tea on a ship never had any milk or sugar in it, and was similar to the porridge that was called ‘goolash’. A week after a ship had sailed any fresh meat quickly disappeared from the menu, spuds and onions lasted longer but like the drinking water they were kept locked up. To prevent scurvy lime juice was part of the rations, as was a daily issue of four quarts of water, half of which had to be handed over to the galley.

Victor’s recollections of his four years apprenticeship on the Beechbank are a vivid memory as are the two weeks spent in the ‘roaring forties’ battling against the strong winds and high seas. On one occasion he was sent aloft in the dark to secure a loose sail. The seas were so heavy and the ship being thrown about so much, that after he had made the sail fast he was unable to get down again and spent several hours clinging to the rigging. Such was the life that Victor led for the whole of his apprenticeship. When he finally left the Beechbank after serving his four years apprenticeship he received a massive pay-off of £28. Victor Harbord never returned to sail but continued his life at sea in steamships and worked his way up to the rank of Master Mariner. He later became a Humber Pilot and later in the Thames and Clyde, eventually completing 28 years as a pilot. During WW2 he was selected by the Admiralty to be an examining officer.


S1605-28- Cedarbank 300 x 20

This four-masted steel barque of 2,825 grt was launched in June 1892. She was built by Mackie & Thompson of Glasgow to the order of Andrew Weir & Co. Her other dimensions were 326 x 43 x 24.5 feet. Her sister ship was the Olivebank, and those two large vessels were the pride of the fleet. Both of those ships had steel wheel houses on the poop deck to protect the helmsman if the ship got pooped. They also had a donkey engine for hauling in the anchor as well as for a fire hose line. But none of Andrew Weir’s ships ever had the modern style Liverpool House amidships, a point from where the ship could be steered with chain and rod gear, and also where the crew could be accommodated. The Cedarbank’s first master was Captain Andrew D. Moody, his crew had all signed on at Glasgow, but his ship almost came to a premature end when she was on her maiden voyage after her coal caught fire. After leaving Sydney while still on her maiden voyage, the ship was towed 60 miles up the coast to Newcastle where she loaded 4,800 ton cargo of coal for San Francisco. But when she was halfway across the Pacific Ocean, the deck plates were found to be unnaturally hot, and that spelled ‘fire’.

Coal itself comes in different forms with the best steam coal in the world ‘arguably’ coming from South Wales in the UK. But it appears that in 1892, a seam of inferior slate coal was mined at Newcastle, NSW and designated for export. Slate coal has always been well known for its instability as it splutters and spits out gas as it burns. Indeed, those of us who have sat before a coal fire will know only too well, and especially when burning cheap slate coal, that a fire guard has to be placed before an open fire in case the coal spits out dangerous sparks.

Cedarbank left Newcastle, NSW on 5th March 1893 bound for San Francisco with its 4,800 tons of coal. All went well for the first five days, but during 12th-15th March the ship was hit by a Pacific Ocean hurricane. Damage to her spars, rigging and loss of sails obliged Captain Moody to turn around and head for Sydney. The fully laden ship arrived there on 21st March, where after five weeks of repairs she once again sailed for San Francisco on 28th April.

A coal fire in the hold of a ship, which is better known as internal combustion, can often take many weeks to materialise and reveal itself. Indeed, when the Cedarbank left Sydney her coal may have already been alight. But after having been at sea for 53 days when the ship was in a position just north of Midway Island, those dreaded wisps of smoke were seen to be seeping out from beneath number two hatch tarpaulins, while at the same time the decks were becoming increasingly hot! If the Beechbank had been built of wood she’d have long since burned, and wouldn’t have even got half way. So much for steel and iron versus the out dated wooden collier ships!

On realising the cargo was on fire Captain Moody had a tough decision to make. Should he head for the nearest landfall, where any kind of assistance would be next to zero, or should he continue his passage in the hope of making San Francisco? After a consultation with the mate he decided to push on for ‘Frisco. At first light on the following morning, number two hatch was stripped and the crowd began discharging as much of the smouldering coal as they could, while at the same time every stitch of canvas was set. The sailors in the smoke and gas filled hold worked intermittently, but after ditching a few hundred tons, they then realised that the fire was slowly gaining and the hatch was battened down again. Two boats were fully provisioned and towed astern for a few days. But the weather came up and they had to be brought back onboard again. It was a torrid five weeks from when the fire was discovered, to when the Cedarbank finally arrived at San Francisco on 26th July after an 89 day passage. During that time water had been pumped onto the heated coal and the pumps were swung day and night to take the water from the bilges. Clouds of steam and smoke had emitted from the hold and many hatch boards were blown off. Taking a tow from the unsuspecting tugs the ship was first beached, and then the hold was flooded by the fire fighting tugs, after two to three days when the fire had been extinguished the water was pumped out and the ship towed away to discharge her cargo. Needless to say most of the cargo was saved, but the inside the hold was a mass of twisted beams with the hold ceiling badly burned.

After being repaired for the second time in five months, the Cedarbank took a cargo of grain back to the UK. From there she went out to Australia again and continued tramping with coal and grain until Mr Weir began disposing of his sailing ship fleet. Cedarbank was sold in January 1914 to E. Monson of Tvedestrand, Norway, with Captain Abrahamsen taking command. Two years later in 1916 with WW1 at its peak she was sold to Rederiselskabet A/S Cedarbank of Farsund, Norway. But that company didn’t keep her long, because while she was homeward bound on her first voyage for her new owners, she left Savannah with a cargo of oil cakes via Halifax Nova Scotia on 9th May 1917, on passage towards Aarhus, Denmark. The year of 1917 was the worst of all the war years for ships being sunk by submarines, the war at sea had reached its peak and ships of sail were easy prey for submarines. In the North Sea on 14th June 1917 the submarine U-100 had the Cedarbank in her sights. The unarmed sailing ship had no radio and was therefore no danger at all to the U boat. But to Commander Dagenhart von Loe it was no excuse. His orders from his superiors were to sink enemy ships without warning, not even giving their crews a chance to take to the boats. The philosophy of the German High Command was that rescued men and survivors could man other ships. He therefore torpedoed the helpless ship leaving 26 sailors to their deaths. The only trace that was ever found of the one time pride of Andrew Weir’s fleet was a few days later on 17th June 1917, when one of the Cedarbank’s empty lifeboats was found drifting off Flo Sunnmore, Norway.


S1605-29- Olivebank 1

The Olivebank was launched on 21st September 1892, three months after her sister ship Cedarbank. Her first master was Captain J. N. Petrie, but any information on the ship for the next seven years is presently obscure. This may be due to the fact that during those years when steam ships were rapidly taking the business from sail, it was quite normal to see vast numbers of sailing ships being laid up for long periods of time all around the world. However, it was in 1899 that the Olivebank left the UK for Chile with coal, and then went onto Australia in ballast. In the following year she made a fast passage from Melbourne to Falmouth in 87 days. The next news on the ship is in February 1909 when she arrived at Santa Rosalia, California with coal from South Wales.

Under the command of Captain Carse she later sailed in ballast to Newcastle, NSW and loaded 4,800 tons of coal. Her destination was back to Santa Rosalia, but after she’d arrived there, and while she was lying at anchor in the shallows, it was then discovered that her cargo of coal was on fire. The fire fighting tugs came alongside and after the best part of two days put the fire out, but there had been so much water pumped into her hold that the Olivebank ended up sitting on the bottom with little or no freeboard showing. After being refloated and her coal discharged she went for repairs.

Captain Petrie was relieved by Captain David George. But after those repairs had been completed four months later, she was thrown against the Santa Rosalia sea wall in a hurricane on 29th June 1911. In that accident one sailor was killed and the rudder was badly damaged, and that necessitated a further delay for repairs. Despite being insured and with commanding a good freight rate on its 4,800 ton cargo, it was a voyage in which the unfortunate ship made a loss for her owner.

The ornate figurehead of the Olivebank.
The ornate figurehead of the Olivebank.

On completion of the voyage the Olivebank was sold in August 1913 to E. Monson. The next news of the ship came when she went to Rederi/As Heinschien of the same port. Two years later she went to The Kristiansand Shipping Co. They renamed her Caledonia and also kept her for two years before selling her to J. Lorentzen of the same port. In 1924 the ship was once again sold after a two year period of ownership. This time she went to Gustav Erikson of Mariehamn, Finland. Captain Erikson had always been a firm believer that a ship’s name should never be changed, so the first thing he did was to give Olivebank her original name back. With no cargoes offering, the Olivebank sailed on spec from her new Mariehamn port of registration to Cardiff looking for a coal cargo. But because there was nothing available anywhere in South Wales, she once again sailed on spec, this time in 93 days to Port Lincoln in ballast under Captain Troberg.

After receiving orders to load at Port Victoria, Olivebank loaded wheat and then had a slow 147 day passage back to Falmouth for orders. So slow had the passage been, that Captain Troberg wasn’t a bit surprised to learn on his arrival that he’d been posted ‘posted missing’ by Lloyds. On discharging no outward cargoes were available, so once again Olivebank went out to Port Lincoln ‘light ship’ looking for a cargo, and once again she took 93 days to get there. With nothing available her new master Captain Granith received orders that a cargo of guano was awaiting him in the Seychelles. On 24th April 1926 he sailed his ship from Melbourne for Mahe, arriving there on 27th June. The cargo was loaded and he sailed for Dunedin on 16th August 1926 arriving there on 13th November.

From then on the Olivebank joined in on the grain races with a large number of other sailing vessels. Those grain races had in fact begun in 1921 and ended in 1939. It was an annual event and the winners in order of year from 1921 being, Marlborough Hill, Milverton, Beatrice, Grief, Beatrice, L’Avenir, Herzogin Cecilie, Herzogin Cecilie, Archibald Russell, Pommern, Herzogin Cecilie, Parma, Parma, Parma, Passat, Priwall, Herzogin Cecilie, Pommern, Passat, Passat, Moshulu, Viking, Passat.

The Olivebank took part in 13 of those grain races, and although she had the capabilities to win she never won any of them. However, Gustav Erikson’s ships won 18 of the 23 races which ended at the outbreak of WW2.

During those Grain Races the Olivebank was under the command of the following:

1929-1931 Captain K. F. Lindgren, from 1931-1933 Captain J. M. Mattson, from 1933-1937 Captain A. L. Lindvall, and from 1937- 1939 Captain C. Granith

S1605-30- Olivebank 2a

After having discharged her Australian wheat at Barry Docks, it was on 29th August 1939, which was six days before the declaration of WW2 that Olivebank sailed from Barry to her home port of Mariehamn. However, on her arrival at the South Wales coaling port, a number of apprentices paid off and took a ferry back to Finland. They had done their time and wanted to sit for their tickets. As a result the short handed Olivebank left for Mariehamn with a crew of 21. With Finland being a neutral country a large Finnish flag was painted on each of her ship’s sides as well as the hatch tarpaulins. Just to be on the safe side her boats were kept swung out. When the ship was off Dover a British destroyer approached with the information that the Royal Navy had not sown any minefields on Olivebank’s proposed route, but strongly suspected that the Germans had. Captain Granith therefore posted two look-outs day and night, one the foc’sle head and the other up aloft. Ten days after leaving Barry and when the ship was in the North Sea, Olivebank ran into a minefield near Bovbjerg off the Danish coast. But because the water was comparatively calm and shallow, the anchored mines which should have been about ten feet below the water were visible and floating on top. On the lookout’s three bell ring, and his verbal report of “Mine Right Ahead”, Captain Granith ordered the wheel hard over. The Olivebank missed that mine but as she swung around she hit another that was submerged in deeper water. The result of the explosion was catastrophic. Masts, yards and other spars came crashing down, the ship’s empty hold filled rapidly and the ship quickly developed a port list. So quickly did everything happen that those onboard could do nothing except jump over the side and swim for their lives. Nobody on board was wearing a life jacket and those in the water could only grasp at anything that was buoyant and hold on to it. The 47 year old Olivebank quickly sank.

Fortunately for some of the crew, the ship had sunk in shallow water with a heavy list to port, with the fore upper t’gallant yard sticking up out of the water and pointing skywards. Seven of the crew managed to reach it and lash themselves onto it. But they had to wait there all night and most of the next day in the cold waters of the North Sea before rescue arrived. Eventually a trawler named Talona, whose skipper was Captain Soren Hansen approached the sunken wreck. He took the seven survivors off and landed them at Esbjerg. Fourteen men had perished in the sinking with Captain Carl Granith being one of them.


S1605-31- Trafalgar

In 1893 the company brought in the four masted iron ship Trafalgar which had been built in 1877. Her builder was Charles Connell of Glasgow, yard number 106, while the first owners were the Australian brothers W. & A. Brown of Sydney. Captain Brown was the ship’s first commander. The Glasgow registered Trafalgar was 1,765 grt with dimensions of 271.5 × 39.3 × 23.4 feet. While she was under Brown Brother’s ownership, the Trafalgar was involved in a collision with George Smith’s City Line barque City of Corinth in March 1888, the incident occurred off the Isle of Wight and the latter ship foundered. On buying the Trafalgar Andrew Weir immediately had her converted to a barque. After loading coal at Cardiff, Trafalgar made a 31 day passage to Rio de Janeiro. On discharge she sailed to New York in ballast and loaded case oil for the Dutch East Indies. But later in the year whilst she was still on her first trip for Andrew Weir, and after discharging the case oil at Batavia, disaster struck! The incident was later reported in the Melbourne Times:

The four masted barque Trafalgar left Batavia in the Dutch East Indies on 29th October 1893 with ‘Java Fever’ on board. The captain died before the ship had sailed and the first mate succeeded to the command signing on another man to take his own place, with one of the sailors acting as second mate. On their way across the Indian Ocean the new master, Captain Richard Roberts, and his new first mate both succumbed to the Java Fever plague and died. The navigation of the ship then fell upon the shoulders of the acting third mate William Shotton, an 18 year old lad who was still serving his apprenticeship. The second mate who had been promoted from the crew proved to be worse than useless and William Shotton sent him back to the foc’sle. Imagine the task the boy had to face. There was only one other man left on board who could take a trick at the wheel, a sail maker named Kennedy. The rest of the crew for the most part had either died or been stricken with the deadly disease. Yet William Shotton brought the barque safely into Melbourne, riding out a gale and faring up dauntlessly. The Trafalgar arrived at Port Phillip a week before Christmas. The Victorian Government presented Mr Shotton with a gold watch and chain in recognition of his gallantry. Later on he was the recipient of a Lloyds Silver Medal.

Eleven years later on 11th November 1904, the Trafalgar was wrecked 20 miles South of Tamandare, Brazil. She was on passage with a cargo of wheat from Sydney towards Falmouth for orders.


S1605-31- Falklandbank

Built in 1894 by Mackie & Thompson for Andrew Weir, yard number 78, the three masted fully rigged ship Falklandbank registered 1,913 gross tons. Her other dimensions were 265 x 39 x 24 feet. Of the scraps of information found on this ship, one is she collided with the Belgian steamer Switzerland, Captain Doxrud, at Antwerp on 5th July 1905. As a result eight plates on the steamers hull were stove in and left a 30 inch hole below the waterline on the starboard side. Most fortunately the Switzerland’s cargo had been discharged. A claim for £4,000 was made against the Falklandbank and the tug Flying Serpent, the towing line which parted was the cause of the accident. She met her end in the winter of 1907-1908.

Transcript from the Liverpool Mercury, 9th May 1908

Grave anxiety is being manifested in Liverpool for the safety of the steel ship Falklandbank, which is overdue on her voyage from Liverpool and Port Talbot towards Caleta Beuno. She arrived in Liverpool on 2nd October 1907 from Caleta Beuno to load for the West Coast of South America (WCSA) through the agents William Lowden & Co., 17 Water Street. The crew signed on at the Central Shipping Office in Canning Place with a large number of her men coming from Liverpool. Prior to leaving the Mersey she was in Glover’s Graving Dock and should have been in good sailing condition.

She left Liverpool on 24th October 1907 and arrived at the Welsh loading port two days later where she remained until 9th November when she sailed for Valparaiso. She was in contact two days after leaving port in 49° North and 8° West, and then again in 31° South 46° West by the Italian ship Checco which arrived in Montevideo on 27th December.

The American ship Kenilworth had been caught in a heavy gale, otherwise known as a Pampero on 30th December off the River Plate. She was thrown onto her beam ends which resulted in her subsequent loss. It is feared that the Falklandbank was possibly overtaken by the same gale, as she would have been in the same position at the time. Captain J. A. Robbins her master has been 35 years in active service and for the past ten years had been in the employ of Andrew Weir & Co. of Glasgow. At about the same time that the Pampero hit the River Plate region, a terrific storm was raging off Cape Horn which resulted in the loss of six ships. It is a possibility that the Faklandbank was there at the time. The Falklandbank has to date been 180 days out of port. The Liverpool ship Barcore left Barry nine days after the Falklandbank and arrived at Caleta Colosa on 20th March 1908 after a passage of 123 days.

The continued absence of the Falklandbank is causing great anxiety in shipping circles and it is feared she has been lost with her crew of 30 men. Although several of the Liverpool crew deserted at Port Talbot, it is known that many of those who sailed in her come from the Mersey port.

The Sailing Ships Of Andrew Weir Shipping And Trading Co. Ltd.

NameBuiltBuildersIn ServiceTonsFate
Willowbank1861Wigham, Richardson1885-18958821895 – sunk in collision off Portland
Anne Main1867Alexander Stephen1886-18964991896 – wrecked at Goto Island
Thornliebank (1)1886Russell & Co.1886-18911,4051891 – fire at Perth
Francis Thorpe1868Richardson, Duck & Co.1888-18901,2571890 – wrecked at Salinas Cruz
Abeona1867Alexander Stephen1888-19001,0041900 – wrecked at Cape Recife
Pomona1867Steele & Co.1889-19021,2531902 – abandoned off The Azores
Hawthornbank1889Russell & Co.1889-19101,3691917 – torpedoed off Scotland
Hazelbank1889Connell & Co.1889-18901,6601890 – wrecked on Goodwin Sands
Elmbank1890Russell & Co.1890-18942,2881894 – wrecked on Isle of Arran
Sardhana1885Russell & Co.1890-19111,1461911 – wrecked off Uruguay
Comliebank1890Russell & Co.1890-19132,2831913 – abandoned off Bermuda
Dunbritton1875McMillan & Son1891-19061,5361906 – sank in the North Sea
River Falloch1884Russell & Co.1891-19091,6371922 – broken up
Trongate1878Dobie & Co.1891-19179871925 – broken up
Thistlebank1891Russell & Co.1891-19142,4301914 – torpedoed off Ireland
Gowanbank1891Russell & Co.1891-18962,2881896 – abandoned off Cape Horn
Ashbank1891Russell & Co.1891-18922,2921892 – disappeared
Beechbank1892Russell & Co.1892-19132,2881924 – broken up
Fernbank1892McMillan & Son1892-19021,4291902 – wrecked off Mozambique
Oakbank1892McMillan & Son1892-19001,4291900 – wrecked on Serrano Island
Cedarbank1892Mackie & Thompson1892-19132,8251917 – disppeared
Olivebank1892Mackie & Thompson1892-19132,8241939 – mined off Jutland
Trafalgar1877Connell & Co.1893-19041,7681904 – wrecked near Recife
Mennock1876London & Glasgow Eng.1893-19168221923 – wrecked at Punta Lirqen
Levernbank1893Russell & Co.1893-19092,4001909 – abandoned off Scilly Isles
Laurelbank1893Russell & Co.1893-18982,3971898 – disappeared
Forthbank1877Dobie & Co.1894-19091,4221911 – wrecked at Chinchas, Peru
Castlebank1894Russell & Co.1894-18961,6561896 – disappeared
Heathbank1894Russell & Co.1894-19001,6611900 – disappeared
Falklandbank1894Mackie & Thompson1894-19071,9131907 – disappeared
Loch Eck1874Connell & Co.1894-18951,7011906 – dismasted and hulked
Springbank1894Russell & Co.1894-19132,3981920 – wrecked off Stavanger
Isle OF Arran1892Russell & Co.1895-19151,9181915 – sunk by U-boat off Kinsale
Collessie1891Russell & Co.1895-19011,4651901 – wrecked off Chile
Clydebank1877Birrell, Stenhouse & Co.1895-19018931913 – damged and hulked
David Morgan1891Wm. Hamilton & Co.1896-18981,5661898 – disappeared
Perseverance1896McMillan & Son1896-19001,9001900 – disappeared
Thornliebank (2)1896Russell & Co.1896-19132,1051913 – wrecked off Scilly Isles
Allegiance1876Potter & Co.1897-19001,2361900 – abandoned on fire
Loch Ranza1875Connell & Co.1897-19011,1291925 – broken up
Gifford1892Scott & Co.1898-19032,2451903 – wrecked near San Francisco
Gantock Rock1879McMillan & Son1900-19091,6111924 – broken up
Glenbreck1890Duncan & Co.1900-19011,9001901 – disappeared
Ellisland1884Duncan & Co.1908-19102,4261910 – disappeared
Philadelphia1892C. Tecklenborg1912-19151,8051917 – torpedoed off Ireland

The company also bought the sailing ships Poseidon (built 1881) in 1908, and Marion Frazer (built 1892) in 1911 and converted them into storage hulks

Olivebank at Port Chalmers N.Z. Taken after 1900 judging by the steamers…

  • 1892 Named: OLIVEBANK for Andrew Weir and Co. (Bank Line), Glasgow. Flag: United Kingdom
  • Maiden voyage under command of Capt. J.N. Petrie.
  • 1900 Passage from Melbourne to Falmouth in 87 days.
  • 1909 Passage from Santa Rosalia, California to Newcastle N.S.W. in 60 days.
  • 25.02.1911, when under command of Capt. David George her cargo of coal caught fire in the harbour of Santa Rosalia, she grounded due to the amount of water pumped in to extinguish the fire. Refloated and repaired.
  • 29.06.1911 Thrown against a breakwater by a hurricane at Santa Rosalia and sustained minor damage to her stern and rudder. One man of her crew was killed in the accident.
  • During 1913 Passage from Callao to Newcastle N.S.W. in 56 days and back to Antofagasta in 52 days
  • 08.1913 Sold to A/S Olivebank (E Monsen and Co. managers) at Tvedestrand, Norway. Flag: Norway
  • 09.1916 Sold to Tvedestrands Rederi A/S (J.A. Henschien, manager), Tvedestrand for NKr. 935.000.
  • 1918 Sold to Christianssands Shipping Co. Ltd., Kristiansand, Norway.
  • 09.1920 Sold to Skibs A/S Otra (Lars Jørgensen manager), Kristiansand.
  • 08.1922 Sold for 85.000 Kroner to A/S Caledonia (John J Lorentzen, Kristiania (Oslo), Norway, renamed CALEDONIA.
  • 1923 Sailed from Campbellton to Adelaide in 122 days.
  • 1924 Sailed from Melbourne to Queenstown in 113 days. (Basil Lubbock gives the year 1925 for this voyage.)
  • 10.1924 Sold to Captain Gustav Erikson at Mariehamn, renamed again OLIVEBANK, made her first voyage for Erikson under command of Captain K Tørberg. Flag: Finland
  • 1924 Sailed from Cardiff, U.K to Port Lincoln in 93 days, made that voyage in ballast.
  • 24.04.1926 Sailed in ballast from Melbourne for the Seychelles to load guano for New Zealand. Failing to round Cape Leeuwin, the captain turned round and sailed through the Torres Straits, arriving at Mahe on 27 June after a passage of 64 days. At that time it was said that she was the largest sailing vessel ever went through the Torrens Straits.
  • 16.08.1926 Sailed again from Mahe and after a passage of 89 days she arrived at Dunedin, New Zealand on 13 Nov. Thereafter mostly used in the grain trade from Australia to Europe till World War II. After she had discharged her cargo of wheat from Australia at Barry Docks, Captain Carl Granith received orders to proceed to Mariehamn her homeport.
  • 29.08.1939 sailed from Barry in ballast, with a total of 21 crew, some crewmembers had left the ship at Barry to be in time for the start of the Navigation School in Finland.
  • 08.09.1939 About 105 miles west by south from Bovbjerg, hit by a hidden mine and sunk. 7 men were save on board the Danish trawler TALONA from Esbjerg under command of Capt. Soren Hansen, the vessel steamed to Esbjerg
  • 11.09.1939 Landed the men at that port. The consulate of Finland informed the authorities in Finland; thereafter their voyage home was arranged.

N.B. The men clung to the spars and rigging which fortunately were above sea level

Sailing ship Willowbank – the first ship owned by Andrew Weir starting out as a ship owner…

Willowbank SV (+1895)WILLOWBANK SV was originally the full rigged ship Ambrose, with double top sails. Originally ordered by J Smirthwaite of Sunderland and launched by Master Ambrose Schilizzi (son of the owner) in 1885: When bought by Andrew Weir it started the nomenclature for his fleet (to be) having “Bank” as a theme for the ships. On the 22nd December 1895 at 4:30 am in thick weather with a Sw gale running, SV WILLOWBANK was in collision with the Red Star liner SS Berlin (5,526/95) and sank in 5 minutes, 12 miles west of Portland. Ss Berlin was on a cruise en-route from Antwerp to New York, while SV WILLOWBANK, loaded with nitrate was making for Hamburg via Falmouth from Caleta Buena. One life was lost.

S S Empire Miniver (Andrew Weir’s Management)

EMPIRE MINIVER SS was a British Cargo Steamer of 5,724 tons; 410×54.2 ft; Built in 1918 as the West Cobalt, for the US Shipping Board, Portland, Oregon, Usa. In 1918-19 she was transferred to the US Navy – Naval Overseas Transportation Service. In 1933 she was purchased by Lykes Bros – Ripley SS Co, Galveston, Texas. In 1940 she was renamed EMPIRE MINIVER and requisioned by Mowt and managed by A.Weir & Co.

On the 18th October 1940 when on route from Baltimore – Sydney (5 Oct) – Newport, Monmouthshire carrying a cargo of 4,500 tons of pig iron and 6,200 tons of steel in Convoy SC-7 when she was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-99 about 100 miles W by S of Barra Head. Three crew members were lost. The master and 34 crew members were picked up by HMS Bluebell (k 80) (LtCdr Robert E. Sherwood) and landed at Greenock on 20 October.

Carronbank, the third ship in the 17 ship order from Harlands in 1957. Easy ships to work, and comfortable. (See the account on this site of the voyage in her sister ship Crestbank)

Change of ownership to Tafimar Navigation Co. Ltd. and name to Aris Carrier1974, change of ownership to Eurabia International Ltd. and name to Eurabia Ocean 1976, change of ownership to Central Trading & Shipping Co. Ltd. and name to Neptun 1979, change of ownership to Pro-Verde Shipping SA and name to Maystar 1980. Taken to Bombay for breaking at Indian Metal Traders 6 September 1982.

The lead ship of an 18 ship order in 1924. Motor vessel Inverbank. Built in Govan, Scotland. She came through WW2 unscathed and served 34 years – a true Bank Line “work horse”, complete with deck houses and the trademark lattice derricks. Primitive conditions on board, but loved by all who circled the globe on her….

This ship was twin screw, with all that that meant. Proceeding on one engine from time to time!

TypeCargo Ship
Original Owners and ManagersBank Line Ltd.
Country First RegisteredUK
ShipbuilderHarland & Wolff
Country where builtUK
Yard Number643g
Official Number147899
Call SignGKML
Classification SocietyLloyd’s Register
Gross Tonnage5,149
Deadweight (DWT)N/K
Net Tonnage3,113
Length420.4 Ft.
Overall LengthN/K
Breadth or Beam53.9 Ft.
Depth26.5 Ft.
Engine TypeDiesel Engines
Engine Details4S.C.SA 12 cylinder oil engines with bore 24 13/16″ and stroke 37 13/16″
Engine BuilderHarland & Wolff
Engine Builder WorksGlasgow
Engine Builder CountryUK
Boiler DetailsN/A
Propulsion TypeTwin Screw
Power717 MN
Maximum Speed12kts or more on a good day.

Additional Construction Information

  • 1 steel deck and steel shelter deck

Career Highlights

24 March 1924Launched
29 May 1924Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Cargo CapacityN/K

Status and Service History Information

StatusBroken Up
Service History InformationKeel laid down as Boveric in 1924, change of name to Inverbank by time of launching, change of ownership to Frassinetti & C Soc Italiana di Nav pA and name to La Liguria 1958. Taken to La Spezia for breaking by CN Tomaso di Savoia 23 September 1959.


One of the 21 ship order from Doxford’s in Sunderland built during the period 1957 to 1964. The mast and funnel were incorported into the bridge structure on this vessel, similar to the new ‘ Taybank’ series commenced by the same builder in 1963. Judging from online comments from ex Bank Line staff who sailed with this configuration, it was not a success.

15 YEARS WITH BANK LINE and sold to greeks and named nikitas f
TypeCargo Ship
Original Owners and ManagersBank Line Ltd.
Country First RegisteredUK
ShipbuilderW. Doxford & Sons
ShipyardPallion, Sunderland
Country where builtUk
Yard Number862
Official Number304174
Call SignN/K
Classification SocietyN/K
Gross Tonnage8,403
Deadweight (DWT)12190
Net TonnageN/K
Length137.5 Metres
Overall Length148.5 Metres
Breadth or Beam19 Metres
Engine TypeDiesel Engine
Engine DetailsN/K
Engine BuilderN/K
Engine Builder WorksN/K
Engine Builder CountryN/K
Boiler DetailsN/K
Propulsion TypeSingle Screw
Maximum Speed15

Career Highlights

14 January 1964Launched
April 1964Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Cargo CapacityN/K

Status and Service History Information

StatusBroken Up
Service History InformationChange of ownership to Atticksky Cia Maritima SA and name to Nikitas F. 1979, change of ownership to Newport Marine Ltd. and name to Nonos 1987. Taken to Alang for breaking by R.I. Kalathia & Co. 2 March 1990.

War built Hollybank 1942. In the fleet 1944 to 1953

Completed as Empire Southey
Original Owners and ManagersBank Line Ltd.
Country First RegisteredUK
ShipbuilderShort Bros.
ShipyardPallion, Sunderland
Country where builtUK
Yard Number471
Official Number169023
Call SignBDXY
Classification SocietyLloyds Register
Gross Tonnage7,041
Deadweight (DWT)10385
Net Tonnage4,954
Length431 Ft.
Overall Length446.5 Ft.
Breadth or Beam56.3 Ft.
Depth35.2 Ft.
Engine TypeTriple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine DetailsCylinders of bore 24.5″, 39″ and 70″ and stroke 48″
Engine BuilderN.E. Marine Engineering Co (1988) Ltd.
Engine Builder WorksSunderland
Engine Builder CountryUK
Boiler Details3 single-ended boilers operating at 220 psi
Propulsion TypeSingle Screw
Power510 MN
Maximum Speed11

S.S. Glenardle – a first hand account of life onboard in 1936

This was an interesting ship purchased by Andrew Weir when she was 11 years old. Built in Greenock in 1921 for the Norwegians with a steam triple expansion engine, and only owned for 6 years by Bank Line between 1932 and 1938. ( Can see why?) Sold to the Turks, she served for 25 years under the Turkish flag giving a total lifespan of 42 years.

Oakbank,Weirbank,Lindenbank and Taybank montage..

Three vessels from the 21 ship order to Wm Doxford in 1957. Plus the Taybank. It took 7 years to buld all 21 vessels.
Histories: Lindenbank stranded at Fanning Island when 14 years old. Yewbank was trapped for 8 years in the Shatt El Arab when she was the Capetan Costas.Weirbank was sold after 17 years. The Taybank was the lead ship of a new slightly bigger series of a further 11 vessels.