Bankline - The big picture!

Alan Rawlinson
25th July 2009, 13:29
Now that the Bankline story is drawing to an end, I wonder if anyone out there has the big picture from say, the 2nd world war until the present time???

What I mean is a comprehensive list or table of the vessels / launch date / end of service date ( for whatever reason)

I know these sort of statistics appear in various articles, but it would be nice to get a perspective here on the bankline forum re the postwar fleet. Can anyone oblige?

I put my money on Alistair !

Cheers/Alan Rawlinson

On reflection, the period after the Great War onwards would be nice - sweep up all the those great twin screw work horses, and the passenger vessels

Alistair Macnab
25th July 2009, 18:27
I'd like to do this and I supose it would be posted on the "Directory" section of SN. Perhaps the administrators can advise on this? I'll start with 1945 to the end, then I'll do the post WWI to WWII section. But give me some time. It will be my August Task because I have to begin teaching again on August 31st at the University.
This is what I get for showing off!!

Johnnietwocoats
26th July 2009, 08:06
http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/lines/bank.htm

Alan Rawlinson
26th July 2009, 10:34
http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/lines/bank.htm

Thanks Johnietwocoats.. That's a great site with tons of information.

I suppose what I hanker after is somehow bringing the bland statistics alive. When I see a list which says Comliebank, for example, launched 1924, scrapped 1959, I think of all the voyages and incidents as the years went by and the old twin screw vessel continued ploughing round the world! No mention of groundings, fires, collisions, wars, or whatever. As we all know, it's not an incident free life!

I remember a few years ago cross checking with a u boat directory what happened to the u boats named as sinking some of the bankline fleet, and crossing them off in the margin with the names of the ships lost.

Alistair, thanks for the offer... You are a gentleman. Maybe the shipslist does the job, and we could invent a more interesting list of ships in '' our '' time with the Master's names, and incidents recorded. Not sure if this sort of stuff is available?

Best Wishes // AL

duquesa
26th July 2009, 11:44
Yes, the crew listing would be good if available. My uncle was a Bank Line man pre WW2 and ended up Master of the Shirrabank(1).

Alistair Macnab
27th July 2009, 17:44
Guys, I don't plan to compete with stuff that's already out there. This will be a "Bank Line In Our Time" and proceed to the end of the Line.

Alistair Macnab
28th July 2009, 19:33
BANK LINE - The Big Picture, Part 1...

In 1945, at the end of WWII, only 26 pre-war ships remained in the fleet after war losses of 25 units (see separate section) These were: "Gujarat", "Luxmi", "Isipingo" and "Inchanga" of the passenger-carrying fleet, nine of the 24 original "Inverbank" Class, a couple of Workman Clark steamers and all four of the same yard's motorships of the "Irisbank" Class, and a few steamers and motorships from the NE of England.

The last pre-war order of ships to be built for Bank Line were the motorships "Araybank" and "Shirrabank" from Harland & Wolff with only the latter being a war survivor. Another interesting survivor was the "Cabarita" a second-hand cargo ship employed on the Indian African Line.


If we add the four motorships from Doxford's delivered in 1944 and the one 'Empire' standard ship from Readhead's in 1945, the fleet standing at the end of hostilities was 31 units.

These were:
Inverbank" Class: Inver/Glen/Comlie/Clyde/Forres/Nairn/Levern/Myrtle/Olive;
Workman Clark's: Deebank" and "Forthbank" (steamers) and Iris/Lossie/Tay/Tweed (motorships);
"Ernebank" and "Shirrabank", Harland's motorships;
"Eskbank and "Ettrickbank" Doxford motorships;
"Tynebank" and "Teviotbank", Readhead Steamships;
"Isipingo", "Inchanga", "Gujarat", Luxmi" and "Cabarita";
The wartime Doxford-built motorships: Roy/Wey/Meadow/Moray
and the 'standard Empire' "Hazelbank".

Quite a mixed bag: Six steamships (Dee/Forth/Tyne/Teviot/Hazel/Cabarita) and 25 motorships.

In 1946, two ships were added: the steamers "Birchbank" and "Hollybank", but in 1947, the fleet was strengthed by no fewer than 13 ships incorporating the 12 "Sam" Boats: Cora/Eden/Eric/Ivy/Kelvin/Maple/Mara/Rowan/Spring/Tiel/Titan/Willow and the first of the newbuildings "Eastbank" from Doxford's.

1948 saw the continuation of the Doxford newbuildings: "Southbank" and "Westbank" entering the fleet but even that was considered to be insufficient strength in view of the large number of ships over 20 years old. For this reason three further standard steamships were added from NE yards, "Etivebank", "Lochybank" and "Shielbank" obtained at favourable prices as many shipowners were now requiring 'liner' type motorships or turbine-driven steamers. The fleet strength was now at 51 units at the end of 1948.

Lord Inverforth was quoted as saying that the price of purpose-built newbuildings was bound to decline once all the 'standard' ships had found buyers and shipyards would be looking for work as had happened after WWI.
This did not happen as British shipyards were kept busy building cargo liners for British and overseas owners.

Between 1952 and 1955, ten ships were disposed of: Nairn/Olive/Dee/Forth/Cabarita/Tyne/Etive/Lochy/Birch/Holly with one lost to shipwreck, the "Kelvinbank" at Ocean Island. These were mostly steamships with the exceptions of t.s.m.v's "Nairnbank" and "Olivebank" (built 1925 and 1926 respectively).

Fleet strength was now 40 units when the first of the six "Beaverbank" Class came out from Harland and Wolff, Belfast in 1953. These were Beaver/Ness/Fleet in 1953 and Cedar/Foyle/Lagan in 1955. But this addition of six newbuildings was cancelled out in 1956/1957 with the disposal of the same number from the existing fleet: Teviot/Hazel/Gujarat/Maple/Willow/Shiel, all steamships with the exception of m.v."Gujarat".

Thus, before the onset of the the major newbuilding programme starting in 1957, the Bank Line fleet stood as follows:
m.v."Luxmi" (1924);
t.s.m.v. "Inver", "Glen", "Comlie", Clyde", "Forres", "Levern", "Myrtle" (1924 - 1925);
t.s.m.v. "Iris", "Lossie", "Tay", "Tweed" (1930);
t.s.m.v. "Isipingo", "Inchanga" (1934);
m.v. "Erne", "Shirra" (1937-1940);
m.v. "Esk", "Ettrick" (1937);
m.v. "Roy", "Wey", "Meadow", "Moray" (1944 - 1945);
s.s. "Cora", "Eden", "Eric", "Ivy", "Mara", "Rowan", "Spring", "Tiel", "Titan" (acq. 1947);
m.v. "East", "South, "West" (1947 - 1948);
m.v. "Beaver", "Ness", "Fleet", "Cedar", "Foyle", "Lagan" (1953 - 1955).
All were motorships with the exception of the nine Liberties of the "Corabank" Class for a total of 40 units.

The big expansion programme was about to take place from 1957 onwards. The ships would be larger and faster and would eventually comprise 21 units from Doxford's, 17 units from Harland & Wolff and 2 units from Swan Hunter's. These 12000 dwt ships would be added to the other post-war newbuildings of 3 from Doxford's (Eastbank Class)and 6 from Harland & Wolff (Beaverbank Class) of 9000 dwt. for a total of 49 motorships.

Even then, a series of 15000+ dwt motorships would follow from 1963 onwards, comprising no fewer than 36 units from Belfast, Sunderland and South Shields that would signify the peak and the decline of British shipbuilding and multipurpose ships.

For now, the Bank Line boast that they could get an empty Bank Boat to a charterer at any port in the world within two weeks or sooner was now a distinct marketing advantage.

TO BE CONTINUED......

jimthehat
28th July 2009, 23:29
Hi,of all the ships still standing at the end of ww2 ,i sailed on three,, Clyde,Ettrick and isipingo,I seem to remember some ships had wooden decks,but other than the clydebank ,where Wilkie rutherford taught us apps how calk the seams,I cannot rember the others.

JIM

Alistair Macnab
29th July 2009, 01:54
Jim....

All three had wooden deck sheathing throughout. Whilst on the "Ettrickbank" our main deck wood sheathing sprung during a typhoon in the South China Sea. The planks were held down by through bolts passing through the deck beams and the deck plating. These through bolts with nut on the upper end covered by wooden dowels had mostly corroded away so when the ship flexed violently in the storm, the wooden sheathing parted company from the deck and a lot of water got into the tweendecks. A cargo of pyrrethrum (for Shanghai) in paper sacks in some of the tween decks got wet and started to disintegrate. What a mess!
We lost three crew and chippy died before we could reach Hong Kong. Two kalassis were badly injured and had to be discharged at Hong Kong. It was some storm!
After Shanghai, we called at the customary Japanese ports - Wakamatsu, Kobe, Osaka, Nagoya and Yokohama before entering the Asano drydock where the ship was thoroughly repaired and updated. The wood sheathing on the main deck was replaced by oregon pine and the bolt holes were capped and the sheathing held down by studs welded to the stell deck underneath.
It was a magnificant display of scrubbed wooden decks fore and aft until we went and loaded old leaky school busses on them for Manila!

In Calcutta it was customary for main deck caulking to be done by a shore crew. For those on the night shift, the banging of the mallets was intollerable so accommodation was arranged at the Seafarers' Club for those who had to sleep during the day.

That left the upper decks to caulk and this was usually the Apprentices' job.
We had to learn to pick oakum from the greasy bales provided and turn it into rat's tails then boil up the pitch. After caulking was all over, the job was to scrape off the excess pitch so that the seams were straight and only filled the 'v' between the planks. Much holystoning later, the decks looked magnificent! The problem areas were the house footings where the black painted footings and the black tar were difficult to see clearly resulting in the occasional holidays.

Wilkie Rutherford was the Mate aboard "Inchanga" when I was the 3/M. I enjoyed sailing with him very much. He was very hard working, keeping the crew on top of the white painted hull removing scuff marks from dockside and barge contacts. Wooden decks were glorious. He had a routine that worked on a section of deck every day as the before breakfast job, completing all the decks every two weeks. He reorganized the swimming pool, deck golf and quoits not just for the passengers. Wilkie had girl friends in every port but he met his match when one of the passengers between Colombo and Mombasa caught his eye and he was smitten. Rose Marie and Wilkie were married in Durban on the next voyage and the reception was held aboard "Inchanga" as it was a multicultural affair and mixing of races in Durban was not permitted at the time. Wilkie eventually was promoted to Master and I met him once on the "Riverbank on the Oriental African Line. Next time I saw him, he was Rennie's stevedoring superintendent in Durban and divorced. He was always larger than life! I received word some years ago that he had died.

David E
29th July 2009, 11:10
Jim....

All three had wooden deck sheathing throughout. Whilst on the "Ettrickbank" our main deck wood sheathing sprung during a typhoon in the South China Sea. The planks were held down by through bolts passing through the deck beams and the deck plating. These through bolts with nut on the upper end covered by wooden dowels had mostly corroded away so when the ship flexed violently in the storm, the wooden sheathing parted company from the deck and a lot of water got into the tweendecks. A cargo of pyrrethrum (for Shanghai) in paper sacks in some of the tween decks got wet and started to disintegrate. What a mess!
We lost three crew and chippy died before we could reach Hong Kong. Two kalassis were badly injured and had to be discharged at Hong Kong. It was some storm!
After Shanghai, we called at the customary Japanese ports - Wakamatsu, Kobe, Osaka, Nagoya and Yokohama before entering the Asano drydock where the ship was thoroughly repaired and updated. The wood sheathing on the main deck was replaced by oregon pine and the bolt holes were capped and the sheathing held down by studs welded to the stell deck underneath.
It was a magnificant display of scrubbed wooden decks fore and aft until we went and loaded old leaky school busses on them for Manila!

In Calcutta it was customary for main deck caulking to be done by a shore crew. For those on the night shift, the banging of the mallets was intollerable so accommodation was arranged at the Seafarers' Club for those who had to sleep during the day.

That left the upper decks to caulk and this was usually the Apprentices' job.
We had to learn to pick oakum from the greasy bales provided and turn it into rat's tails then boil up the pitch. After caulking was all over, the job was to scrape off the excess pitch so that the seams were straight and only filled the 'v' between the planks. Much holystoning later, the decks looked magnificent! The problem areas were the house footings where the black painted footings and the black tar were difficult to see clearly resulting in the occasional holidays.

Wilkie Rutherford was the Mate aboard "Inchanga" when I was the 3/M. I enjoyed sailing with him very much. He was very hard working, keeping the crew on top of the white painted hull removing scuff marks from dockside and barge contacts. Wooden decks were glorious. He had a routine that worked on a section of deck every day as the before breakfast job, completing all the decks every two weeks. He reorganized the swimming pool, deck golf and quoits not just for the passengers. Wilkie had girl friends in every port but he met his match when one of the passengers between Colombo and Mombasa caught his eye and he was smitten. Rose Marie and Wilkie were married in Durban on the next voyage and the reception was held aboard "Inchanga" as it was a multicultural affair and mixing of races in Durban was not permitted at the time. Wilkie eventually was promoted to Master and I met him once on the "Riverbank on the Oriental African Line. Next time I saw him, he was Rennie's stevedoring superintendent in Durban and divorced. He was always larger than life! I received word some years ago that he had died.

Caulking-remember it well.We Apprentices were taught how to do it by a marvellous London chippy.A very welcome break from the endless chipping,red-leading and painting that formed the normal backgound to our lives.

johnb42
29th July 2009, 13:37
Speaking of wooden decks and corroded through bolts. We had completed discharging salt in Japan from the Beaverbank in '68, and were landing the small cat/payloader that had been used for cleaning No 4 lower hold. Just as this was passing over the bulwark, the dolly winch parted company with the boatdeck and the the cat landed astride the bulwark, it's track inboard and the rest hanging outboard. Eventually the cat was recovered, the dolly winch brought down from it's temporary residence at the top of the sampson post and the derricks secured. The Japanese government inspectors then found that the holding down bolts for the dolly winch, had corroded through to less than 50% of their original scantling. Since these passed through the wooden sheathing of the boatdeck their deterioration had not been visible until they failed. Fortunately no one was injured but the winch driver did request a change of underwear before leaving the ship.

Alistair Macnab
2nd August 2009, 01:35
Bank Line- The Big Picture, Part II

In 1957, the first newbuilding phase began. Two shipyards were used exclusively, Harland and Wolff in Belfast and Wm,. Doxford in Sunderland. First to be delivered was the "Firbank" from Doxford's followed by the "Cloverbank" from Harland's. Both ships were to carry the class name of their respective sisters that followed. Both shipyard installed the latest versions of their 2 SCSA oil engines, the Belfast-built unit having 6 cylinders and the Sunderland unit having 4 cylinders. These engines and their subsequent improvements and redesigns became the 'standard' Bank Line main engines throughout the building programme. Speed was around 14 knots.

Ships were about 6400 gross tons with a deadweight of 10,500 in the open shelterdeck configuration but as time went on, all became 'tonnage mark' ships with a deadweight of around 12,000.

1957 was rounded out with the deliveries of "Riverbank" and "Northbank" from Doxford's and "Crestbank" and "Carronbank" from Harland's.

Unlike in 1924 when the 18-ship Inverbank Class was delivered from Harland's Govan Shipyard on the Clyde and the 36 main engines were built at Harland's engine works, also in Govan, the 1957 building programme was not seen as a survival lifeline to British shipbuilders as it was in 1924 because by 1957, British shipyards were continuing to be very busy as global demand for all types of merchant ships was at an all-time high. Nevertheless, Belfast and Sunderland were happy to see Andrew Weir's back in the ship building business and there were still undoubtedly advantages to be gained by ordering new ships in large numbers from only a couple of yards. The original orders for this phase were that Doxford's would deliver eight units and Harland's ten ships.

The layout of both classes was substantially the same:a raised forecastle hull form with three cargo hatches forward and three hatches abaft the accommodation block which was more or less amidships. There the similarities ended for whereas the Doxford design produced a more rounded shape of the deck house the Belfast ships were more traditional with vertical stanchions and a raised poop. Funnels too, were design features: Doxfords were streamlined whilst Harland's could only be described and up and down with a raked top. Both designs, however, were most acceptable to modernists and traditionalists alike and came to be readily recognisable the world-over, the ships always looking best in the loaded condition, deep in the water.

A word about the third Doxford ship, the "Northbank". Readers who have wondered what happened to that "Northbank" name after the Compass Point Class came out in 1947-48 with the arrival of the "Eastbank", "Southbank" and "Westbank" were now satisfied when "Northbank" came out in 1957 some ten years after the other Compass Point ships. This "Northbank", however, was not a sister of the 1947 Class but a near-sister of the "Firbank" Class except that she had a 6-cylinder engine, a raised poop and an extra pair of sampson posts right aft. In this hull configuration of raised forecastle and raised poop she was closer to the Belfast ships which had the same hull layout with the additional set of sampson posts serving a small seventh hatch located on the poop and to the original Compass Point ships with similar hull form.

European Officers, Chinese Carpenter and South Asian Catering Staff were accommodated amidships whilst the Asian Crews for deck and engine room were housed aft at tween deck level or in the case of ships with a raised poop, at that level surrounding the trunked No.7 hatchway. Ships had a total compliment of 60 as originally conceived.

In 1958, three ships were again delivered from Sunderland and three from Belfast. They were: "Birchbank", "Streambank" and "Teakbank" from Doxford and "Dartbank", "Garrybank" and "Minchbank" from Harland's. It is worth noting that the "Birchbank" and "Streambank" had Macgregor-type steel hatch covers on the weather deck with cargo winches raised on masthouses. This was by way of being an 'experiment' for up until now, weather deck hatch covers had either been hand-carried wooden hatch boards over portable hatch beams or wooden hatch slabs that were handled by the cargo gear then covered by two or three tarpaulins and secured with steel batten bars and wooden wedges. "Birchbank" and "Streambank" had rolling steel hatch covers but these would be alone until 1963 when the "Taybank" came out.

The "Teakbank" could be distinguished by her two cut-out 'window' openings on the main deck fashion plate at the forward end on the main deck alleyway.
This feature was only repeated on the following sisterships "Wavebank" and "Yewbank" in 1959 which were Doxford's output that year whereas Harland's again produced three vessels: "Ashbank", "Rosebank" and "Pinebank".

Doxford had now completed the first phase of the their newbuilding programme and Harland & Wolff, completed their's with the delivery of the "Elmbank" in 1960.

Beyond 1960, however, the Belfast output had been extended from 10 to 17 ships but at Doxford's,an important variant was to be produced. This was to be a successor of the "Copra Boat" (The Compass Point ships of 1947 and the Beaverbank Class of 1953) and would have that type of ship's deeptank arrangement of four deeptanks forward, and two deeptanks aft of the engine room. These ships were the "Willowbank" (1960), "Larchbank", "Lindenbank" and "Weirbank" (all 1961) with a shorter, more built-up midships deckhouse with the lifeboats suspended off the accommodation rather than sitting under davits standing on the boat deck as had been the norm. At this same time in 1961, Belfast delivered "Avonbank" and "Levernbank".

Further Doxford output reverted to a standard tweendecker arrangement for "Testbank" (1961) and "Inverbank" (1962) except that "Testbank" had the distinction of being the first Bank Line ship to do away with topmasts (other than for war-time austerity measures) having been fitted with a tall signal mast located above the bridge on the monkey island.

Harland and Wolff on the other hand elected to recognise modernity with the "Springbank" and "Olivebank" (both 1962) with a slightly conical new funnel shape with curved top. This was followed by a radically new shape of the midships house with the second deck accommodation taken out to the ship's side at the forward end and the topmasts removed on the "Lossiebank" in 1963. This metamorphosis was completed also in 1963 when the midships house was further extended with a fully enclosed second deck on "Roybank" followed by an identical layout on "Weybank" in 1964 to complete the Belfast order. In these two ships, the signal mast was merged with the leading edge of the funnel.

Over in Sunderland, the "Forresbank" and "Trentbank", two additional "Copra Boats" but with poops were delivered in 1962 and to round out the Doxford deliveries, the "Oakbank", "Rowanbank" and "Laurelbank" (all 1963), standard tweendeckers in all respects similar to the "Testbank" and without poops. The Doxford output of the 12000dwt ships concluded in 1964 when the "Hollybank" and the "Sprucebank" came out. These were radically different from all other 12000 tonners in that they were very streamlined, with a combined signal mast and an elongated funnel similar to the 15000 tonners with which they would be regularly confused.

But to complete the 12000 dwt story, it should be mentioned that in 1962, the "Speybank" was delivered from Swan Hunter's at Wallsend followed by the "Marabank" in 1963. These two ships were Swan Hunter's version of a standard general-purpose tweendecker. They had been built on speculation but with Bank Line in mind as the principal British operator of such ships. They were taken up by Weir's with the builder's hope that they would lead to more orders for the class which, however, were not forthcoming. Nevertheless, these two ships contributed some new ideas to Bank Line. They were the first ships to have air-conditioned accommodation, a long forecastle incorporating No.1 hatch and bipod masts.

Henceforth, newbuildings would continue with a series of 15000+ deadweight ships from Belfast and Sunderland, but at this juncture is valuable to sumarise the production of 12000 dwt ships:

1957: Fir/River (open shelterdeckers subsequently closed) Doxford
"Northbank" (full scantling with poop and 6-cyl engine) Doxford
Clover/Crest Carron (open shelterdeckers subsequently closed), Harland.

1958: Birch/Stream (first steel weather deck hatch covers), Doxford
"Teakbank", Doxford
Dart/Garry/Minch, Harland

1959: Wave/Yew, Doxford
Ash/Rose/Pine, Harland

1960: "Willowbank" (Copra Boat), Doxford
"Elmbank", Harland

1961: Larch/Linden/Weir (Copra Boats), Doxford
"Testbank" (Topmasts eliminated), Doxford
Avon/Levern, Harland

1962: "Inverbank", Doxford
Forres/Trent (Copra Boats, raised poop), Doxford
Spring/Olive (Conical funnel), Harland
"Speybank", Swan Hunter.

1963: Oak/Rowan/Laurel, Doxford
"Lossiebank" (Topmasts eliminated), Harland
"Roybank" (enclosed accommodation block), Harland
"Marabank", Swan Hunter

1964: Holly/Spruce (elongated funnel), Doxford
"Weybank", Harland

During this phase, Doxford delivered 21 ships, Harland & Wolff delivered 17 units and Swan Hunter's delivered two vessels. Remaining from earlier deliveries still sailing in the fleet were:

"Eastbank" (1947) and "Westbank" (1948)
["Southbank" wrecked 1964 on Washington Island in the Pacific Ocean.]
"Beaverbank", "Nessbank", Fleetbank" (1953)
"Cedarbank", "Foylebank" and "Laganbank" (1955)

Total fleet in 1964: 48 ships, all of 12000 dwt, 14 knots.

TO BE CONTINUED........

Alan Rawlinson
4th August 2009, 22:57
Alistair,

Many many Thanks - You have done us all proud there, with a lot of interesting information - a lot to take in, especially in the detail you have provided.

It makes me realise what a huge enterprise the whole thing was - concept/design/ordering/building/agonising over engine types and efficiency etc/fitting out/financing/crewing/ and then the web of routes circling the globe - some more profitable than others, I'm sure! Then the important part of ship disposal at the right time, which I know for many lines was more valuable than trading. Equally important was the vision to see 5 to 10 years ahead all the time, something which was a hurdle too much for many of the well known and oldtime shipping lines in what was a revolutionary period - the advent of containerisation, which so distorted traditional trades like the Bankline ones.

We were truly cogs in a vast network, some shore based cogs bigger than others of course! Everyone played their part.

Cheers/AL

jimthehat
4th August 2009, 23:34
alistair,
i echo Alans sentiments.i joined the forresbank in sunderland may1962.
first time i had come into contact with magregor steel hatches,and can remember hoe one used to take your life in your hands hanging on to the crowbar whilst trying to lift the hatches off the wheels.
Capt.Angle was the master.
jim

mwebster56
7th August 2009, 22:28
Alistair
I have commented before on your vast knowledge of Bank Line. I am just grateful that there is someone out there who can fill in the gaps in the memories of the rest of us.
Have a good weekend.
Mike

Alistair Macnab
8th August 2009, 20:59
BANK LINE - THE BIG PICTURE, Part III

At the end of WW2 the first Lord Inverforth (the original Andrew Weir) was in his 80s and his son, Morton Weir, was active in day-to-day business although his father still came to the office in Bury Street. Many of the pre-war activities had been curtailed or eliminated and as far as Bank Line was concerned, Calcutta still remained as the most important centre for employment of the fleet. The U.S. Gulf-centered trade to Australia and New Zealand was growing in significance and, of course, the long established Pacific Islands -Europe service was again getting back on its feet after the Pacific war.

The partition of Bengal into India and East Pakistan entailed separate marketing of the company's services to East and South Africa, the River Plate and the West Coast of South America. Manufactured jute products mainly came from the Indian side through Calcutta whilst raw jute was the principal export from the East Pakistan ports of Chittagong and the new port for Khulna, called Chalna which was essentially a mid-river anchorage served by barges.

Durban was also an important centre for Bank Line as the Oriental African Line resumed service with Japan becoming increasingly important as it recovered from the effects of the war and China less so as the political circumstances in that country interfered with commerce. Politics, too, entered into the India - South African trade when India officially withdrew from trading with South Africa over the issue of apartheid and a similar situation was to develop over India-Rhodesias trade with Ian Smith's Unilateral Declaration of Independence and general trade embargo with his regime. Nevertheless, there were always commercial ways of overcoming such impediments to trade and the Bank Line's Indian-African Line, Indian-Natal Line, Pakistan-African Line and Pakistan-Natal Line operated successfully within the existing political restraints.

Over in the U.S. Gulf, Bank Line's service to Australia and New Zealand grew steadily. Bank Line were members of the USA-Australasia Conference but were limited by the other members to the Gulf ports as they confined their operation to the U.S. East Coast. This was somewhat similar to Bank Line's membership in the Calcutta Conference where the other members took all the "home" cargoes but allowed Bank Line to operate exclusively on the lesser and "foreign" services to East and South Africa, the River Plate and to the West Coast of South America. These were examples of the hold British shipping companies had on world commerce even after WW2 with the Calcutta Lines including latterly, Clan, Hall, Harrison, Brocklebank and BI inheriting and operating the world's oldest ocean shipping cartel.

But Bank Line were also interested in tramping and it could be argued that at any one time, the split between liner services and tramp operations was about half-and-half. Tramping operations were very much conducted with a group of world-wide cargo interests with which Lord Inverforth had built up a close relationship. These included the British Phosphate Commissioners (Nauru, Ocean Island and Makatea), Bunge y Baun (Argentina grain cargoes) and Chilean Nitrate Interests. Not for nothing was Weir's office next door to the Baltic Exchange in London where cargo and ship trading were closely watched and monitored by Bank Line through their brokers, Chadwick Weir & Co.

But a fleet of 48 generally similar ships had to be operated profitably and the Bank Line boast was that they could place an empty, recently-built Bank Boat for any charterer at 14-day's notice in full readiness to load.

The liner services too, benefited from a uniformity of ship layout, equipment and performance. Some of the liner trades would diminish over these post-war years whilst others would grow and it was vitally important that the chartering and ship operations departments in London could maintain flexibility with the ready ability to switch any individual ship unit from liner to tramp operations and from a Calcutta base to a New Orleans base with the minimum of notice.

But the so-called handy-size ship was changing. a deadweight of 12,000 tonnes was no longer the preferred size. With the development of gearless dry bulk ships, a growing preference for general-purpose ships to be 15,000 dwt had become the norm, so Bank Line embarked on a series of newbuildings with this capacity to eventually replace the smaller ships or at least to supplement the chartering department's ability to deliver what charterers wanted: 25% greater cargo deadweight at the going charter price.

Accordingly, in 1963 at Doxford's and 1964 at Harland's, series of 15,000 dts tween deckers were commenced. These would be the "Taybank" Class from Doxford's and the "Hazelbank" Class from Harland's. These geared ships would operate in the smaller bulk cargo tramp market with the ability to service the secondary bulk loading and discharging ports where water depths and cargo-handling-facilities had still not been adapted for the very large dry bulkers beginning to dominate the tramp markets. They would also do very well for the liner trades, Bank Line's and those of other liner operators looking for additional ships to maintain advertised schedules which were becomming necessary to match the demands of cargo shippers.

The building program was:
1963: "Taybank" (Doxford)
1964: "Tweedbank" (Doxford); "Hazelbank" and "Irisbank" (Harland's)
1965: "Beechbank" and "Ernebank" (Doxford)
1966: "Shirrabank" (Doxford); "Nairnbank" (Harland's)
1967: "Teviotbank" (Doxford); "Maplebank" (Harland's)
1968: "Gowanbank" (Harland's)

This represented six ships from Sunderland and five from Belfast. The physical differences between the two classes were that the Doxford ships were much more 'streamlined' when compared with the more traditional Belfast shape.
Topmasts had gone to be replaced by a signal mast immediately forward of or mounted on the leading side of the funnel. Doxford ships had an elongated funnel often accommodating the radio room whilst the Harland & Wolff ships were content with a smaller sized funnel. All ships were of the raised forecastle hull type with three hatches forward of and two hatches abaft the amidships accommodation block with deck and engine room crew located aft at tween deck level. All ships had their builders' latest 4-cyl (Doxford) or 6-cyl (Harland's) 2 S.C.S.A. oil engines giving 15 knots except in the case of the Doxford ""Shirrabank" and "Teviotbank" which were given 6-cyl versions of the builder's engine which made these two ships capable of maintaining a service speed of 16.5 knots.

Apart from the loss of the "Trentbank" by collision in the East Mediterranean in 1964, and the sales of the "Eastbank" and "Westbank" in 1965 for further trading, the fleet had now increased to 57 units because the "Beaverbank" Class (1953 - 1955) of Copra Boat still continued to operate and would do so until 1970 - 1973 when they would also be disposed of for further trading.

It would be 1973 before the next building splurge would take place and this would prove to be extraordinary in Bank Line terms as it would include the design and building of trade-specific ships, the shifting of accommodation blocks to the three-quarters aft position and even a cellular container ship.

TO BE CONTINUED........

Alan Rawlinson
9th August 2009, 08:24
Thanks for the latest episode, Alistair...

It is a very lucid account, and has a much better ' flow ' than previous accounts published in various booklets and shipping journals. I particularly like the explanation of the interplay between world events, politics, etc and the impact on the Bankline trading patterns.

All the Best
AL

Abbeywood.
13th August 2009, 15:01
Thanks for the latest episode, Alistair...

It is a very lucid account, and has a much better ' flow ' than previous accounts published in various booklets and shipping journals. I particularly like the explanation of the interplay between world events, politics, etc and the impact on the Bankline trading patterns.

All the Best
AL

I served 29 months in the Marabank, from January 1964, and the mention of the Air-conditioning revived my memory of its location, i.e.immediately behind the bridge in the for'd part of the funnel.
To access it involved clambering over the exhaust-gas boiler to enter a sound proofed, (from the outside), room. Anyone in the A/c room could not hear any alarms from the engine room, and presumably as an after-though, an
escape hatch was fitted in the aft bulkead of the bridge. I do remember some clever person thought to position the brige chair immediately in front of the hatch so that to escape one had to cliimb through the legs of the chair if there was no one on the bridge to move it.
You could'nt make it up !
Abbeywood.

Alistair Macnab
13th August 2009, 15:57
Ah! Builders should be made to sail on their completed works for six months to rectify all the obvious miscalculations, misplacings and misconceptions of how the ship will operate in practice!
Remember that "Marabank" was only the second version of Swan's 'multipurpose design' that had no further orders! The Bank Line's "test group" had the doubtful distinction of finding out all the faults!
Mind you, there were a couple of benefits from these newbuildings. One was the establishment of air conditioning accommodation in Bank Line and most folks would thank you for that. Also, I liked the long forecastle with No.1 hatch on top. It gave the ships a nice balanced profile. The bipod masts were a fashion that need not be copied as the unstayed freestanding stump masts on following Doxford-built ships were sturdier and better looking.
Tell me, Abbeywood, was the upper edge of the sheer strake radiused? I seem to remember that it was. This would surely have made for some problems for containing accidental spills on deck when bunkering?

pete
13th August 2009, 20:22
I served 29 months in the Marabank, from January 1964, and the mention of the Air-conditioning revived my memory of its location, i.e.immediately behind the bridge in the for'd part of the funnel.
To access it involved clambering over the exhaust-gas boiler to enter a sound proofed, (from the outside), room. Anyone in the A/c room could not hear any alarms from the engine room, and presumably as an after-though, an
escape hatch was fitted in the aft bulkead of the bridge. I do remember some clever person thought to position the brige chair immediately in front of the hatch so that to escape one had to cliimb through the legs of the chair if there was no one on the bridge to move it.
You could'nt make it up !
Abbeywood.

You Plonker. All you had to do was go via the Bridge. BOTH of those ships had access doors and we did allow Engineers on the bridge. I know as I sailed on both of them. I suppose they may have been Retrofitted (Thumb) ................pete

Abbeywood.
14th August 2009, 06:09
You Plonker. All you had to do was go via the Bridge. BOTH of those ships had access doors and we did allow Engineers on the bridge. I know as I sailed on both of them. I suppose they may have been Retrofitted (Thumb) ................pete

Pete I can assure you that there were no access doors from the bridge when I was in the Marabank. Many thanks for your turn of phrase.
Abbeywood

Abbeywood.
14th August 2009, 06:36
Further to the 'Marabank'
Late 1965 Gunny fire in No 4 Lower hold, while alongside in Lourenco Marques.
Shorelabour knocked off for the night harch covers un sealed.
Most of the crowd ashore, (museums, libraries,etc, asd you do) Sparks found most of us taking light refreshments and gasped that the ship was on fire. A mad dash back Dock security panic as the mob hurtled thru' the gates.
Soon had the fire hoses rigged but struggled so called up a suction dredger which promptly dumped 1500 tons of water into No 4. Fire out!
Took the best part of a day to get rid of the water while the gunnies swelled up and began distorting the ford hatch bulkhead so that , in the Eng' Rm the gap between the bulkhead and the back of the Main Switchboard was reduced to approx' 18".
With great difficulty the gunnies were prised out though it took the better part of a week before we sailed for Durban and a fortnight of temporary repair work.
Permanent repairs about four months later at Kawasaki, Japan

Alistair Macnab
14th August 2009, 20:09
BANK LINE -the big picture, Part IV

The four years between 1968 and 1972 were momentous for British Shipbuilding. Nationalisation had been seen as a way to organise the nation's shipbuilding and several concepts of this had been tried from outright government takeover to public investment (subsidies). Doxford's were not to be exempt from these changes and, in fact, had been known as Doxford and Sunderland from 1966. The new Bank Line orders known as the "Fleetbank" Class were, in fact, closely similar to what the shipyard had advertised as a generic new standard class of multipurpose cargo ship. These new designs came in A, B and C versions, respectively 16500, 18000 and 20,000 dwt. with the Fleetbank" Class equating approximately to the "A" version. {The "Fish" Class of 1979 and the ""Crestbank" Class of 1978 would be similar to the "B"s , see below).
Meanwhile, whilst the "Fleetbank" Class were coming out from Pallion between 1972 and 1978, Doxford's had gone through the disasterous Court Line scandal, again been renamed Sunderland Shipbuilders towards privatization to come in 1986 when the newly named North East Shipbuilders would emerge in the last throes of British shipyard reorganization.

But to return to the Bank Line participation in all of this. British Shipyards and the British government had over time come to look upon Bank Line as dependable buyers of British-built ships. They had revived the lagging fortunes of the Clyde with their "Gujarat" and "Inverbank" Classes in 1923 and 1924 and 'saved" Workman Clark in Belfast in 1928 with the "Deebank" Class of oil-burning steamships, and subsequent orders for motorships of the "Irisbank" Class and the White Ships. Indeed, the "Firbank" Class from Doxford and the "Cloverbank" Class from Harland and Wolff had to be seen as a lifeline to British shipbuilders given the large number of hulls and engines involved.

So a new class of tween deck motorship was obtained from Doxford. Called the "Fleetbank" Class, a series of multipurpose ships with a raised forecastle hull form, four hatches forward of the accommodation block and one hatch abaft, placing the engine in the three-quarters aft position.Cargo gear was traditionally still fitted for union purchase derrick operation from centerline stump masts but with additional gear hung from the bridge front and a pair of sampson posts abaft the accommodation block. Main engine was a 6-cylinder Doxford 2 S.C.S.A. oil engine

The ships were:
"Fleetbank" Delivered 1972, sold 1981)
"Cloverbank" (1973 - 1981)
"Birchbank" (1973 - 1981)
"Beaverbank" (1974 - 1981)
"Cedarbank" (1976 - 1983)
"Firbank" (1976 - 1983)
"Streambank" (1977 - 1983)
"Riverbank" (1977 - 1983)
"Nessbank" (1977 - 1981)
"Laganbank" (1978 - 1981)

But parallel with these new buildings entering the fleet, there was a sharp selling off of older units. If fact, no fewer ships than 60 shiips were sold for further trading between 1970 and 1981 comprising six units of the "Beaverbank" Class (Copra Boats), 16 out of the original 17 Harland 12000 tonners (The 17th: "Levernbank" was wrecked on the WCSA in 1974), 19 out of 21 "Firbank" Class from Doxford (the "Trentbank" and "Lindenbank" were casualties in respectively 1964 and 1975), the two Swan Hunter tweendeckers, the six Doxford and the five Harland 15000 tonners of the "Taybank" and "Hazelbank" Classes and no fewer than six of the new Doxford "Fleetbank" Class that had a very short life within the Bank Line fleet.

The disposal schedule was:

1970: "Beaverbank" and "Fleetbank" (Harland Copra Boats); "Cloverbank" (Harland 12000 dwt); "Birchbank" (Doxford 12000 dwt)
1971: "Streambank" (Doxford 12000 dwt)
1972: "Minchbank" (Harland 12000 dwt);
1973: "Nessbank", "Cedarbank", "Foylebank" and "Laganbank" (Harland Copra Boats); "Crestbank" (Harland 12000 dwt); "Firbank" and "Northbank" (Doxford 12000 dwt)
1974: "Carronbank" and "Garrybank" (Harland 12000 dwt); "Riverbank", "Yewbank" (Doxford 12000 dwt);
1975: "Dartbank" (Harland 12000 dwt); "Teakbank" (Doxford 12000 dwt);
1976: "Rosebank", "Ashbank" and "Pinebank" (Harland 12000 dwt); "Wavebank" (Doxford 12000 dwt);
1977: "Elmbank" (Harland 12000 dwt); "Avonbank" (Harland 12000 dwt);
1978: "Springbank", "Olivebank" (Harland 12000 dwt)"Willowbank", "Larchbank", "Weirbank" and ""Forresbank" (Doxford Copra Boats); "Testbank", "Oakbank" and "Inverbank" (Doxford 12000 dwt); "Speybank" and "Marabank" (Swan Hunter 12000 dwt); "Taybank" (Doxford 15000 dwt)
1979: "Lossiebank", "Roybank" and "Weybank" (Harland 12000 dwt); "Rowanbank", "Hollybank", "Sprucebank" and "Laurelbank" (Doxford 12,000 dwt); "Hazelbank", "Irisbank", "Nairnbank", "Maplebank" and "Gowanbank" (Harland 15000 dwt); "Tweedbank", "Beechbank", "Ernebank" and "Teviotbank" (Doxford 15000 dwt);
1980: No Disposals
1981: "Shirrabank" (Doxford 15000 dwt); "Fleetbank", "Cloverbank", "Birchbank", "Beaverbank", "Nessbank" and "Laganbank" (Doxford 16500 dwt).

Many of the earlier ship units saw careers in Bank Line averaging 16 years but newer ships were disposed of much quicker, the new "Fleetbank" Class starting being sold off after a mere eight years for the "Fleetbank" or only four years for the "Riverbank" and the "Laganbank". All this activity was brought about because the role of the multipurpose ship was changing so rapidly that cellular container ships were now the choice of liner operators and bulk carriers were now the choice of charterers moving tramp cargoes. It might be said that Doxford and Bank Line had extended the multipurpose ship just a shade beyond their commercial usefulness.

But, as usual, Bank Line had hedged their bets. It was readily recognized in the London office that the historic liner services were disappearing. The Bay of Bengal services had all dried up with the drop in worldwide demand for jute and derivatives and the Oriental African Line was falling victim to containerization or at least to competing multipurpose ships that were faster and more flexible. As a last throw in the Far East - South Africa trades, an agreement with Ahrenkiel to carry KD automobiles to Port Elizabeth from Japan was struck and new liner services were tried: the old U.S. East Coast and Gulf service to and from South Africa was relaunched, having last been operated by Bank Line in 1939. This service was ultimately to bring about cooperation with Safmarine and eventually also with Mediterranean Shipping (MSC) as containers inevitably took over.

In the U.S. Gulf, the Australia service was dispatching up to three ships a month and there was a sepearate monthly sailing to New Zealand. The Pacific Islands - Homeward (the Copra Service) was also doing well so it was decided to combine these two strong links into a closed loop and to build a seried of purpose-built ships that would operate within this loop on a UK/Continent - U.S.Gulf - Australia - Papua New Guinea - Pacific Islands - U.S.A. West Coast, Gulf and East Coast - UK/Continent rotation. Henceforth, cargo for Nassau and the U.S. Gulf ports would be solicited in the UK and coffee, cocoa and vegetable oils would be loaded in PNG and the Islands for U.S.A. destinations on inducement.

The new ships, the "Corabank" Class of six units were built at Swan Hunter's in the North East of England. These would be of a short forecastle and a long raised poop configuration. There would be four hatches forward of the accommodation block and one abaft on the raised poop. A mixture of cranes and derricks would service the cargo spaces and there would be two tween decks. Holds 3 and 4 were to be suitable for container carriage as were all hatch tops and hatch squares. No fewer than eleven deeptanks of various sizes were included in the design. These were usable for outward-bound non-flamable oils and chemicals from the Gulf and for vegetable oils (coconut and palm) from the Islands. The main engine would be a Doxford 6-cylinder 2 S.C.S.A. oil engine and the speed, 16.5 knots.

These ships incorporating some mild steel in their construction were conceived by the Bank Line London office under the direction of Captain David Gale who was the Chief Marine Superintendent and were delivered as follows:
"Corabank" (1973)
"Meadowbank" (1973)
"Moraybank" ( 1973)
"Forthbank" (1973)
"Ivybank" (1974)
"Clydebank" (1974)

At the same time, the Europe-U.S. Gulf leg was recommended for upgrading to a two-way service catering for containers. This was accomplished by chartering-in handy, container-friendly ships as needed to maintain a fortnightly service along with the outbound Bank line ships.

By the time, these new Copra Boats were in service in 1974, the Bank Line fleet was down to ten ships but the remaining "Fleetbank" Class to follow, quickly brought the ship count up to 16. This was adjusted in 1978 with the the delivery of two large capacity ships from Doxford of some 18000 dwt called the "Crestbank" Class. These were somewhat similar to the Doxford 'Standard B' Design and were no doubt offered to Bank Line by the builders at an attractive price as demonstrations of a class of ship that had, so far, found no other buyers.
Truly, by this time, Bank Line were supporting the dying efforts of British shipbuilders to get a foothold in the multipurpose ship sector now dominated by Japan, Korea, Poland and Finland.
Now Bank Line were to be the principal seller of second-hand superior multipurpose British-built ships and of the Doxford engine.

The "Crestbank" Class:
"Crestbank" (1978 - 1986)
"Fenbank" (1978 - 1984)

But as a final tribute to British Shipbuilders, Bank Line now agreed to purchase a newer version of a multipurpose ship designed by British Shipbuilders as Doxford's now were and this turned out to be Bank Line's last hurrah. These ships were the "Fish" Class, ships named after a series of fresh water fish and built in various shipyards in the North East of England. These would also have a deadweight around 18,500 and be powered, surprisingly, by a 4-cylinder Doxford 2 S.C.S.A. oil engine. These had what was now the customary five cargo holds and hatches, with four forward of the accommodation and one abaft. What was different from the "Fleetbank" Class but similar to the "Corabank" Class was that the No.5 Hatch was on a raised poop. The cargo gear was the "Velle" system of swinging booms with double gear at hatches two, three and four and single systems at hatches one and five.

The "Fish" Class of six ships was:

"Roachbank" (delivered 1979, sold 1987)
"Pikebank" (1979 - 1987)
"Dacebank" (1979 - 1987)
"Ruddbank" (1879 - 1983)
"Troutbank" (1979 - 1986)
"Tenchbank" (1979 - 1986)

When in Bank Line service these ships were assigned to the U.S.A - South Africa and to the Oriental African services or chartered out to other liner operators. They were quite successful as far as breakbulk cargo was concerned but their very limited container accommodation of 306 teu was to prove totally inadequate. As will be seen from their disposal dates these ships lasted a mere four to eight years.

But there was one more ship to come. This was the "Willowbank", a sister of Shaw Savill's "Dunedin" and a close sister of The Shipping Corporation of New Zealand's "New Zealand Caribbean" These three ships would form the backbone of yet another liner cooperation servicing the U.S. Gulf, Australia and New Zealand, Central America and the Caribbean and would signal Bank Line's fateful if belated recognition of the container age.

TO BE CONTINUED.........

boatlarnie
23rd August 2009, 09:00
Hamish,
As one would expect from you, a most comphrensive and lucid account of Bank Line and their vessels. Made interesting reading and a whole heap of memories came flooding back. I got to wondering if other companies have as much interplay between their ex-staff as we do in the Bank Line forum; suppose I could look up some of the sub-forums in SN but have lots of other things on the go at the moment. However, just love logging into SN and reading all the threads from the guys.
Regards,
Alan

John Hebblewhite
23rd August 2009, 17:03
There is a book called Bank Line 1885-1985 by H.S.Appleyard published by the World ship Society Kendal LA9 7LT which lists all the Bank Boats in that time period with with photographs of nearly all and with the history of the particular vessel .Some of the sailing ships do not have a photo but going back as far as 1885 I guess this was to be expected. Rgds John

Alistair Macnab
24th August 2009, 21:47
John.....

In my eventual footnotes I shall be making reference to the splendid books that are out there, including Appleyard's Bank Line 1885 - 1985 which has been a very useful tool. My aim has not been to duplicate any other book that has been published but to write the Bank Line story from the ship's staff point-of-view.
Kind regards....

Alistair Macnab
24th August 2009, 22:38
BANK LINE - The Big Picture
Part V


By the second-half of the 1970s the Bank Line's 'liner' services were mostly centered on the U.S. Gulf and incorporated regular sailings to and from the UK/Continent and South Africa and, of course, the Gulf - Australia and the Gulf-New Zealand services outwards which were going strong.

Nevertheless, it was decided that the Australia and New Zealand services need to be formed into a 'loop' with a return service to the Gulf. The northbound cargoes of coffee, cocobeans and vegetable oils from the Islands to the USA were not developing as had been hoped and, anyway, their discharing ports were completely scattered, incorporating San Francisco, Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York or Halifax (NS) on ships that were then proceding to Europe. There was a lot of extra steaming for not much reward.

It would be better if a return service could originate in Australia and/or New Zealand back to the Gulf and the London office were seeking friendly arrangements with other British shipping interests to help bring this about.

For some time, Shaw Savill had been operating their own Gulf-Australia and New Zealand service using the smaller ship units of their otherwise fast-diminishing fleet. Outward bound from the Gulf, they were not doing particularly well but northbound, they had the support of the New Zealand Dairy and Meat Boards for reefer cargo to Central America and the Caribbean.
This looked like a promising partnership and in 1977 the Bank and Savill Line was formed to be run from London where the two principals were located but with USA representation in Houston.

As mentioned previously, three reefer container ships were ordered for the new service, the "Willowbank" and her sister "Dunedin" from Smiths Dock, Middlesborough designed along the lines of recent Blue Star ships from the same shipyard, and the "New Zealand Caribbean" built in Germany and operated by the Shipping Corporation of New Zealand, which had become a partner in the service. The three ships were to provide a two-way monthly service with additional Bank Line ships filling in as additional southbound sailings to pick up the remaining breakbulk cargo that was still moving.

For the three cellular container ships were to be exclusively for container cargo having been designed on the 20 x 8 x 8 ft. module favored by the antipodean producer boards for the insulated boxes. The boxes were of the 'porthole' type and were served by the ship's reefer machinery via clamp-on connections in their stowed positions within the insulated holds.

This arrangement was well suited for the northbound leg but unsuited for the southbound leg because southbound shippers overwhelmingly preferred the 40 foot container which was 8' 6" high and could only be carried on deck although there was provision made in No.5 hold (abaft the accommodation block) for 40s to be loaded below deck.

Marketing was rendered most difficult by the necessity of encouraging U.S. shippers to use 20 ft. units. What's more, the cargo had to be clean and not compromise the northbound reefer cargo with the result that a great many empty 20 footers were carried southbound and very many empty 40 footers were returned to the USA on the northbound leg.

Northbound, the discharging ports were Manzanillo (Mexico), Acajutla (El Salvador), Puntarenas (Costa Rica), Cristobal (Panama Canal), Maracaibo (Venezuela), Willemstad (Curacao), La Guaira (Venezuela), Port of Spain (Trinidad), Bridgetown (Barbados), Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), Kingston (Jamaica), Vera Cruz (Mexico), New Orleans and Houston (USA),

The three container ships were about 16,300 dwt with 358 reefer slots and 408 dry slots with a speed of 19.0 knots by an H & W, B & W 6K90GF oil engine. Cargo gear consisted of 4 X 35 SWL deck cranes serving all five hatches.

It soon became necessary to add additional ships to the reefer northbound leg as the schedule could not be maintained on a strict 90 day round trip. Accordingly, a couple of existing Bank Line ships were adapted for carriage of insulated reefer containers below decks to assist in the integrity of the service which was fully operational by 1980.

On the UK/Continent service, three container-friendly ships were chartered in. These were:
"Testbank" ex- "Charlotta" (1979 - 1981)
"Tielbank" ex- "Caroline" (1979 - 1981)
"Tynebank" ex- "Sandra Wesch (1979 - 1980)
These three ships offered a fortnightly container round trip service between the Continent/UK and the U.S. Gulf with an added call at Nassau, Bahamas outwards, a port that had been dropped by Royal Mail Line.

On the South African service, Bank Line placed some of the units of the "Fish " Class to run monthly calling at the Gulf and East Coast. They had recently chartered in the " " to augment this service but it was soon found prudent to come to a business arrangement with Safmarine and form a joint service called SafBank Line. An increased frequency of sailings was necessary to combat Mediterranean Shipping Company's (MSC) container service.

But all this effort proved to be too little too late and one by one these service initiatives were to fold.

First to go was the Bank Line Transatlantic Service. To continue the service the ship charters had to be renewed and the new increased rates could not be supported by the revenue generated. Next the SafBank Line went full container, Bank Line dropped out and Safmarine joined up with MSC off the East Coast only. Safmarine (later its parent Maersk) would eventually mount a breakbulk service out of the Gulf to West Africa. But the Bank and Savill Line didn't survive either. The Caribbean and Gulf ports were abandoned and the west coast ports of the USA and Central America were selected for a joint operation with Australia New Zealand Direct Line (ANZDL). The U.S. Gulf had for many years been a steady revenue earner for Bank Line but by 1984 all was gone.

Meantime, the Bank Line's Westbound Round-the-World service was augmented, first by a joint service arrangement with Columbus Line, then by the purchase of four second-hand Finnish-built, ice-strengthened breakbulk/container ships in 1995. These were:

"Foylebank" ex-"Tiksi"
"Speybank" ex-"Okha"
"Arunbank" ex- "Vuosaari"
"Teignbank" ex- Nikel"

All four were renamed on being taken over by Swire Shipping in 2006. Ownership of each ship was in a one ship company managed by Andrew Weir Shipping but commercially operated by Swire.
New names were:
"Gazellebank" ex- "Foylebank"
"Mahinabank" ex- "Speybank"
"Tikeibank" ex- "Arunbank"
"Boularibank" ex- "Teignbank"

The service was discontinued in the Spring of 2009 and it was expected that the ships would be sold for scrapping.

Bank Line had always been a shipping company that was operated differently from conventional British shipping practice. An operating philosophy of managing a large fleet of similar ships suitable for tramping and liner voyages was unique to the company and it had fared well throughout the 20th Century with this philosophy. The first Lord Inverforth was a very aggressive and successful entrepreneur and many of his business ventures provided good connections for his shipping company. Over the years, friendly relations had been forged with many of the world's leading businessmen who controlled commodities in many parts of the world. All these links merged into liner services whenever possible and multipurpose tweendeckers were quite suitable to sustain regular cross services between overseas countries. Bank Line were not averse to joining Shipping Conferences when the opportunity arose but they were not aggressive members and usually were content with recognition by the other members and a token presence. Its interesting to note that they usually signed onto a Conference as Andrew Weir and when the members voted it was alphabetically with Weir usually casting the deciding vote!

Nevertheless, Bank Line has left its mark in the annals of British shipping. Its quite true that they were not ready to accept containerization. In fact, when being invited to join the ACT container consortium, Lord Inverforth was heard to remark that there was nothing in the proposition for Bank Line. "They just want our money!" In the end, a tepid recognition of containerization was not enough and the fourth Lord Inverforth (another Andrew Weir, son of Roy Weir) was titular head of the family when the doors finally closed on Bank Line. Today, Andrew Weir Shipping (AWS) is a ship management business.

It also must be recognized that Bank Line had supported the British shipbuilding and engine-building industries through thick and thin, often to financial advantage of the Line but nevertheless to the sustainability of what was a key industrial sector in its day. Today, there is something of a resurrection of multipurpose cargo liners of a fresh and exciting configuration, not to be built in Britain it seems and too late for Bank Line.

PART VI to follow (1918 - 1939)

Alan Rawlinson
25th August 2009, 08:53
Alistair,

Another great chapter with fascinating insights - grateful thanks.
AL

Alan Rawlinson
26th August 2009, 10:07
The 'contortions' to stay viable in the volatile 70's and 80's in the shipping world are well documented here by Alistair, but the Bankline story has to be seen ( and judged) against the worldwide upheaval in traditional routes and vessel types. My own view is that Lord Inverforth at the time was correct to reject the consortia option. He would have lost his money. Those lines that did succumb to joining consortia, and who were not the dominant players, saw their identity all but lost, and the fun, the challenge, and the satisfaction of running an intricate liner service disappeared to be replaced by the almost automatic box services running as near clockwork as possible, and supported by feeder services. It is also debatable whether the whole point of the exercise - to make money - was realised at all, as it is well known now that many consortia have been further forced to make unholy alliances with rivals in a struggle to improve both volumes and results. This continues today, with almost unbelievable mergers or ' trade agreements'. Only Hapag Lloyd seem to have kept their head aloft, while such proud companies as P & O, Maersk, CGM, Nedlloyd, etc have all had to jump into bed with the least objectionable competitor!

What were the options at the time that change was inevitable?

The first rule of business is survival, and I guess this test has been failed. Options to stay viable in the shipping world existed, but none of them would have resembled the unique blend of trade routes and network that Bankline enjoyed in the peak times. They had gone forever. Niche services, based on trade links built up over the years , perhaps?

With the marvellous benefit of hindsight, one key to survival was in ship types, and it is now clear that outside of container consortia and their box feeders, the next most active and viable services were provided by flexible multi purpose vessels equipped with ramps, especially quarter ramps . This topic has been expanded in previous threads so no need to enlarge greatly on this theme. It is a fact, and there are many services today based on such vessels, doing quite nicely, thank you Some of the Bankline trades such as the Pacific routes could perhaps have been extended with much more flexible tonnage.

Trying to compete with the big boys, by mounting smaller container services was not a viable option. Over the years I have been involved with several start up container services, most of which had a typical life of 4 to 5 years, and none of which made good profits. The only service that is still going today after many years, and is enjoying good payloads uses flexible vessels with ramps, and onboard tugs and trailers caters for the whole range of cargo, including containers.

More important than all of this is the will. The will to be in shipping, and make money. As mentioned in earlier threads, the Bankline heirachy appears to have lost interest in this activity in favour of pastures anew. Who can blame them?

AL

Charlie Stitt
26th August 2009, 12:28
Who can convince me that containerization was/is such a great business idea ?. Cost of ships, containers plus their maintainence, complex port facilities, shipping empty containers, road transport and feeder ships,and of course the large distribution sheds/yards where containers are loaded, emptied and shifted around, still using fork lift trucks and yes human labour. I agree some commodities may benifit being shipped in containers, but some of the stuff they put in containers is ridiculous. Efficient multi-purpose ships will make a comeback. Where will Bank Line etc be?

Alistair Macnab
26th August 2009, 16:35
Alan and Charlie.....
I am deeply appreciative of your carefully considered comments on my threads. I believe we have all arrived at the same conclusion. I hope our thoughts are not just molded by our age-group and nostagia but by careful and objective analysis of what has actually become of international shipping and the baneful effect of full cellular container operations.

As I've said in another thread, there is only 20% by WEIGHT of world commerce moving in containers to date after 40 years so containerization can be said to have reached its natural plateau. In fact there has been some 'unnatural' pushing of the container concept as Charlie notes with some ridiculous commodities having been squeezed or adapted to fit the box! And let's not forget the ridiculous efforts of container operators to adapt the box itself. We have flat racks, half-highs, ventilated, insulated, integrated, hopper, tank and heaven knows what other specialist equipment, all expensive to build and each spending more than half its lifespan in the wrong place or as part of an expensive shoreside inventory of equipment on standby.

As for expensive shore side facilities, do you think containerization would have become so widespread without the investment of public money (i.e. taxpayers money) on ports, terminals, cranes, yards, highway links and rail facilities? By and large, port authorities fell over each other to be a load center for the container lines and pumped all manner of public money into attracting them with either new-built facilities or tax holidays,

Today's recession might be the end of the line for all but the carriage of consumer goods but we must remember too, that these are invariably one-way and what's to become of empty return voyages other than to reposition empties?

Yes.... we do have hindsight and this is an appropriate time to employ it. What do Spliethoff, BBC, Clipper, Rickmers, Intermarine and their ilk see when they look into their crystal ball? And do they have the intestinal fortitude as Alan says that delivers success?

sidsal
26th August 2009, 17:50
What an intelligent and interesting thread !
Thanks

China hand
26th August 2009, 19:11
How very true Alistair, especially the last few lines. When the AK47 trade lifts off, many "little" places will be trading. Resurgence of small, handy, multi-geared, general cargo carriers. Won't be romantic, but very interesting.

Alan Rawlinson
28th August 2009, 22:04
The tide of containerisation ( King Canute, again) was unstoppable, and personally, I don't share the criticism or conclusions expressed in this thread. In 1962 I was mate of a pure container ship, the Container Enterprise – ISO units were just being born, and we carried the old BR round roof units called BD's.from the railways between Belfast and Heysham. It was a case of learning to ' love the box ' just as the cold war era urged people to ' love the bomb ' !

When the real container services got going in earnest, of course there were efforts to squeeze everything into boxes or onto flats, and inevitably some of the results were comical or time wasting, such as putting 60 ft beams on 40 ft flats, and loading 'out of guage' , and overheight units. We even had animals in open top containers on the top tier with their heads sticking out!.

Overall, the speed up of ship turnround, and the dramatically increased throughput, compensated for the huge investment in ships and specialised equipment, as was planned for at the outset. As mentioned before on this subject, the changes have embraced not only ship owners, but the Ports, Agents, Dockworkers, Hauliers, and even more importantly, the exporters who had to change their methods, loading bays, and thinking, to try and take advantage of the improved times and slicker service. The tide swept all before it.

One analogy is to see the major container routes as Motorways , and the residual services of breakbulk and out of the way ports as B roads. The main routes quickly established a small number of hub ports, fed by a growing number of feeder services running between ports that were previously serviced by Bankline type services characterised by slow loading and discharging, and lengthy periods at anchor or awaiting berths etc. Today, it's true there is a residual number of cargoes and trades serviced by a considerable number of tramp type services, but they seem to be scratching a living. The glory days of a global network such as that operated successfully by the Bankline has gone and likely will not ever return, in much the same way as the sailing ship era.

On the important topic of the will to continue, it seems to be that successful start up lines in any era are created by cheeky and aggressive risk takers, some may say mavericks, and perhaps the original Andrew Weir fell into this category. There is a parallel with airlines, ( Laker, Bishop, O'leary etc) and this special dogged quality rarely passes down the line to successive generations.

AL

Alistair Macnab
28th August 2009, 23:01
Containerisation is like communism.... perfect in theory but when extended out of its niche, it cannot be properly managed. There's not a container line in the world that wouldn't like to go back to the original concept of one box at the loading end, one box at sea in a slot, and another box at the discharging end to load return cargo to fill the same slot. Its magnificent. Its pure magic. Its impossible!

If for no other reason than the sales wallahs won't wait for an empty turning up just-in-time and neither will the customer who has been spoiled by the salesman/marketing strategy of the line. I;ve already remarked on the plethora of 'special' containers of which there are at least 20 variations. Think about it. 20 boxes for ONE SLOT! It was serendipity to get so much public money to pay for shoreside facilities. Stupid and gullible ports squandering public money and the shipping lines originally laughing all the way to the bank

I teach my students to think about the OPTIMUM VELOCITY of the logistics exercise. Surprisingly the time taken from floor to floor (as opposed to door to door) has not greatly improved with containerization. So the merchant is only marginally better off but at what expense? Meantime the ship operators have successfully passed a lot of the landside movements and activities on to third parties but are still responsible under an intermodal B/L. Its a bad deal. All the claims and counter claims are yet another expenses drain against the freight revenue.

When we started containers in Bank Line with the outward P-NG Direct Service from the UK/Continent we foolishly thought that if customers wanted a container, then that was OK but it would be a PREMIUM service. They would have to rent the container as well. Why provide a premium service (security of contents, no handling damage, last on/first off) and discount the price?

On the Gulf-Australia service we originally charged USD4,000 for a 40 and were appalled when this came down to half that for the same expense and inconvenience.

Admittedly, Bank Line didn't know how to handle containers and didn;t really want to learn. The container revolution was inevitable for all the wrong economic reasons. It was pushed ahead by optimistic sponsors who thought: 'never mind the extra expense now, we'll fix things later" They never did. The beginning evolution was the best it was ever going to be. Everything since has been an attempt to fix the problem but has in the end only expanded the problem. The marketplace will not permit the shipowners to charge the truly economic price for containerization. The customers have been well-trained. By the carriers, themselves!

Alan Rawlinson
29th August 2009, 08:24
Alistair,

Do you really believe in a (container) conspiracy theory? Or was it simply the snow ball effect, with a smart idea gathering pace as more and more opportunistic individuals and companies trying to benefit from perceived advantages.... I believe it was the latter.
AL

Alistair Macnab
29th August 2009, 18:00
Alan.....
I agree with you! It was opportunism rather than a conspiracy. Containers were thought of as 'sexy' and everyone wanted to be part of something 'new'! Its always the same. When the 'old guard' are seen to be resting on their laurels, the 'young bucks' take the opportunity to grab the gold ring and press ahead.
Certainly not a conspiracy in the true sense but the British shipowners did get together to form OCL and ACT and promise each other that they would not compete with multipurpose liner services. Hardly a conspiracy but nevertheless a coordinated response to what would have watered down the effect of containerization at the outset.

I have read in Ellerman's book how this was to be achieved even to the point of roping in Andrew Weir's who were seen as the only big shipping company outside the the gentleman's agreement. Inverforth (Morton Weir by this time) said no, he thought the concept was nuts and he said so. That's why Bank Line lasted longer than any of the others but was ultimately doomed for two reasons. (1) the ships were wrong and (2) containerization was too strong to oppose.

But look at the British shipowners now. Where are they? They're gone! So if the idea was to preserve themselves by containerization, they were wrong.
Anyway it was probably time for an upheaval anyhow and containerization was the catalyst. I do not intend to rewrite history nor to turn back the clock. It is what it is. But we can certainly see how the original idea backfired.

If you want to see an example of how Bank Line missed the boat. Look at Maersk. In 1960, Maersk were just like Weirs. A fleet of 60 breakbulk ships (50% were tankers - a phase Weirs had gone through pre-war) with cross trades rather than home runs to Denmark. They went through the high quality multipurpose ship phase very quickly then went whole heartedly into containers meanwhile covering development losses with offshore services.
Look at them now, They're at the top of the slipperly pole and don't seem to find anyway to go except down. Here in Houston, the Maersk office is going through its THIRD total reorganization in three years. Heads roll as they scramble around for a saviour which they are prepared to steal from any of the other container lines. Chaos reigns. Its tough being the benchmark. Look at SeaLand, APL, US Lines, Farrell, Lykes, CanPac, etc.....

Do you know why CMA-CGM and Mediterranean (MSC) survive here? They are totally beholden to Walmart. They are obliged to arrive every Thursday, deliver the container to Walmart by Saturday and pick up the empties or triangulate the empties to the resin shippers by Monday morning. Now that's what containers WAS all about but it has taken the discipline (a discipline that the ocean carriers cannot impose on themselves) of a SHIPPER! At least this is the kernel of container operations as was originally conceived.

Sorry to go on at such a rate! Its my topic and I have bored generations of Houstonians with this scenario!!

Charlie Stitt
29th August 2009, 19:57
If containerization is such a great investment, then expect to see shareholders jumping for joy in the streets as they collect big dividends.'' I don't think so''(Cloud)

FRANCISCO JOSE LUDWIG
30th August 2009, 02:48
G' Evening for all

I recently joined to SN, it's very interesting and enjoy all this great site; mainly ref subject : Bank Line , i had the book above mentioned and I am searching for information about if on next future will be printed a new update book about the Bank Line? Robin Whitehead tell me a lot of histories ref BL .
all the best
Francisco J.Ludwig/São Francisco do Sul /Brazil

Alan Rawlinson
30th August 2009, 09:13
Good morning, Alistair,

Thanks for the latest response re the great container debate - I don't think we are apart on our views either... I have been involved in most aspects and levels from the start up, and it has been a fascinating ride. Not sure I would have risked any of my hard earned cash investing in a container venture, with the possible exception of container leasing, which I have also been active in as Far East GM.

You mention Maersk, which is a great story in itself, and I had the privilage of meeting the founder, Muller Maersk, on a couple of occasions. A very impressive gentleman. I imagine you would also have met him on one of his frequent trip round the ports.

All the Best // Alan

rcraig
30th August 2009, 10:30
When I worked on supply vessels in the early 70's, mainly from Aberdeen, it was said that Maersk would have fed back each day to Copenhagen HQ's the vessels and types in harbour so that they would be appropriately armed with the right data should a spot charter arise and they were asked to bid.
They appeared very tightly and competitively run, and the word was that Maersk himself was still substantially involved. But that might have been part of the mythology built up around him. I don't know.

Alistair Macnab
30th August 2009, 22:07
Look at the parallels. Maersk was founded in 1912, nearly a whole generation after Andrew Weir. But the boss's influence on his company was just the same. He was a driving force but now that he's gone and the company is mainly in professional managerial hands (although familiy members are still present) its a much bigger organization to manage today compared with Bank Line at its biggest.
Someone in this thread has said it best: there needs to be a driving force with a clear vision behind any successful company. The accepted view is that first generation entrepreneurs are the real creators of wealth; the second generation are the conservators and the third are the spenders.

Knowing both Morton Weir (Inverforth II) and Roy Weir (Inverforth III) I would hesitate to describe each in accordance with the received wisdom, but there is no doubt that Bank Line lost its way very soon after Roy Weir unexpectedly died at only 50 years old This was in 1982 and we can all see what happened whether it was containerization or not. I expect Maersk are also worried about the rubric "Clogs to clogs in three generations)!

Alistair Macnab
7th September 2009, 00:55
BANK LINE - The Big Picture
Part VI

This part is not in chronological sequence but is some detail about how Bank Line prospered in the transition from sail to steam to motorships. There is no better place to start than the years of the First World War, when the transitions were taking place.

The last of the sailing ships left the fleet between 1914 and 1917 when two iron barques, the "Trongate" and the "Mennock" dating from 1891 and 1893 respectively were hulked at Valparaiso and the "Thistlebank", "Isle of Arran" and "Philadelphia were sold out of the fleet. This was the final disposal of what had been called the largest fleet of sailing ships under the British Flag.

The steamship era was to be late in starting but comparatively long-lived and ranged from 1896 to 1957, often with second-hand tonnage. The first steamer was the "Duneric" of 1896 and she was sold out of the fleet in 1916. Like most of the ships under Andrew Weir management, the "Duneric" was owned by a one-ship company until 1905 when the Bank Line Ltd. was registered after which nearly all ships were registered as owned and managed by that well-known name. Indeed, the sailing ships that had been built for Andrew Weir from 1885 had had the suffix '-bank' but as the sailing ships went and the steamships came into the fleet, the 'banks' had all disappeared even although the company was called Bank Line. The story surrounding the 'bank' suffix is perhaps lost to history but there is no doubt that Andrew Weir's first ship was already named "Willowbank" when bought in 1885 and perhaps he liked the concept.

From 1896, no fewer than 43 steamers joined the fleet up until the outbreak of WWI. In addition to the 22 '-erics' there was a wide range of names that came with the ship when bought. Many units of the fleet were disposed of or became war losses during the First World War. These were:

1914: "Tymeric" Captured by "Emden"; "Croydon" Wrecked; "Gifford" Interned Hamburg (First Doxford Built ship for Weir's);
1915: "Burnock" Sold; "Quito" Sold; "Orteric" Torpedoed; "Desabla" (tanker) Torpedoed;
1916: "Duneric" Sold (First Weir steamship ); "Elleric" Sold; "Comeric" Sold; "Foreric" Sold; "Katanga" Sold; "Luceric" Sold; "Miramichi" Fire Loss; "Mansuri" Disappeared; "Huntscape" Sold.
1917: "Oceano" Wrecked;
1918: "Aymeric" Torpedoed (First ship registered with Bank Line Ltd.).

Surviving WWI were:
"Inveric", "Jeseric"/"Rivafric", "Boveric", "Suveric", "Kumeric", "Mineric", "Roseric", "Salamis", Monadnock"/"Monafric", "Madawaska"/Capafric", "Naneric", Poleric", "Surat", "Gujarat", "Kathiawar", "Barneston"/"Oyleric" (tanker), "Ricardo A. Mestres"/Wyneric" (tanker), "Gymeric"(tanker), and "Caloric" (tanker).

Total: 19 steamships.
The ships noted above with two names when the second name ends in '-afric' ("Rivafric", "Monafric" and "Capafric" ) went to the Andrew Weir subsidiary Cie Venture Weir S.A. a French subsidiary in 1925, trading with West Africa and having interests in oil bunkering services.

But with the advent of steamships, Bank Line were taking an interest in liner services and sought to join the relevant ocean shipping Conferences. The Britain-Calcutta was the oldest and most established Conference (1875) and was jealously protected by its members. Bank Line were, however, eventually able to gain admittance but were awarded the non-home services to East Africa, South Africa, the River Plate and the West Coast of South America. The South American liner services from Calcutta were inaugurated in 1904.To be effective Conference members, more ships were required. In 1919, eight standard steamships were acquired. These were:
"Luceric" (ex-"War Agate) "Orteric" (ex-"War Coral") and "Comeric" (ex-"War Jasper") from Doxford, 'F' Class War Standard Ships, raised forecastle, extra derrick posts forward of mainmast serving three hatches aft of the accommodation. six hatches overall.
"Aymeric" (ex-"War Nemesia") from Thompson, 'F' Class War Standard.
"Tymeric" (ex-"War Mammoth") and "Haleric" (ex-"War Sparrow") from Hawthorn Leslie, 3-island hull form, counter stern.
"Yoseric" (ex-"War Parrot") from Laing, 3-island hull form, counter stern.
and
"Elveric" (ex-"War Capitol") from Northumberland, Raised forecastle hull form.

In addition to these coal-burning steamships, the twin-screw motorship ""Invercorie" was managed by Andrew Weir during 1920, coming from and returning to the British Mexican Petroleum Company with Andrew Weir still retained as managers. This was the Bank Line's first motorship.

We now come to the ship classes that survived into post WWII.

The "Gujarat " Class of motor cargo-passenger ship was built by Harland & Wolff at their Govan, Glasgow, shipyard with single-screw propulsion by a 6-cylinder 4 S.C.S.A. oil engine also constructed at Harland's Govan engine works. This class of three was designed for the Indian-African Line serving the Bay of Bengal ports of Calcutta, Rangoon and Madras then proceding via Colombo to Southern Africa in the Mocambique to Capetown range of ports. These ships had a five cargo hatch configuration with accommodation for 12 first, 20 second and 400 deck passengers, the latter consisting mainly of indentured Indian labourers recruited for the sugar cane fields of Natal and their repatriation at the end of their contract. The service had been upgraded to carry passengers in 1913 when three Bucknall cargo-passenger steamships had been purchased. They were originally, the "Johannesburg", Fort Salisbury" and "Buluwayo" and were renamed by Bank Line respectively "Surat", "Gujarat" and "Kathiawar". With the "Gujarat" and "Kathiawar" having been sold out of the fleet by 1923, the new "Gujarat" Class were able to use the same names with the exception of the "Surat" which was scrapped in 1926.
These were:
"Gujarat" (1923 - 1967), Sold;
"Kathiawar" (1924 - 1937), Wrecked;
"Luxmi" (1924 - 1961), Scrapped.

After the WWI 'Standard' ships had mostly been taken up by shipowners who had suffered war losses, Lord Inverforth (Andrew Weir had been enobled in 1919) correctly predicted that British shipyards would be desparate for newbuilding orders. This brought about the ordering of no fewer than 18 twin-screw motorships from Harland & Wolff, but from their Glasgow shipyard rather than from Belfast which was still moderately busy with passenger liner construction for the White Star/Royal Mail Group. Inverforth had become a close friend of Lord Pirrie the Chief at Harland's, and had entered a pact with the shipyard and other shipowners to buy ships at a discount. In any case, Harland's engine works were also in Glasgow and since 36 units of the 6-cylinder 4 S.C.S.A. oil engines would be required, it made sense to build in Glasgow.

The "Inverbank" Class, as it was named after the first ship delivered, was a flush-decked cargo ship of six hatches, with two hatches forward of the bridge house, one hatch between the bridge house and the fidley and three hatches on the after deck served by cargo booms hung from the mainmast and a pair of derrick post right aft. The derricks were of open lattice construction rather than tubular as was already common. The crew were housed forward at tween deck level and there were shipside utility structures abreast of the foremast housing crew galleys and wash spaces.

For the record, the ships were:
1924: Inver/Glen/Birch/Cedar/Comlie
1925: Clyde/Alyn/Elm/Forres/Nairn/Weir/Larch/Levern/Myrtle
1926: Olive/Oak/Spey/Spring

Out of the 18 units, only one was lost to misfortune and that was the "Forresbank" by fire and stranding in 1958.
War losses, however, were somewhat extensive:
1940: "Cedarbank", "Clydebank"
1941: "Alynbank" (as an Anti-Aircraft warship conversion), "Springbank" (as a Catapult warship conversion), "Levernbank"
1942: "Weirbank", "Oakbank"
1943: "Birchbank", "Larchbank"
Astonishingly, two units were sold for further trading after 28 years of Bank Line operation, the "Nairnbank" in 1953 and the "Olivebank" in 1954, a fine testament to the builders and the crews that had maintained their ships over the years!
But, sadly the end came for six units at the breakers yards:
1958: "Inverbank" and "Levernbank"
1959: "Glenbank", "Comliebank" and "Clydebank",
and finally
1960: "Myrtlebank" at no less than 35 years old! But even she did not hold the record for longevity, that going to the "Luxmi" which was 37 years' old when she eventually went to the breakers yard.

Bank Lines incursion into the tanker business commenced with the "Desabla" in 1913 but was shortlived with her being torpedoed in 1915. Between the wars, however, Bank Line entered tanker operations in a big way, taking over the management of the fleet of the British-Mexican Petroleum Company with 12 steam tankers and 11 barges for harbour service. All had "Inver-" prefixed names like the twin-screw motorship tanker "Invercorie" in 1925 which went over to the sister company Lago Shipping Co., Ltd.

Of the British-Mexican fleet, eight ships were laid down as "N" class wartime standard steamers but after lay-up for a number of years, cylindrical tanks were built into the cargo holds and the ships operated as tankers with engines amidships. These were:
"Inverarder" (1920 - 1930) ex-"War Hagara"
"Inverleith" (1921 - 1930)
"Inverurie" (1921 - 1930)
"Invergoil" (1922 - 1930)
"Inveravon" (1923 - 1930)
"Invergordon" (1923 - 1930)
"Invergarry" (1924 - 1930)
"Inverglass" (1924 - 1930)
Management of the British - Mexican Petroleum Company was transferred to other operators in 1930 and eventually to Anglo-American Oil Company, Ltd. (Standard Oil/Esso/Exxon) A sistership, the "War Pathan" had been managed by Weirs from 1919 to 1929 but was not part of the British - Mexican fleet.

The Lago Shipping Company, yet another Weir subsidiary, was formed in 1925 to operate shallow-draft twin-screw tankers out of Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela, to a new refinery in Aruba in the Dutch West Indies which was also one of the Weir interests. Altogether, 21 steam tankers were built by Harland & Wolff, but this time in Belfast. These were built between 1925 and 1931 and were named:
"Invercaibo" (1925 - 1936), "Inverlago" (1925 - 1936), "Inverosa" (1925 - 1936), "Inveruba" (1925 - 1936), "San Nicolas" ((1926 - 1936),
"Ambrosio" (1926 - 1936), "Icotea" (1927 - 1936), "Lagunilla" (1927 - 1936), "La Salina" (1927 - 1936), "San Carlos" (1927 - 1936)
"Sabaneta" (1927 -1936), "Oranjestad" (1927 - 1936), "Punta Benitez" (1928 - 1936), "Tia Juana" (1928 - 1936), "Hooiberg" (1928 - 1936)
"Punta Gorda" (1928 - 1936), "Yamanota" (1928 - 1936), "Tamare" (1929 - 1936), "Ule" (1929 - 1935), "Surinam" (1929 - 1933)
"Maracay" (1931 - 1936)
In 1936, the Lago Shipping Company management was also sold on to the Standard Oil Company which, is, of course, today's Exxon.

TO BE CONTINUED......

Hamish Mackintosh
7th September 2009, 02:06
We carried containers out of Goole in the very early 50's. When I was on the "Don'" sailing to Copenhagen, we would load two empties in Goole and return with two full ones , I can't remember having more than two on deck tho, and they were nothing like the size of the boxes today, two would fit on one of those BR long flatcars, but containers they were, and if memory serves me right I think they were the property of British Railways

Alan Rawlinson
7th September 2009, 08:32
Probably the typical railway containers with a prefix of BD. They had a slightly curved roof, which prevented stacking.
In the late 50's B.R. ordered 2 purpose built vessels to carry these units between Belfast and Heysham, called the '' Container Venturer '' and the '' Container Enterprise and they ran nightly with one tier below the hatches and one on deck.

The ships rolled like hell, which was OK for the boxes which were between bracing struts either side, but the London Office would not believe the angles of 40 degrees plus we were reporting, so they sent up 2 '' experts '' with a gyro based high tec inclinometer to make some trips over. The recording arm ran off the edge of the paper, and the operators threw up, and returned on the stabilised passenger service!
AL

Alan Rawlinson
7th September 2009, 08:39
Good Morning Alistair,

Thanks for the latest chapter which is worthy of some study.. Is this the concluding bit, I wonder, as I want to print out the whole story as related by you?

Cheers// Alan

oldmarconiman
7th September 2009, 08:54
Now that the Bankline story is drawing to an end, I wonder if anyone out there has the big picture from say, the 2nd world war until the present time???

What I mean is a comprehensive list or table of the vessels / launch date / end of service date ( for whatever reason)

I know these sort of statistics appear in various articles, but it would be nice to get a perspective here on the bankline forum re the postwar fleet. Can anyone oblige?

I put my money on Alistair !

Cheers/Alan Rawlinson

On reflection, the period after the Great War onwards would be nice - sweep up all the those great twin screw work horses, and the passenger vessels

Details of the Liberty Ships of Bankline are given on my website http://www.oldmarconiman.co.uk/lib_ships.html

Alistair Macnab
7th September 2009, 19:43
Oldmarconiman.....
I don't want to duplicate anybody else's good work. As it is, I am having a quite a job justifying my access to the source material which is "Seventy Adventurous Years" and Appleyard's "Bank Line 1885 - 1985" plus searches in the Internet and good old Ships Nostalgia!
Alan.......
I had intended to finish with Part VI but the tankers took more research that I bargained for. Part VII will be the last (I think right now) with the Workman Clark story including the White Ships and the remaining odds and sods.
Cheers!

Alistair Macnab
7th September 2009, 22:54
BANK LINE - The Big Picture.....
Part VII

Between 1926 and 1934 a bunch of second-hand tonnage was bought in in addition to the newbuilding programme unfolding at Workman Clark in Belfast. Mainly for liner services, they could be viewed as Bank Line's 'captive' ships to given service. These were:
ss."Foreric" (1926 - 1927) ex-"War Lemur" for Cree Investments;
mv.s "Dunafric", "Forafric" and "Solafric" (acquired 1927) ex-EAC for Venture Weir;
ss."Surat" and "Tinhow" (acquired 1927) ex-James Nourse;
ss."Cabarita" (acquired 1930) from Howard Smith;
ss."Glenardle" (acquired 1932);
tsmv."Congella" (acquired 1933)
tsmv "Kelvinbank" (acquired 1934)
As mentioned above, the three diesel '-africs" were bought from Danish East Asiatic interests to replace the three steamship '-africs' in service with Cie Venture Weir S.A. that had originated the service with French West Africa in 1925. The Venture Weir company had had its beginnings in 1921 with the steam tanker "Francunion" (1921 - 1925) and the oil depot ship "Francunion II" (1924 - 1927) that preceded the first three steam-driven cargo ships. The steamers were replaced by the motorships in 1927 and the service seems to have been active until 1937.

The James Nourse ships had been operated by that company in the Calcutta - West Indies trade. They were designed to accommodate a number of emigrant-class passengers carrying indentured Indian labour to the West Indies sugar plantations and Bank Line had a need for this special capability.
The "Surat" (1927 - 1935) was placed on the Indian - African Line as an extra ship to the three "Gujarat" Class ships, whilst the "Tinhow" was allocated to the Oriental African Line to replace an older unit of the same name that was sold in 1913. The Oriental African Line was a successful two-way service originally between the Union of South Africa and South East Asia. It would later be extended to include Portuguese and British East Africa and Mauritius at the African end and China, Japan and the Philippines in the F ar East. Passenger services were offered on a sporadic basis based on Chinese labourer requirements in the plantations of Africa with a few cabin-class passenger berths. The new "Tinhow" was dedicated to the service and from time-to-time an Indian-African Line cargo-passenger ship was allocated to cover the berth.
"Cabarita" and "Congella" were allocated to the Indian African Line or the Oriental African Line as required and "Glenardle" and "Kelvinbank" were bought. The two ships were available at a good price with the added benefit that the "Kelvinbank" had an interesting twin-screw experimental oil engine and Inverforth wanted to rate its capabilities and economies.

Hamish Mackintosh
8th September 2009, 02:42
Alistair, it is with interest I read your praise for Bankline on the support they provided for the british ship building industry(and god knows they needed it)but by the same token I see that Bankline did very little to support the "British" seaman, and took full advantage of the "two for One sailor sale" and crewed their ships out of the East

McMorine
8th September 2009, 15:35
BANK LINE - The Big Picture.....
Part VII

Between 1926 and 1934 a bunch of second-hand tonnage was bought in in addition to the newbuilding programme unfolding at Workman Clark in Belfast. Mainly for liner services, they could be viewed as Bank Line's 'captive' ships to given service. These were:
ss."Foreric" (1926 - 1927) ex-"War Lemur" for Cree Investments;
mv.s "Dunafric", "Forafric" and "Solafric" (acquired 1927) ex-EAC for Venture Weir;
ss."Surat" and "Tinhow" (acquired 1927) ex-James Nourse;
ss."Cabarita" (acquired 1930) from Howard Smith;
ss."Glenardle" (acquired 1932);
tsmv."Congella" (acquired 1933)
tsmv "Kelvinbank" (acquired 1934)
As mentioned above, the three diesel '-africs" were bought from Danish East Asiatic interests to replace the three steamship '-africs' in service with Cie Venture Weir S.A. that had originated the service with French West Africa in 1925. The Venture Weir company had had its beginnings in 1921 with the steam tanker "Francunion" (1921 - 1925) and the oil depot ship "Francunion II" (1924 - 1927) that preceded the first three steam-driven cargo ships. The steamers were replaced by the motorships in 1927 and the service seems to have been active until 1937.

The James Nourse ships had been operated by that company in the Calcutta - West Indies trade. They were designed to accommodate a number of emigrant-class passengers carrying indentured Indian labour to the West Indies sugar plantations and Bank Line had a need for this special capability.
The "Surat" (1927 - 1935) was placed on the Indian - African Line as an extra ship to the three "Gujarat" Class ships, whilst the "Tinhow" was allocated to the Oriental African Line to replace an older unit of the same name that was sold in 1913. The Oriental African Line was a successful two-way service originally between the Union of South Africa and South East Asia. It would later be extended to include Portuguese and British East Africa and Mauritius at the African end and China, Japan and the Philippines in the F ar East. Passenger services were offered on a sporadic basis based on Chinese labourer requirements in the plantations of Africa with a few cabin-class passenger berths. The new "Tinhow" was dedicated to the service and from time-to-time an Indian-African Line cargo-passenger ship was allocated to cover the berth.
"Cabarita" and "Congella" were allocated to the Indian African Line or the Oriental African Line as required and "Glenardle" and "Kelvinbank" were bought. The two ships were available at a good price with the added benefit that the "Kelvinbank" had an interesting twin-screw experimental oil engine and Inverforth wanted to rate its capabilities and economies.

Bankline had some interest in the small City Line ships in the 1980/90s. We did maintenance work and stored spares for them when I was with Mannings Marine in Liverpool and I often had dealings with the London Supers at that time. A terrible tradgedy to see the end of a great company.

Alistair Macnab
8th September 2009, 22:56
BANK LINE - The Big Picture.....
Part VII

Between 1926 and 1934 a varied group of second-hand tonnage was bought in, in addition to the newbuilding programme unfolding at Workman Clark in Belfast. Mainly for liner services, they could be viewed as Bank Line's 'captive' ships to given service. These were:
ss."Foreric" (1926 - 1927) ex-"War Lemur" for Cree Investments;
mv.s "Dunafric", "Forafric" and "Solafric" (acquired 1927) ex-EAC for Venture Weir;
ss."Surat" and "Tinhow" (acquired 1927) ex-James Nourse;
ss."Cabarita" (acquired 1930) from Howard Smith;
ss."Glenardle" (acquired 1932);
tsmv."Congella" (acquired 1933)
tsmv "Kelvinbank" (acquired 1934)
As mentioned above, the three diesel '-africs" were bought from Danish East Asiatic interests to replace the three steamship '-africs' in service with Cie Venture Weir S.A. that had originated the service with French West Africa in 1925. The Venture Weir company had had its beginnings in 1921 with the steam tanker "Francunion" (1921 - 1925) and the oil depot ship "Francunion II" (1924 - 1927) that preceded the first three steam-driven cargo ships. The steamers were replaced by the motorships in 1927 and the service seems to have been active until 1937.

The James Nourse ships had been operated by that company in the Calcutta - West Indies trade. They were designed to accommodate a number of emigrant-class passengers carrying indentured Indian labour to the West Indies sugar plantations and Bank Line had a need for this special capability.
The "Surat" (1927 - 1935) was placed on the Indian - African Line as an extra ship to the three "Gujarat" Class ships, whilst the "Tinhow" was allocated to the Oriental African Line to replace an older unit of the same name that was sold in 1913. The Oriental African Line was a successful two-way service originally between the Union of South Africa and South East Asia. It would later be extended to include Portuguese and British East Africa and Mauritius at the African end and China, Japan and the Philippines in the Far East. Passenger services were offered on a sporadic basis based on Chinese labourer requirements in the plantations of Africa with a few cabin-class passenger berths. The new "Tinhow" was dedicated to the service and from time-to-time an Indian-African Line cargo-passenger ship was allocated to cover the berth.
"Cabarita" and "Congella" were allocated to the Indian African Line or the Oriental African Line as required and "Glenardle" and "Kelvinbank" were bought as good deals. The two ships were available at a good price with the added benefit that the "Kelvinbank" had an interesting twin-screw experimental oil engine and Inverforth wanted to rate its capabilities and economies.

The shipbuilding industry in Belfast had been going through a great deal of turmoil after the surge of newbuildings to replace WWI war losses had been revealed as unprofitable. This occurred partly because the Royal Mail Group had become the owners of Harland and Wolff and had defaulted to their banks but also because Harland's had for many years made discounts to certain shipowners without regard for the bottom line. The Bank Line had benefited from this lax accounting with their Glasgow-built order for 21 ships and also for the Belfast-built order of 21 shallow draft tankers but now there were moves by creditors to tighten up everything at Harland's head office.
Also included in the general turmoil was the Belfast yard of Workman Clark which went out of business and was resurrected as Workman Clark (1928) Ltd. Known as the "Wee Yard" Workman Clark as opposed to the "Big Yard" Harland & Wolff, it was seen as important that they also survived as much of Belfast's (therefore Northern Ireland's) economy depended upon shipbuilding and the many services that were involved.
Accordingly, Bank Line, one of Workman's saviours, entered into orders for 12 ships to be built between 1929 and 1934. These were:

Single screw oil-fired Cargo Steamships:
"Deebank" (1928 - 1955); "Trentbank" (1929 - 1942); "Forthbank" (1929 - 1953) and "Lindenbank" (1930 - 1939)

Twin-screw Cargo Motorships:
"Irisbank" (1930 - 1961); "Lossiebank" (1930 - 1962); "Taybank" (1930 - 1961) and "Tweedbank" (1930 - 1960)

Single-screw Motor Tanker:
"Corabank" (1932 - 1937)

Twin-screw Passenger-Cargo Motorships:
"Isipingo" (1934 - 1964)
"Inchanga" (1934 - 1964)
"Incomati" (1934 - 1943)

The three Passenger-Cargo ships were meant for the Indian African Line which had recently been augmented by the purchase of Bullard King's Natal Line to India so a twice monthly service was envisaged by Bank Line with a monthly passenger and cargo service alternating with a cargo-only string. The second string was known as the India-Natal Line with its own houseflag and separate agents.

The Isipingo" Class were known as the "White Ships" because their livery was updated from the customary black hull and buff upperworks of previous ships on the service to white hull, green boottopping and a gold sheerline around the ships at the upper edge of the sheer strake along with buff ventilators with blue cowls and buff masts and derrick posts. Small vents were white with blue insides and the small funnel was the then customary "Belfast Motorship" type of heavily raked shape and a horizontal top edge. The rake of the funnel was matched by the rake of the two masts and the overall appearance was pleasing and something like a gigantic private yacht and a typical British "Intercolonial" service passenger ship connecting up the far-flung British Empire and Colonies. Portugal Mozambique and British East Africa were added to the itinerary with Capetown at one end and Calcutta at the other acting as terminal ports.

Passenger numbers were originally 47 first-class, 20 second-class and 500 deck passengers as the 12 lifeboats indicated. The standard of accommodation was a great improvement over the original ex-Bucknall ships and the "Luxmi" Class that had served the route in the past and had been instrumental in building up the service.

The twin-berth first-class cabins were paired with a full bathroom between each pair. What was unusual was the provision of fresh water baths when other ships of this type usually had salt water baths. There were also a number of single berth cabins for single passengers or personal servants.
First class amenities included a Dining Room, Sitting Room, Glassed-in Tea Verandah, Glassed-in Sports Verandah, Bar-Lounge with open verandah, Hair Salon and Shop as well as the customary Purser's Bureau. The interior style was generally Edwardian with Art Deco touches except the Bar-Lounge which was Jacobean. A portable large swimming pool was originally fitted over No.4 Hatch overlooked by the Bar Verandah but in post WWII days this had been reduced to a smaller pool just forward of the bridge abreast of No.2 Hatch. Second Class were served by a combination Dining Room and Social Hall with their accommodation aft in 2 and 4 berth cabins. Third Class passengers were located in No.2 and No.4 tweendecks with staircases to the main deck through the masthouses where there were cooking and sanitary facilities.
Cargo deadweight was 7,000 dwt.

On the Boat Deck with the lifeboats turned half-way out, there was a wide expanse of wooden deck for deck golf and quoits with horse racing nights on top of No.3 Hatch which was just forward of the funnel. At this boat deck level were the four de luxe cabins that could be converted to two-room suites. In pre-war years these accommodations were used by the vice-regal party from Calcutta on their annual tour of Rangoon and Burma.

Post war, the crew numbered 105 persons and the passenger numbers were progressively lowered as the third-class of migrant disappeared. Lifeboats were also reduced. The first to go were the two boats on the Bridge wings and other lifeboats were removed until latterly, only the four boats on the Boat Deck remained. Passenger numbers came down to 70 in two classes then eventually to 12 as the first class passenger was now able to fly between Africa and India.

Out of the 12 Workman Clark ships, two, the "Trentbank" and the "Incomati" were war losses. The "Lindenbank" was wrecked in 1939, the "Corabank", "Deebank" and "Forthbank" were sold on for further trading and the remaining six ships - "Irisbank", "Lossiebank", "Taybank", "Tweedbank", Isipingo" and "Inchanga" went to the ship breakers having served the company well.

Two interesting 'flyers' were bought from Harland and Wolff in 1930. These were the "Foylebank" and "Laganbank" with twin 8-cylinder 4 S.C.S.A. oil engines giving a good 14 knots.
The reason for the increased speed over near sisterships is not known but it is speculated that the Bombay American Line and the American & Oriental Line which were operated in conjunction with other ocean carriers as part of the "Round the World" service had all upgraded to faster speeds and Bank Line had to do the same. The partners at that time were Wilhelmsen and Fernley and Egar of Oslo and Chambers and Silver Line of the U.K. "Foylebank" was ceded to the Admiralty and converted into an anti-aircraft ship, being sunk in 1940 whilst the "Laganbank" was wrecked in 1938.

Between 1934 and 1940: 13 cargo ships were delivered from three shipyards. Harland & Wolf delivered 3 motorships, Doxford delivered 4 motorships that were close sisters of the famous Doxford 'Economy' ship except with a 4 cylinder oil engine instead of the 'economy' 3-cylinder, and the Readhead Yard in South Shields delivered 6 steamships. These were:

Harland Motorships:
"Ernebank" (1937 - 1963); "Araybank" (1940 - 1941); "Shirrabank" (1940 -1963). "Araybank" was a war loss and "Ernebank" and "Shirrabank" were sold for breaking up.

Doxford Motorships:
"Eskbank" (1937 - 1961); "Teesbank" (1937 - 1942); "Ettrickbank" (1937 - 1962) and "Willowbank" (1939 - 1940). "Teesbank" and "Willowbank" were war losses, whilst "Eskbank" was sold for further trading and "Ettrickbank" was scrapped. It is interesting to note that the
"Eskbank", "Teesbank" and "Ettrickbank" were delivered to Inver Transport and Trading Company and not to Bank Line. This separate company was a legal entity unto itself but was completely integrated into Bank Line's operations. It only ever had one more ship, the "Laganbank" of 1955.

The six steamships from Readhead's:
Tynebank" (1934 - 1955); "Tielbank" (1937 - 1941); "Testbank" (1937 - 1943); "Teviotbank" (1938 - 1955); "Thornliebank" (1939 - 1941) and "Thursobank" (1940 - 1942).
These ships were a pre-war version of what was to become the "Empire" Standard ship. They were somewhat low-powered and only good for 11 knots. The "Tielbank", "Testbank" Thornliebank" and "Thursobank" were war losses. The "Tynebank" and the "Teviotbank" survived the war and were part of the post war Bank Line fleet that saw the end of steamships and the beginning of an all motorship fleet.

Bank Line had started out as tramp operators and had become recognized in all the customary bulk trades that were operated by British interests. This included Chilean nitrate, Australian coal, Argentine wheat and Pacific Islands copra but with the introduction of steamships at the turn of the 20th Century, Andrew Weir saw the possibility of entering the liner or conference controlled services. Calcutta was the place to do this and by aggressive placing of Bank Line ships against Conference ships, it became important to the Conference to have Bank Line inside the cartel rather than outside. As we have previously noted, Bank Line were given the cross-trades, and not the home runs to the UK but that suited Andrew Weir as his strategy became end to end one way services connected by tramp cargoes to construct a trading pattern that was difficult to copy. Ships would go one-way around the world on alternate liner and tramp legs, never touching the United Kingdom.

As a final note, it should be recorded that there was activity in the United States and North America in pre-WWII years. At first the activity was centered around oil trading as Andrew Weir, now Lord Inverforth sought to control Union Oil Company of California (UNOCAL) Generally speaking, he was up against the Rockefeller combine and has been already seen, even his Mexican and Venezuelan oil interests eventually came under control of the American interests. But before that happened, there was a scheme to build a refinery in Dublin and operate a string of motor tankers to bring crude oil from the refinery in Aruba (which was party owned by the Weir Group) to refine aviation spirit for the coming war effort as a shortage of this product was predicted and U.S. interests could not be seen as sending aviation spirit to British interests thus breaking their neutrality.
These seven ships, all built in Germany with frozen Weir money accumulated in that country through trading ventures and not permitted to be repatriated, were apparently ordered for the Irish company Crusader Petroleum Industries Ltd. but the ships were delivered to Liffey Transport and Trading Co. during 1938. This company eventually became Inver Tankers Ltd. and were managed by Andrew Weir & Co. These ships were:
"Inverlee" (lost 1941); "Invershannon (lost 1940); "Inverliffey" (lost 1939); "Inverdargle" (lost 1940); "Inverlane" (lost 1939); "Inversuir" (lost 1941) and "Inverilen" (lost 1943)

Other activities in the USA were the development of separate liner services from the U.S. Gulf to South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.The South African service was in conjunction with Nordeutcher Lloyd whereas the Australia and New Zealand services were conducted within the framework of the British Lines that controlled these trade lanes. Here again, the other British Lines preferred to keep the U.S. East Coast and Montreal cargoes to themselves, and offer the lower paying cargoes from the U.S. Gulf to Bank Line. This proved, yet again, to be something that Bank Line could work with whilst others could not and the makings of what was eventually to become the Bank Line's big revenue earner was inaugurated.

The Pacific Islands - Homewards service also started in pre-WWII years, initially as charter business for Lever Brothers carrying copra and coconut oil from Lever plantations to Lever's facilities in the UK, Holland and Germany. This modest beginning was also to develop into one of the more successful liner operations.

It can be seen that the strategy of tramp cargoes segueing into liner voyages was a particular strategy of Bank Line for most of the 20th. Century. Certainly Andrew Weir/Lord Inverforth was the most noted and successful proponent of this strategy and it can be safely said that he had no equal in this regard. Perhaps it can also be safely noted, that the success of the Bank Line was always in the capable hands of its founder, owner and chief strategiser. Andrew Weir's gave employment to many over the years. The British shipbuilders were rescued by the company, not once but twice and many a young lad achieved his ambition of becoming a Chief Engineer or Master under the Bank Line houseflag.

THE END.
(c) RVW Productions LLC.

References: "Seventy Adventurous Years" ; Appleyard's "Bank Line 1887 -1987"; SN Data; Wikipedia.

Alistair Macnab
9th September 2009, 21:08
Alistair, it is with interest I read your praise for Bankline on the support they provided for the british ship building industry(and god knows they needed it)but by the same token I see that Bankline did very little to support the "British" seaman, and took full advantage of the "two for One sailor sale" and crewed their ships out of the East

Hamish....
You are quite correct, Other SN threads catalogue the Bank Line white crew experiences with just about every man jack jumping ship in Oz or NZ. Trouble was that Bank Line used the Pool for crews and had no 'company men' at crew level (probably not many at officer level either in the old days!) Problem was the two-year Articles and the very strong likelyhood of being out for all of that time or even longer! Didn't attract the 'steady' sailor!

There were a few white crews when I joined in 1953, mostly on Liberty ships and a couple of pre-war steamers. One time, the Super in Calcutta had to do a round robin to rope up a crew of Apprentices to shift a white-crewed ship as the crew were AWOL. It was a shitty job involving as it did, the chain moorings in the river, as heavy a labouring job as can be imagined. We did have a native mooring gang to help us but even so, it was not something I would volunteer to do! Anyway, been there...done that!
Alistair.

Hamish Mackintosh
9th September 2009, 23:13
Alistair I did not wish to imply that Bank Line were the only shipping company that "moved" to far east crews. If I remember correctly BTC had the cabin capacity stamped above each crew cabin door, Two Sailors or Four Lascars so the writing was on the wall even in the early fifties, and I agree the British sailor was master of his own demise what with all the shenanigans that went on in foreign ports, We for example on the "Ivybank"only came home with seven of the original lower deck crew(catering, black gang and sailors) after being out for twenty months, and the crew turnover in Oz and NZ was horrendous, mostly the ten pound immigrants,looking for a fast passage home(fat chance on a Bank Boat) which burned my ass ,as they were being payed more than I was as S0S, and I was teaching them to steer etc, they soon got fed up with Narua and Ocean Island and would jump at their convenience, then the cycle would start again, so like you been there done that cheers H

rcraig
10th September 2009, 10:11
I experienced a white crew for only a couple of months on the Springbank, one of the last few left. The atmosphere on the ship was quite different for the apprentices who were treated more like ordinary seamen. I, as many did, enjoyed the experience, perhaps more than the master and mate. The very presence of being with a white crew to some extent imposed better living standards for the apprentices if my own experience was anything to go by.

As I've narrated elsewhere, the moment we changed to Indian crew, the drinking fountains in the alleyways and the war time double sprung mattresses and bunk bases were ripped out to be replaced by sub-standard basic units, and we were shipped up to the black hole of Calcutta cabin at the after upper end of the accommodation from what had been a relatively breezy and well ventilated cabin on a lower deck. By contrast this cabin, facing aft was always very difficult to keep cool in and we suffered our way through weeks in Calcutta and then in due course West Africa.

And I still remember the super, Gale I think, in his cold contempt for us when we rather daringly made a comment about the changes. In his own way his type did not do much to encourage apprentices to remain with the company, leaving aside the 2 yr. trips of course.

My own view is that the attitude still very much reflected the "depression" mentality of the '30's where hard tack standards prevailed and in addition in this case there would have been a perceived need to ensure that the Indian crew should not be allowed to expect higher standards.

Alan Rawlinson
10th September 2009, 15:22
Bankline white crews - one hell of an experience, that has stayed with me always...

The chief characteristics were first and foremost - the sense of humour from the Liverpool crew I sailed 2 yrs with. Every event called for some wry and amusing comment. Tied up alongside another Bankline ship with an Indian crew, our ' crowd' started calling themselves ' white savages ' in contrast.

Secondly, the complete disregard and contempt for authority... The frequent loggings went on as a matter of routine, and fines were gifted to
' The destitute Master Mariners society ' ( or was that just a joke, I remember?) There was also a dogged acceptance of circumstances, bad weather, drunkenness, come what may. Some of our crew could not read and had to have their letters read out to them, but they were all characters in their own way.

As has been said many times in these postings, they deserted en mass in Australia and NZ to be replaced largely by crew that had deserted previously and had been rounded up by the police etc and often brought down to the ship in handcuffs.

Berthing anywhere near a pub in Aus / NZ was fatal and they could often be found behind the bar serving drinks and holding court.

We finally paid off in Hamburg with only one original deck member remaining, and took a drunken trip home on the ferry causing mayhem as usual.

AL

jimthehat
10th September 2009, 23:38
i sailed on the maplebank the trip after Alan and cannot add much to his comments re white crew,after 18 months we arrived back in with only the bosun from the original crew.
Without a white crew I can say that my seamanship skills would have been very much poorer.3 days out as a first tripper and I was up the top of the aft mast sitting in a bosuns chair and the bosun shouting up "now listen carefully i will only explain this once""after following instructions I held on tight to both parts of the line for about 10 mins before I let go and tested my first lowering hitch.
We were also well taught in the art of rope and wire splicing which came into good use on the OZ coast when the apps were the only people available to supply the dockers with a constant supply of runners.

JIM

rcraig
11th September 2009, 01:35
i sailed on the maplebank the trip after Alan and cannot add much to his comments re white crew,after 18 months we arrived back in with only the bosun from the original crew.
Without a white crew I can say that my seamanship skills would have been very much poorer.3 days out as a first tripper and I was up the top of the aft mast sitting in a bosuns chair and the bosun shouting up "now listen carefully i will only explain this once""after following instructions I held on tight to both parts of the line for about 10 mins before I let go and tested my first lowering hitch.
We were also well taught in the art of rope and wire splicing which came into good use on the OZ coast when the apps were the only people available to supply the dockers with a constant supply of runners.

JIM

When did your trip finish and would that have been the last of the white crew ships?

Hamish Mackintosh
11th September 2009, 04:34
Just as a light aside, How many of you" Heelanders "will be attending the tenth annual "Springbank" invitational solo piping competition, to be held at the Argyll Hotel, in Campbelltown Sat 12th of September? Wish I could make it, and hear pipes played as they should be played

Alan Rawlinson
11th September 2009, 09:01
Re: Maplebank white crews............

Jim, I think you were on the trip prior to me, paying off in Bromboro where we joined. I also got the impression that we were on the last Bankline white crew voyage, but could be corrected on this.

Some of the AB's we had were true seamen, and in addition to the normal skills, sewed their own working clothes, cheese cutter caps included, from a bolt of fine duck canvas in the stores.

A final thought about these crews - many of the older AB's and firemen had presumably come through the war time, Atlantic convoys and all, given that it was only 10 yrs or so previous to our time. It puts some of the 50's high jinks in the shade...

AL

rcraig
11th September 2009, 11:12
The Springbank white crew paid off in Calcutta in Feb/Mar '55. When did the Maplebank finish with her white crews?

jimthehat
11th September 2009, 12:45
When did your trip finish and would that have been the last of the white crew ships?

My first trip as app on the Maplebank was from 25/8/52 to 26/1/54=17 months and then 25 days at home and off to the Etivebank.
As mentioned in previous threads whilst on the Maplebank we suffered a major e/r fire whilst app new Orleans,then lost the master overboard whilst crossing the pacific,and more of a pleasure was at Tonga (nuckalofa) when the queen flew in on dec 53,we got chucked off the berth but could see all the festivities in the palace gardens .
jim

Alan Rawlinson
11th September 2009, 19:57
The Springbank white crew paid off in Calcutta in Feb/Mar '55. When did the Maplebank finish with her white crews?

It was end of 1955 in Hamburg.// AL

rcraig
11th September 2009, 20:19
It was end of 1955 in Hamburg.// AL

And are we able to say that was the last of the white crews for Bank Line then?

Ray

jimthehat
11th September 2009, 20:43
Re: Maplebank white crews............

Jim, I think you were on the trip prior to me, paying off in Bromboro where we joined. I also got the impression that we were on the last Bankline white crew voyage, but could be corrected on this.

Some of the AB's we had were true seamen, and in addition to the normal skills, sewed their own working clothes, cheese cutter caps included, from a bolt of fine duck canvas in the stores.

A final thought about these crews - many of the older AB's and firemen had presumably come through the war time, Atlantic convoys and all, given that it was only 10 yrs or so previous to our time. It puts some of the 50's high jinks in the shade...

AL
Hi Al,
think that I have got it right now,i had got the impression that seeing you had left school the year before me that you had joined the maplebank as a first tripper but of course it was Bromborough 54 where i payed off,so what was your first ship/
JIM

Alan Rawlinson
12th September 2009, 08:35
Hi Al,
think that I have got it right now,i had got the impression that seeing you had left school the year before me that you had joined the maplebank as a first tripper but of course it was Bromborough 54 where i payed off,so what was your first ship/
JIM

Hi Jim,

First joined the FORTHBANK in July 1951 - then was told in Adelaide that I was to join the INCHANGA in Calcutta. ( Why me?) This meant a few weeks on the coal burner HAZELBANK and a transfer to EASTBANK in Colombo before boading INCHANGA in Calcutta. After 1 year I returned home from Durban aboard the crippled WESTBANK that had just been hauled off of the Juan De Nova island in the Mozambique channel. 22 months away in total. Then had a fantastic trip on the old ERNEBANK with Capt. Stewart - a real seaman - before joining MAPLEBANK in Bromboro as senior apprentice of 4. Came back with 3, as one apprentice got the bug, and jumped ship in New Plymouth NZ.
AL

Ray,

I suspect it might have been, but someone out there may know different. I fondly thought at the time that it was the last white crew voyage in Bankline, and put it down to the disastrous goings on with the crew, until reading these threads which show the shenanigans we suffered were quite normal! Seems the powers that be accepted it all.

jimthehat
12th September 2009, 11:39
Al,
you must have a tale or two re the westbank,i heard that carney was the mate,and the story goes that he was working out his morning sights which put him way off course ,he started to rework and the ship ran up on the reef ,maybe an old wifes tale but when the lookout was asked why he did not report the land/reef ,his reply was""no battie sahb.true or false.

jim

Alan Rawlinson
12th September 2009, 14:31
Hi Jim

Re the Westbank.....

I think I am right in saying that the inquiry concluded the grounding was due to an unusual current. Carnie's sights were later re-worked in the London Office, and found to be OK.

I was later to sail with him when he was Master, when I was the mate on SOUTHBANK. He was extremely nervous about sailing past islands for obvious reasons. He got married in a big society type wedding in Sydney, and after we sailed, used to come up to the bridge on the morning 4 to 8 watch, complaing about '' that women in my cabin '' !

Cheers/AL

Alan Rawlinson
13th September 2009, 16:31
As no-one has come up with it yet, and as the thread starter, I feel we all owe Alistair MacNab a big THANK YOU for the comprehensive and interesting summary of the Bankline days, and hope other readers can echo this sentiment. Apart from the challenge of such a task, there is considerable time and effort involved, cutting into other pleasurable activities!

As mentioned to Alistair privately, I am reasonably sure that Roy Fenton of '' SHIP'S IN FOCUS '' ( among others) would be interested in producing the article in his high quality magazine, on glossy paper and with illustrations, particularly as there are insights into the workings of Bankline, not available to the ordinary author.

Cheers

jimthehat
13th September 2009, 17:18
I echo that big thanks to alastair,and would like to see it in print,over the years i have gathered bits and pieces of bank line history and was just about to downloads Alisters history which is more comprehensive than my bits

By the way,am trying to decypher the master we had on the Isipingo it looks like Frosdick,anybody know that name,would be interesting to see if we could get a substansive list of masters from the 50s onwards.

regards

Jim

Steve Taylor
16th September 2009, 13:49
As no-one has come up with it yet, and as the thread starter, I feel we all owe Alistair MacNab a big THANK YOU for the comprehensive and interesting summary of the Bankline days, and hope other readers can echo this sentiment. Apart from the challenge of such a task, there is considerable time and effort involved, cutting into other pleasurable activities!

As mentioned to Alistair privately, I am reasonably sure that Roy Fenton of '' SHIP'S IN FOCUS '' ( among others) would be interested in producing the article in his high quality magazine, on glossy paper and with illustrations, particularly as there are insights into the workings of Bankline, not available to the ordinary author.

Cheers

Ships in Focus printed a two part article by Paul Boot in issues 17 and 18 of 2001. The article covers the post war rebuilding by H & W and Doxfords up to the Fish class. It details the design development, detailed design differences and outlines with many photos colour and B&W and profile drawings, but unlike Alistairs story, it does not go into the background of the needs for the different ships and does not give any detail about the development of the copra boats.

I have just finished reading two novels by David Baboulene, called Ocean Boulevard and Jumping Ships, which describe life as a first and second trip cadet in the seventies (like me) and it is easy to deduce that he was a Bank Line man, though all names are understandably changed. Ports visited, antics performed and life described are quite hilarious, the story is obviously well based in fact, though if all was strictly accurate, then I feel I sorry in some ways and glad in others that my experiences were slightly less 'colourful' than his. Both books to recommended though.

Regards,

Steve

John Hebblewhite
17th September 2009, 20:40
Would that Master be Frostic, first name Herbert (I think) a South African.

I echo that big thanks to alastair,and would like to see it in print,over the years i have gathered bits and pieces of bank line history and was just about to downloads Alisters history which is more comprehensive than my bits

By the way,am trying to decypher the master we had on the Isipingo it looks like Frosdick,anybody know that name,would be interesting to see if we could get a substansive list of masters from the 50s onwards.

regards

Jim

jimthehat
18th September 2009, 00:17
Would that Master be Frostic, first name Herbert (I think) a South African.

John,could well be,as a lowl 3/0 i was not on first name terms ,unlike my time in the ferries
jim

John Hebblewhite
18th September 2009, 20:30
Herbert I am sure was his first name but nobody dared to call him that.

John,could well be,as a lowl 3/0 i was not on first name terms ,unlike my time in the ferries
jim

John Dryden
26th September 2009, 03:33
Where did the Shirrabank end up?Was a fine fast boat,to good for the scrapyard.

johnb42
26th September 2009, 10:31
Where did the Shirrabank end up?Was a fine fast boat,to good for the scrapyard.


She was a fine fast ship indeed. I sailed as Mate in her with Alan Newton and had a great voyage. As fine and fast as she was, she ended her days as so many others, broken up at Port Alang, November '84.

Alan Rawlinson
16th October 2009, 09:32
I am wondering about the " march of progress " over the decades in all departments. Technology, in particular.

On the bridge the major change of Sat Nav and the GPS came in, but was it a sudden change, or, as I suspect, used side by side with astro nav. When was the first ship fitted out, and when. At what stage did the sextant get left under the chartroom settee? Maybe for good. I have heard that in latter years there is not even a sextant on board! Can anyone enlighten me on this, please.

In the engine room, all is a mystery to me, but I was wondering how close Bankline got to automated engine rooms with bridge controls. Did this ever happen?

Sparkies, of course were superseded sometime in the 90's.


The only major progress I saw was the advent of ( pretty unreliable) radar sets in the 1950's. and the introduction of auto pilot

Cheers

Alistair Macnab
16th October 2009, 16:43
I don't think Bank Line got anywhere in front of technological progress and were very cautious when it came to introducing new systems. Look at the Macgregor hatch system. It was "tried out" on the "Birchbank" and "Streambank" in 1958 then not accepted until 1963 on the "Taybank" and you can count the ships that were launched in between.

Then there was the case of the hatch tents. Something that Scandinavian ships had from the first time I went to sea (1953) and never accepted by Bank Line. It would have been a Godsend in any port with rainy weather

I remember doing a hurry-up job in Calcutta on the "Ernebank" when having to close down the hatches in a monsoon deluge instead of erecting a hatch tent which would have taken a moment or two the ship, which was trimmed well by the stern, when attempting to close the steel hatch sections ran away at No.3 and jumped off the tracks. The lead section was left dangling into the hatchway by its linking chains which prevented the hatch from being closed and the other sections were jammed and skewed. As a result the cargo was soaked.
If stevedores did not provide tents (some fortunately did) then there were never any.

Perhaps those in SN who praise the "Fish" Class could tell us if there were any interesting and innovative features on board these last ships? I don't recall anything very advanced on the "Willow bank" but I never sailed in her.
I think Weir's attitude to innovation would be characterized as "trusted and reliable" but then, they carried a lot of their own hull insurance risk and were on the boards of their P and I Clubs so there were naturally averse to risk-taking.

Les Gibson
17th October 2009, 15:48
Did Bank line have any AC powered ships?
Regards to all,
Les

Charlie Stitt
18th October 2009, 16:23
Alistair, here is one for your album. Westbank in Sydney 1957, With hatch tents. Not a common sight I admit.

Alan Rawlinson
19th October 2009, 17:48
Alistair,

What about the advent of GPS. Did the Superintendents Dept. give instructions/guidelines re the use, or was it left to the master's discretion, I wonder?

Andy Lavies
21st October 2009, 22:10
I bought a pair of 'walky-talkies' in Japan and used then for several years when the general means of 'standbye' communication was a speakerphone to aft and a bellow from bridge to fo'csle. I never saw any company supply ones during my time in Bank Line.
Andy

Alistair Macnab
23rd October 2009, 17:12
Alan and Andy......
I left the sea before GPS was invented but latterly used it a great deal in the office to keep my eye on ship movements in port. It was never a topic of instruction to the sea staff, rather my 'eye in the sky'. Informatively, we had our own private GPS aerials in all Gulf ports that extended out to sea about 25 miles.
As for walkie-talkies, I have already told the story of using our own walkie-talkie units to screw up the coming alongside of a BI ship in Port Kembla when we found that our's were on the same wavelength as their's. I think it was the "Bulimba". The orderly and crisp instructions from bridge to forecastle were somehow cross-connected with an order to 'let go the starboard anchor'. A rattle of chains and a rusty cloud of dust were followed by apoplectic screams from the bridge and the well-ordered, carefully rehearsed evolution aboard "Bulimba" quickly deteriorated into a high-volume cursing match.
The peanut gallery aboard our ship watched with amusement as one of our number quietly disappeared into the accommodation with the offending device!

Alan Rawlinson
23rd October 2009, 18:11
Alistair, Thanks.......

Anyone out there that was aboard when the first GPS was plonked on the chartroom table? Was it just a new ' boys toy ' or did it come with instructions for use? This development was so huge, when you think of periods when the sky was overcast, often for days at a time.

Ron Stringer
23rd October 2009, 18:34
For several years prior to the introduction of GPS we supplied receivers for the 'Transit' satellite navigation system. This used satellites in relatively low earth orbits and gave nothing like the accuracy or availability of the GPS system. Many shipowners bought or rented this equipment for their ships but I don't remember us supplying any to Andrew Weir's.

Charlie Stitt
23rd October 2009, 19:24
Alistair, I don't understand what you say about GPS in your office to keep your eye on ship movements. I have GPS and a chartplotter on my boat, these will give me my position but not the position of other boats or ships. Each GPS has its own aerial. You are not confusing GPS with AIS by any chance?

China hand
23rd October 2009, 19:31
I remember on a murky day in the med on the way to the ditch, a BP tanker asked us if we'd had a fix recently. I said, last sat pos was blah blah blah. I heard in the background "bloody hell, a f*****g Bankboat with a satnav". '70's sometime, forget which f******g Bankboat it was.(Frogger)

Alistair Macnab
24th October 2009, 07:16
Charlie....
You are quite correct. Shows you how familiar I am with modern stuff! The alphabet soup of high technology often defeats me! It was an AIS system that we had in the Houston office.

Alan Rawlinson
24th October 2009, 09:13
Believe the AIS system is magic, identifying all vessels around, even for the smallest boat. It is handy ashore as Alistair says, and keeps us posted of vessels at anchor and passing Falmouth here, accessed via the internet. The set has to be hastily switched off when in dodgy areas to avoid giving information to the ' so called ' pirates also equipped with the sets..

We've come a long way from the traditional '' What ship, Where bound? '' on the Aldis lamp!

Andy Lavies
24th October 2009, 11:07
When I retired as Master my crew presented me with a GPS. They said that after 50 years I really ought to know where I was.
Andy

jimthehat
24th October 2009, 18:18
slightly ooof beat,but has anyone got a photo of the rudder of a sam boat?a friend has stated that the rudder on a liberty boat was off set halfway down and produced a photo,but I cant ever remember seeing the rudder of the maplebank as being offset.

jim

rcraig
25th October 2009, 10:02
Believe the AIS system is magic, identifying all vessels around, even for the smallest boat. It is handy ashore as Alistair says, and keeps us posted of vessels at anchor and passing Falmouth here, accessed via the internet. The set has to be hastily switched off when in dodgy areas to avoid giving information to the ' so called ' pirates also equipped with the sets..

We've come a long way from the traditional '' What ship, Where bound? '' on the Aldis lamp!

Ah, but the 8-12 in the Red Sea was magic. "What ship and where bound" would pass the watch like lightning and was great fun with enough ships to keep you fully occupied.
All of course, whilst keeping a sharp lookout without any distractions!

rcraig
25th October 2009, 10:13
Bank Line were not alone in not having GPS. In 1976 (can't remember if they had yet been invented then!) whilst sailing as master of an anchor handling vessel in the North Sea, the Decca Navigator broke down. We were bound for a semi-mobile drilling rig. Working on DR, we arrived to find a hole where the rig had been only a few weeks before.
We headed over to a platform to ask where she had gone and got redirected, and headed with some hesitation in the general direction and found her with some relief.
Medium wave only at that distance out, no sextant etc., no company office link in any event (now that was bliss), a reluctance to let the charterer hear of our position, will answer some of the obvious questions.

Joe C
25th October 2009, 19:52
Ah, but the 8-12 in the Red Sea was magic. "What ship and where bound" would pass the watch like lightning and was great fun with enough ships to keep you fully occupied.
All of course, whilst keeping a sharp lookout without any distractions!

Alan may recall when we were on the Irisbank off East Africa,it must have been 1955,we were signalled "what ship where bound" by a large Royal Navy ship.After the ensign dipping courtesies we identified ourselves and Eddie Garnham a fellow apprentice said he knew a junior seaman on the navy ship.With no more ado Jim Scobie (2nd Mate then)sent best wishes to junior seaman who ever, and after a few minutes the reply came back returning the greetings.You dont get these traditional exchanges these days do you?

Alan Rawlinson
26th October 2009, 09:40
Don't remember that one, Joe, but you've started something here......

It might sound fanciful, but I had the experience on the 8 to 12 one evening to signal a fast passing ship that was all lit up '' What ship, Where bound? ''

Turned out to be a passenger ship, and the signaller to have a great sense of humour, because after the formalities, he said '' You need the b....s of a Donkey to work on here! '' I spent the rest of the watch in a mixture of envy and amazement. Must also have made a mental note re career change....

P.S. A modern AIS set might have missed this crucial bit of information

Joe C
26th October 2009, 11:37
Don't remember that one, Joe, but you've started something here......

It might sound fanciful, but I had the experience on the 8 to 12 one evening to signal a fast passing ship that was all lit up '' What ship, Where bound? ''

Turned out to be a passenger ship, and the signaller to have a great sense of humour, because after the formalities, he said '' You need the b....s of a Donkey to work on here! '' I spent the rest of the watch in a mixture of envy and amazement. Must also have made a mental note re career change....

P.S. A modern AIS set might have missed this crucial bit of information

The only experience I have of passenger/cruise ships is a couple of relatively recent cruises on the Saga Ruby and Saga Rose.They would have dimmed your signallers ardour!

iain48
4th November 2009, 18:16
Did Bank line have any AC powered ships?
Regards to all,
Les

To the best of my knowledge until the introduction of the engines 3/4 aft ships in the seventies ie Fleet, Cora, Crest and Fish classes the only two AC power ships were Shirra and Teviotbank of 1966/67. Never sailed on an AC ship, probably less graft but more technical for the lecky.
Regards Iain

avonbank
4th November 2009, 20:44
Agree with Iain the Shirra & Teviot had AC generators although the cargo winches were DC fed via MG sets.

Les Gibson
4th November 2009, 22:45
Thank's for that guys.
Regards,
Les

Bernie Jones
4th November 2009, 23:24
Now that the Bankline story is drawing to an end, I wonder if anyone out there has the big picture from say, the 2nd world war until the present time???

What I mean is a comprehensive list or table of the vessels / launch date / end of service date ( for whatever reason)

I know these sort of statistics appear in various articles, but it would be nice to get a perspective here on the bankline forum re the postwar fleet. Can anyone oblige?

I put my money on Alistair !

Cheers/Alan Rawlinson

On reflection, the period after the Great War onwards would be nice - sweep up all the those great twin screw work horses, and the passenger vessels


Alan
I have a book which I bought on Ebay.
Title Bank Line 1885-1985.
It was written by a H.S. Appleyard
Published by The World Ship Society in 1985.

It has a photograph of every Bank boatbuilt from 1885 to 1985 and their history until broken up.
I do not know of how many were published but they do crop up from time to time on Ebay.
regards
Bernie jones (gtatd)

McMorine
5th November 2009, 17:31
To the best of my knowledge until the introduction of the engines 3/4 aft ships in the seventies ie Fleet, Cora, Crest and Fish classes the only two AC power ships were Shirra and Teviotbank of 1966/67. Never sailed on an AC ship, probably less graft but more technical for the lecky.
Regards Iain

A lot less maintenance on AC ships, no carbon brushes to bed in or commutators to skim and undercut. the ac winches were siemens three speed induction motors. The cranes on the Corabank class were a bit of a headache, especially when running in tandem, they got out of synch every now and then when the magnetic brakes didn't opperate correctly. but the leckies job was a lot easier on AC ships and I sailed on quite a few of them.

Ben Masey
5th November 2009, 18:34
Hi Jim

Re the Westbank.....

I think I am right in saying that the inquiry concluded the grounding was due to an unusual current. Carnie's sights were later re-worked in the London Office, and found to be OK.

I was later to sail with him when he was Master, when I was the mate on SOUTHBANK. He was extremely nervous about sailing past islands for obvious reasons. He got married in a big society type wedding in Sydney, and after we sailed, used to come up to the bridge on the morning 4 to 8 watch, complaing about '' that women in my cabin '' !

Cheers/AL

Just a note,I last saw Bruce Carnie 1966 when he was pilot/harbourmaster at Samarai.
I last heard of him through Capt Clem Mossop who told me he was working at the Mount Pleasant sorting office in London!
regards,
Ben Masey

Alan Rawlinson
8th November 2009, 08:25
Just a note,I last saw Bruce Carnie 1966 when he was pilot/harbourmaster at Samarai.
I last heard of him through Capt Clem Mossop who told me he was working at the Mount Pleasant sorting office in London!
regards,
Ben Masey


Yes, I also heard he was working in the Post office at Mount Pleasant.... When I refused to sign on for another trip as Mate ( one of the very first outbound loaded with coke to New Caledonia) he got quite miffed and took it out on me by writing in a reference '' He has performed his duties to my satisfaction '' - missing out the all important phrase '' entire satisfaction ''
Oh, the power of being Master!

jimthehat
9th November 2009, 00:35
Alan,
your thoughts on references got me to looking up mine and watchkeeping cert reports,graded from" carried out his duties satisfactory manner" to very satisfactory and the best from JR Lynch "excellent watchkeeper and first class navigator"

jim

Alan Rawlinson
9th November 2009, 08:13
Jim, Your filing system is better than mine, and must be fun to look back on references. I do remember having a really glowing one, almost embarrassing, but to be fair it was written by a Master ( who shall be nameless) who wrote it in an alcoholic haze - his usual state!



Alan,
your thoughts on references got me to looking up mine and watchkeeping cert reports,graded from" carried out his duties satisfactory manner" to very satisfactory and the best from JR Lynch "excellent watchkeeper and first class navigator"

jim

David E
10th November 2009, 01:20
Yes, I also heard he was working in the Post office at Mount Pleasant.... When I refused to sign on for another trip as Mate ( one of the very first outbound loaded with coke to New Caledonia) he got quite miffed and took it out on me by writing in a reference '' He has performed his duties to my satisfaction '' - missing out the all important phrase '' entire satisfaction ''
Oh, the power of being Master!

I had one like that in Fyffes-word for word.Thankfully,I'd been warned that that particular Master never wrote anything else-so suicide was postponed.

Similarly,the most fulsome,from a Master, seldom sober,who,after picking up the Pilot at Dungeness,retired to the chartroom with the Pilot,failing to notice that the QM had misheard the course ordered,056 Deg,and was altering to 356 Deg.The OOW spotted the error and countermanded the order but a loaded VLCC,once swinging,takes a lot of stopping and we nearly ended up as an early version of the Torrey Canyon on Dungeness beach.The Pilot must have made a formal complaint as the OM vanished from the Company.
Very noticeably,apart from the occasional "sparks",booze at sea was never a problem in Bank Line or Fyffes but was quite common in the Tankers

Alan Rawlinson
10th November 2009, 09:18
Hi David,

It was an interesting anecdote - it got me thinking about an incident I had with the same ( boozy) master as in my previous entry. We were approaching Singapore on a bright afternoon prior to picking the pilot up, and he staggered up to the bridge with a small glass in hand, took a look at the chart, and the course, and ordered a short cut across some shallows. As I thought we wouldn't make it, and he wouldn't listen to me, I told him '' It's all yours '' and disappeared down the bridge ladder! Common sense eventually prevailed and he sent the Seacunny down to fetch me, and when I got back on the bridge, we were back on the original course, with nothing said either way.

Charlie Stitt
12th November 2009, 17:31
I find it almost impossible to imagine the torment, Bank Line Officers had to endure in the late 1970's and early 80's.The joy and excitment of seeing all the great new ships joining the fleet in the late 60's and through the 70's, thinking they had secure employment and good prospects of promotion. What on earth went through the minds of young Company officers, when ships,some quite modern, were sold off wholesale 1978 to 1981, with more to follow of course, but 78,79 and 81 appears to be the worst years. What happened to all these unfortunate guys, where would,say a young lad with a second mates cert go from there? Some of you who were sailing Master and too young to retire, must have been put in a spin, we hear so much about the company and the ships, but little has been said of those who suffered the loss of employment ,and to some, their career. Hard times, and to think some of us complained about the food or long trips, I bet you guys at the end would have put up with water and biscuits, two year trips and a cut in wages, just to continue working on Bankboats.(Sad)

rcraig
12th November 2009, 20:22
How strange Charlie. You have opened up a line I've been meaning to do for some time.
Having left deep sea for the army and amongst a number of jobs in the army spent almost 7 years on ships, I left the army in 1975, aged 40, with the intention of going to university to do law and I needed to make money.
After a very short dalliance with the idea of going back to Bank Line (which would have been ludicrous, as I needed to make money in the university breaks) I joined an anchor handling supply vessel within 48 hrs. of leaving, sailing as mate, and within 6 weeks was sailing as master without any experience of anchor handling or dropping anchor, backing up to the rig and tying up, or towing. Or of snatching cargo without tying up. Not ideal, I grant you.
I had no idea at the time of the imminent death of the deep sea fleet. Very few of the masters were deep sea despite the shortage of qualified men for these ships. Yes, it needed a new mind set but it took some time for younger men to pass through into that type of work. It would have been difficult for many to make the change and it was certainly not a job for all and it was better to have started young.
I may be wrong, but not many of those who must have lost employment deep sea seemed to consider supply vessels as an alternative and I used to wonder just what most of the unemployed mates and masters did do with themselves. Couldn't have been funny for some of them.

Charlie Stitt
15th November 2009, 11:24
Yes Ray, I thought this topic would be a good way of completing Bank Line, The Big picture.

Dalby
3rd December 2009, 18:33
Now that the Bankline story is drawing to an end, I wonder if anyone out there has the big picture from say, the 2nd world war until the present time???

What I mean is a comprehensive list or table of the vessels / launch date / end of service date ( for whatever reason)

I know these sort of statistics appear in various articles, but it would be nice to get a perspective here on the bankline forum re the postwar fleet. Can anyone oblige?

I put my money on Alistair !

Cheers/Alan Rawlinson

On reflection, the period after the Great War onwards would be nice - sweep up all the those great twin screw work horses, and the passenger vessels

Alan
Most of the information you are looking for is published in :-
Merchant Fleets. Andrew Weir shipping Conpany. by Norman L Middlemiss £20
Published by Shield Publications Ltd Tel 0191 4823222 ISBN 187112820X

This publication Contains list of short profiles of every vessel starting with the Willowbank( sailing ship) built 1861 listing some 450 vessels.
Jim Gooch , Andrew Weir, Appretice and Third Mate ,1955-1960

Alan Rawlinson
3rd December 2009, 21:58
Alan
Most of the information you are looking for is published in :-
Merchant Fleets. Andrew Weir shipping Conpany. by Norman L Middlemiss £20
Published by Shield Publications Ltd Tel 0191 4823222 ISBN 187112820X

This publication Contains list of short profiles of every vessel starting with the Willowbank( sailing ship) built 1861 listing some 450 vessels.
Jim Gooch , Andrew Weir, Appretice and Third Mate ,1955-1960


Thanks Jim, You are right - there are a few publications that chronicle the Bank line story, but thanks to Alistair's version , we also got to have a detailed account with a few fascinating insights from his days hob nobbing with the upper etchilons. It is a great story, not diminished in my opinion by the fact that all the ships have now gone from the oceans.

ken dag
6th December 2009, 18:28
Thanks Jim, You are right - there are a few publications that chronicle the Bank line story, but thanks to Alistair's version , we also got to have a detailed account with a few fascinating insights from his days hob nobbing with the upper etchilons. It is a great story, not diminished in my opinion by the fact that all the ships have now gone from the oceans.

I believe that there is one still afloat and last heard of up the Gulf/India with cargo of bagged cement - "Novanoor" ex "Crestbank"

Alan Rawlinson
6th December 2009, 19:21
I believe that there is one still afloat and last heard of up the Gulf/India with cargo of bagged cement - "Novanoor" ex "Crestbank"

If you are right, this is the same vessel that lay for 8 years here in the River Fal on lay up as the '' Tamimina '' and sailed away last year after being sold by the owner Mike Bamford, who owns the JCB business. She looked huge, of course, laying in a wooded river in a very light condition, and we often tied up on a summers day under the bows , enjoying a beer or two before sailing leisurely back to our own small yacht berth. Apart from the name change she still looked like the '' Crestbank '' as the colours were largely the same. Some rumours said she had gone for scrap, and some said for trade.

I was 2/0 of her predecessor on a very pleasant trip in 1959/60, under Don McCaffery, a real gentleman, now departed.

McMorine
7th December 2009, 15:17
If you are right, this is the same vessel that lay for 8 years here in the River Fal on lay up as the '' Tamimina '' and sailed away last year after being sold by the owner Mike Bamford, who owns the JCB business. She looked huge, of course, laying in a wooded river in a very light condition, and we often tied up on a summers day under the bows , enjoying a beer or two before sailing leisurely back to our own small yacht berth. Apart from the name change she still looked like the '' Crestbank '' as the colours were largely the same. Some rumours said she had gone for scrap, and some said for trade.

I was 2/0 of her predecessor on a very pleasant trip in 1959/60, under Don McCaffery, a real gentleman, now departed.

I sailed on the Crestbank, maiden voyage out of Sunderland, 2nd May 1978. A really great ship with a good crowd of lads. D.B Buck was Chief Engineer. See photo on my gallery. Regards Mac.

McMorine
7th December 2009, 16:00
If you are right, this is the same vessel that lay for 8 years here in the River Fal on lay up as the '' Tamimina '' and sailed away last year after being sold by the owner Mike Bamford, who owns the JCB business. She looked huge, of course, laying in a wooded river in a very light condition, and we often tied up on a summers day under the bows , enjoying a beer or two before sailing leisurely back to our own small yacht berth. Apart from the name change she still looked like the '' Crestbank '' as the colours were largely the same. Some rumours said she had gone for scrap, and some said for trade.

I was 2/0 of her predecessor on a very pleasant trip in 1959/60, under Don McCaffery, a real gentleman, now departed.
When I was working for Dowding & Mills, I flew out to Barbados to do electrical repairs on a cargo/passenger ship that Mark Bamford had bought out there. It had been lying at anchor for twelve months with no power and suspected sabotage to main engine and aux'ys. There was a full crew onboard, all wandering around with torches and carrying buckets of water from the aft peak to wash with. The first thing I had to do, was organise a portable generator onboard and get some lighting working. The old man was made up then, he had somewhere to plug his fridge in for his beer supply. For the technical ones out there, it was a three wire D.C system, something I had never seen before. After ten weeks, we had generators running, but the main engine sump was contaminated with sand. Don't know what happened after that, I came home. The only good part for me, I was living ashore, I don't know how the crew survived in those conditions. There is a lot more to this story, but to much for this site.

Alan Rawlinson
8th December 2009, 09:13
I sailed on the Crestbank, maiden voyage out of Sunderland, 2nd May 1978. A really great ship with a good crowd of lads. D.B Buck was Chief Engineer. See photo on my gallery. Regards Mac.

Hallo Mac,

Congratulations on the really great photo gallery under your name! Whoever said it was right - A picture is worth a thousand words, and browsing through your pics of the Bankline days brought back overwhelming nostalgia for the happy times we all experienced. The Durban snaps in particular brought it all back for me - must dig mine out.

Re the old Crestbank, circa 1959 - Buck was the Chief Engineer on that voyage also.
Cheers

McMorine
8th December 2009, 13:21
Hallo Mac,

Congratulations on the really great photo gallery under your name! Whoever said it was right - A picture is worth a thousand words, and browsing through your pics of the Bankline days brought back overwhelming nostalgia for the happy times we all experienced. The Durban snaps in particular brought it all back for me - must dig mine out.

Re the old Crestbank, circa 1959 - Buck was the Chief Engineer on that voyage also.
Cheers
Hi Alan. Great to know the photos are appreciated, must dig some more out when I get the chance. Dougie Buck must have been a young man when you sailed with him, I found him to be a very genuine guy.
Regards Mac.

Alan Rawlinson
8th December 2009, 15:24
Hi Alan. Great to know the photos are appreciated, must dig some more out when I get the chance. Dougie Buck must have been a young man when you sailed with him, I found him to be a very genuine guy.
Regards Mac.

Thanks,

D Buck was young looking so may have been his first trip as C/E. he had his also young wife with him on that voyage, and I do have some interesting tales worth telling, but which I prefer to keep schtum about! Innocent stories, I should add.

I remember the Crestbank - Christmas day 1959 tied up in Galveston, and I was the only one missing from the Xmas dinner on board. Didn't go down too well with my friend Donald McCaffery, but I preferred to wander round the bars ashore, where there was free turkey and trimmings on offer. By ' mistake ' ( in those days) I entered a bar used solely by black people, but was made very welcome and had a memorable time.