Bob S
30th July 2004, 16:53
ERNEBANK entering the West India Dock in London during the late 70's. Built in 1965, she was of 7625 tons gross.

23rd July 2005, 22:08
I was on this ship when this picture was taken we were on a P&O Charter loading for New Zealand in all I did 15 months on her on a round the world voyage.

9th September 2007, 21:11
I was on this ship when this picture was taken we were on a P&O Charter loading for New Zealand in all I did 15 months on her on a round the world voyage.
too was on the ship we arrived in London after discharging fertilizer in Spain , we loaded for Kiwi spent about a month out there then came back to Liverpool with sugar from Fiji , I was sixer then fiver , my name is Keith Taylor , still working for Weirs in a round about way ( Foreland Shipping),I would be iterested in hearing from you.

Alistair Macnab
24th November 2008, 22:23
I was stand-by Mate at Pallion and sailed on the maiden voyage of "Ernebank" in 1965. First trip was light ship to Beaumont TX to load bulk wheat for India and if I recall, we spent six weeks at Sandheads waiting for a discharging berth in Calcutta. We ran out of fresh water and eventually had to go down to Madras (Chennai) for water and stores. Next voyage was India-Africa for a couple of round trips and I paid off in Durban to join "Roybank"

"Ernebank" was a fine ship. She was essentially a successor of the "Firbank" class but extended to 15,000 dwt from 12,000dwt. The accommodation was roomy but on deck there were many improvements such as winches on masthouses and Macgregor hatch covers.
The master was Captain Campbell from Skye. We went northabout from Sunderland en route to the USA and passed close to Skye so that his family could see his fine new ship!

We built a bar in the Smoke Room and called it the Crow's Nest because of a painting over the fireplace which showed some autumn trees with crows nests exposed by the fallen leaves.
We also "retrieved" a half-model of the old Bank liner "Tinhow" from the Bank Line godown in Calcutta and it was framed and placed on the after bulkhead of the Crow's Nest. Quite an impressive room when we were finished with it!

Alistair Macnab
Houston TX

Carl Wadkin
16th December 2008, 21:29
I did my first trip on the Ernebank as a cadet beginning in 1970. The Master was Townsend as I recall, and it was a rude awakening to life in the Bank Line:-

We all met at the Bury St offices and then were shipped of to the Heathrow Airport Hotel for the night, before flying to join in Rotterdam the next morning. Unfortunately due to excess intake of alcohol not everyone made it to the plane the next day, a warning of what was to come!
The night we were supposed to depart for the Gulf States, the only deck personnel on board were the Master, Mate and myself I think. Anyhow I was dispatched ashore by the Old Man to find everyone! I seem to recall some success in the nearest bar and eventually we got away.
The Chief Engineer was an Indian guy, who I seem to recall was the focus of quite a bit of racist comment, this would lead to cataclysmic events many months later.
Things didn't go too badly round the Gulf, though the food on board was appalling. The rot seemed to set in around the Aussie coast when there was a sing along demo by some blokes on the jetty somewhere. Everyone seemed to drink far too much, including the Old Man and the Mate (I remember seeing the Old Man on deck in Bangladesh, supervising loading one night, in his vest and underpants. He did have his hat on to preserve some semblance of authority!)
Eventually discipline collapsed in Japan:
Raiding parties were organised on Fyffes banana boats, where anything movable was lifted, one drunken bum shinned up a mooring rope to get aboard.
A favourite trick was to throw a bucket of water or two into cadet's cabin's, later this got a little worse; letting off a fire extinguisher through your open port hole or emptying cans of insect killer into the cabin.
I managed to avoid the worst excesses by dismantling my door lock on the inside so it could not be opened with the pass key. This turned out to be fortuitous as one night they went too far with the Chief Engineer and some of the Indian crew mutinied, for want of a better word: They waited till everyone was crashed out and then went round cabin by cabin with the pass key and beat 7 bells out of the occupants. They couldn't get into my cabin and they never touched the 3rd Mate as they new he had a fire axe under his mattress and would certainly have used it!
The upshot of all this was that the 2nd Mate, Senior Cadet, and some of the Engineers ended up in hospital and managed to get themselves flown home.
Thus purged, things settled down for the remainder of the voyage, though one of the helmsmen (who had a bit of an attitude problem) threatened to kill me. By this time I had taken the 3rd Mate's advice and kept a fire axe under my mattress too, so I felt confident in asserting my authority and it came to nothing.
In Colombo I was transferred to the Springbank in order to get to Mombasa, and a flight home to begin my first session at Hull Nautical College. The Springbank was a much happier ship and as I was the only cadet received the Mate's undivided attention. He showed me how to remove scale off the deck, not with a windy hammer, but with a sledgehammer. Very effective too, great sheets of it coming off!
Eventually I arrived at the Bury Street offices for the 2nd time, for an interview with the cadet supervisor (Sandy Powell?). Next an interview with the Marine Superintendent who tore a strip of me for drinking too much! No justice, another important lesson learned!
There was of course much more but it is all a bit dim now, and despite the problems I did enjoy the trip on the whole. The following 4 years were even better.
Maybe someone can throw more light on what happened in Japan?

Les Gibson
19th December 2008, 16:21
There are many tales on the site from a few exbankliners extolling the virtues and joys of being honoured to sail on their ships. My experience on the Dartbank in the early 60s is fairly well documented in older posts and ties in to a large extent with yours apart from the mutiny! Meeting various other Bank line ships around the world during my 18 month spell with them, more or less confirms what you say, and all I can say is that the regular ex Bankliners on the site were very fortunate. Before joining the Dartbank I sailed on a variety of ships with good and bad companies and subsequently with a couple of 'famous' geordie tramp outfits, so was certainly not afraid of hard work or long trips, but the experience with Bank line was very unpleasant. Although the voyages around the world were fantastic , it was all marred by a greedy old man (His bond, the food was appalling ) an alcoholic bully of a second engineer, and a mate who regarded everyone on board as below him, and treated the deck apprentices like dogs.

Carl Wadkin
2nd January 2009, 20:11
I had a great time with the Bank line, principally because you certainly saw the world if you got on the right runs as I did. However I don't see it through rose tinted specs.
My last trip as 3rd Mate on the Fleetbank in 74/75 was the last straw for me. Trips were supposed to be a maximum of 6 months at that point, but it was 11 before we got back to Europe. Things got a bit rough at times as the Master was having marital problems due to the length of the voyage and often ended up drinking too much. Shame as he was a really nice guy.
Incidentally the Master of the Ernebank on the mutiny voyage was Townsley not Townsend.

Alistair Macnab
2nd January 2009, 21:42

Was there nothing about the voyages on the "Ernebank" and "Fleetbank" that you could say were reasonable? I am somewhat distressed by your characterization of Captain Jim Townsley who to my knowledge was always an honorable and experienced Master. Somehow, I am lead to the conclusion that there was also something wrong in the officer ranks, perhaps a ring leader or a trouble maker?

You seem to categorize most of the SN Bank Line correspondents as seeing Andrew Weir's through "rose coloured spectacles". We can't be all out of step except you! I think the great majority of Bank folks are realistic and see the shortcomings of Weir's with wry amusement rather than hostility.

Looking back on it, we all had to do much more to make each voyage and cargo successful as we were separated from shoreside management by virtue of distance and remoteness. Mates had to navigate unfamiliar waters and care for unfamiliar cargoes; engineers had to keep the ship moving and the Master had to bring all the individual efforts together to make the ship a successful revenue earner.

Did you once understand your role as a necessary cog in the wheel of commerce rather than as a victim of circumstances?

I hope you eventually found the tranquility you were looking for.


3rd January 2009, 13:38
Alistair, wry amusement is right. When first walking into Bury Street in 1966 with the ink still wet on my 2nd Mates ticket and meeting a certain Mr. Ludlow "Sign here Lad, you'll only be away for 4 to 5 months. Yeah, right, 13 months later I had enought time in to sit for Mate's. Downside Capt. W.W.,Creber, upside fantastic Ports, well-found vessel (Laurelbank) and being promoted in the field to 2nd Mate in Mombasa. My father was with Weirs as was one of his older relations who sailed on the original Olivebank as Master
I was with you for 15 years and can say without a doubt I enjoyed the whole experience................................pete

Charlie Stitt
3rd January 2009, 19:00
Carl on the Ernebank surely you missed something out of your fantastic story, you know, Pigs were flying around the crosstrees keeping you awake every night, and those pink elephants!!(EEK)

Carl Wadkin
4th January 2009, 17:25
I can only speak of Captain Townsley from my experiences aboard the Ernebank, which obviously were not too good at times. Yes there were trouble makers, and if you read the story again you will see things improved after the mutiny when they were replaced. However part of the problem was lack of discipline. I appreciate things were a little laid back in the Bank boats as regards dress etc., but the Mate had a huge appetite for gin which rendered him authoritatively ineffective and Townsley seemed equally unable to control the situation. I'm pretty sure the appalling standard of the food aboard was also contributory factor to what happened. I guess it was just a very unfortunate mix of people and circumstances.

Whatever, as a naive 16 year old cadet it was disappointing to see those who I expected to be my knowledgeable and experienced superiors acting as they did. To then be hauled in front of the Marine Superintendent and be accused of being involved in those misdemeanour's (and essentially being told my future was in the balance) was disgraceful. Wry amusement was not something that sprang to mind at the time! I believe there was an attempt by head office to cover up what happened, perhaps your response is evidence that they were quite successful.

As I have said in a number of my posts I had a great time in the Bank Line, and yes, I developed a lifelong taste for curry too. Along with a love of Indian classical, and Bollywood film music. I made some great friends and experienced acts of great generosity:

One day in Sydney a chap came striding aboard and asked me if I was a cadet, having replied in the affirmative I was handed a very nice Kelvin Hughes sextant, free! It transpired he had been a Bank Line 3rd Mate and decided life ashore was more attractive. Oops! There I go again, sorry Alistair!

My trip aboard the Rosebank was wonderful, due to a great bunch of guys and in no small part to Captain J R Jarvis, who took his responsibility towards cadet training very seriously and was a great inspiration to me.
My last voyage on the Fleetbank was just too long in 1975, or at least that is what everyone thought. One of the engineers was certified mentally unfit to continue towards the end and was flown home. Again this was down to the problem of long separation from his young family.
Nevertheless I was fully prepared to sign on again, as in Japan I had bought a motorbike and it looked like we might not make it back to Europe at one point. The Master very kindly allowed me to keep it in one of the mast houses and even better arranged for me to get from the Continent to Hull via truck and ferry. Unfortunately I can't read his signature, I'd love to give him a name check.

As to rose tinted spectacles I do not presume to speak for anyone else on here.
However, it is a human trait no one can deny. Good grief, the Russian people recently nearly voted Stalin the greatest leader of all time. It was only after an appeal by the media that he dropped down the ratings!

No, no flying pigs or pink elephants; but as you insist I'll tell you the one about the guy who took some hallucinogenic drug in Bangladesh and thought he was an orange, he was terrified his mates were going to peel him.............

Finally a picture for you Alistair: The Ernebank at the Buffalo Bayou turning basin in 1970. I notice from Google Maps that the wharf doesn't seem to have changed at all. Incidentally this is the site of the 'M.V. Rosebank for scrap roll on pay-off' graffiti photograph I posted on the forum. Ironic that someone on a ship I described as very happy should do this.
We cadets found a drive in (walk in?) not far away, I think somewhere near Zoltowski Street, where we ate all our meals whenever possible huge steak burgers with fresh salad. I guess it is long gone.

By the way Alistair, did you ever encounter Captain Jim Thompson? He may have been before your time, having died at quite an age in the mid 90's. I have recently found a cassette of memories he sent me back then, hopefully I can digitise it as I think he sailed with the Bank Line on square riggers.

Tranquillity? I'm a Yorkshireman!

'It is vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.'
Charlotte Bronte.

Or perhaps to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson; as I have never had wealth or splendour but have always had occupation, then I must have always been tranquil!

All the best to everyone for 2009.

Alistair Macnab
4th January 2009, 19:02
As an apprentice, I too once felt that some of my shipmates professional and personal qualities were not up to the standard that I had imagined or expected. I even began to think my signing up for Bank Line was a mistake! But by the time my 23+ months were over ("Fleetbank" maiden voyage) I had resolved not only to make the most of the situation but also not to be mislead by the questionable actions or bad attitudes of others.

Becoming a positive influence on board in the various ranks I held, seemed to me the way to go but I was l assisted by the Bank Line's own emergence as a progressive British shipping company with new ships and good runs.

I'm glad to hear you have found some kind things to say about Weir's and your former shipmates so we'll leave it at that.

Kind regards

Charlie Stitt
5th January 2009, 19:02
I sailed on the Old Ernebank as acting 3rd Mate, 16 months tramping, not a great trip as the Mate and 2nd Mate were drifters and first trip with Weirs. When we hit port the Mate got booze from shoreside then locked himself in his cabin, the 2nd Mate just got plastered and made a nusience of himself,I was left to look after the cargowork but I was happy enough as I was still on Indentures but getting 3rd Mates wages plus overtime. Where else would you get it ?? The Old Man was Bummer Owen ( No Comment)