Bank Line - Part 10

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Narative by Alistair Macnab; Edited by Fred Henderson

Andrew Weir



For practical and technical reasons, the Articles covering Bank Lines's 20 Century history are presented in the following parts: -

  • Part 1 – The transition from sail to steam, then to motorships
  • Part 2 – The Inter-War Years
  • Part 3 – Bank Line at War & Post-War Rebuilding
  • Part 4 – Backing the Multipurpose Ship Concept
  • Part 5 – The Varying Fates of the Liner Services
  • Part 6 – Bank Line and British Shipbuilding
  • Part 7 – The end of Bank Line's Multipurpose Ship Liner Services
  • Part 8 - The Sailing Ship Fleet in the 19th Century
  • Part 10- Early 20th. Century Developments: Basrah, Hong Kong, and Rabaul
  • Part 10 - United States and Mexico: Western Hemisphere Developments



United States and Mexico: Western Hemisphere Developments


The United States of America was at the center of great commercial activity from early on in the 20th. Century which lead to Andrew Weir and Company joining with Howard Houlder and Partners to form a shipping agency in New York in 1901. Through time, however, both companies formed their own separate establishments although they remained as neighbours in adjacent offices. On the Weir side, this outcome lead to the formation of Boyd, Weir and Sewell, Inc., which became general agents for Bank Line in the USA as a Bank Line associated company and survived as such until the dissolution of the Bank Line in the USA in 1989.

In addition to chartering activities, Bank Line were to develop extensive liner services to cater for the U.S.’s growing international commercial connections including the American and Rio Plata Line, the American & Indian Line, American & Indian Branch Line, Bombay American Line, and the American & Oriental Line. At this time, American-flag international shipping was going through a difficult time due to government and public apathy. Operational subsidies and government intervention were yet to come in the future. Meantime, American ship operators simply could not compete financially with foreign shipping and were tending to fade away.

American-flag shipping was not yet available then, to service all the expanded trade opportunities that had opened up in the new century when the USA would become the dominant economic country and it would be many years and many subsidy dollars before US shipping interests would take its rightful place in U.S. ocean transportation. In the meantime, the traditional maritime nations - Britain, Germany and the other North-west European countries - would be more than willing to transport the commerce of the United States to and from the rest of the world.

Several of these liner services were associated with Bank Line’s recent accession to the Calcutta Liner Conference in 1905 which connected the Bay of Bengal via Ceylon (Sri Lanka) with Boston, New York and Philadelphia which ultimately included calls at Bombay (Mumbai) and Red Sea ports en route. The American and Oriental Line, on the other hand, was an opportunity to participate in what would later be called the “Round the World” services with other British, Norwegian and American lines which took in loading on the U.S. East Coast and West Coast for Far Eastern destinations in a Westbound direction.

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Photo 1: Completion of the Panama Canal, looking north at Gold Hill, Cucaracha slide