Photographs, Accounts, and memorabilia of the Bank Line

This new site is constantly being updated.   The aim is to create a comprehensive file of all the ships photographs, including those in the building yards, and those ships that unfortunately were lost in various locations around the globe. 

The Bank Line is sadly no more, but for viewers unfamiliar with the history of this line, there are several books and articles dedicated to this rather special shipping company that ran for over 100 years .   One is called The Bank Line 1885-1985, by Appleyard, and there is an excellent and detailed summary by Alistair Macnab to be found online at ‘ ships nostalgia ‘ in the directory section. 

The founder, a young man called Andrew Weir started backs in 1885 with a purchased sailing ship named the ‘Willowbank’.     For the following 100 years approximately he built a huge fleet of ships that spanned the globe, and successfully navigated the change over from sail to steam, and from steam to oil engines.  His was the biggest fleet of sailing ships on the British register.    For many years after WW2 the fleet stayed around 50 vessels, and they circled the globe on long and often adventurous voyages. Some accounts can be found here. 

Still working and attending the office at the time of his death at the age of 90, Andrew Weir, by now Lord Inverforth, and his successors in the family found the leap from dry cargo ships to containers a leap too far.    His personal shipping genius was a key aspect of his success, and the huge changes that overcame global shipping with the advent of containerisation did not suit the diverse trading patterns that had been built up over decades.   The option of joining consortia, as nearly all shipping lines were forced to do, did not appeal, and alternative investments beckoned.    So ended a magnificent achievement which this site aims to celebrate in a modest way.

Should viewers or readers have anything to contribute here, such as photos, or memorabilia, please leave a reply.   All material is most welcome.

Please enjoy browsing the site, and apologies for any construction work!


This great photo was taken in 1895 in Seattle


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2 thoughts on “Photographs, Accounts, and memorabilia of the Bank Line

  1. Dear Editor of this Bankline website.

    In the late 1800s, my great grandfather, a Capt James Corwin – formerly of Barnoldswick in what was then Yorkshire (now Lancashire) – used to captain ships for the Bank Line – I presume out of Hong Kong – and into the Pacific Basin. He died around 1900 and was (is) buried on the Island of Onotoa, in Kiribati. His grave is still there with a headstone donated in his memory by the Bank Line. We would dearly love to search your archives for more information on the activities of James Corwin and how he ended up in Kiribati (formerly called the Gilbert Islands). He married the daughter of Tom Redfearn (Redfern). Redfearn was also formerly from Yorkshire and was a trader stationed on the Island of Onotoa in the latter part of the 1800s. It is said that James suffered from T.B. and died in Onotoa.

    My name is Betty Maria Waters – – I now live in the UK. 0044-7377-366-193. Please can you get in touch. Thank you.
    PS. We have found his family in Barnoldswick – albeit on a gravestone and a huge plaque on the church walls of St Mary Le Gill.


    1. Hallo Betty,

      Thank you for the post, but I have nothing. There may be someone with information and you could try who runs the Bankline Magazine. Also the Ships Nostalgia site which has a huge following.
      Sorry I can’t help.
      Best Wishes/Alan Rawlinson


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