History of the Merchant Navy
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BIBBY LINE

John Bibby, the fourth of five sons and founder of the shipping company that still bears his name, was born at Eccleston, near Ormskirk in Lancashire on 19th February 1775. In his late teens he went to Liverpool where he worked for James Hatton, a ship’s iron merchant who produced anchors and chains. From that moment John Bibby developed a keen interest in ironmongery which, for many years, was the more profitable aspect of his business especially as it involved investment in land and buildings which ultimately enhanced his fortune.

In 1801, at the age of 26, he diversified his business interests when he established a shipbroking company, Bibby & Hall, with William Hall at Dukes Dock. His first venture in shipping was to take a small share in the galliot Dove and eventually he began to operate ships, in which he would have a substantial share, exclusively under his management. In Liverpool at that time there was a tendency for shipowners to trust ship managers who had an investment in the ship as it was assumed that the ships would be well looked after, well insured and profitably run. The ships would fundamentally be financed by the better off citizens of the city who would provide the capital to purchase the vessels. Consequently, a number Liverpool shipowners grew to prominence long before the concept of the Limited Liability company came about by Act of Parliament in 1896. Until that time shares in the ‘common purse’ principal for investing in ships cargoes and their voyages dated from Phoenician times, about 2000BC.

By 1805 John had formed an offshoot cargo broking merchants house with a John Highfield and, as partners, they formed John Bibby & Co. Their first sailing ship was the galliot Margaret in which they held the majority of the sixty-fourth shares. The ship was named after is new wife, Mary Margaret Mellard, who had brought with her a dowry of £2,5000 and a lot of enthusiasm for John’s business aims. With this backing John severed his links with William Hall apart from a financial link when the new company was formed.

John’s first son, Joseph Mellard Bibby, was born in 1806, the same year that Britain, as a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars which had started in 1803, declared a continental blockade from the Elbe to Brest. Any ship attempting to cross the blockade was liable to capture and confiscation which severely restricted trade routes to much of the northern Europe.

In 1807 a regular packet service was established from Parkgate to Dublin and, by this time, all links with William Hall had been severed and John Bibby had 64th shares in seven vessels. John Bibby (II) was born in 1810.


John Bibby


Mary Mellard Bibby

When sailings dates were advertised in Liverpool during 1812 the name Bibby & Highfield came into use although the firm itself was still known as John Bibby & Co. The first ship built for the company was named Highfield after the other partner. Initially all the vessels owned by the company were small and it wasn’t until 1825 that a ship which exceed 100 feet in length was acquired. However, they were all well founded and had a reputation for excellent seaworthiness. The passenger accommodation was well above average for that era and much sought after. Since that day the company has always adopted the policy of providing superior accommodation, a policy which has contributed much its longevity. Thomas and James Jenkinson Bibby were born in 1812.
On 8th June 1812 President Madison of the USA declared war on Great Britain even though a message agreeing to his demands had been sent but arrived too late. As a consequence Bibby’s increased their trade to the West Indies where a premium tariff prevailed; the merchant ships sailing in navy protected convoys.

In 1814 the Treaty of Kiel was signed which re-opened the Baltic to British traders and immediately Bibby’s commenced trading to that area. Later in the same year the Treaty of Ghent was signed which ended the Anglo-American war. Sailings to Leghorn (Livorno) were established, in competition with Patrick Henderson out of Glasgow and Leith, in 1817 which resulted in the ordering of new sailing ships rather than purchasing second hand tonnage.

The partnership with John Highfield was dissolved in 1821 although he remained a close business associates, at one, time, sharing the same office. In those days partners were equally liable for profits and losses and if one partner felt that he didn’t have sufficient equity to meet potential liabilities it was prudent to dissolve the partnership. The company, however, remained as John Bibby & Co.

John Bibby diversified his business interests in 1827 when he invested in property and set up his Liverpool iron merchants enterprise. He advertised himself as “iron merchants and shipowners”, the order of words indicating where his priorities lay. When the Honourable East India Company’s monopoly was rescinded in April 1934 Bibby decided to send his ships to the Spice Islands and India. Initially trade was spasmodic but as it developed his interest in the venture grew.


James Jenkinson Bibby

By 1836 the company owned 18 ships and was trading to Lisbon, the Mediterranean, South America and Bombay with the occasional voyage to Canton, the only Chinese port open to them, during the tea season. In the same year, so that his sons could enter the business, all in-house business connections with John Highfield were severed and he set up a shipbroking business and became a shipowner in his own right, albeit, in a small way.
In 1839 a copper smelting business was established across the Mersey at Seacombe which, apart from extending the iron merchants iron, enabled Bibby to produce his own copper sheeting with which the bottoms of wooden hulls were covered.

The family suffered a tragedy in 1840 when, on 19th July, 65 year old John Bibby, who was returning to his home, Mount Pleasant on Linacre Marsh, was attacked and clubbed by footpads who took no more than his hunting watch. The unconscious man was thrown into a pond where he subsequently drowned. At the time three of his four sons were engaged in the business. James Jenkinson Bibby, the youngest was the office manager at Liverpool where he remained, John Bibby junior was his father’s agent in India and returned to Liverpool on his father’s death. Joseph Mellard Bibby was a partner but concentrated more on the metals businesses rather than the shipping side. The fourth son, Thomas, had gone into the Church. As a mark of respect to their father the company was restyled John Bibby & Sons.

The sailing fleet continued to expand but in 1850 Bibby’s began to look towards steam propulsion and, as a result, took a financial stake in the single screw steam Rattler. The Rattler and her sister, the Osmanli, were owned by Vianna & Jones and formed part of the Liverpool & Mediterranean Steam Shipping Co., a newly established company which had Bibby, Vianna and Jones as partners. The new company inaugurated services to the French and Italian ports in the Mediterranean. At that time the staff of John Bibby & Sons included the 28 year old Frederick R. Leyland who worked for the new company and who, within nine years, became a partner and eventually bought the company’s ships. Three years later a regular service to Portugal was commenced using the small steamer Douro.

In 1854 a joint service to the Levant, Constantinople and Beirut was started in association with James Moss for which the Levant Screw Steam Shipping Company was formed. Bibby’s Albanian and Corinthian ,with their then yellow funnels, were deployed alongside the steamships of James Moss on the route.

On the political front, in March of that year Napoleon decided with Great Britain that Turkey should be offered some protection against Russian expansion across the Danube which led to an allied expeditionary force being moved to Varna. Despite intervention by Austria who persuaded Russia not to move war was declared in order to destroy the Russian naval base at Sevastopol. Shortly afterwards all of Bibby’s steamers and some of their sailing ships were requisitioned for service during the Crimean War which was to continue until 1856 when the Treaty of Paris was signed. Initially the ships operated between Liverpool and Varna but when, in September, Russian Crimea was invaded troops and stores were transferred to Russia. Thereafter, the ships operated between Liverpool and the Eupatoria beach head.

During 1854 the company’s last sailing ship, the Pizarro, was completed and in the following year Joseph M. Bibby died leaving John Bibby (II) as the sole surviving member of the family in the shipping side of the business.

Late in 1857 the trade and goodwill of the Levant Screw Steam Shipping Company was acquired and, at the same time, the steamer Crimean joined the fleet. The Levant funnel colour was pink with a black top and from that time on it was adopted across the entire fleet to become Bibby’s familiar livery. In May 1857 cargo trade with India was curtailed as a result of the Indian Mutiny which was caused by Hindu opposition to British attempts to impose social reforms. The revolt quickly spread through central India and was repressed with great severity and bloodshed. As a consequence the Government of India Act of 1858 was passed which transferred the government of India from the East India Company to the British Crown.

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In 1858 the railway between Alexandria and Suez was completed which meant that it was no longer necessary to undertake the tedious camel and Freshwater Canal treck across Egypt to join a ship bound for India and the Far East. As a result trade flourished for P&O and they resorted to chartering ships from Bibby’s for the UK to Alexandria portion of the journey. However, as far as Bibby’s were concerned, sail was still important and controlling shares in the company’s last sailing ship, the Melbourne, were purchased.
Back in Liverpool the Liverpool Steamship Owners Association was founded with James Jenkinson Bibby as its first Chairman. At that time the company houseflag was plain red which came about from the practice of signalling the arrival of a steamer off Anglesey by means of a semaphore signal to Bidston Hill on the Wirral. A red flag was hoisted by the owner in Liverpool which could be seen by telescope and was later adopted for ease of identification and flown by all their ships.

Also in 1858 Edward J Harland acquired the Belfast Queens Island shipyard from Robert Hickson with finance secured by G. C. Schwabe who was a junior partner in Bibby’s. As a consequence of this deal in the following year Bibby’s placed an order with the yard for three ships, the Venetian, the Sicilian and the Syrian. The three ships were given the Harland yard numbers one, two and three, and so began the list of illustrious vessels produced by Harland & Wolff during subsequent years. The three vessels were also the forerunners of the yard’s noted ‘long ship’ whereby the width of the vessel was not increased proportionately to the length. This practice provided more cargo space without the need for a corresponding increase in engine size as the power required to push the water aside was more dependent on the width rather than the length of the ship. Initially, local reaction to the new concept was mixed and there was a feeling that safety was being sacrificed for profit, but, in reality, this was not the case. Liverpool shipowners soon became convinced and started to insert new hull sections into existing ships so as to convert them into ‘long ships’. Some pushed the concept to the limits and finished up with ships that were extremely tender at sea. However, the vessels designed for Bibby’s did not suffer from these tendencies.

Around the same time Frederick Richard Leyland, a dynamic man who would dominate the Liverpool scene for many years, was appointed as a junior director of Bibby’s. Leyland was the sort of person who took the trouble to learn the languages of the people with whom he traded and became a noted linguist. His closest friend was the American painter James Whistler, at least until the time that they had a blazing row over the fee for a painting commission.

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In 1861 the nephew of G. C. Schwabe, Gustav Wolff, joined Edward Harland to form Harland & Wolff. Because of the excellence of the ships built and the Board connections, Bibby’s gave the new firm considerable support and of the first twenty one ships built by Harland & Wolff eighteen were for the Bibby fleet. The owners were clearly well pleased with their ships. The management of Harland & Wolff began to look at ship design and made the suggestion that the, hitherto, traditional steamer barque or even ship rig was replaced with a simpler topsail schooner rig which would reduce the deck crewing level. Bibby’s ships soon reflected the change.
On 8th February 1861 the seven Southern states in North America seceded from the Union and set themselves up as the Confederate States under Jefferson Davis. This led to the outbreak of the American Civil War and with it the cessation of the cotton trade. This led Bibby’s to increase their sailings to Egypt in order to keep the Lancashire cotton mills supplied with raw materials. The boom which followed gave rise to the signing of the ‘Mediterranean Agreement’ whereby six Liverpool shipowners agreed not to undercut each other for a period of five years.

The company suffered its first steamship loss in 1863 when the Catalonian was wrecked, and in the same year straight stems were introduced when the Persian joined the fleet. In 1864 John Bibby purchased the ironmongery side of his late father’s business and left the shipping side to his brothers while he concentrated on metals at St. Helens. Consequently, the only Bibby family member in shipping was James Jenkinson Bibby with Frederick Leyland as his sole partner.

In February 1865 the old ‘wooden wall’ warship Indefatigable arrived in the Mersey to serve as a training ship for orphans and destitute boys seeking a career at sea. James Bibby had the vessel fitted out in the following July at his own expense.

International shipping changed dramatically in 1859 when, on 17th November, the Suez Canal was opened by the Khedive of Egypt and the Empress Eugenie of France. No longer did ships voyaging to the Far East and Australia have to go via the Cape of Good Hope, saving some 5000 miles. P&O vessels were able to make a direct sailings through the canal eliminating the requirement to offload passengers and cargo at Alexandria and tranship them overland to Port Tewfik at the Suez end of the canal. Consequently, the trade that Bibby’s had maintained for P&O to Alexandria gradually ceased.

The company had foreseen the need to diversify and when change was required Frederick Leyland proposed to expand trade to the United States and Boston to exploit cargo carrying potential as the ships deployed on the Mediterranean service had limited passenger accommodation. James Bibby, on the other hand, considered that the American trade was already highly competitive and that the Mediterranean and India or Burma would produce a better yield. Initially the company continued to concentrate on their Mediterranean but it soon became apparent that most of their new buildings from Harland & Wolff would be too large for the service. The only alternative to selling them would be to operate a transatlantic service and Leyland still considered that Boston was under served. The ships subsequently made one or two trial savings which were moderately profitable.

James Jenkinson Bibby was sixty and wealthy in 1872 but his son was only 15. All James’s brothers and adult nephews, Thomas’s sons Arthur and Herbert, were well established in other non-shipping businesses. James, and indeed the Bibby family, faced a dilemma and, although the family had always held substantial equity, he decided to give up the controlling interest in the shipping business and negotiations were started with a very willing Frederick Leyland.

On 1st January 1873 twenty one steamers and the tug Camel passed into the control of Frederick Leyland and the Bibby family no longer had any direct involvement in the shipping industry. However, when Frederick Leyland tried to replace the Bibby name with his own their was an outcry from the family. To keep the Bibby name prominent Thomas Bibby’s son, Arthur Wilson Bibby, set up Bibby Brothers & Co. in Liverpool and began to operate as a ship and produce broker and James Jenkinson Bibby continued to fly the company’s houseflag on his yacht, the Jason.

Leyland continued to trade to the Iberian peninsular and the Mediterranean but the single expansion engines were not economical on Atlantic crossings and under powered for the ‘into wind’ westbound voyage. The new compound engine was essential if Leyland was to commence serious Atlantic crossings but a slump in that trade occurred and his plans were delayed for three years.

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In 1875 Benjamin Disraeli, the British Prime Minister, purchased 176,602 500Franc shares in the Cie Universelle du Canal de Suez from the impoverished Ismail Pasha for £4,000,000. This 44% holding gave Britain virtual control of the Suez Canal and opened up shipping routes to India and the Far East.
The son of the Rev. Thomas Bibby, Arthur, through his directorship in the Beaver Line had an interest in shipping and with Frederick and Herbert Ledward formed Ledward, Bibby & Co. in 1877. The Ledward’s main business was importing and broking sugar. Arthur and James Jenkinson Bibby still recognised that the Atlantic was being over traded and, at the same time, remembered the families earlier interest in the Indian sub-continent and especially Burma. Upper Burma was annexed as a dependency of the Government of India in January 1886 and, subsequently, trade with Burma improved and the Bibby’s could see that Hendersons were doing well out of Glasgow.

Three years later, in 1889 the Bibby family decided to return to shipping with Rangoon in Burma as their destination. James Jenkinson Bibby provided the finance to build two cargo ships, the Lancashire and Yorkshire, at Harland & Wolff’s yard and Arthur Bibby with J.J’s son Frank Bibby operated them as Bibby Brothers & Co. The two ships were larger and far superior to Henderson’s Pegu which was their crack ship of the day. The Bibby’s and the Henderson’s were long time friends and realistic business so that within six months face to face competition was avoided by agreeing that Bibby’s would only trade out of Liverpool and London whereas Henderson’s would restrict their trading to Liverpool and Glasgow. There was no restriction on inbound ports, common freight rates were agreed and the ships would sail alternatively to give the shippers a better service. In both Liverpool and Glasgow the ships were soon referred to by all and sundry as the ‘Burma Boats. Bibby’s appointed the Arrancan Company (Halliday Bros.) as their agents in Rangoon.

Two more ships were ordered in 1890 and they were given twin screws because of the reliability they provided. They were given four lofty masts, a practice which would continue for another forty years, and an abnormally tall funnel which gave extra draught in the airless conditions that were encountered on much of their route south of Suez. The four ships were able to operate a monthly sailing to Rangoon, the fare being £50 from Liverpool.

In 1891 the Bibby Steamship Company was formed with Bibby Bros. & Co. as managers and by July of that year, working in conjunction with Henderson’s, a two weekly service was maintained. Colombo, where ships anchored and unloaded into lighters, was added as a port of call and Carson & Co. were appointed as agents.

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By 1892 space at Liverpool had become a problem and, because a permanent berth was essential, the Vittoria Dock at Birkenhead became the outbound passenger and cargo terminal. In London Tilbury became the inbound port with Alexander Howden & Co. as the handling agent.
In 1893 the company, which by this time was profitable, was placed on the Government’s ‘Approved List’ for the carriage of civil servants and military personnel between the United Kingdom and their overseas postings. This was a real ‘seal of approval’ which gave Bibby’s the incentive to develop passenger accommodation because of the needs of ladies and their children. Many adults acquired a lifelong affection for the ‘Bibby Boats’. In the same year famine struck India and the rice crop from Burma was diverted there which meant that Bibby’s were unable to carry a full cargo home.

With the interests of passengers in mind, the Staffordshire inaugurated a call at Marseilles in 1894 so that passengers could embarked and return to London by train and ferry so as to avoid crossing the Bay of Biscay with its reputation for rough passages. When the Derbyshire joined the fleet in 1897 three-weekly sailings were started and the Yorkshire was relegated to reserve ship status.

James Jenkinson Bibby died in 1897 at the age of 84 and after almost seventy years with the company. His legacy to the family was that his fortune was to be held in trust for Bibby Line purposes. He was succeeded as Chairman by his son, Frank Bibby.

The Warwickshire joined the fleet in 1902 and sailings were increased to twice monthly. The new ship was the first to incorporate the ‘tandem’ cabin which enabled both outside and inside cabins to have a port hole, the latter at the end of a narrow corridor. They became known as ‘Bibby’ cabins and were widely copied by other shipowners. She was also equipped with electric fans, another innovation that was universally adopted on later sunsequent buildings. In the same year the brigantine sailing ship James J. Bibby was presented was presented to the Liverpool boys training ship Indefatigable which was anchored in the River Mersey.

In 1906 the berth at Birkenhead was moved to Alfred Dock North and about the same time the Worcestershire and the Herefordshire joined the fleet replacing the original Lancashire and the Yorkshire. The Leicestershire and the Gloucestershire were delivered in 1909/10 and at Birkenhead a larger berth was acquired at Mortar Mill Quay where the company remained until 1940. The last ship to be delivered before the outbreak of the First World War was the famous and much loved Oxfordshire which joined the fleet in 1912.

BIBBY LINE

On 1st January 1914 Frank Bibby presented HMS Phaeton to the Liverpool Sea Training Homes and she became the boys training school Indefatigable (2). Stationed off Ferry Rock in the River Mersey she was in the company of the training ship HMS Conway. In 1915 Bibby’s were forced to change their agent in Rangoon as Arracan & Co. were bought out by Sir John Ellerman who continued to operate his ships to Burma so Bulloch Bros. & Co. and Steel Bros. & Co. were appointed to act jointly for the company.
In 1917 Arthur Harold Bibby, son of Arthur Wilson Bibby, became a partner and in the same year the Worcestshire was Bibby’s only war casualty. When the First World War was declared many of the company’s ships were requisitioned for wartime service as either hospital or troopships. In May of 1917, following the entry of the United States into the war ,the 10th Cruiser Squadron was disbanded releasing the Gloucestershire for commercial service. When the Armistice was signed on 11th November 1918 and hostilities ceased Bibby’s had transported some 200,000 British and 25,000 American troops.

The war loss was replaced by the second Yorkshire in 1920 and at that time the fleet consisted of 8 ships. In 1921 the first 5 year trooping contract was obtained; the annual period being March to September when from March to May the ships trooped between Southampton – Bombay and from May to September on ‘Levant and Indian Relief Trooping to various ports as decided by the authorities. This included Burma and the Derbyshire was the first fulltime troopship. When the ships were not trooping they were laid up in the River Dart.

Frank Bibby died in 1923. He had been Chairman since 1897 and was succeeded by F. Brian Bibby. In the following year Port Sudan was added to the itinerary and Gellatly, Hankey & Co. were appointed as agents. Middlesbrough and the near continent became ports of call in 1925 and a programme of short cruises between Liverpool and Marseilles was introduced to fill the berths not utilised by passengers avoiding the passage across the Bay of Biscay.

The link with Harland & Wolff, which had continued since 1859, was broken in 1925 when three ships were ordered from the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. The reason for the change was simply economics. At the time Harland & Wolff were installing Burmeister & Wain’s high powered four stroke diesel engines whereas Fairfield’s were using the more compact Sulzer two stroke diesel. Although the difference in speed was minimal the Fairfield engine created more cargo space which , over a period of time, was a considerable economic factor.

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In 1926 a yellow hand holding a dagger was added to the houseflag and the first of the Fairfield ships, the Shropshire, joined the fleet. The 5 year trooping contract was renewed and to cater for the increased demand the cargo ships Dorsetshire and Shropshire were converted into troopships. During this period troopships retained their company livery.
During a dockers strike at Colombo in 1927 the Bibby crews unloaded their own cargoes. In the same year Herbert Bibby, the last connection with Ledward, Bibby & Co., died and the Cheshire joined the fleet. In the following year all troopships were given white hulls with a broad blue band and a yellow funnel.

F. Brian Bibby died in 1929 at the very early age of 36 and his place as Chairman was taken by Arthur Bibby, the senior partner. The third of the Fairfield built ships, the Staffordshire, joined the fleet. In 1930 the Lancashire was converted into a troopship to meet the ever increasing demands of the renewed contracts.

By 1931 the fleet consisted of both steam and motorships and to reflect the change the company’s name was changed to Bibby Line Ltd. The Worcestershire replaced the Derbyshire in 1931 and in 1932 the Liverpool headquarters moved from Chapel Street to a complete floor in the new Martins Bank building in Water Street. One of the two agents in Rangoon, Bulloch Bros. & Co. went into liquidation during 1933 and Steel Bros. & Co. became the sole agent.

On 15th December 1937 Arthur Bibby died at the age of 89 and his son, Arthur Harold Bibby, became the Chairman. In 1937 Burma was separated from India and allowed to administer itself. As a result, a further 5 year trooping contract was given to Bibby’s and to meet the demand the first purpose built troopship, the Devonshire, was ordered and was delivered in August 1939.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, on 3rd September 1939, the fleet consisted of eleven ships and all were requisitioned for wartime duties. The Yorkshire was the company’s first war casualty when she was torpedoed on 17th September 1939. On 13th May 1941, while serving as the armed merchant cruiser HMS Salopian, the Shropshire was sunk south of Greenland. As a replacement for the Yorkshire the new troopship Empire Pride was allocated for management by Bibby’s, the first of five ships to be managed by the company during the hostilities. The Herefordshire was delivered in 1944 and was a standard hull completed to Bibby’s Far East specification with enhanced ventilation and the capability of being converted into passenger liner which, in fact, she never was.

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In 1945, after the cessation of hostilities, the service to Burma was restarted from Birkenhead, in conjunction with Henderson’s, with the sole available ship, the Herefordshire, and during 1946 the surviving Burma passenger vessels were rebuilt to meet post war requirements, rejoining the fleet with ‘modern’ and radically altered profiles.
Two new passenger ships, the Warwickshire and the Leicestershire, joined the fleet in 1948/9 but with accommodation for only 75 persons. Both ships still bore the unmistakable Bibby image and brought the passenger fleet up to a total of five. However, in January 1948 Burma (renamed Myanmar) attained independence and thereafter both the passenger and cargo trade began to decline and what was available had to be shared with locally flagged ships. Consequently, the company had to resort to chartering their ships to other operators.

Derek J. Bibby, a fifth generation, became a partner in 1950. In 1952 the Government asked for another troopship to undertake India and Burma garrison work but with the ability to serve Hong Kong and the Oxfordshire (II) was ordered to meet this requirement. In the same year Bibby’s ‘Burma Boat’ partner, P. Henderson & Co., sold out to Elder Dempster so that their combined fleet could serve either Burma or West Africa.

In 1955 the company, aware that air trooping was becoming more and more acceptable, invested in Skyways Ltd., a freight and troop carrying airline serving the Middle East. Sharing the route with Eagle Airways, the company had a 36 seat Viking aircraft which served Cyprus and Egypt. On the shipping side, the Rangoon service was down to one sailing every three weeks and trade was chaotic with congestion and delays at most ports of call. Ships had to wait weeks or even months before being allocated a berth.

The closure of the Suez Canal in 1956 effectively killed off Bibby’s Burma trade as going via the Cape was totally uneconomical. However, a monthly service was maintained until the Suez situation clarified itself, which wasn’t for six years, but, in the meantime, the fortunes of the company were maintained as a result of the trooping contracts.

The Oxfordshire (II) was delivered in 1957 but it was soon realised that she was clearly obsolescent. Larger aircraft such as the Britannia were being built by the aviation industry and these were capable of transporting over 100 men at a time. While the troopship was completing one round voyage an aircraft could tranship more personnel in the same time and at a lesser cost. The only advantage of the troopship was that whole battalions with their equipment could be moved as a single unit.

In 1959 the Burma Five Star Line was admitted to the Far East Conference which immediately meant that Bibby’s share of the Burma trade was halved. Consequently, a ship disposal programme was initiated and the Staffordshire (II0 was the first vessel to be sold. Fortunately, the charter market was buoyant and three cargo ships were ordered, the first to be delivered being the Shropshire (II). The equity in Skyways was sold during the following year as new and larger aircraft required a large investment not only in finance but also in time. The Bibby management decided to stick with the industry they knew well, shipping.

By 1961 only three ships were operating the Burma service, the Herefordshire (II), and the passenger ships Warwickshire (II) and Leicestershire (II). In Rangoon the local agent, Steel Bros., closed down in 1962 and was replaced by the State owned Thihi Shipping Agencies. National Service had ended and there was no longer a need for large scale trooping by sea. The British Government purchased the remaining seven years of the trooping contract and the Devonshire was sold to British India Line who renamed her Devonia as a tribute to the ship. At the same time Bibby’s were compensated for their investment in the Oxfordshire (II) in the form of annual payments until the contract was due to end in 1971.

The fourth new cargo ship, the Lancashire (III) was delivered in 1963 for Burma Conference work but also designed for chartering which became necessary after only her first voyage. The passenger service to Colombo and Rangoon was terminated in 1965 and the two ships, Leicestershire (II) and Warwickshire (II), being unsuitable for charter, were withdrawn and sold. They were replaced by two ships purchased from Prince Line which were renamed Gloucestershire (II) and Staffordshire (II). At the same time two new cargo ships, the Worcestershire (III) and the Derbyshire (III), joined the fleet to augment the charter business.

An opportunity to deploy ships on a North Atlantic run to the St. Lawrence Seaway arose in 1966 and for this purpose Bibby’s built two ships which were then chartered for 20 years to the Britstol City Line. Because of the length of the charter they were given names traditionally used by the charterer, Toronto City and Coventry City. Derek J. Bibby joined the Board of Charles Hill’s Bristol City Line which, in effect, gave Bibby’s a 22% stake in the profits of the venture.

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Also in 1966 the Seabridge Shipping Ltd was incorporated by a consortium which comprised Bibby Line Ltd., Britain Steamship Co. Ltd (Watts, Watts & Co.), Horace Clarkson & Co. Ltd., Silver Line Ltd. (S & J Thompson), Bowring Steamship Co. Ltd and Furness Withy & Co. Ltd. Each member of the consortium agreed to build bulk carriers which would be chartered in the owner’s livery to Seabridge Shipping and Bibby’s contribution was the Pacific Bridge and and the Atlantic Bridge.
The Warwickshire (III) joined the charter fleet in 1967 and, ever mindful of new opportunities, Bibby’s acquired the Wiltshire in the following year. She was liquid petroleum gas carrier (LPG) and had been ordered for George Gibson & Co. of Leith to service a charter which, in the event, didn’t materialise. Without the charter Gibson couldn’t afford the investment so Bibby’s took the plunge and purchased the completed ship which they then chartered to George Gibson who, in turn, chartered her to Gazocean S. A. of Paris for three years. To diversify further, in 1968 Bibby’s also ordered three ships capable of carrying both motor vehicles and bulk cargoes. The first to join the fleet was the Berkshire, followed by the Cheshire (IV) and the Oxfordshire (III).

Finally in 1968 Bibby’s took over the Britain Steamship Co. but only acquired the company’s Seabridge cointribution, the Westminster Bridge, as the rest of the fleet had already been sold. The acquisition brought Bibby’s contribution to Seabridge to three and with Houlder Bros. and Hunting & Sons Ltd joining the consortium the fleet expanded to 12 ships. Two years later two ore-bulk-ore (OBO) carriers were built for Seabridge with Bibby’s inheriting Ocean Bridge and Horace Clark the other.

In 1971 war between India and Parkistan decimated the small amount of trade left with Burma and, as a result, the last ‘Burma’ boat, the Gloucestershire (III) was sold for further trading. At the same time, Bibby’s concluded their activities in Rangoon and so ended a service which had been the mainstay of their business for over eighty years. In February of 1971 the company acquired a 51% controlling interest in Charles Hill’s Bristol City Line for £1,200,000 adding the Halifax City and the Montreal City to their fleet. More importantly, however, the Bristol City Line had been a third partner in the Dart Container Line with Cie Maritime Belge and Clarke Traffic Services since 1969. One ship, the Dart Atlantic was owned and the second ship, the Dart America, was managed for owners Clarke Traffic Services of Montreal. However, the Dart Atlantic enabled Bibby’s to enter the competitive container field.

Bibby’s last two conventional cargo ships, the Herefordshire (III) and the Lancashire (III) were delivered in 1971 and the fleet then consisted of 14 ships with no fewer than 10 more on order – 3 LPG’s, 3 OBO’s, 2 builkers and 2 cargo vessels.

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Three further bulk carriers were required for Seabridge in 1972 and Bibby’s agreed to contribute one, and as a result, the English Bridge joined the fleet. The LPG carrier Wiltshire was proving to be succesful and to capitalise on the success the larger LPG carrier Lincolnshire was built and a further two ordered. In October of 1972 the remaining 49% of the Bristol City Line was acquired for £275,000.
Bibby’s contributed yet another OBO to Seabridge in 1973 and with the arrival of Australian Bridge the Westminster Bridge was sold. In October of that year Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in the Yom Kippur war which destabilised the Middle East and provoked an oil crisis causing prices to rise fourfold. A huge number of ships became uneconomical overnight as rising freight rates failed to offset the increased fuel prices.

In 1974 the two new LPG’s, Hampshire and Dorsetshire joined the fleet. To meet a short term commitment the Tenbury was purchased but only remained with the company for six months. At this time the size of the fleet peaked at 24 ships. The company had never owned an oil tanker and in the following year the Yorkshire (IV), a three product carrier, was delivered but, at the same time, the future was becoming a problem. When she joined the fleet it comprised 20 ships totalling in excess of 1,000,000 gross tons but at a time when there was a marked decline in British shipowning. The policy of diversification was intended to ensure survival if recession hit one aspect of the trade but it was no guarantee if recession hit all aspects of the industry.

The largest ship Bibby ever owned, the 91,000grt Liverpool Bridge, was delivered in 1976 for the Seabridge consortium but the world trade recession was already causing problems. Contractual freight rates were higher that those prevailing and Seabridge was forced to agree to those being renegotiated. As a result, instead of being a profitable diversification for Bibby’s it became a loss maker. Clarkson’s was the first company to withdraw and, as this merely spread the load onto other members, Bibby Line Ltd withdrew in 1977 taking their three ships with them. The Atlantic Bridge was renamed Dorsetshire, the Mersey Bridge became the Cambridgeshire and Liverpool Bridge, the Derbyshire and all three were immediately laid up. Another setback befell the company in October 1976 when the new LPG carrier, Staffordshire, was laid up immediately she was completed. She was built to carry gas from Saudia Arabia to the USA but the processing plant built for the project was years behind schedule.

The decline in trade continued into 1978 and by April seven out of the Bibby fleet of 22 were laid up and like so many shipping companies the company was experiencing cash flow problems due to loan repayments on recent new buildings having to be paid. Five ships were mortgaged to finance brokers but the cost of doing so exceeded the loan repayments. Interest payments more than exceeded the trading profits and a loss of £13.5 million was incurred. The Board’s main concern was the company’s survival and the way out was to sell ships if only to raise sufficient cash to offset the interest due. The Australian Bridge, the Canadian Bridge, the English Bridge and the Oxfordshire were subsequently sold and the residue of the outstanding loans rescheduled with the banks and the Government. By 1979 the Dart Container Line was also incurring losses so Bibby’s sold their interest to C. Y. Tung of Hong Kong who had just acquired Furness, Withy & Co., another partner in Dart.

In 1980 Bibby’s suffered a major loss when the Derbyshire (III) tragically disappeared during a typhoon in the China Sea. Loaded with iron ore and bound for Japan it was assumed that she was overwhelmed by the force of nature and there is more information about the incident in the ship history. At the end of 1982 the fleet consisted of just nine ships.

The company ventured into the oil industry and the Aberdeen based oil engineering group Empac when, in 1982 and through Consafe Engineering (UK) Ltd, they acquired a 20% interest in the Swedish Consafe consortium. The consortium owned the semi-submersible North Sea accommodation platform Safe Holmia which they charterd to oil exploration companies. In 1983 Bibby’s acquired a 50% share in the accommodation barge Safe Dominia which was chartered by the Ministry of Defence to house troops of the Falkland Islands garrison. A sister unit, the Safe Esperia, was also under construction for subsequent charter to the Ministry of Defence. At the same time ship disposals continued and the Cambrigeshire and the former car carriers Berkshire and Cheshire (IV) were sold.

By 1984 ship management was being widely used by shipowners and Bibby’s ventured into this field, their first client being the Shipping Corporation of Trinidad & Tobago. In April of that year the company made the most fundamental change in its 170 year history when it transferred the registry of four LPGs to Hong Kong. The move caused a reaction from the National Union of Seamen who staged a five hour sit-in strike at the Liverpool office. From then on the deck crews became Chinese and officers were supplied by agencies rather than being recruited in Liverpool. The savings made were sufficient to keep the company afloat during difficult time. During the year Bibby’s last conventional cargo ship, the Warwickshire (III) was sold and only specialist ships remained.


Head Office at 105 Duke Street, Liverpool

Consafe went into liquidation in 1985 and the Safe Holmia was sold to the Swedish Government. However, Bibby’s purchased the accommodation barges from the receiver and renamed them Bibby Venture and the Bibby Resolution. In 1987 the Safe Bristolia, another Consafe accommodation barge, was acquired and renamed Bibby Endeavour. At the same time the company took a 70% interest in another type of accommodation barge, the self elevating jack up Marinia, which was deployed of East Malaysia. The New York Department of Correction chartered the Bibby Venture and the Bibby Resolution for an initial 5 year period to accommodate remand prisoners.
Also, in 1987, the Devonshire, the Staffordshire, the Hampshire and the Lincolnshire were transferred to the Bibby controlled Manx Ship Management in Douglas, Isle of Man so that the company could employ its staff on ‘off-shore’ contracts and manage British flagged ships. The day to day management of the company remained in Liverpool. In the following year Northern Manpower Services of Liverpool was acquired to compliment Bibby’s involvement in the oil industry.

To reflect the changing of activities of the company the Holding Company’s name was changed to Bibby Line Group Ltd. in 1989 although the shipping interest remained within Bibby Line Ltd. The Head Office remained at 105 Duke Street, Liverpool. The company’s first new ship for twelve years, the Cheshire (V), was delivered in 1989. Built in Belgium with attractive Government terms she began her career on a three year contract flying the Belgian flag. The Freeport Chief, a petroleum mixed product tanker, was also acquired and renamed Dorsetshire (III).

On 11th January 1990 the company acquired a 50% holding in Botany Bay Shipping Holdings of Sydney with the objective of developing a new chemical tanker pool to initially manage 11 ships. As part of the arrangement Bibby’s were requested to to build two new parcel tankers and possibly a third when requested. It was also intended to have offices in Houston and London.

In 1991 the Isle of Man management company was renamed Bibby International Services (IOM) Ltd. The entire seagoing fleet was brought within its control but in single ship companies in order to reflect their various trading charters. By 1995 the seagoing fleet comprised five ships but only the Cheshire, which was registered in the Isle of Man, flew the red ensign; the Lincolnshire and the Shropshire were registered in the Bahamas, the Herefordshire in Panama and the Staffordshire in Hong Kong.

The company still maintains a growing interest in floating mobile accommodation and the oil industry, the latest involvement being a joint venture with the Doha Marine Services of Qatar deploying the DMS Venture.

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At the start of the third millennium the Bibby Group, having survived wars, booms and slumps for nearly 200 years, has diversified and adapted to the changes within the shipping industry. As the company approaches its bicentenary trading activities now include the following:-

The operation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Carriers
The operation of Chemical Parcel Tankers
The provision of Ship Management services
The operation of shallow water accommodation units (Coastels)
The provision of Offshore Oil Services
The provision of Contract Logistics or Distribution services
The provision of Debt Factoring service

For more information :-
Bibby Group Ltd

BIBBY LINE

DOVE was built in 1774 with a burthen tonnage of 60 tons. Little is known of this vessel except that in 1801 she was owned by Bibby & Hall and was the first recorded venture into shipping by a member of the family.

Burthen was an old term used to express a ship’s tonnage or carrying capacity. It was based on the number of tuns of wine that a ship could carry in her holds, the total number giving her burthen. The term remained an expression of a ship’s size until the end of the 18th century when it gradually fell into disuse after a new system of measurement of ships, known as the Builders Old Measurement was adopted by Act of Parliament in 1773. A tun was a large cask used for the transport of wine with a capacity of two pipes, or four hogsheads or 252 old wine gallons and is the origin of the word ton. The Builders Old Measurement was a formula devised to calculate the tonnage of a ship for the purposes of charging harbour and port dues.

MARGARET (1) was built in 1800 at Liverpool with a tonnage of 117 burthen, a length of 69ft and a beam of 20ft 4in. She was built in wood, with a Galliot rig, to a Dutch design for a common North Sea trader with a large rudder. Acquired in the spring of 1801 by John Bibby & Co. she was named after John Bibby’s wife Margaret, nee Mellard. Trading between Parkgate in the Wirral and Dublin she was lost on the Irish coast in October 1801.
A Galliot was originally a small galley rowed by sixteen or twenty oars with a single mast and sail used in the 17th and 18th centuries to chase and capture enemy ships in wartime by boarding, the entire crew being armed to form a boarding party. During the 18th century it became the accepted term for a small Dutch trading vessel, the hull built in barge fashion with a bluff rounded bow, fitted with leeboards, and fore and aft rigged on a single mast, often with a sprit. They are still used in Holland and North Germany almost entirely for local coastal trade in much the same way that sailing barges are used in Britain

FRIENDS was built in 1793 at Frodsham with a tonnage of 63 burthen, a length of 67ft 4in and a beam of 14ft 6in. Built in wood with a Galliot rig she was acquired by John Bibby & Co. in 1805 for coastal trading and was lost in the following year on the north Welsh coast while approaching the River Mersey.

MENTOR was built in 1799 at Aberdovey with a tonnage of 150 burthen, a length of 73ft and a beam of 22ft 5in. Built in wood with a snow rig she was acquired in 1802 and served until 1818 when she foundered during a voyage from Liverpool to Dublin.
A snow rig had a stump mast to carry the rings of the spanker/tri-sail which simplified the mainmast rigging and also made the hoisting of sail easier.

L’HARMONIE was built in France with a tonnage of 124 burthen, a length of 79ft and a beam of 26ft. Built in wood and snow rigged she was a Napoleonic prize captured in 1803. She was put up for auction by the Admiralty Marshall and acquired by John Bibby and John Highfield. Formerly a West Indies trader with a copper bottom for protection against the teredo worm she was deployed on the Liverpool to the West Indies to carry rum and sugar; the partners first venture into that trade. In 1806 she was lost when she grounded in the West Indies.

SALLY was built in France with a tonnage of 130 burthen, a length of 71ft and a beam of 21ft 1in. Built in wood and snow rigged she was taken as a prize in 1799 during the French Revolutionary War of 1793 – 1802. She was acquired by John Bibby & Others in 1806 and placed on the West Indies service. In 1827 she was posted missing in the Atlantic.

EAGLE was built in Spain with a tonnage of 186 burthen, a length of 76ft 1in and a beam of 24ft 10in. Built in wood and brigantine rigged she was a Spanish ship taken as a prize in 1805 during the Napoleonic War. Spain had become an ally of France in January 1804. When she was acquired by the partners at the end of 1805 her condition was somewhat poor and she was repaired in the following year with timbers from another ship. She was given a new keel and the hull was sheathed with copper in readiness for trading to the West Indies. In 1808 she was the only ship to be used as a slaver when she made a voyage from Liverpool to the Cameroons from where she sailed to the Southern USA with a cargo of slaves. She was lost of the African coast in 1909.

THAMES was built in 1798 at New York with a tonnage of 171 burthen, a length of 76ft and a beam of 23ft 4in. Built in wood and snow rigged she was equipped with 2 guns. She was acquired by John Bibby & Co. in 1807 and made the partners’ first sailing to Brazil in 1810. Captured by the Americans in 1811 she was sold to the Danes who then re-sold her back to Bibby. In March 1812 she was arrested again by the American Navy but released and returned to her owners. In the following year she voyaged to the Gabon for Bibby but thereafter, all trace of her was lost.

BENJAMIN & ELIZABETH was built around 1798 at Whitby, Yorkshire with a tonnage of 283 burthen, a length of 93ft 4in and a beam of 27ft 1in. Built in wood and ship rigged and acquired in 1807 she was Bibby’s first three masted ship and their largest vessel to date. At the time the ship rig was comparatively rare as it took more men to handle three square rigged masts than the more common barque. The ship rig only became more popular when sailing ships got bigger but, because the mizzen mast sails deprived the forward masts of wind, the barque rig was more efficient. In 1807 the Abolition of Slavery Act was passed in the United Kingdom and all known slave ships were declared ‘pirates’. Although there is no record of her ever being engaged in the slave trade the Benjamin & Elizabeth was captured by the American Navy in that year and sold to the Swedes who then re-sold her to British owners. In 1809 she was wrecked off New Jersey.

MARY (1) was built in Denmark with a tonnage of 208 burthen, a length of 80ft 11in and a beam of 25ft. A wooden barque she was built in Denmark as the Laurentza Maria in the early 1800’s. In 1808 she was detained at Liverpool as a prize in retaliation for the seizure by Denmark of British Baltic traders which came about when Prussia joined the war against Napoleon at the time she was at war with Denmark. She was acquired by Bibby and in 1810 was captured by the French in the West Indies. Sold to Jamaican owners as a prize all trace of her was subsequently lost.

PROVIDENCE was built in 1789 in France with a tonnage of 123 burthen with unknown dimensions. Built as a wooden warship and snow rigged she had two decks with a large central hatch-like opening in the upper deck traversed by stout beams. She had 6 guns located on the main deck firing through gun ports. In June 1803 she was captured by the Royal Navy as a prize. Six years later, in 1809, she was acquired by Bibby and records show that she was used on the Parkgate – Dublin route. Nothing more is known about her but her heavily timbered construction would have made her unsuitable for commercial service and she may have been used as a storage hulk in the West Indies.

SARAH was built in 1788 at Lancaster with a tonnage of 176 burthen, a length of 80ft 4in and a beam of 22ft 11in. She was built in wood, brigantine rigged and acquired by John Bibby & Co. in 1809. In 1810 she was seized by the French at St. Croix in the West Indies and sold as a prize. Her subsequent career is not known.

LUNE was built in 1807 at Lancaster with a tonnage of 105 burthen, a length of 72ft 2in and a beam of 18ft 3in. Built in wood and galliot rigged she was acquired by Bibby in 1809 for the Parkgate to Dublin service. In 1832 she was sold at Whitehaven for use as a collier trading to Ireland. Her subsequent career is not known.

VENUS was built in 1799 by W. N. Wright at Liverpool with a tonnage of 113 burthen, a length of 67ft 5in and a beam of 19ft 11in. Built in wood and sloop rigged she was acquired by Bibby in 1809 and sold to London buyers in the following year. Her subsequent career is unknown.

CERES was built in 1796 at Barmouth with a tonnage of 138 burthen, a length of 71ft in and a beam of 21ft 10in. Built in wood and snow rigged she was acquired by Bibby in 1809 for the Parkgate – Dublin service which by this time included calls at Welsh ports. In 1827 she was lost in the Irish sea.

LUCRETIA was built in 1796 at Hull with a tonnage of 242 burthen, a length of 88ft 10in and a beam of 25ft 8in. Built in wood and ship rigged she was acquired by John Bibby & Co. in 1809. She was given new side planking with iron bolts and copper sheathed for service on the West Indies trade to Trinidad. In 1810 she was sold to Mullin & Co. of Liverpool and was later lost.

BERESFORD was built in 1796 at Liverpool with a tonnage of 104 burthen, a length of 66ft and a beam of 19ft. Built in wood and brigantine rigged she was acquired by Bibby in 1810 and sold in the same year at Liverpool for further trading. Her subsequent career is not known.

MARGARET (2) was built in 1802 by J. Fisher at Liverpool with a tonnage of 222 burthen, a length of 84ft 4in and a beam of 25ft 4in. Built in wood and brigantine rigged she was acquired by Bibby in 1811 but sold at Poole in the same year. Her subsequent career is not known.

WILLIAM was built in France with a tonnage of 90 burthen, a length of 61ft and a beam of 18ft 10in. Built in wood and snow rigged she was captured as a prize in 1807 during the Napoleonic war and acquired by Bibby in 1811. She was sold in 1815 and her subsequent career is unknown.

HIGHFIELD was built in 1812 by W. Cortney at Chester with a tonnage of 142 burthen, a length of 76ft 10in and a beam of 21ft. Built in wood and brigantine rigged she was the first ship to be built for Bibby & Highfield with John Bibby & Co. as managers. She was sold for breaking in 1839 with the rare distinction of having served with one owner for her entire 27 years.

PRESTON was built in 1805 at Preston with a tonnage of 99 burthen, a length of 66ft 8in and a beam of 18ft 7in. Built in wood and galliot rigged she was acquired by John Bibby & Others in 1812 for trading out of Parkgate. She was sold to W. Wilson in 1837 for coastal trading between Belfast and bangor. Trace of her was lost after 1839.

ARIEL was built in 1802 at Sunderland with a tonnage of 154 burthen but her dimensions are not known. Built in wood she was acquired by Bibby in 1812 and sold to Farleigh in 1826. All trace of her was lost by 1832 and it is assumed that she was broken up..

BIBBY was built in 1813 at Liverpool with a tonnage of 163 burthen, a length of 76ft 4in and a beam of 22ft 10in. Built in wood and brigantine rigged she was the second new ship built for Bibby. Although sister of the Highfield, her construction reflects the practices of the day when there were no definitive plans. Dimensions of identical ships varied and in this case the beam was a little wider which was reflected in her burthen tonnage. She ended her career when she was wrecked during a voyage from Dublin to London in 1829.

FEARON was built in 1813 at Liverpool with a tonnage of 152 burthen, a length of 73ft 1in and a beam of 22ft 1in. Built in wood and snow rigged she was a sister if the Bibby and completed for Bibby, Highfield & Fearon. Joseph Fearon was a cargo broker who stored his goods in Bibby owned warehouses prior to loading on a Bibby vessel. He had shares in several Bibby ships. In 1838 she was sold to London owners but was no longer listed in Lloyds Register.

NILE was built in 1800 at Scarborough with a tonnage of 156 burthen, a length of 74ft 7in and a beam of 22ft 11in. Built in wood and brig rigged she was acquired by Bibby in 1815. She was Bibby’s first brig, a rig which became predominant in many sailing ship fleets over the subsequent fifty years or so. In 1835 she was lost in a winter gale in the Irish Sea and only wreckage was washed ashore.

JOSHUA was built in 1817 at Liverpool with a tonnage of 125 burthen, a length of approximately 73ft and a beam of 22ft. Built in wood and brig rigged she was the first of two brigs purchased new from their Liverpool builder. Although sisters their dimensions differed as size was dependent on the lengths of available timber. In those days ships were purchased according to cargo capacity (cost per ton) and not on size or tonnage. Built for the Parkgate-Dublin service they reflected the trend at the time which was towards the brig which was the most economical and seaworthy ship for her size. The Joshua was lost in the Irish Sea but the date is not known.

JOE was built in 1817 at Liverpool with a tonnage of 120 burthen, a length of approximately 73ft and a beam of 22ft. Sister of the Joshua she was copper sheathed for deep sea trading and John Bibby was the sole owner. She was sold to Dublin owners in 1828 for further deep sea trading and thereafter all trace of her was lost.

SAMPSON was built in 1798 at Runcorn with a tonnage of 139 burthen, a length of 73ft and a beam of 21ft 4in. Built in wood and brig rigged she was built for local short sea trading and acquired by Bibby & Highfield in 1817. She was refurbished in 1818 and copper sheathed for the West Indies or African trade. In 1822 she was given new topsides, re-rigged and, reputedly, given iron cables. After a further nine years trading she was broken up at Dublin during 1831.

MARY(2) was built in 1818 by Worthington & Co. at Lancaster with a tonnage of 212 burthen, a length of 80ft 11in and a beam of 25ft 4in. Built in wood and snow rigged she was purchased new by Bibby & Highfield for trading in the Irish Sea. She was named after John Bibby’s wife and daughter, who were both named Mary, and was the last snow rigged ship for 15 years as Bibby’s switched to the more predominant brig rig. In 1827 she was condemned due to hull rot and was dismantled.

KATE was built in 1820 by J.James & Co. at Liverpool with a tonnage of 150 burthen, a length of 76ft and a beam of 21ft 3in. A wooden brig she was built for John Bibby & John Highfield’s Dublin trade. In 1824 she was lost in the Irish Sea during a voyage from Liverpool to Dublin.

GEORGE IV was built in 1820 by P. W. Quirk at Liverpool with a tonnage of 187 burthen, a length of 80ft and a beam of 23ft 1in. A wooden brig steered with a wheel as opposed to a tiller she was built for John Bibby & John Highfield’s Brazil trade and named to mark the accession to the throne of the Prince Regent. In 1822 she was trading to Demarara in Guiana where she loaded sugar and in 1923 completed a voyage to Rio de Janeiro. By 1935 she was sailing between Liverpool and Corunna and in the same year she was recorded as being wrecked near Lagarta in Spain although there is no place with this name on the Spanish coast.

BOOTLE was built in 1820 by Rathbone & Leather at Liverpool with a tonnage of 153 burthen, a length of 75ft and a beam of 22ft 2in. A wooden brig she was purchased from the builder as in those days it was rare to order a ship. Yards would build a ship and then sell it through a broker or by direct advertising . In 1823 she was advertised as operating a direct service between Liverpool and Lisbon with a departure on the first of each month. She was sold to J. Harrington of Liverpool in 1842 and her subsequent career is not known. The Harrington Dock in Liverpool was named after the same J. Harrington.

ROSALIND was built in 1819 at Scarborough with a tonnage of 134 burthen and unknown dimensions. Built in wood she was a brig acquired by Bibby & Highfield in 1820. After thirteen years service she was lost in 1833 during a voyage from Liverpool to Corunna.

HARDWARE was built in 1821 by at Liverpool with a tonnage of 152 burthen, a length of 77ft and a beam of 21ft 11in. A wooden brig, she was purchased new by Bibby & Highfield for the Irish Sea trade. In 1823 she was transferred to the monthly Lisbon run and in 1926 copper sheathed for trading in the tropics. She was sold to Shaw & Co. of Liverpool in 1841 for trading to West Africa.. Her port of registry in 1845 was recorded as being Whitehaven and after 1854 she was no longer listed.

GEORGE & WILLIAM was built in 1820 by at Liverpool with a tonnage of 187 burthen, a length of 73ft and a beam of 21ft 4in. A wooden brig she was acquired in 1821 but her subsequent history is not known.

MARIA was built in 1815 at Barrington, Nova Scotia with a tonnage of 113 burthen, a length of 66ft 11in and a beam of 20ft 8in. A brig, she was constructed with local woods, birch and pine, the birch planking being covered with a layer of pine or fir as protection against the teredo worm. Unfortunately the practice was not successful even though big headed nails were hammered in so closely that the worm could not get a hold. Copper sheathing was the only answer to the teredo worm but before copper alloy nails were introduced iron nails caused erosion through electrolysis. On of the smallest vessels she was acquired by Bibby’s in 1821 for coastal trading. In 1823 she was sold to Taylor & Co. of Liverpool for trading to the Isle of Man. Trace of her was subsequently lost when, at the time, there were 67 vessels with the name ‘Maria’.

LANCASHIRE WITCH was built in 1821 by.James & Seddon at Liverpool with a tonnage of 127 burthen, a length of 75ft and a beam of 19ft 11in. Built in wood and rigged as a ketch she was acquired as new by John Bibby & John Highfield and was the third ship of a trio which maintained a cargo service between Liverpool and Lisbon. The ketch was a simple ship, a good cargo carrier and required only 6 crewmen. In 1824 she was copper sheathed for deep sea trading and in 1833 was lost off Vera Cruz in Mexico.

ELLEN JENKINSON was built in 1823 by C & J Smith at Liverpool with a tonnage of 162 burthen, a length of 83ft 6in and a beam of 21ft 3in. Bibby’s second ketch she was built in wood and purchased new. She was copper sheathed in 1824 and given a new deck in 1838. In 1840 she was sold to James Hatton & Co. of Liverpool for trading to Africa and in 1857 was listed as being broken up at Liverpool.

MARY BIBBY was built in 1825 by C & J Smith at Liverpool with a tonnage of 299 burthen, a length of 104ft and a beam of 25ft 11in. Twin decked, built in wood and ship rigged she was the first vessel purchased for John Bibby & Co, their largest sailing ship to date. She was steered with a wheel and her figurehead was of Mary Bibby, John Bibby’s wife. On delivery she was immediately sent to Whadborne & Co. for copper sheathing in readiness for trading to Bombay which became her regular annual voyage for the following decade. In 1836 she was sent to Canton where she loaded 3462 cases of tea and 15 bales of silk. Sold to Maryport owners in 1841 all trace of her was subsequently lost. (Photo: From a painting by Joseph Heard)

BISPHAM was built in 1826 by C & J Smith at Liverpool with a tonnage of 214 burthen, a length of 90ft 11in and a beam of 23ft 5in. A wooden brig her hull was felted and covered in fir planks to inhibit the growth of weeds, a practice which was common for ships trading in home waters. She was wrecked near Holyhead in 1838.

AMELIA was built in 1826 by C & J Smith at Liverpool with a tonnage of 200 burthen, a length of 90ft 11in and a beam of 22ft 6in. Sister of the Bispham the pair were the only true sisters in Bibby’s sailing ship fleet. She was sold to Jameson & Co. of Kirkcaldy in 1840 and in 1850 her last recorded ownership was with Ingo & Co. of Newcastle-upon-Tyne who used her for trading to the Baltic.

FANNY CONNELL was built in 1827 by C & J Smith at Liverpool with a tonnage of 171 burthen, a length of 83ft 11in and a beam of 21ft 11in. Built in wood she was the barque rigged ship built for John Bibby & Co. She was sold to London owners in 1842 and thereafter details of her career are not known.

ANN PALEY was built in 1827 by Lomax & Wilson at Tranmere with a tonnage of 166 burthen, a length of 83ft 11in and a beam of 21ft 11in. A wooden barque built for John Bibby & Co. she was lost in 1842 during a voyage from Liverpool to Oporto.

MARGARET HIGHFIELD was built in 1828 by C & J Smith at Liverpool with a tonnage of 178 burthen, a length of 85ft 4in and a beam of 31ft 10in. A wooden brig she was purchased new and named after John Highfield’s wife. In 1840 she was abandoned after striking a reef off Nassau.

DUCHESS OF CLARENCE was built in 1828 at Ilfracombe with a tonnage of 274 burthen, a length of 95ft 6in and a beam of 26ft. A wooden barque she was acquired in 1828. In 1842 she was felted and copper sheathed prior to being sold to Fletcher & Co. of London. No further details of her career are known.

HENRY HOYLE was built in 1829 by C & J Smith at Liverpool with a tonnage of 207 burthen, a length of 88ft 2in and a beam of 22ft 2in. A brig constructed with greenheart wood she was built for John Bibby & Co. Sold in 1840 no further details are known of her career.

ELLEN GERMAN was built in 1833 by Joseph Steel & Co. at Liverpool with a tonnage of 176 burthen, a length of 84ft and a beam of 21ft 6in. Built in wood and snow rigged she was another new purchase by John Bibby & Co. She was sold to Rose & Co. in 1840 and her subsequent career is unknown.

WARRIOR was built in 1833 by Isaac Middleton at Maryport with a tonnage of 99 burthen, a length of 64ft and a beam of 19ft. Built in wood and snow rigged she was purchased new by John Bibby & Co. for local trade. The third smallest ship ever purchased she was constructed with oak birch, oak frames and planked with pine. She was sold to John Kelly of Belfast in 1842 for use as a collier sailing between England & Belfast. Her subsequent career is unknown.

EMMA was built in 1833 by Sedon & Leadley at Birkenhead with a tonnage of 153 burthen, a length of 81ft 6in and a beam of 20ft 4in. Wooden built she was the third ship acquired in 1833 for the Mediterranean trade. In 1833 she was felted and copper sheathed for the West Indian trade. She was sold to Job Bros. of Liverpool in 1849 for trading to the Mediterranean and by 1856 all trace of her was lost.

CESTRIAN was built in 1834 by Cleague at Ramsey, Isle of Man with a tonnage of 380 burthen, a length of 109ft and a beam of 29ft 10in. Wooden built and ship rigged she was acquired by John Bibby & Co. and was their largest ship to date. In 1840 she was sold to Maxwell & Co. of Glasgow for trading south to England and the Mediterranean. No further details are known about her career.

MARY ANN was built in 1824 at Liverpool with a tonnage of 174 burthen, a length of 82ft 6in and a beam of 19ft 11in. Built in wood and ship rigged she was acquired by John Bibby & Co. in 1836 and was the smallest three masted ship ever owned by the company. In 1842 she was partially redecked before being sold to James & Co. with whom she traded for a further ten years.

JESSIE MILLER was built in 1840 at Pictou, Nova Scotia with a tonnage of 382 burthen, a length of 97ft 7in and a beam of 23ft 2in. She was a typical wooden, Nova Scotian brig with tall masts and a fair rake. Acquired by John Bibby & Sons in 1843 for the Bombay service she was the first ship to join the fleet under the new style of name. On her second annual sailing in 1844 she carried a cargo for the East India Company which consisted of two river boats, two house boats and associated machinery which were built in the United Kingdom, dismantled and then reconstructed after arrival in India. She was sold in 1852 and thereafter all trace of her was lost.

OAK was built in 1841at Sunderland with a tonnage of 342 burthen, a length of 96ft 10in and a beam of 24ft 5in. Built in wood and snow rigged she was acquired by John Bibby & Sons in 1844. She was wrecked on the coast of Brazil in 1849.

HANNIBAL was built in 1843 by Alan Gilmour at Quebec with a tonnage of 821 burthen, a length of 129ft 8in and a beam of 30ft 8in. Built in wood and ship rigged she was built for George T. Soley who operated a fleet of Canadian built vessels. When she was built the frames were sprayed with brine to harden them and lumps of rock salt were placed on top of the timbers to be dissolved by the rain. Her wooden tree nails were also pickled in brine. She was acquired by John Bibby & Sons in 1844 for deployment on the growing Bombay service. Twice the tonnage of any other ship owned she was the company’s second largest sailing ship. In 1845 her outward bound cargo consisted of dismantled river craft for the East India Company. She was sold back to G. T. Soley in 1852 and details of her subsequent career are unknown.

ENGLAND was mentioned in Bibby’s records but no details ever appeared in Lloyds Register.

GLENAVON was built in 1834 at Jersey with a tonnage of 263 burthen and dimensions which are unknown. A wooden brig she was acquired in 1846 but further details are not known and she was not listed in Lloyds Register.

JANE ROBERTS was built in 1847 at Barnstable with a tonnage of 31 burthen and dimensions which are unknown. A wooden built sloop she traded locally out of Barnstable before being acquired by John Bibby & Sons in 1848. The smallest vessel ever owned by the company, she was marginally larger than a lifeboat on a modern day cruise ship and probably used on the Mersey for transhipment duties.

JUVERNA was built in 1838 at Waterford with a tonnage of 311 burthen, a length of 107ft 5in and a beam of 24ft. A wooden barque she was acquired by John Bibby & Co. for their Valparaiso service in 1849. She was laid up at Liverpool in 1850 and in 1853 was felted and copper sheathed for trading in the tropics. In 1855 she returned to service but only until 1857 when she was sold to Brice & Co. Details of her subsequent career are unknown.

TITBIT was built in 1849 by J. Cox at Bridport with a tonnage of 144 burthen, a length of 79ft 7in and a beam of 18ft 8in. Built in wood she was acquired new for the Lisbon service and was only Bibby’s only topsail schooner. In 1854 she was replaced by the steamship Douro, felted and sheathed with yellow metal and then sold to Duarte & Co. for trading to Spain. She was later re-registered in Spain and thereafter all trace of her was lost.

PEDLAR was built in 1849 by J. Cox at Bridport with a tonnage of 193 burthen, a length of 87ft and a beam of 20ft 4in. A wooden brig she was acquired new by John Bibby & Sons. She was felted and sheathed with yellow metal in 1853 for the West Indies trade. In 1853 she was sold to Imrie & Tomlinson of Liverpool for operation by their White Star Line of Packets, the forerunner on the White Star Line, and traded annually to New Zealand. No further details of career are known.

LYDIA was built in 1849 at Sunderland with a tonnage of 541 burthen, a length of 120ft and a beam of 28ft 8in. Built for John Bibby & Sons during 1850 she traded between Liverpool and Africa and in the following year on the Liverpool – California where she remained until 1863 when she was acquired by the Albion Line. In 1869 she was sold to Sharp & Co. of Newcastle and by 1870 she was no longer listed in Lloyds Register.

RATTLER was built in 1846 by Lecky & Co. at Cork with a tonnage of 276grt, a length of 127ft, a beam of 22ft 1in.and a service speed of 9 knots. She was acquired by Bibby and Others in 1850. Others included Frederick Chapple who operated his own ships and the Rattler was deployed on the Mediterranean alongside his Osmanli which was a sister ship. The operating company was the Liverpool & Mediterranean Steam Shipping Co. In 1853 she was transferred to Frederick Chapple and in 1859 she was purchased by foreign owners and thereafter no further details are known about her career.

ARNO was built in 1851 by J. Reid & Co. at Port Glasgow with a tonnage of 660grt, a length of 190ft, a beam of 26ft 5in.and a service speed of 9 knots. She was built for the Liverpool & Mediterranean Steam Shipping Co. and in September 1854 was used a transport during the Crimean War. In addition to making several voyages as a transport she was also used as a store ship at Eupatoria. In 1861 she was sold to the General Steam Navigation Co. of London for trading to continental ports and was wrecked in 1866. (Photo: From a painting by George Parker Greenwood)

FRANKFORT was built in 1851 by J. Reid & Co. at Port Glasgow with a tonnage of 657grt, a length of 190ft, a beam of 26ft 5in.and a service speed of 9 knots. Sister of the Arno she was built for Frederick Chapple but deployed with the Arno on the Mediterranean services for the Liverpool & Mediterranean Steam Shipping Co. She was acquired by John Bibby & Sons in 1857 and after eight years service was sold to H. E. Moss of Liverpool. In 1878 ownership was recorded as being with P. MacGuffie of Liverpool and she was lost in 1880.

TIBER was built in 1851 by J. Reid & Co. at Port Glasgow with a tonnage of 660grt, a length of 190ft, a beam of 26ft 5in.and a service speed of 9 knots. Sister of the Arno she was completed for the Liverpool & Mediterranean Steam Shipping Co. and during 1854-55 she was chartered for use as a supply ship during the Crimean War. In 1861 she was sold to J. S. & J. R. De Wolfe of Liverpool who lengthened her to 224ft 11in and re-rigged her as a barque which increased her tonnage to 924grt. She grounded in 1871 and was abandoned to the underwriters who salvaged her, removed her engines and converted her into the barque Tiber for management by E. K. Ellison of Liverpool. After a further twenty three years service as a sailing ship she was wrecked in 1894. (Photo: From a painting by G. Caraclolo)

CALPE was built in 1852 by J. & G. Thompson at Glasgow with a tonnage of 799grt, a length of 201ft 2in, a beam of 27ft 4in.and a service speed of 9 knots. She was completed for the Liverpool & Mediterranean Steam Shipping Co. and traded to Spanish Mediterranean ports including carrying fruit from Valencia. In 1861 she was lengthened to 297ft 2in which increased her tonnage to 1348grt and went missing in the Bay of Biscay area during 1868.

DANUBE (1) was built in 1853 by J. & G. Thompson at Glasgow with a tonnage of 829grt, a length of 219ft 2in, a beam of 28ft 5in.and a service speed of 9.5 knots. She was completed for the Liverpool & Mediterranean Steam Shipping Co. at a cost of £35,000 and sold to the French Government for Crimean War service in 1855. She was later listed as being sold to Compagnie Generale Maritime but their description does not match her details although the profile is similar. Thereafter, all trace of her was lost.

RHONE (1) was built in 1853 by J. & G. Thompson at Glasgow with a tonnage of 856grt, a length of 220ft, a beam of 28ft 5in.and a service speed of 9.5 knots. Sister of the Danube she was completed for the Liverpool & Mediterranean Steam Shipping Co. and sold to the French Government for Crimean War service in 1855. She was later listed as being sold to Compagnie Generale Maritime of Paris but their records do not include a ship of this name. Thereafter, all trace of her was lost.

PIZARRO was built in 1853 by L. Kennedy & Co. at Whitehaven with a tonnage of 416 burthen, a length of 220ft, and a beam of 28ft 5in. Built in wood and ship rigged she was ordered for John Bibby & Sons but delivered to John Bibby, Sons & Co. The company’s last new sailing ship she cost £7,950 and made her annual voyage to Valparaiso. In 1857 she was sold to Myers & Co. of Liverpool for continued service to South America. Thirteen years later she was acquired by J. Robinson & Co. of Blyth for their Sunderland – Mediterranean service and by 1873 was no longer listed in Lloyds Register.

DOURO (1) was built in 1853 by Blackwood & Gordon at Paisley with a tonnage of 278grt, a length of 155ft 8in, a beam of 22ft 2in.and a service speed of 10 knots. The first of a trio of ships she was built for John Bibby & Sons to establish a regular service between Liverpool and Portugal, a service which, hitherto, had been undertaken by sailing ships. In 1862 she was sold for a considerable profit to the Liverpool agents of the Confederate States of America for use as a blockade runner between Bermuda and Charleston. She was captured outside Charleston and burnt by the Unionist Navy in the following year.

MINHO was built in 1854 by Blackwood & Gordon at Paisley with a tonnage of 400grt, a length of 175ft 2in, a beam of 22ft 2in.and a service speed of 10 knots. The second of the trio she entered service on the Liverpool – Oporto – Lisbon service in 1854. In 1862 she was sold, with the Douro, to the Confederate States of America for blockade running and in the following year was destroyed by gunfire from Unionist ships off Carolina.

CINTRA was built in 1854 by Blackwood & Gordon at Paisley with a tonnage of 517grt, a length of 178ft 10in, a beam of 24ft 2in.and a service speed of 10 knots. Similar in design to the Minho she was the third ship completed for the service to Portugal. In 1858 she was sold to Cotesworth, Lyne & Co. of Liverpool who reboilered her in 1873 and had a compound engine installed by J. Jack & Co. of Liverpool during 1882. She was wrecked in 1893.

EUPHRATES was built in 1854 by Smith & Rodger at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1134grt, a length of 252ft 10in, a beam of 29ft 1in.and a service speed of 9 knots. On completion in 1854 she was immediately as a transport during the Crimean War and only began to operate on the Levant services in 1856. She was sold to Bailey & Leetham of Hull in 1860 and renamed Bengo. In 1870 she was lengthened to 290ft and converted to tandem 4 cylinder compound, which increased her tonnage to 1268grt, prior to being sold to Gilbert & Cooper of Hull for their Baltic services. She was acquired by Gedeon Coudert of Bordeaux who changed her name to Gedeon Coudert. After a further nine years service she was broken up in France.

TIGRIS & AMAZON were recorded as being laid down for Bibby’s but were sold on the stocks to Liverpool owners.

ALBANIAN (1) was built in 1855 by J. Reid & Co. at Port Glasgow with a tonnage of 1034grt, a length of 237ft 10in, a beam of 30ft 1in.and a service speed of 10 knots. Delivered to the Liverpool & Mediterranean Steam Shipping Co. in 1855 she remained with the company until 1870 when she was sold to W. Brown Atkinson & Co. of Hull for their Baltic services. In 1872 she was lengthened to 287ft 7in by Chas D. Holmes & Co. of Hull which increased her tonnage to 1340grt. She was wrecked in the Baltic during 1890.

CORINTHIAN was built in 1855 by J. Reid & Co. at Port Glasgow with a tonnage of 1170grt, a length of 238ft 5in, a beam of 29ft 7in.and a service speed of 10 knots. Similar to the Albanian she was built for the Liverpool & Mediterranean Steam Shipping Co. and in the Autumn of 1864 was lost off the Portuguese coast in fog.

MILAN was built in 1855 by J. Reid & Co. at Port Glasgow with a tonnage of 1083grt, a length of 240ft 2in, a beam of 31ft 2in.and a service speed of 10 knots. Similar to the Corinthian she was built for the Liverpool & Mediterranean Steam Shipping Co. and remained with company until 1871 when she was sold to W. Brown, Atkinson & Co. of Hull. In 1877 she was lengthened to 286ft and given a compound engine by Earle’s Co. of Hull. She emerged from her modernisation with thin funnels abreast of each other, each serving one boiler. She sank in shallow water following a collision in 1907 and was later refloated and sold to French breakers who demolished her in the following year.

BRAGANZA was built in 1856 by Smith & Rodger at Middleton Yard , Glasgow with a tonnage of 507grt, a length of 180ft 6in, a beam of 25ft 2in.and a service speed of 9 knots. She was built for trading to the smaller Portuguese and Atlantic coast Spanish ports and was lost near Leixoes in 1869.

DANUBE (2) was built in 1856 by Smith & Rodger at Middleton Yard , Glasgow with a tonnage of 1386grt, a length of 257ft 2in, a beam of 34ft 6in.and a service speed of 8 knots. She was built for Bibby but operated by the Liverpool & Mediterranean Steam Shipping Co. In 1873 she was taken over by Frederick Leyland & Co. but only until the following year when she was sold to Robert Sloman of Hamburg who converted into the sailing ship Charles Dickens. She was acquired by A. P. Ulriksen of Mandel, Norway in 1897 and broken up in 1909.

RHONE (2) was built in 1856 by Smith & Rodger at Middleton Yard , Glasgow with a tonnage of 1387grt, a length of 257ft 2in, a beam of 34ft 6in.and a service speed of 8 knots. Sister of the Danube she was completed for Bibby but operated by the Liverpool & Mediterranean Steam Shipping Co., replacing the Rhone (1). She was transferred to Frederick Leyland & Co. in 1873 and was lost in the Atlantic in the following year.

CRIMEAN was built in 1857 by Smith & Rodger at Middleton Yard , Glasgow with a tonnage of 1475grt, a length of 256ft, a beam of 36ft and a service speed of 8 knots. Sister of the Danube she was built for the Levant Screw Steam Shipping Co. of Liverpool, acquired by Bibby in 1859 and sold to Frederick Leyland & Co. in 1873. She was sold to Robert Sloman of Hamburg in1874, converted into the sailing ship Fritz Reuter and was lost at sea in 1898.

MEANDER was built in 1856 by George Kelson Stothert & Co at Bristol with a tonnage of 974grt, a length of 239ft, a beam of 27ft 8in.and a service speed of 8 knots. She was built for James Moss & Co. of Liverpool and, together with her sisters Scamander and Araxes, was chartered to the French Government for trooping during the Crimean War as the Meandre. Acquired by Bibby’s in 1857 she was renamed Meander although the French and Lloyds Register continued to refer to her as the Meandre. In 1868she was sold to Cie Generale Maritime of Antwerp who changed her name to Baron Lambermont, and acquired by E. Caillol et H. Saint-Pierre of Marseilles in 1877 when she was renamed Orient. She was deployed on a service to Corsica when she carried 10 passengers and 700 troops in the ‘tween decks. In 1885 she was equipped with a compound engine by Fraissenet & Cie of Marseilles which increased her tonnage to 1023grt. By 1910 she was carrying only cargo to Algeria and was broken up in that year.

BOETIA was built in 1855 by T. D. Marshall & Co at South Shields with a tonnage of 950grt, a length of 220ft 1in, a beam of 22ft 7in.and a service speed of 8 knots. She was completed as the Boetia for J. Dudgeon of London for trading to the Mediterranean and sold to Basilio Papayanni of Liverpool in 1858 who retained her name. J. Bibby & Sons acquired her in 1859 and she remained with the company until 1864 when she was sold to the West India & Pacific Steam Navigation Co. of Liverpool. Renamed Barbadian she was lost on the Blackwater Bank off Wexford in December 1865.

IONIA was built in 1856 by T. D. Marshall & Co at South Shields with a tonnage of 1388grt, a length of 244ft 5in, a beam of 32ft 1in.and a service speed of 8 knots. A slightly larger version of the Boetia she was built for Papayanni Bros. She was acquired by Bibby in 1861 to improve the service to the Levant ports and called at Alexandria when inbound to load cotton. In 1870 she was sold to the Anglo-Egyptian Navigation Co. of Liverpool and in 1872 was lengthened to 303ft and equipped with a compound engine and new boilers which increased her tonnage to 1758grt. She was lost in estuary of the River Congo in December 1875.

CAIRO was built in 1857 by T. D. Marshall & Co at South Shields with a tonnage of 1465grt, a length of 256ft 2in, a beam of 35ft 5in.and a service speed of 8 knots. She was built as the Fred Chapple for Fred Chapple & Co. and acquired by Bibby for the Levant cotton trade in 1859. She traded as the Cairo for the company until 1873 when she was sold to Frederick Leyland & Co. Too old and surplus to requirements she was sold in the following year to T. H. Johnson of Liverpool who converted her into a three masted sailing ship. Still trading as the Cairo she was posted as missing in 1876.

MELBOURNE was built in 1846 at Moncton, New Brunswick with a tonnage of 1212grt, a length of 138ft 7in and a beam of 22ft 11in. Built in wood and ship rigged she was acquired by John Bibby, Sons & Co. in 1858 and was their final and largest sailing ship. She ended her career in 1870 as a coaling hulk at Gibraltar.

VENETIAN was built in 1859 by E. J. Harland at Belfast with a tonnage of 1507grt, a length of 175ft 5in, a beam of 34ft and a service speed of 8 knots. The first ship to be built at the yard of E. J. Harland, who was later to join forces with Gustav Wolff as Harland & Wolff, she was launched on 30th July 1859 and delivered to J. Bibby & Sons on 14th August. She was one of three ships built for chartering to P&O who were experiencing a boom following the completion of the railway from Alexandria to Port Suez which eliminated the camel trek across the desert.. When the Suez Canal was opened in 1869 P&O able to sail directly from the United Kingdom to Australia and, consequently, the future of the three Bibby ships, which up until then had serviced the UK to Alexandria route, was put into doubt. Too small for anything other than Mediterranean services she was, in 1872, lengthened to 270ft 4in and, at the same time, had a compound engine installed by J. Jack Rollo & Co. of Liverpool. In the following year she was sold to Frederick Leyland & Co. and five years later, in 1878, was chartered to Elder, Dempster for their African services. She was acquired in 1880 by the African Steam Ship Co. who renamed her Landana for management by Elder, Dempster and was re-engined and reboilered by G. Forrester & Co. of Liverpool, a modernisation which increased her tonnage to 1568grt. In December 1885, outbound for West Africa, she collided with and sank a Mersey pilot cutter. She was acquired by E. Gerard of Valparaiso in 1891 who changed her name to Tarapaca and in 1894 she was re-registered to E. Gerard & B. Squella of Valparaiso. In July 1894 she was wrecked on the coast of Chile after sailing from Valparaiso. (Photo: From a painting by William Clark)

SICILIAN was built in 1860 by E. J. Harland at Belfast with a tonnage of 1492grt, a length of 175ft 5in, a beam of 34ft and a service speed of 8 knots. Sister of the Venetian she was launched on 12th November 1860 and delivered to J. Bibby & Sons on 24th November. Chartered to P&O she operated the same route as her sisters, was lengthened and equipped with a compound engine in 1872 and sold to Frederick Leyland & Co. in 1873. In 1878 she was chartered to the African Steam Ship Co. and acquired by the company and renamed Mayumba in 1880, commencing her first sailing on 13th November of that year. She hit and sank R. Gayner’s barque Severn off Madeira in 1881. Acquired by C. R. Gillchrist of Liverpool in 1882 she ended her career in the following year when she caught fire when at Arzue in Algeria. The ships was scuttled but declared a total loss. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

SYRIAN was built in 1860 by E. J. Harland at Belfast with a tonnage of 1492grt, a length of 175ft 5in, a beam of 34ft and a service speed of 8 knots. Sister of the Venetian she was launched on 26th March 1860 and delivered on the 1st April. When her charter to P&O was terminated in 1868 she was transferred to the Portugal route to replace the Calpe. In 1869, during a voyage from Corunna to Lisbon, she was wrecked after being blown ashore in Corcubion Bay near Cape Finisterre.

GRECIAN was built in 1861 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 1854grt, a length of 310ft, a beam of 34ft and a service speed of 8 knots. The first ship built for Bibby after the formation of Harland & Wolff she was launched on 12th January 1861 and delivered on 30th January. Together with her sister, the Italian, she was built for the New Orleans cotton trade but with the outbreak of the American Civil War was transferred to the Mediterranean. Her engine was compounded by J. Jack Rollo of Liverpool in 1870 and in 1873 she disappeared at sea.

ITALIAN was built in 1861 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 1854grt, a length of 310ft, a beam of 34ft and a service speed of 8 knots. Sister of the Grecian she was launched on 27th March 1861 and delivered for immediate service to the Levant on 13th April. In 1869 she was wrecked after grounding in fog on Cape Finisterre.

EGYPTIAN was built in 1861 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 2086grt, a length of 335ft, a beam of 34ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. Launched on 23rd July 1861 she was completed for J. Bibby, Sons & Co. on 11th August. Twenty five feet longer than the ‘Grecian’ pair but with the same breadth and depth she was the first of the Harland & Wolff ‘long ships’. Initially thought to be unsafe, they were nicknamed ‘Bibby’s coffins’ but, at the end of the day, they turned out to be highly economical and good seaboats. So much so that other shipowners were encouraged to lengthen their ships in a similar manner. On 1st January 1873 she was acquired, with the rest of the Bibby fleet, by Frederick Leyland & Co. In 1879 she was given a compound engine by G. Forrester of Liverpool and, at the same time, her masts were reduced from three to two. Ten years later she was reboilered at Liverpool during her winter overhaul. On 25th April 1901 John Pierpoint Morgan purchased the fleet of Frederick Leyland (1900) but he had no use for the Mediterranean traders nor the vessels serving Canada from the Continent. Consequently, the Mediterranean ships were sold to the London, Liverpool & Ocean Shipping Co. which, being owned by John Ellerman, was renamed Ellerman Lines Ltd on 31st December of the same year. On 1st January 1902 the fleet was placed under the management of Frank Swift but the Egyptian, being surplus to requirements, was broken up early in 1903.

DALMATIAN was built in 1861 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 1989grt, a length of 335ft, a beam of 34ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Egyptian she was launched on 19th November 1861 and delivered for the Mediterranean and Black Sea services in the following December. After eleven years service she was, in 1872, wrecked on Bardsey Island in North wales.

ARABIAN was built in 1862 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 2066grt, a length of 335ft, a beam of 34ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Egyptian she was launched on 15th April and immediately after being delivered to John Bibby, Sons & Co. on 2nd May went to Greenock where a low pressure cylinder was added by McNab & Co. to compound her engine. This addition gave her three cylinders and in 1871 a fourth high pressure cylinder was added to ‘double’ compound her. On 1st January she was acquired by Frederick Leyland & Co. with the rest of the fleet. JP Morgan purchased her on 25th April 1901 and sold her in the same year to John Ellerman’s, London, Liverpool & Ocean Shipping Co. Too old to be of use, when the Ellerman fleet was placed under the management of Frank Swift, she was broken up in 1902. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

CASTILIAN was built in 1862 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 635grt, a length of 240ft, a beam of 24ft and a service speed of 10 knots. A smaller version of the ‘Egyptian’ class she was launched on 10th May 1862 and completed for John Bibby, Sons & Co’s Iberian peninsular services in the following July. On 1st January she was acquired by Frederick Leyland & Co. with the rest of the fleet. JP Morgan purchased her on 25th April 1901 and sold her in the same year to John Ellerman’s, London, Liverpool & Ocean Shipping Co. When the Ellerman fleet was placed under the management of Frank Swift in 1902 she was surplus to requirements and subsequently broken up at Garston.

CATALONIAN was built in 1862 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 635grt, a length of 240ft, a beam of 24ft and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Castilian she was launched on 15th July 1862 and delivered for John Bibby, Sons & Co’s Iberian peninsular services on 2nd August. In 1863 she became the company’s steam ship loss when she was wrecked.

PERSIAN was built in 1863 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 2137grt, a length of 361ft 10in, a beam of 34ft and a service speed of 9 knots. Launched on 21st January 1863 and delivered in the February she was an extreme long version of the 34ft beam series which began with the Venetian. Her narrowness was emphasised by her straight stemmed bow, Bibby’s first, but she was considered to be too narrow and subsequent ships were given a broader beam. On 1st January 1873 she was purchased by Frederick Leyland & Co. with the rest of the fleet. In 1879 she was compounded by J. Jack Rollo which increased her service speed to 10 knots. On 24th May 1880 she made the first sailing from Liverpool to Boston and in the same year acted as a reserve steamer. JP Morgan purchased her on 25th April 1901 with the rest of the Leyland fleet and sold her in the same year to John Ellerman’s, London, Liverpool & Ocean Shipping Co. When the Ellerman fleet was placed under the management of Frank Swift in 1902 she was surplus to requirements and subsequently broken up at Genoa in July of the same year.

DOURO (2) was built in 1864 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 556grt, a length of 195ft 11in, a beam of 27ft 1in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was launched in November 1864 and delivered to J. Bibby, Sons & Co on 21st November for their Iberian peninsular services. Compounded by G. Forrester & Co. in 1871 she was sold to Frederick Leyland & Co. on 1st January 1873. In 1875 she was renamed Alcira and later in that decade Camilla C and then Camilla for her owner O. Conte of Genoa. She was sold to P. Milesi of Genoa in 1892 who retained her name but when she was acquired by A. A. Vagliano fils of Argostoli in 1894 her name was changed to Cephalonia. Five years later she was sold to A. I. Diakakis of Argostoli and in 1910 ownership was recorded as being with La Navigation Hellenique with A. I. Diakakis as manager. She was sold yet again in 1913 to Cie de Nav. a Vapeur ‘Ermopolis’ of Syra, with E. A. Foustanos as manager, and renamed Nilos. In 1914 she was requisitioned by the Italian Government for use by the State Railways as a collier. She returned to the commercial ownership of N. J. Eustathiadis of Piraeus in 1920 as the Nilos and was broken up in Greece during 1927.

ISTRIAN was built in 1867 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 2930grt, a length of 390ft, a beam of 37ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. The first of three sisters she was launched on 9th March 1867 and delivered to Bibby’s on 21st April. She was fitted with a lifting screw to reduce drag when solely under sail but this was not a success and few other ships were so equipped. On 1st January 1873 she was purchased by Frederick Leyland & Co. with the rest of the fleet and on 25th March 1876 made her first sailing from Liverpool to Boston. She was compounded by G. Forrester & Co. of Liverpool in 1877 and sold to J. Glynn & Son of Liverpool in 1889. In 1894 she was sold to Furness, Withy & Co., one of twenty ships acquired by that company for their charter operation. Together with some of the acquisitions ,the Istrian was hardly used and subsequently broken up at Garston in 1895. (From a painting by Samuel Walters)

IBERIAN was built in 1867 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 2890grt, a length of 390ft, a beam of 37ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Istrian, she was launched on 4th June 1867 and delivered to Bibby’s in the following July. Acquired by Frederick Leyland & Co. on 1st January 1873 she made her first sailing from Liverpool to Boston on 11th March 1876. In 1878 she had a new compound engine installed by G. Forrester & Co. of Liverpool and on 21st November 1885 was wrecked on the south coast of Ireland without any loss of life.

ILLYRIAN was built in 1867 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 2931grt, a length of 390ft, a beam of 37ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Istrian she was launched on 31st August 1867 and delivered to Bibby’s for the Mediterranean trade on 25th September. She was purchased by Frederick Leyland & Co. on 1st January 1873 and on 8th April 1876 joined the Liverpool to Boston service. In 1878 she was compounded by G. Forrester & Co. and on 15th May 1884 she was wrecked on Cape Clear, Ireland in fog with no loss of life.

CAMEL was built in 1868 at Dumbarton with a tonnage of 33grt, a length of 50ft 8in, and a beam of 13ft 1in. Details of her initial ownership are unknown but she was part of the Bibby fleet when it was sold to Frederick Leyland & Co. on 1st January 1873. In 1885 she was sold to foreign owners and, thereafter, all trace of her was lost.

BAVARIAN was built in 1869 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 3111grt, a length of 400ft, a beam of 37ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. The first of three sister which were and improved version of the ‘Istrian’ she was launched on 7th October 1869 and delivered for the Levant and Black Sea routes on 5th November. She was acquired by Frederick Leyland & Co. on 1st January 1873 and in 1877 was equipped with a compound engine by J. Jack & Co. of Liverpool prior to joining the Liverpool to Boston cargo service on 17th November of that year. In 1899 she was sold to J. Glynn & Sons of Liverpool and in 1894 was acquired by Furness, Withy & Co. for their charter operation. However, she was scarcely used and subsequently broken up at Preston in 1895.

BULGARIAN was built in 1870 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 3112grt, a length of 390ft, a beam of 37ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Bavarian she was launched on 17th February 1870 and completed on 20th May for the Mediterranean and Black Sea services. She was sold, with the rest of the fleet, to Frederick Leyland & Co. on 1st January 1873. In 1877 she was converted to a more powerful 2 x 2 cylinder compound engine by J. Jack & Co. In 1894 she was acquired by Furness, Withy for their charter operation but, as she was hardly used, was broken up at New Ferry, Mersey in 1895.

BOHEMIAN was built in 1870 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 3113grt, a length of 390ft, a beam of 37ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Bavarian she was launched on 16th April 1870 and delivered for the Mediterranean and Black Sea services on 29th May. She was acquired by Frederick Leyland & Co. on 1st January 1873 and in 1877 had a 2 x 2 cylinder compound engine installed by J. Jack & Co. On 2nd February 1881 she was wrecked near Crookhaven in Ireland with the loss of 33 lives.

OPORTO was built in 1870 by J. Reid & Co. at Port Glasgow with a tonnage of 565grt, a length of 201ft, a beam of 26ft 2in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was built for the Iberian peninsular trade to Lisbon and taken over by Frederick Leyland & Co. on 1st January 1873. In 1880 she was sold to Coverley & Westray of London for operation out of London on similar services to Spain and Portugal. Reboilered in 1882 she sank after a collision in 1892 and, although salvaged, was beyond economical repair.

ALBANIAN (2) was built in 1870 by Thos. B Royden & Sons at Liverpool with a tonnage of 1417grt, a length of 291ft 11in, a beam of 31ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. She was built for service to the Italian ports and taken over by Frederick Leyland & Co. on 1st January 1873. In 1877 she sank after being in collision off Great Orme Head in North wales.

LANCASHIRE (1) was built in 1889 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 3870grt, a length of 400ft 8in, a beam of 45ft 2in and a service speed of 14 knots. The first vessel built for Bibby Bros & Co. following the company’s return to ship ownership she was launched on 27th April 1889. Completed as a cargo ship with accommodation for twelve passengers she undertook her maiden voyage to Rangoon with one passenger in 23 days and 20 hours, a record which stood for many years. Bibby’s initially intended to include Burma only as an intermediate port on a service to further destinations but the profit earned on the maiden voyage indicated that the ship could be permanently deployed on the Burma trade. In 1891 she made Bibby’s first inbound call to the Victoria Dock in London where she unloaded part of her cargo. During the following year she was converted to carry 70 passengers and in 1897 she loaded cargo at London’s Victoria Dock for the first time. She was replaced by the Herefordshire (1) in 1905 and sold to the Danish East Asiatic Co. who renamed her Kina. In 1907 she was transferred to the Russian East Asiatic Co., a subsidiary, and made her first sailing from Libau to New York via Rotterdam as the Lituania on 4th July. She commenced her last sailing to New York on 1st April 1912 and, in the following year, was sold to Shosho Kisen K. K. of Dairen who changed her name to Daiten Maru. On 6th March 1918 she was torpedoed in the Mediterranean. (From a painting by Joseph Witham)

YORKSHIRE (1) was built in 1889 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 3870grt, a length of 400ft 8in, a beam of 45ft 2in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Lancashire she was launched on 27th July 1889, delivered on 10th October and undertook her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York for Anchor Line. As a short term measure it was the company’s intention to use the ships wherever they were required. In 1890 she was placed full time on the Burma trade and in 1891 she was converted to carry 70 passengers. Seven years later, in 1897, she was replaced by the Derbyshire (1), became a reserve steamer and made available for short term charters. On 8th September 1898 she was chartered to the Dominion Line for five round voyages from Liverpool to New York. In October 1899 she became Boer War Transport No.14 and was the first ship of over a dozen ships to sail for Cape Town carrying the Lancashire Fusiliers. She was sold to the East Asiatic Co. of Copenhagen in 1905 and renamed Indien. Two years later she was transferred to the Russian East Asiatic Co. and made her first voyage from Libau to New York via Rotterdam on 16th June 1905 as the Estonia. In 1912 she was transferred by her owners to the Far East and on 16th January 1913 caught fire and was abandoned off Port Sudan. The drifting hulk was condemned and sunk with explosives on 23rd January. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

CHESHIRE (1) was built in 1891 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 5708grt, a length of 445ft 6in, a beam of 49ft and a service speed of 14.5 knots. She was launched on 6th June 1891 and when delivered on 3rd September the service to Burma became monthly. In 1900 she was requisitioned as a troopship for use during the Boer War. She was replaced by the Gloucestershire (1) in 1911 and sold to Lim Chin Tsong of Rangoon who renamed her Seang Choon. In 1915 she was requisitioned, once again, as a troopship and initially operated to the Dardenelles and then between India and the United Kingdom. She was taken over under the Liner Requisition Scheme in March 1910 and on 10th July of that year, during a voyage from Sydney, NSW to Liverpool via Dakar with a general cargo, she was torpedoed by U-87 ten miles southwest of Fastnet with the loss of 19 lives. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

SHROPSHIRE (1) was built in 1891 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 5721grt, a length of 445ft 6in, a beam of 49ft and a service speed of 14.5 knots. Sister of the Cheshire she was launched on 27th July 1891, delivered on 3rd October and was the first to be built with passenger berths. She was replaced by the Leicestershire (1) in 1909 and sold to Lim Chin Tsong of Rangoon who renamed her Seang Bee. Operated by the China & Southern Trading Co. with British officers and flag she had locals as her deck crew. In 1915 she was chartered for use as a troopship and operated between Indian and Burmese waters to the Persian Gulf and later in the Dardenelles campaign. There were reports of her being painted ‘chocolate brown.’ She returned to her owners in 1919 and was broken up in 1931. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

STAFFORDSHIRE (1) was built in 1894 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 6055grt, a length of 455ft 5in, a beam of 49ft 1in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. Financed by James Bibby she was launched on 7th December 1894 and had a funnel which was 52ft above the boat deck and, for the first time, was equipped with foredeck cranes. She entered service from Liverpool to Rangoon on 18th April 1894. In October 1899 she became the Boar War Transport No. 10 and was supplied with extra lifeboats abreast of her foredeck crane. She was replaced by the Oxfordshire (1) in 1912 and sold to Cie Sud Atlantique which had been founded on 8th February 1912. Renamed Samara she commenced her first sailing from Bordeaux to South America on 9th November 1912. In 1914 she was torpedoed and while she was being repaired was converted into an ambulance transport. She was chartered to Cie Generale Transatlantique for one voyage from St Nazaire to Panama before returning to the South America run in June 1915. The Sud Atlantique fleet was transferred to Chargeurs Reunis in 1916 and in April 1923 she loaded coal at Cardiff and proceeded to Genoa where she was broken up. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

DERBYSHIRE (1) was built in 1897 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 6635grt, a length of 452ft, a beam of 52ft 1in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. Sister of the Staffordshire she was launched on 21st July 1897 and completed in the following October. The last of the shorter bridge deck type, her arrival enable the service to Burma to have a sailing every three weeks in line with Henderson’s. In 1899 she undertook four round voyages from Liverpool to Boston for the Dominion Line commencing on 6th June. When the Oxfordshire (1) joined the fleet in 1912 she was reduced to being the reserve steamer. In January 1915 she was deployed as a troop transport operating to India and Malaya and in 1917 carried American troops to Europe. She became a full time troopship in 1921 when Bibby’s were given a Government trooping contract and began carrying military personnel to India and the Levant. In 1927 she was replaced as a troopship by the Dorsetshire (1) and was reduced to carrying cargo only. Still a coal burner, she was broken up in Japan during April 1931. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

JAMES J. BIBBY was built in 1902 by Grayson & Co at Garston with a tonnage of 176grt, a length of 120ft 2in, and a beam of 22ft. Brigantine rigged, she was built with Bibby funds as a sail training ship for the cadets on HMS Indefatigable which was anchored off Rock Ferry in the River Mersey. In 1917 she was equipped with twin screw auxiliary engines and, on 23rd February of that year, became ‘Q’ ship, Q 29, patrolling Shetland and Orkney waters. Armed with 1 x 4″, 2 x 12 and 1 x 3 pounder guns she was given the disguise names of Dargle, Grabbit and Peggy. When she was stopped by a U-boat in 1918 she inflicted so much damage to the submarine that it surrendered to an armed trawler off the Tyne. On 9th March 1920 she was decommissioned and returned to Birkenhead where she was laid up at Morpeth Dock. In 1921 she was owned by A. M. Anderson and in 1922 was sold to Lt.Cdr Sir Warden Chilcott who renamed her Reverie. In the following year her mooring was in the Hamble River, Southampton and she became the yacht Dolphin for the same owner. She was lengthened by 6ft in 1925 so as to accommodate new 2 x 4cylinder Bolinder diesels which were installed by White & Co. of Cowes. In 1945 ownership was recorded as being with E Casarano and after 1948 all trace of her was lost.

WARWICKSHIRE (1) was built in 1902 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7975grt, a length of 470ft 4in, a beam of 58ft 2in and a service speed of 15 knots. Launched on 28th November 1901 and completed in the following March she was the first Bibby ship to have tandem cabins whereby the inner cabin had access to a port hole via a narrow corridor. She was also the first ship to be propelled with 4 cylinder quadruple expansion engines and equipped with electric fans. During World War 1 she was only ship to remain on the Rangoon service although she was joined by the Lancashire (2) in 1917. On 10th April 1918 she was hit by a torpedo which blew a hole right through her bow but she managed to reach Bizerta safely. In April 1919 she resumed the Burma service but made two extended voyages to Australia with troops before returning to Burma to load for the inbound voyage. She was refitted by her builder in 1920 during which time she was converted to oil burning. In 1927 she was replaced by the Cheshire (2) and rebuilt for cargo work only with telescopic masts and a removable funnel top for passage in the Manchester Ship Canal. After a further five years service she was broken up in Japan during May 1932. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

WORCESTERSHIRE was built in 1904 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7170grt, a length of 452ft 4in, a beam of 54ft 4in and a service speed of 15 knots. Slightly smaller than her sister, the Warwickshire, she was delivered in September 1904 and, with her arrival, released the Yorkshire (1) and the Lancashire (1) for disposal. During 1914 – 16 she was used for trooping duties. On 17th February 1917 she ran into a minefield which had been laid by the German Armed Merchant Cruiser Wolf ten miles southwest of Colombo, struck a mine and sank. Two lives were lost and she was Bibby’s only WW1 loss. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

HEREFORDSHIRE was built in 1905 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7182grt, a length of 452ft 4in, a beam of 54ft 4in and a service speed of 15 knots. Sister of the Worcestershire she was launched on 31st August 1905 and completed on 29th November. When the First World War was declared she remained on the Burma run until 25th July 1916 when she was requisitioned as a hospital ship for 380 patients serving Salonika, Mesopotamia and East Africa. On 1st January 1918 she was decommissioned and on 4th February was narrowly missed by two torpedoes during her first Mediterranean convoy. When the torpedo tracks were spotted her Master, Capt.G. E. Millson, ordered the helm hard over and one engine to full astern which slewed the ship around. One torpedo passed under the counter stern missing by a foot or so and one of the torpedoes went on to hit P&O’s Sardinia. In 1920 she was refitted by her builder and converted to oil burning. She was rebuilt for cargo services only in 1929 and equipped with, in addition to modifications for transiting the Manchester Ship Canal, a heavy lift derrick on the foremast. In April 1933 she was laid up at Dartmouth and on 9th March 1934 left in tow bound for Clyde shipbreakers. On 15th March she grounded on Cardigan Island and was a total loss. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

BIBBY LINE

LEICESTERSHIRE (1) was built in 1909 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 8059grt, a length of 467ft 2in, a beam of 54ft 2in and a service speed of 15 knots. Launched on 3rd June 1909 and delivered on 11th September she made her maiden voyage from Birkenhead to Rangoon. In August 1914 she was requisitioned for trooping for the Indian Expeditionary Force and carried Indian and Burmese troops to the Persian Gulf before reverting to Bibby services in the following November. She was taken over under the Liner Requisition Scheme in March 1917 and served on the North Atlantic although two voyages were made for Bibby’s during that time. In 1918 she carried troops to North Russia to assist the White Russians before repatriating Australian soldiers. She was refurbished by her builders in 1919 during which time she was converted to oil burning. As with all conversions to oil the coal bunker forward of the funnel was converted into cargo space and derrick posts fitted to serve the hatch. In 1930 she was sold to the British National Exhibition Ship Co., renamed British Exhibitor, and refurbished for her new role by Cammell Laird & Co. of Birkenhead at a cost of £100,000. When the slump hit her owners went into voluntary liquidation in February 1932 and she was laid up at Southampton for a year. On 28th September 1933 she was purchased by the Cairo based Egyptian Company for Transport & Navigation and, as the Zam Zam, was deployed on their Egypt to Jeddah service. In May 1934 she was transferred to Societe Misr de Navigation of Alexandria without a change of name. Laid up at Suez in October 1939 she resumed service on the Alexandria – Cape Town – New York service in February 1941. On 21st March 1941 she left New York bound for Recife where she embarked 202 passengers and sailed on 9th April. At 0545 on 17th April, although a neutral, she was hit by 55 shells fired by the German raider Atlantis in ten minutes during which around 24 lives were lost. Seven hours later she was sunk with three bombs along the waterline. The survivors were taken aboard the Dresden which proceeded to St. Jean de Luz. It later transpired that the commander of the Atlantis, Bernhard Rogge, recognised her as a Bibby ship and decided that she was disguised as a troopship. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

GLOUCESTERSHIRE (1) was built in 1910 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 8124grt, a length of 467ft 2in, a beam of 54ft 2in and a service speed of 15 knots. Sister of the Leicestershire she was launched on 7th July 1910 and completed on 22nd October. On 11th July 1913 she represented Bibby’s at the Mersey Pageant. In August 1914 she was requisitioned for trooping duties and in December 1915 was converted into the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Gloucestershire and served with the 10th Cruiser Squadron. She was deployed on ‘E’ Patrol between Shetland and Iceland with Royal Mail Line’s Ebro. In February 1916 she came under the control of the Minister of Blockade, Lord Robert Cecil. Decommissioned in 1917 she returned to trooping and on 2nd February 1936 arrived at Pembroke Dock where she was broken up by Thos. W. Ward. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

OXFORDSHIRE (1) was built in 1912 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 8648grt, a length of 474ft 7in, a beam of 55ft 4in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. Launched on 15th June 1912 and completed on 17th September she was the company’s last ship built with a counter stern. On 2nd August 1914 she was the first ship to be requisitioned for war service two days prior to the outbreak. En-route from Liverpool to London she was off the Isle of Wight and was ordered into Tilbury where she was converted into Naval Hospital Ship No.1 with 562 beds. Commissioned on 11th August she was sent to Scapa Flow as a base ship on 25th September but proved to be too large for the needs at the time and subsequently moved to the English Channel to undertake army hospital work. In April 1915 she was deployed as the base hospital ship at Mudros and was present during the ANZAC withdrawal at the Dardenelles, bringing off the wounded in her own boats. The victorious Turks respected the red cross and did not fire on them. She served in the Persian Gulf and German East Africa during December 1916 and in 1918 as a shuttle hospital ship in the English Channel. Decommissioned on 24th March 1919 she had made 235 voyages, steamed 172,000 miles without a single breakdown and carried 50,000 wounded, the highest of any hospital ship in the war. She was refurbished and converted to oil burning by her builder in 1920 and resumed commercial services. On 3rd September 1939 she was requisitioned, once again, for war time service and converted into Hospital Ship No. 6 with 500 beds at the Royal Albert Dock in London. Commissioned on 24th September she left London on 11th November bound for Freetown with 98 medical staff and 177 crew where she served as the base hospital ship. In September 1942 she was redeployed in the Mediterranean. After a refit on the Clyde in 1944 she was sent to the Adriatic where the Army’s Anglia had been damaged by mines and on 29th October was herself damaged by a bomb near miss during a voyage between Ancona and Bari. In November of that year she was sent to the Far East where she served the Admiralty Islands/Philippines and Australia. At one point she was loaned to the U.S. 7th Fleet for use during the taking of Okinawa. After the defeat of Japan in 1945 she was used to repatriate the wounded from Hong Kong and in May 1946 became an Army hospital ship to bring the sick home from the near and Far East. She also repatriated Indian troops from Basra to Bombay as well as making four North Atlantic crossings with refugees. In 1948 she arrived home with troops from Palestine and , on 19th July, was decommissioned at Southampton after carrying 22,321 casualties during the war, again the highest of any hospital ship. On 8th September of that year she made one one more voyage on charter to Jeddah with pilgrims before she was reconditioned by Harland & Wolff at Liverpool. In April 1949 she made the first sailing for the International Refugee Organisation to Australia with emigrants and in 1950 reverted to trooping duties between Trieste and Port Said. She finished trooping in February 1951 and on 13th April sailed from Liverpool as the Safina-el-Arab having been sold to the Pan-Islamic Steamship Co. of Karachi, their first passenger ship. Deployed on the Karachi – Jeddah Pilgrim service between June and October she spent the remainder of the year operating between Karachi and Chittagong. After 46 years of impeccable service she was broken up at Karachi in 1858. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

LANCASHIRE (2) was built in 1914 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 9542grt, a length of 482ft 4in, a beam of 57ft 4in and a service speed of 15 knots. Laid down in August 1914 her construction was delayed by the war and she wasn’t launched until 17th January 1917. She was completed in the following July, albeit in austere style, and sailed from Birkenhead to Rangoon in the August under the Liner Requisition Scheme. In November 1918 she commenced repatriating French prisoners of war and later Belgian refugees. Released from the Liner Requisition Scheme on 13th December 1918, in January 1919 she was deployed on trooping duties firstly from Antwerp and Plymouth to Australia and then from the United Kingdom to the U. S. A. In January of that year she grounded at Steenbank in Belgium and was refloated the next day. She was released back to Bibby’s in 1920 and whilst waiting to return to her builders in Belfast was placed on the Birkenhead to Rangoon service. Finished to Bibby standards and converted to oil burning during 1921 she then returned to troopship duties in the company livery. In 1923 she had a fire in her cargo when at Tilbury and then in 1924 she had a fire in her cargo of rice meal when she was approaching Marseilles. The fire was extinguished after 100 tons of rice was dumped overboard. On 28th April 1930 work was started at Camnmell Laird & Co. at Birkenhead to convert her into a permanent troopship to replace Ellerman’s City of Marseilles. Emerging with a white troopship livery she sailed from Southampton on 23rd December 1931 carrying the 1st Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. To delay her until after Christmas would have cost £400 per day but, to make amends, a full festive programme took place off the coast of Portugal. In November 1939 she was the commodore ship in a convoy which included the Devonshire and five British India ships sailing between Bombay and Marseilles with the first contingent of the Indian Expeditionary Force. On ‘D’ Day, 6th/7th June 1944, she acted as commodore ship for convoy ETP 1and sailed from the Thames to Juno Beach in Normandy in line ahead with the Cheshire, Worcestershire and Devonshire. In 1945 she was converted into a depot and store ship for the Pacific Fleet Train and in April of that year sailed from Liverpool with 500 technicians bound for Hong Kong where the engineers were used to restore public services and to get the dockyard operating. She then assisted with the repatriation of sick troops. In 1946 she was refurbished by Harland & Wolff at Govan into a peacetime troopship and trooped continuously to Cyprus, India and the Far East for the next ten years. In 1946 she was replaced by the Oxfordshire (2) and was broken up by Thos. W. ward at Barrow-in-Furness in the February. (From a painting by James S Mann)

YORKSHIRE (2) was built in 1920 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 10184grt, a length of 482ft 5in, a beam of 58ft 4in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. She was built as a wartime replacement in the quickest possible time and equipped with engines that were immediately available. Consequently, she was the odd ship in a fleet of reciprocating engines and during her trials experienced gearing problems. However, she was the company’s first ship to exceed 10,000grt. On 17th September 1939 she became Bibby’s first World War 2 casualty. She was proceeding in convoy from Gibraltar to Liverpool when, at 0836 and as commodore ship, she reported that they were resisting an attack from a submarine which then proceeded to submerge and shadow the convoy. At 1643 she was torpedoed by U-37 off the coast of France with the loss of 33 passengers and 25 crew members. The US steamship Independence Hall rescued 118 passengers and 160 crew and the submarine surfaced and, in English, thanked the American ship, which was still neutral, for rescuing the survivors. Ellerman Lines City of Mandalay was lost during the same attack. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

DORSETSHIRE (1) was built in 1920 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7450grt, a length of 450ft 4in, a beam of 57ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. One of a pair she was designed with higher than normal ‘tween deck clearance so that she could be converted into a troopship if required. When launched on 22nd April 1920 she was the largest motorship at the time and was completed as a tin ore carrying cargo ship. However, before completion the ore which was mined at Mamtu and Mawchi in Burma began to be refined locally so she was actually deployed as a general cargo ship operating between the UK- and Burma for Bibby Line and between the UK and India on charter to T & J Brocklebank. In 1927 she was converted into a permanent troopship by Vickers at Barrow in Furness as a result of which her tonnage was increased to 9345grt. She had accommodation for 112 1st, 58 2nd, 108 families in 3rd and 1450 troops. In September 1939 she was converted into HM Hospital Ship No.23 with beds for 493 patients and accommodation for 59 medical staff. On 31st January 1941 during s voyage to Tobruk to evacuate troops she was, despite her markings, attacked outside Sollum in Libya. Although the enemy had been advised that she was a Geneva Convention ships she was attacked again on 1st February. On 12th July 1943 she was bombed and received superficial damage when 13 miles from Cape Passero while supporting the Allied invasion of Sicily which had commenced on the 9th July. She was decommissioned on 8th March 1948 and rebuilt by Harland & Wolff to accommodate tourists, returning to Bibby Line in November 1949. On 11th December 1949 she sailed from Liverpool bound for Australia with 550 passengers and back in Bibby Line livery after 21 years. When the citizens at Adelaide wished to send food parcels back to Britain they were refused because of the cost of becoming a ‘cargo’ ship made the transit of the Suez Canal too expensive. With her sister she was used to repatriate Dutch civilians from Indonesia. During 1952 she was used as a hostel ship for workmen building the Little Aden oil refinery and on 12th May 1953 sailed from Liverpool with troops bound for Korea. She was laid up in the following August and broken up in 1954. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

SOMERSETSHIRE was built in 1921 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7450grt, a length of 450ft 4in, a beam of 57ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Dorsetshire she was launched on 24th February 1921 and her maiden voyage in the following May was on charter to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. on their North Pacific service which terminated at Vancouver. In 1927 she was converted into a permanent troopship with accommodation for 1300 men and her first sailing was to China in the following October. At the end of her return voyage in the December she was delayed for eight days by gales in the Mediterranean and her full complement celebrated Christmas at sea regardless of the inclement weather. In January 1928 she began trooping to Karachi which continued until May when she was laid up off Dartmouth. While she was trooping to China in 1931 she suffered an outbreak of influenza which affected 300 person but fortunately there were no deaths. In September 1939 she was requisitioned and converted into HM Hospital Ship No.25 with 507 beds, 118 medical staff and 171 crew. She was present at the withdrawal from Narvik in April 1940 and on 6th December of the same year was bombarded from shore as her launches brought of the wounded at Tobruk. In February 1941 she joined the Dorsetshire in evacuating the wounded from besieged Tobruk before a period of operation from the Red Sea to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand repatriating wounded soldiers. On 7th April 1942, in the Mediterranean and carrying no patients, she was torpedoed on the starboard side forward by U-453 with the loss of 7 lives. As she settled by the head and with a list her thirteen usable lifeboats took off the Royal Army Corps personnel and 114 crew members. The 64 medical staff and 2 stewardesses were put aboard a Greek destroyer and the crew reboarded her and managed to get her to Alexandria on the port engine and assisted by tugs. During 1944-46 she sailed all over the world as a hospital ship finishing up in the Pacific. In February 1948 she was decommissioned and rebuilt by Harland & Wolff with accommodation for 550 passengers. On 12th November 1948 she commenced her first sailing from Liverpool to Australia in Bibby livery with 500 passengers on assisted passages. During a voyage in 1952 she broke down in the Mediterranean and limped home on one engine. In 1953 she briefly returned to trooping to East Africa during the Mau Mau troubles and in 1954 was broken up by Thos. W. Ward and Barrow-in-Furness. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

SHROPSHIRE (2) was built in 1926 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 10550grt, a length of 483ft 7in, a beam of 60ft 2in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. Bibby’s first ‘Burma’ boat not built by Harland & Wolff she was launched on 10th June 1926 and delivered to the company on 7th October and was the lead ship of twelve from the Fairfield yard. The reason for the change was that Fairfield’s installed the more compact Sulzer engine which left more cargo space. In October 1939 she was commissioned as an Armed Merchant Cruiser and renamed HMS Salopian as there was already a cruiser with the name Shropshire. On 13th May 1941 she was torpedoed by U-98 when 300 off Greenland, southeast of Cape Farewell. The first three torpedoes fired by U-98 missed but two of the next spread and three of a third spread hit the ship. In all it took eight torpedoes to sink her. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

CHESHIRE (2) was built in 1927 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 10550grt, a length of 483ft 7in, a beam of 60ft 2in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. Sister of the Shropshire she was launched on 20th April 1927 and replaced the Warwickshire (1) in the July. By 1934 her log recorded that she had steamed 447,361 miles without ever having to stop because of engine trouble. She was inbound when the Second World War broke out on 3rd September 1939 and was ordered to Calcutta where she was converted into Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Cheshire. Armed with 6 x 6″ and Anti-aircraft guns she was used on North Atlantic patrols. On 14th October 1940, when west of Ireland, she was torpedoed in her No.2 hold by U-137 and although she was taken in tow by two rescue tugs she had to be beached at Carrickfergus. While she was there a German bomb dropped close to her but caused no damage. The Liverpool Salvage Association’s Ranger patched her up and she limped into Belfast before proceeding to Liverpool’s Gladstone Dock where repairs took six months. On 14th March 1942, when off Cape Town, she stopped the German raider Doggerbank which, being the captured Speybank of Bank Line, identified herself as the Levenbank and was allowed to proceed. Later, on 24th July, she took Lambert’s Temple Inn in tow and took her into Point Noire after she had shed her propeller. On 18th August she was torpedoed again in the North Atlantic by U-214 but managed to reach port and while she was being repaired was converted into a troopship. At 0930 on 7th June 1944 she arrived at Juno Beach, Normandy in line ahead with the Lancashire, Devonshire and Worcestershire with, between them, 10,000 troops. During 1945 she repatriated troops and on 25th September 1946 arrived at Gibraltar with the residents who had been evacuated to Northern Ireland in 1940. On 5th October 1948 she was returned to Bibby’s while at Port Said and returned to Liverpool where she was refurbished to carry 650 passengers. She commenced her first sailing from Liverpool to Sydney on 9th August 1949. She returned to trooping on 5th February 1953 and carried military personnel during the Korean War. She ended her last voyage on 10 February 1957 and was laid up at Langton Dock in Liverpool. On 11th July 1957 she arrived at Newport, Monmouthshire where she was broken up by J. Cashmore. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

STAFFORDSHIRE (1) was built in 1929 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 10654grt, a length of 483ft 7in, a beam of 60ft 2in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. Sister of the Shropshire she was launched on 29th October 1929 and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Rangoon on 22nd February . When the Second World War broke out in 1939 she remained in commercial service from Birkenhead to Rangoon until April 1940 when she was requisitioned by the Ministry of War Transport for trooping between Southampton and Rangoon. On 28th May 1941 she was bombed three times by German Focke Wolf aircraft when she was 140 miles northwest of the Butt of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The ship had to be abandoned and most of the casualties, 14 passengers and 14 crew, were due to hypothermia after jumping into the near freezing sea. The undamaged lifeboats were so crowded that the survivors had to stand up holding on to each other for 10 hours. The passengers were transferred to the naval escorts and the crew eventually reboarded her and beached her on the coast of Scotland. She was towed to the Tyne where she was repaired and converted into a troopship for 1800 men. Her tonnage was marginally increased to 10701grt and she returned to service in January 1942. In August 1944 she took part in the South of France landings and in August 1944 was present at the invasion of Malaysia. Following that she was engaged in repatriating Russian and Italian prisoners of war. During 1946/7 she continued service as a troopship and was scheduled for decommissioning in 1948. However, due to the problems in Malaysia she carried the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards to Singapore before being returned to Bibby’s in November 1948. She was immediately sent to her builder and modernised before returning to the Liverpool to Rangoon service where she remained for ten years. On 4th July 1959 she arrived at Liverpool for the last time and, in the October, she was sold for demolition. Renamed Stafford Maru she made her last voyage from Liverpool – Casablanca – New Orleans – Yokohama and Osaka where she was broken up by Mitsui Bussan Kaisha. (From a painting by James S Mann)

WORCESTERSHIRE (2) was built in 1931 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 10453grt, a length of 483ft, a beam of 64ft 2in and a service speed of 15 knots. She was launched on 8th October 1930, completed on 5th February 1931 and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Rangoon on 6th March. When the Second World War was declared she was inbound from Burma and, in the November, was converted into the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Worcestershire, and deployed as a convoy escort in the North Atlantic. On 3rd April 1941 she was escorting a convoy which lost ten ships and she herself was torpedoed by U-74 but managed to reach Liverpool, taking 6 days to complete the 980 mile voyage. She return to service in the following November and was sent to the Far East for escort duties. In June 1943 she was converted into a troopship for 2000 men and in 1944 was at Southampton when she was selected for the Normandy ‘Neptune Landings’. To reposition to London, where she embarked her troops, for safety sake she had to sail via the north of Scotland. On 6th June she sailed from the Thames with the Cheshire, Lancashire and Devonshire to France where she landed her troops on the Juno Beach in Normandy. In September 1945 she was present at the re-occupation of the Malaysian Peninsular by Allied troops and continued trooping throughout 1946. In all she carried 80,000 troops without any losses. She continued repatriating troops form the Far East until October 1947 when she was returned to Bibby’s and her builder for modernisation. With her passenger accommodation reduced to 100 first class she returned to commercial service in January 1949 and continued until 1961 when she was sold to C. Itoh & Co. of Osaka. Renamed Kannon Maru for her final voyage she arrived at Osaka in the December where she was broken up. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

DERBYSHIRE (2) was built in 1935 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 11660grt, a length of 482ft 7in, a beam of 66ft 2in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. Bibby’s last four masted ship she was launched on 14th June 1935 and commenced her maiden voyage from Birkenhead to Rangoon via Marseilles and Colombo on 8th November. When the Second World War broke out she was converted into the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Derbyshire during November 1939. With her main and mizzen masts removed and her after mast reduced to a stump she was armed with 6 x 6in, 2 x 3in anti-aircraft and machine guns and deployed on Western Approaches patrols. She also acted as a convoy escort and covered over 156,000 miles in under two years. In 1941 she was decommissioned and converted into a troopship flying the red ensign. During Operation Torch in November 1942 she carried U. S. troops from Liverpool to Arzew Bay in Algeria and troop reinforcements to Mers-el-Kebir and Algiers. Later in that year she was converted into an LSI (Landing Ship Infantry) for the invasion of Sicily and equipped with 20 assault craft in two tiers under the davits with one ‘leader’ on deck. In 1943 she was part of ‘Force G’ and landed, at Pechino in two waves, first her commando force followed by Canadian troops onto the same beaches. On 22nd January 1944 she carried troops to the Anzio beaches and, in the following August, took part in Operation Anvil, the invasion of Southern France where she landed U. S. troops at Cap Camarat before returning to Liverpool to prepare for service in the Far East. In January 1945 she sailed for Bombay and Ceylon where, on 3rd September and as headquarters ship to General Mansergh she took the first troops back into Rangoon from where she proceeded to Singapore. Technically, she was the first Bibby ship to visit Burma after the war. On 5th September she was the first troopship to berth at Singapore and the surrender of the Japanese Garrison was controlled from her. As many as possible freed Allied prisoners of war being taken aboard where they were tended and fed while awaiting the arrival of other ships. During 1946 she continued trooping and repatriated military personnel from the Far East. Throughout her wartime service she carried some 136,000 troops and steamed 330,000 miles. Returned to Bibby’s in November 1947 she was refurbished for the Burma service where she remained until 1964 when a scheme to convert her into an exhibition ship failed to materialise. As a result she was broken up in the Far East. (From a painting by James S Mann)

DEVONSHIRE (1) was built in 1939 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 11275grt, a length of 516ft 10in, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 16 knots. A near sister to British India’s Dunera she was launched as a permanent troopship on 20th December 1938 with accommodation for 104 1st Class, 90 2nd Class passengers and 1150 troops. On 8th July 1939 she was laid up at Dartmouth to await the trooping season and on 17th August sailed from Southampton to India. From there she spent four and a half years trooping in the Far East, Australia, South Africa and the Mediterranean before returning to the United Kingdom. In 1943 she was converted into an LSI (Landing Ship Infantry) at Suez and acted as the Command Operations Ship during the invasion of Sicily and as an assault ship at the Salerno landings. When she returned to the UK in April 1944 she joined the Worcestershire, Cheshire and Lancashire at the ‘D’ Day landings on 6th/7th June and carried troops from the River Thames to the Juno Beach in Normandy. After the war in Europe ended she then carried troops to Malaysia and Korea. In February 1951, en route to Gibraltar and in a gale in the Bay of Biscay, her engines were put out of action when a spare piston rod broke loose. She broached to and rolled to 45% before power was restored. A previously sent ‘Mayday’ signal was cancelled and so much crockery was smashed that it was difficult to feed the troops onboard. She was refitted by her builder in April 1953 when hammocks were replaced by two tier metal bunks and, on completion, was chartered to the Sea Transport Division of the Ministry of Transport to replace the Empire Pride operating from Southampton instead of Liverpool. Her refit increased her tonnage to 12773grt and altered her capacity to 130 1st Class, 96 2nd Class, 99 3rd Class passengers and 824 troops. In January 1962 the trooping contract was bought out by the Ministry of Transport and she was sold to British India for £175,000 to join the Dunera. Refitted by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow she was converted into an educational ship with accommodation for 190 1st Class, 96 2nd Class and 830 students and renamed Devonia. After five years in that role she arrived at La Spezia on 14th December 1967 where she was broken up. (From a painting by James S Mann)

HEREFORDSHIRE (2) was built in 1944 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 8158grt, a length of 471ft 7in, a beam of 64ft 2in and a service speed of 16 knots. Built as a cargo ship her specification included the provision for future conversion into a passenger ship should the trade warrant it.. When the Second World War ended she was the only Bibby ship on the Liverpool to Rangoon service until the Derbyshire joined her. In 1954 she was chartered to Port Line for ten years and renamed Port Hardy but reverted to Herefordshire in 1961. She was sold to Troodos Shipping & Trading Co. Ltd of London in 1969 and renamed Merryland. Two years later she was transferred to their subsidiary Cia Naviera Meritath of Limassol, Cyprus under the ownership of Cyprus Sea Cruises with the intention of converting her into a cruise ship. The project never materialised and on 2nd February 1973 she arrived at Kaohsuing where she was broken up. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)
WARWICKSHIRE (2) was built in 1948 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Govan with a tonnage of 8903grt, a length of 480ft 6in, a beam of 60ft 3in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. Launched on 14th August 1947 she was the company’s first single screw ship for 49 years and the first steamship for 27 years. She took 2 years to complete and commenced her maiden voyage on the Birkenhead – Burma service on 5th September 1948. Due to Burma being given Independence and the consequent emergence of local competition she maintained a declining service throughout her career with the company. In 1965 the passenger service was discontinued and, being unsuitable for other deployment, she was sold to Typaldos Bros’ Aegean Steam Navigation Co., who converted her into an overnight car carrying ferry which operated between Piraeus and Crete. Renamed Hania, although listed by Typaldos as the Chanea, her mast and derrick posts were removed and the well decks were covered over. In 1966 the Typaldos Bros. went bankrupt and she was consequently laid up with the rest of the fleet at Perama. She eventually deteriorated, became a derelict and was abandoned and scrapped. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

LEICESTERSHIRE (2) was built in 1949 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Govan with a tonnage of 8908grt, a length of 498ft, a beam of 60ft 3in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. Sister of the Warwickshire she was delivered for the Burma service in December 1948 and commenced her maiden voyage Birkenhead to Rangoon with a full complement of 75 passengers on 21st January 1949. During the inbound voyage she collided with Regent Oil’s Regent Jaguar at Suez. From 1952 she spent much of her time on charter to British India Line on their East Africa routes. In 1965, when the passenger service was discontinued, she was sold with her sister to the Typaldos Bros. of Piraeus who renamed her Heraklion. On 8th December 1966, during a voyage from Crete to Piraeus in a storm, she listed, took a heavy sea and, in moments, capsized near the island of Falconera. Out of 281 persons on board only 47 survived. The caused of the list was due to lorries or cars shifting and the instability of car ferries was therefore known, but not recognised, almost 30 years ago. (From a painting by Charles F Turner)

OXFORDSHIRE (2) was built in 1957 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Govan with a tonnage of 21619grt, a length of 609ft 5in, a beam of 78ft 3in and a service speed of 20 knots. When launched on 15th December 1955 she was Bibby’s largest passenger liner and troopship with accommodation for 1300 passengers. She entered service on 28th February 1957 at Liverpool on a 20 year charter to the Ministry of Transport at a time when trooping by air was becoming more popular than by sea. In May 1958 she made her final sailing from Liverpool before moving to Southampton which had become the sole trooping port. She made her final trooping voyage in December 1962 from Southampton to Malta before being laid up in the River Fal. The trooping contract was paid off by the Government in January 1963 and she was chartered to the Fairline Shipping Corp. of Liberia for six years and on 20th May arrived at Fyenoord N. V. at Schiedam where, for £2,300,000, she was converted into a passenger ship. During the conversion she was known as Conox, an abbreviation of Conversion Oxfordshire. In March 1964, during the conversion, she was purchased by the Societa Italiana Trasporti Marittimi S.p.A. (Sitmar Cruises) who renamed her Fairstar. After she was handed over she went to Harland & Wolff at Southampton in the April where she underwent her final fitting out and furnishing. On 19th May she made her first sailing from Southampton to Brisbane. Nine years later, in 1973, she was converted into a cruise ship for sailings out of Sydney, NSW. On 1st September 1988 Sitmar Cruises was acquired by P&O Lines Ltd, with P&O-Sitmar Cruises as managers, for $210,000,000. P&O intended to rename her Sitmar Fairstar but this never came about. In 1991 she was transferred to the Fairstar Shipping Corp. of Monrovia and put under the management of P&O Holidays Pty Ltd of Australia. In June of that year, when cruising out of Singapore with 1130 passengers and following an overhaul, she broke down as a result of a generator failure and had to be towed into Vung Tau. The passengers who had joined her in Singapore were flown back to Sydney and Ho Chi Min City. On 21st January 1997 she sailed out of Sydney Harbour on her last cruise having cruised more than 2,000,000 miles and passing the Sydney Opera House more than 1100 times. She was subsequently renamed Ripa and broken up at Alang where she arrived on 10th April 1997. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

SHROPSHIRE (3) was built in 1959 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Govan with a tonnage of 7244grt, a length of 490ft 11in, a beam of 63ft 10in and a service speed of 17 knots. A cargo ship she was delivered in April 1959 and when not in service on the Burma route was chartered out. After 13 years service she was sold to Lefkonia Cia. Naviera S. A. of Panama and renamed Argiro. Two years later, in 1974, her port of registry was changed to Piraeus with the same name and owners.. On 26th October 1981 she was laid up at Piraeus and in 1984 her owners changed her name to Naftilos and her port of registry to Malta. Later in that year ownership was passed to Naftilos Shipping Ltd of Valetta for one voyage only. On 6th March 1985 she unloaded her cargo at Chittagong and then proceeded to Tulatali where she was broken up by S. H. International. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

CHESHIRE (3) was built in 1959 by Cammell Laird & Co. at Birkenhead with a tonnage of 7201grt, a length of 490ft 11in, a beam of 63ft 10in and a service speed of 17 knots. Sister of the Shropshire she was launched on 23rd April 1959 and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Burma on 10th March before spending much of her time on charter. She was sold on 7th June 1968 at Hamburg to Messageries Maritimes who renamed her Mozambique for service to the east coast of Africa and Madagascar. On 17th April 1970 she assisted in the rescue of the crew of the Liberian tanker Silver Cloud which had split in two following an explosion and in September 1974 she evacuated several hundred civilians who were trapped by fighting during the Mozambique civil war. Sold to Pacific International Lines Pte. of Singapore on 9th September 1976 she was renamed Kota Mewah and eight years later, on 24th August 1984, she arrived at Kaohsuing where she was broken up. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

YORKSHIRE (3) was built in 1960 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Govan with a tonnage of 7218grt, a length of 490ft 11in, a beam of 63ft 10in and a service speed of 17 knots. Sister of the Shropshire she joined her sisters on the Burma service and subsequent charters to Avenue Shipping in August 1960. In 1963 she was chartered to the Indo-China Steam Navigation Co. and renamed Eastern Princess for that purpose. When she came off charter in 1964 she reverted to Yorkshire and went on charter to companies which included Clan Line and Cia Sud-Americana de Vapores of Chile – in their liveries. In 1971 she was sold for £1,000,000 to Bordagain Shipping Co. of Monrovia who renamed her Bordabekoa. Ten years later, in 1981, she was acquired by Douglas S. A. of Panama, later to become Inter Douglas S. A. in 1983, who changed her name to Sea Reliance. On 8th March 1984 she arrived at Bombay where she was broken up. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

LANCASHIRE (3) was built in 1963 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Govan with a tonnage of 8919grt, a length of 465ft, a beam of 65ft and a service speed of 15 knots. A cargo ship, she commenced her maiden voyage from Birkenhead – Rangoon – Continent – UK in August 1963 and was then made available for charter. In 1970 she was sold to Pargola (Shipping) Ltd of London and immediately resold to the Pan-Islamic Steam Ship Co. of Karachi who renamed her Safina-E-Haidar. On 8th February 1993 she arrived at Gadani Beach, Karachi where she was broken up. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

GLOUCESTERSHIRE (2) was built in 1950 by Vickers-Armstrong at Newcastle with a tonnage of 8827grt, a length of 470ft 10in, a beam of 63ft 2in and a service speed of 14 knots. A conventional cargo ship, she was completed as the Cingalese Prince (2) for Prince Line Ltd in September 1950. In April 1960 she was chartered to Shaw, Savill & Albion and renamed Bardic for the duration of the charter which lasted for two years. When she came off charter she reverted to Cingalese Prince until 15th January 1964 when, together with her sister the Eastern Prince, she was acquired by Bibby’s to replace the passenger cargo vessels Warwickshire (2) and Leicestershire (2) and renamed Gloucestershire (2). She remained with Bibby’s until 1971 when she was sold to Ferguson International Shipping Co. of Hong Kong who renamed her Cresco. A year later she passed to Ribble Ltd of Liverpool with Patt, Mansfield & Co. as managers, and sailed to Whampoa where she arrived on 17th September for demolition.

STAFFORDSHIRE (3) was built in 1950 by Vickers-Armstrong at Newcastle with a tonnage of 8827grt, a length of 470ft 10in, a beam of 63ft 2in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Gloucestershire she was completed as the Eastern Prince for Prince Line Ltd in September 1950. In April 1960 she was chartered to Shaw, Savill & Albion who temporarily renamed her Bardic. She was acquired by Bibby’s on 26th February 1964 and renamed Staffordshire. On 30th November 1970, during a voyage from Liverpool to Rangoon she put into Colombo with engine trouble and was sold there for £122,000. She arrived in Hong Kong in tow on 6th March 1971 and was broken up be Fuji Marden & Co. After she was disposed of there no longer any Bibby ships serving Rangoon.

WORCESTERSHIRE (2) was built in 1965 by Wm. Doxford & Sons (Shipbuilding) Ltd at Pallion Yard, Sunderland with a tonnage of 7412grt, a length of 507ft 2in, a beam of 67ft 2in and a service speed of 17 knots. She was delivered to Bibby Line Ltd for general charter work and in 1973 was transferred to Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd. In 1976 she was sold to Bordagain Shipping Co. of Monrovia for $4,600,000 and renamed Bordagain with Sir Ramon de la Sota Jr of the Larringa Group as manager. She was acquired by Pelagos Maritime S.A., with Intermarine Ltd. of Panama as manager, in 1982 and renamed Katrinamar. After three further years service she was broken up at Bhavnagar in India during 1985. (Photo: Bibby Group)

DERBYSHIRE (3) was built in 1966 by Wm. Doxford & Sons (Shipbuilding) Ltd at Pallion Yard, Sunderland with a tonnage of 7412grt, a length of 507ft 2in, a beam of 67ft 2in and a service speed of 17 knots. Sister of the Worcestershire (2) she was delivered to Bibby Line Ltd in February 1966 and transferred to Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd in 1973. In 1976 she was sold for $4,600,000 to Naviera de Transportes Chrysovalandrou S. A. of Panama and renamed Captain Lygnos for management by Lamda Servios Generales S. A. of Piraeus. She was renamed Chrysovalandrou in 1981 and on 24th November of that year, during a voyage from Piraeus to Poland, she caught fire in the engine room. On 26th November she anchored off Cartagena and her crew abandoned her and allowed her to burn herself out. The amidships was gutted and on 6th December she was towed into port and broken up by D. Franciscu Jimenez.

TORONTO CITY was built in 1966 by Wm. Doxford & Sons (Shipbuilding) Ltd at Pallion Yard, Sunderland with a tonnage of 5192grt, a length of 464ft, a beam of 63ft 7in and a service speed of 17 knots. She was delivered to Chas. Hill & Co.’s Bristol City Line for their Bristol to Canada service in January 1966 and transferred to Bibby’s when they acquired a controlling interest in the company in February 1971. With an ice strengthened hull and an advanced internal heating system she continued to operate the same service. After three years she was sold to Brandts (Leasing ) Ltd who renamed her Ilkon Polly. In 1980 she was acquired by the Threadneedle Steamship Co. of Monrovia who changed her name to Free Spirit and in 1982 she became the Panormos Horizon when she was purchased by Javelin Maritime S. A. of Panama, part of John J. Rigos Maritime Enterprises. She was sold to the ship disposal company Flowers Cove Shipping Co. S. A. of Panama and renamed Kanika III in 1985. Sold on to Dhirubbhai Shah & Associates she arrived at Sachana in India on 14th September 1985 where she was broken up.

COVENTRY CITY was built in 1966 by Wm. Doxford & Sons (Shipbuilding) Ltd at Pallion Yard, Sunderland with a tonnage of 5192grt, a length of 464ft, a beam of 63ft 7in and a service speed of 17 knots. Sister of the Toronto City she was delivered in July 1966 for the same owner and service. Acquired by Bibby Line Ltd in 1971 she remained with the company until 1974 when she was sold, with her sister, to Brandts (Leasing) Ltd and renamed Ilkon Dalio. In 1976 she was sold to Cie. de Nav. D’Orbigny of Rouen who renamed her Javron. Five years later she became the Bounty III when she was acquired by Cie Tahitenne maritime of Papeete and on 27th November 1986 she sailed to Kaohsuing where she was broken up.

WARWICKSHIRE (3) was built in 1967 by Wm. Doxford & Sons (Shipbuilding) Ltd at Pallion Yard, Sunderland with a tonnage of 7848grt, a length of 528ft 5in, a beam of 69ft 2in and a service speed of 17 knots. She was delivered in October 1967 for the charter fleet. In 1973 she was chartered to the Iranian Arya Shipping Lines S. A. who changed her name to Arya Bod. When she came off charter in 1974 she reverted to Warwickshire until 1980 when she was sold by Bibby Freighters Ltd to Furama Maritime S.A. of Panama who renamed her Furama. In 1984 she was renamed Sea Dragon when she was acquired by Dragon Hill Maritime of Panama and then Dragon Hill by the same owner. On 15th July 1985 she arrived at mainland China where she was broken up.

PACIFIC BRIDGE was built in 1967 by Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries at Aio with a tonnage of 44795grt, a length of 810ft 3in, a beam of 105ft 5in and a service speed of 15 knots. A Panamax bulk carrier ordered by Bibby Line Ltd in 1965 for the Seabridge Consortium she was launched on 27th October 1966 and delivered in January 1967. With an unmanned engine room she could carry ore provided holds 2 and 8 remained empty. In 1974 she was replaced by the Canadian Bridge, transferred from Bibby Line Ltd to Bibby Freighters Ltd and sold to Anthemis Shipping Co. of Monrovia who renamed her Petingo. She was subsequently transferred to Greek registry. In 1980 she was sold to Yick Fung Shipping & Enterprises Co. of Panama and, eight years later, to Petingo Maritime Ltd. of Vanuatu, retaining her name in both cases. On 30th June 1990, after loading iron ore at Saldhana Bay for China, she suffered heavy weather damage to her No.3 hatch which collapsed into the hold when 400 miles south of Durban, South Africa. Two days later off Richards Bay and down by the head her master sought permission to enter Port Durnford but, as she was too deep, was refused and sent to Durban. There, because of the risk of blocking the port, he was instructed to wait 50 miles off shore until the crew of 40 could be taken off. Further down by the head and only 5 miles off shore the captain, who was on his last voyage before retirement, ordered the engines to be shut down. On 3rd July the ship drifted ashore 4.5 miles from Durnford Point where she broke into four pieces and was lost. As a result, there was an argument at the way the ship had been denied a safe refuge.

ATLANTIC BRIDGE/DORSETSHIRE (2) was built in 1968 by Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries at Aio with a tonnage of 44842grt, a length of 810ft 3in, a beam of 105ft 5in and a service speed of 15 knots. Sister of the Pacific Bridge she was launched for Bibby Bros. Ltd as their contribution to the Seabridge Consortium on 26th March 1968. In 1977 she came off charter and in September of that year arrived for the first time at her home port of Liverpool where she was renamed Dorsetshire (2) by Bibby Freighters Ltd. After five years service she was sold to Sidonta Shipping Corp. S.A. of Andros in 1982 and renamed Perinthos. In 1987 she was acquired by Desoulta Shipping Ltd. of Piraeus who retained her name and, in 1989, by Savile Cia. Nav. S. A. of Panama who changed it to Deniz S. In the following year she was owned by Mosela Shipping S. A. of Turkey and in 1991 became the Miss Vicky when acquired by Scylla Maritime S. A. of Panama. She was sold to Eastern Spirit S. A. of Panama in 1994 and renamed Ivy V. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up.
WESTMINSTER BRIDGE was built in 1968 by Lithgows Ltd at Port Glasgow with a tonnage of 42202grt, a length of 805ft, a beam of 105ft 5in and a service speed of 15 knots. Sister of the Pacific Bridge she was launched on 19th September 1967 and delivered to Watts, Watts & Co.’s Britain Steam Ship Co. for charter to the Seabridge Consortium. Bibby’s took the company over in 1968 and with it came the Pacific Bridge. She was replaced by the English Bridge in 1973 and sold to Proteus Shipping Co. of Monrovia and renamed Proteus. In 1985 she was acquired by Philippine President Lines Inc. of Manila, renamed President Roxas and, after a further five years service broken up in 1990.

WILTSHIRE was built in 1968 by Swan, Hunter & Tyne Shipbuilders Ltd at Hebburn-on-Tyne with a tonnage of 10036grt, a length of 497ft 8in, a beam of 70ft 2in and a service speed of 16 knots. Launched on 16th April 1968 and delivered in the following September she was immediately chartered to George Gibson & Co. and had been built to their specification. She was Bibby’s first liquid gas carrier for propane, butane or anhydrous ammonia and her hull was doubled around the tanks which were suspended in expanded polyurethane foam as protection against leakage. Her maiden voyage for George Gibson & Co., part of the Runciman Group, was from the Tyne to Houston, Texas. In 1984 she was chartered to I. C. I. Australia and flew the Australian flag. She came off charter and reverted to Bibby’s in 1989. In 1991 management of her was transferred to Bibby International Services (IOM) Ltd under the ownership of Bibby Transport Ltd. She was sold to Arab Maritime Petroleum Transport Co. of Bahrain in 1995 and renamed Zallaq. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up.

OCEAN BRIDGE/GLOUCESTERSHIRE (3) was built in 1970 by Sumitomo Shipbuilding and Machinery Co. at Yokosuka with a tonnage of 66057grt, a length of 849ft 10in, a beam of 134ft 1in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. Bibby’s first OBO (ore, bulk, oil) carrier she was launched on 21st November 1969 and delivered in the following March for charter to the Seabridge Consortium. On 8th March 1971, during a voyage from Rotterdam and Pepel, she stopped off the coast of Spain to assist the British Tanker Co.’s British Comet which was taking water in her engine room. As the Ocean Bridge stood by there was an explosion in her No.9 hold which destroyed her pumproom and blew a hole in the starboard side forward of the bridge the size of a tennis court. A resulting fire destroyed the bridge superstructure and on 19th March she was towed into Huelva by the tugs, Pacific and Heros, both owned by Bugsier and Smit’s Hudson. On 25th April she arrived under tow in Gibraltar Roads where she was patched up and sent to Marseilles for dock repairs. She was subsequently towed to Scott Lithgow Drydocks Ltd at Glasgow where she arrived in the October to have her after section rebuilt. The repair which cost £2,500,000 was reputed to be the most expensive on a British merchant ship. In 1977 she was renamed Gloucestershire and in the following year sold to Sevenseas Navigation Transport Inc. of Monrovia who renamed her Oceanic Victory. She was owned by Chiu Lung Investments of Monrovia in 1984 who sold her to the Chinese Petroleum Corp. of Taiwan. Renamed Ocean Victory she was transferred to the Chinese Maritime Transport co. of Taipei who changed her name to China Victory. On 17th July 1986 she sailed from Tubarao bound for Kaohsuing where she arrived in the October to be broken up.

AUSTRALIAN BRIDGE/SOMERSETSHIRE (2) was built in 1973 by Sumitomo Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Yokosuka with a tonnage of 78257grt, a length of 872ft 9in, a beam of 144ft 7in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. An OBO carrier she was launched for Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd in January 1973, placed under the management of Bibby Bros. & Co. and chartered to the Seabridge Consortium. When her charter to Seabridge Shipping Co. ended in 1977 she was renamed Somersetshire. In the following year she was sold to Eddie Steam Ship Co. and renamed Enterprise Transporter. She was sold on to Atlantic Combination Carriers Ltd of London and then transferred to Cast Combination Carriers Ltd. in 1979 when her name was changed to Cast Puffin. Four years later she was purchased initially by Ivorush Ltd. and then by Chili Ship Holding Ltd who renamed her Chili. In 1986 she was acquired by Lexvale Ltd of Hong Kong who changed her name to Danmark and who, in the following year, sold her to K/S Finans-Invest VI A/S of Norway who renamed her Norman Hunter. After four years she was purchased by Ridgeway Maritime Inc. of Andros who reregistered her as the Leon. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

BERKSHIRE was built in 1970 by Doxford & Sunderland Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Sunderland with a tonnage of 19061grt, a length of 598ft 9in, a beam of 86ft 7in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was launched on 24th November 1969 and delivered to Bibby Freighters Ltd in September 1970. The first of a trio of ships, she was built as a car carrier with six removable decks which, when not in use, were stowed in container-like guides on the weather deck either side of the hatches. All of her 7 holds were strengthened for the carriage of ore and her wing tanks alternated between water (1, 2, 6, 7) and grain (3, 4, 5). When rigged as a car carrier she had capacity for 1900 medium sized cars. On completion she was, with her sisters, placed on a five year charter carrying cars between Japan and the USA and bulk cargoes on the return voyage. She was displaced by purpose built ro-ro car carriers in 1979 and converted into a bulk carrier only. She was Bibby’s last dry cargo carrier. In November 1983 she was sold to Takoradi Shipping Co. of Limassol. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

CHESHIRE (4) was built in 1971 by Doxford & Sunderland Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Sunderland with a tonnage of 19061grt, a length of 598ft 9in, a beam of 86ft 7in and a service speed of 16 knots. Sister of the Berkshire she was launched on 3rd September 1971 for the British Steamship Co. and delivered in January 1971. In June 1972, during a voyage from Hampton Roads to Yokohama, she had an explosion in a mast house which killed one and injured two crew members. With her sister she was converted into a bulk carrier during 1979 and in 1983 was sold to Ambersley Ocean S. A. of Panama who renamed her Maria. In 1985 her name was changed to Miss Maria when she was sold to Erotocritos Shipping Co. of Limassol. On 18th February 1986 she was laid up in the River Fal, supposedly under the care of Shipping & Produce Ltd of London, and returned to service in 1987. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up.

OXFORDSHIRE (3) was built in 1971 by Doxford & Sunderland Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Sunderland with a tonnage of 19061grt, a length of 598ft 9in, a beam of 86ft 7in and a service speed of 16 knots. Sister of the Berkshire she was launched on 14th December 1970 and delivered in the following May. She remained with Bibby’s until 1978 when she was sold before conversion to Marsenorio Armadora S. A. of Piraeus who renamed her Georgios Tsakiroglou for management by Cia Naviera S. A. She was sold to Pericles Marine Co. of Limassol in 1985, placed under the management of Navipower Cia Nav. and renamed Georgios T. In 1994 she acquired by Delcando Shipping Co. of Limassol who changed her name to Mike K. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up.

HEREFORDSHIRE (3) was built in 1972 by Doxford & Sunderland Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Sunderland with a tonnage of 7463grt, a length of 529ft 8in, a beam of 70ft 4in and a service speed of 16.5 knots. A general cargo ship she was launched for Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd on 16th February 1972. After ten years service she was sold to Brittany Shipping Corp. of Monrovia who renamed her Texas in 1982. Three years later she was acquired by Atlas Business Co. S. A. of Panama who changed her name to Brooklyn. On 5th March 1986, during a voyage from Kandhia in India to Roumania, her engine caught fire and she was towed into Karachi where she arrived on 13th March. Declared a constructive total loss she was subsequently broken up at Gadani Beach.

LANCASHIRE (4) was built in 1972 by Doxford & Sunderland Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Sunderland with a tonnage of 7463grt, a length of 529ft 8in, a beam of 70ft 4in and a service speed of 16.5 knots. Sister of the Herefordshire she was launched on 12th June 1972 for the general charter market. As opposed to operating as tramp ships where single voyages were brokered, the two sisters were deployed on longer time charters, responding to the seasonal demands of many worldwide cargoes. Many shippers preferred to charter as and when required rather than become shipowners with all the associated problems of tying up capital, finding crews as well as year round employment for their ships. In 1982 she was sold to Agincourt Shipping Co. of Monrovia who renamed her Virginia and in 1985 she was acquired by the Mediterranean Ocean Navigation Co. of Panama who changed her name to Antibes. She was sold again in 1986 to Tor Point Enterprises Inc. of Panama who changed her name to Amer Asha for management by the Amer Shipping Corp. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up.

DART ATLANTIC was built in 1972 by Swan, Hunter & Tyne Shipbuilders Ltd at Hebburn-on-Tyne with a tonnage of 31036grt, a length of 759ft 10in, a beam of 100ft 6in and a service speed of 23 knots. She was the first of three container ships capable of carrying the equivalent of 1556 20 ton containers of which 1100 were below deck. Of an all welded construction with much high tensile steel she was, at the time, equipped with the UK’s highest powered diesel engines. Her enclosed bridge and chartroom extended the full width of the ship. She was launched on 14th October 1970 for the Bristol City Line as part of their contribution to the Dart Container consortium to operate a weekly service, Antwerp – Southampton – Halifax – New York – Norfolk, Virginia. When she was delivered on 24th May 1972 Bibby’s had become the owners. The planned service proved to be unprofitable and she was taken over by C. Y. Tung’s newly acquired Furness, Withy & Co. in 1980 for operating the same route and with the same name. In 1981 the Dart Consortium was reorganised and she was transferred to Canadian Pacific Ltd on a demise charter and renamed C P Ambassador. Her owner was recorded as being Tricity Finance Ltd. of London. In 1985 she was renamed Canmar Ambassador by the same owner but operated by ‘Canmar’ (Canadian Marine Drilling Ltd) of Calgary and still on charter to Canadian Pacific. In 1988 she was owned by Channel Ltd and managed by BCP Ship Management Ltd of Bermuda. She was owned by Canadian Maritime Ltd in 1991 and managed by Canada Maritime Services still as the Canmar Ambassador. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

DART AMERICA was built in 1972 by Swan, Hunter & Tyne Shipbuilders Ltd at Hebburn-on-Tyne with a tonnage of 31036grt, a length of 759ft 10in, a beam of 100ft 6in and a service speed of 23 knots. Sister of the Dart Atlantic she was launched on 30th November 1970 for Tyndale Shipping, part of Clark Traffic Services of Montreal in which Canadian Pacific held a substantial share, and managed initially by the Bristol Shipping Line and then by Bibby Bros. & Co. She was never owned by either of the management companies. In 1981 Tyndale Shipping was taken over by C. Y. Tung’s Furness, Withy & Co. and she was allocated to Manchester Liners and renamed Manchester Challenger for their UK to USA/Canada service. She was transferred to Tynedale Shipping Ltd, part of the Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd of Hong Kong, in 1988 and renamed OOCL Challenge. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up.

DART EUROPE, the third of the trio was owned by Cie. Maritime Belge.

MONTREAL CITY was built in 1963 by Burntisland Shipbuilding Co. at Burntisland with a tonnage of 6623grt, a length of 440ft, a beam of 57ft 6in and a service speed of 15 knots. Costing £900,000 she was built under the Government’s ‘Shipbuilding Credit Scheme’ and financed with a £700,000 loan repayable over 10 years at 5% interest. She was delivered in January 1963 with an orange hull and masts for the Bristol City Line’s Canadian service. In 1972 she was absorbed by Bibby’s when they took control of the Bristol City Line and, as she was surplus to requirements, laid up at Barry Docks in December of that year pending her sale to Thai Maritime Navigation Co. of Bangkok. After fourteen years as the Nakornthorn she arrived at a Thai shipbreaker on 18th July 1986 for demolition.

HALIFAX CITY was built in 1964 by Burntisland Shipbuilding Co. at Burntisland with a tonnage of 6647grt, a length of 440ft, a beam of 57ft 6in and a service speed of 15 knots. Sister of the Montreal City she was built under the Government’s ‘Shipbuilding Credit Scheme’ for the Bristol City Line and completed in July 1964. Taken over by Bibby’s in 1972 she was surplus to requirements and laid up at Barry Dock in August of that year pending her sale to Thai Maritime Navigation Co. of Bangkok who renamed her Ratchaburi. On 24th March 1973, during her first sailing for her new owner, she caught fire while loading rubber for Japan and on the following day sank in Pattani Bay, Thailand.

ENGLISH BRIDGE/WORCESTERSHIRE (3) was built in 1973 by Swan, Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd at Haverton Hill, Newcastle with a tonnage of 76012grt, a length of 965ft 2in, a beam of 145ft 3in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. An OBO carrier she was launched on 25th September 1972 and delivered to Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd in March 1973 for deployment by the Seabridge Consortium as the English Bridge and later renamed Worcestershire when she reverted to Bibby management. After six years, in 1979, she was sold to Amroth Investments Corp. who renamed her Sunshine and in the following year she was acquired by Grimaldi Cia di Navigazione S.p.A. who changed her name to Murcurio. She became the Crystal Transporter when she was purchased by the Far Eastern Navigation Co. of Kaohsuing in 1983 and the Kowloon Bridge when she was acquired by Helinger Ltd of Hong Kong in 1985. On 18th November 1986, during a voyage from Seven Islands in Canada to Hunterston in the Clyde estuary, in position 51.13N 10.22W and in heavy weather, she reported cracks in her deck in front of the bridge. She made for the protection of Bantry Bay in Ireland where she remained until 22nd November when she continued her voyage to Scotland. The weather deteriorated and she lost her rudder. Shortly after midnight on 23rd November the crew were taken off by R.A.F. helicopters and on the following day she was blown ashore on the Stags in Eire. Before assistance could reach her, she broke her back and was lost

TENBURY was built in 1965 by Burntisland Shipbuilding Co. at Burntisland with a tonnage of 8459grt, a length of 462ft, a beam of 63ft 2in and a service speed of 15 knots. She was delivered to Alexander Shipping Co. on 4th October 1965 for management by Houlder Bros. & Co., both subsidiary companies of Furness, Withy & Co. In 1972 she was sold to Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd., with Houlder Bros. as managers but after only six months was returned to Houlder Bros. and put up for sale. In 1974 she was sold to the Boundary Shipping Co. of Hong Kong and renamed Al-Barat by her owners who had Saudi Arabian interests. She was acquired, in 1981, by the Arabian Maritime Transport Co. of Jeddah who retained her name. In 1984 she became the Sea Eagle when she was purchased by Byron Bay Shipping Inc. of Monrovia with Gulfcast Shipping Co. as managers. On 27th April, when off Bandar Khomeini (Bandar Shahpor) in Iran, she was hit by a missile and heavily damaged. She was taken into Bashir, condemned, and on 3rd December arrived at Port Alang where she was scrapped.

HAMPSHIRE was built in 1974 by Chantiers de France at Dunkirk with a tonnage of 32062grt, a length of 679ft 5in, a beam of 103ft 1in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. A liquid gas carrier she was launched on 30th July 1973 and delivered to the Britain Steamship Co. in January 1974 for operation Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd. As with all Bibby LPG’s her cargo was carried at atmospheric pressure at low temperature as opposed to other companies who carried their cargo at high pressure to keep the gas liquified. In both cases specialist equipment and stringent safety precautions are required. The ship, which operated on the Europe – Persian Gulf – Kuwait service, could be loaded in 14 hours and discharged in 18 hours. In April 1984 she was transferred to Hong Kong registry and, with the Cheshire, was placed with a new subsidiary company, the Britain Steam Ship Co. After five years she was, in 1989, sold to K/S Hermes, with Kvaerner Shipping A/S of Oslo as managers, who renamed her Hermes. She is currently owned by the Varun Shipping Co. of Bombay with the same name.

DEVONSHIRE (2) was built in 1974 by Ateliers et Chantiers de France Girande at Dunkirk with a tonnage of 32062grt, a length of 679ft 5in, a beam of 103ft 1in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. Sister of the Hampshire she was launched on 20th July 1974 and delivered to Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd in the following November. In April 1980, when she was off the coast of South Africa, a giant wave swamped her injuring 7 of her crew. She was transferred to Hong Kong registry in April 1984 but, unlike her sister, remained in the ownership of Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd. In 1989 she was sold to K/S Hermes, with Kvaerner Shipping A/S of Oslo as managers, and renamed Hemera. She is currently owned by the Varun Shipping Co. of Bombay and operating as the Maharshi Vishwantra.

SHROPSHIRE (4) was built in 1968 by Uraga Heavy Industries Ltd at Yokosuka with a tonnage of 14771grt, a length of 521ft 11in, a beam of 75ft and a service speed of 15.5 knots. She was launched for Christian Salvesen’s Orient Bulk Carriers Ltd in October 1967 and delivered as the Verdala in the following January. Managed by Harrisons (Clyde) Ltd of Glasgow she was Christian Salvesen’s first venture in bulk carrying. In May 1973 her ownership reverted to the parent company, Christian Salvesen Ltd.. Bibby Tankers Ltd of Liverpool acquired her as an investment in 1974 and renamed her Shropshire but due to her outstanding commitments management remained with Harrisons (Clyde) Ltd. She was sold to the Aidan Shipping Co. of Malta, with Harrisons as managers, and renamed Verdala. After only one year she was acquired by the Macosky Shipping Corp. of Piraeus who changed her name to Marcalan. In 1983 she was purchased by Ileg Cia Naviera S. A. and managed by Dirphys Marine as the Vasilakis. She was sold again in 1987 to Archipelagos Marine Co. of Limassol who renamed her S. V. Exi. On 16th April 1992 she arrived at Port Alang in India where she was broken up.

CANADIAN BRIDGE/BEDFORDSHIRE was built in 1974 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 65135grt, a length of 858ft, a beam of 133ft 9in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. A bulk carrier, she was built for the Britain Steamship Co., a Bibby subsidiary since 1967, and managed by Watts, Watts & Co. for the Seabridge Consortium. When she came off charter in 1977 she was renamed Bedfordshire and on 26th January 1978 she was laid up at Loch Strachan. On 8th September 1978 she was sold to Shell Tankers (UK) Ltd of London, renamed Tectus and made her first sailing from the Clyde to Richards Bay, South Africa where she loaded a cargo of coal for Hamburg. She was never converted to carry oil. In 1987 she was sold to the Philippine Transmarine Carriers Inc. of Manila who changed her name to Bocita and in the following year was acquired by Tianjin Ocean Shipping Co. of China (COSCO Tianjin) who renamed her Shou An Hai. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up.

YORKSHIRE (4) was built in 1975 by Swan, Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd at Newcastle with a tonnage of 60814grt, a length of 854ft, a beam of 133ft 8in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was ordered by the Maritime Fruit Carriers of Israel and purchased by Bibby’s on the stocks. Built in two halves, the fore part at Swan, Hunter’s dry dock at Hebburn and the after part, which was launched on 1st October 1974, at Walker, she was the company’s first oil tanker and delivered on 6th October 1975. By 1981 suitable charters had dried up and she was laid up in Norway until 1983 when she returned to service. In 1985 she was bareboat chartered for six years to the American Petroship partners for operation by York Marine Ltd. of Gibraltar as the York Marine. She was used as a storage vessel at the Mubarek oil terminal. Transferred to Bibby Bulk Tankers Ltd of Hong Kong in 1987 she was used as an oil storage hulk. On 18th April 1988 whilst being used as a storage hulk moored of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates she was attacked by Iranian warships and set on fire aft. Abandoned by her crew she was towed into Fujirah where the blaze was contained and extinguished. She was sold , as lies’ to Lamelosa Shipping Ltd of Limassol and renamed Martontree. During 1992 she spent some months laid up at Piraeus and on 28th August 1993 arrived at Port Alang where she was broken up. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

MERSEY BRIDGE/CAMBRIDGESHIRE was built in 1976 by Sunderland Shipbuilders Ltd at Deptford, Sunderland with a tonnage of 39427grt, a length of 748ft 5in, a beam of 105ft 11in and a service speed of 15 knots. Launched on 4th November 1975 she was delivered to Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd in the following March for charter to the Seabridge Consortium who, by this time, was experiencing difficulties. When she came off charter in 1977 she was renamed Cambridgeshire and placed on a tramping charter. In April 1979 she became the largest ship ever to use Hong Kong’s Whampoa dry dock. She was sold in 1983 to Capito Marine of Monrovia who renamed her Festival and, in 1988, to Tallowcraft Shipping Co. of Monrovia who changed her name to Eastray. In 1992 she was acquired by Sailor S. A. of Kingstown, St. Vincent and Grenadines and renamed Anemos. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up.

LIVERPOOL BRIDGE/DERBYSHIRE (4) was built in 1976 by Swan, Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd at Haverton-on-Hill with a tonnage of 91655grt, a length of 965ft 1in, a beam of 145ft 2in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. Launched on the 5th December 1975 she was the sixth and largest OBO built at Swan, Hunter’s Haverton-on-Hill yard. When she was delivered to Bibby Tankers Ltd in the following June for charter to the Seabridge Consortium she was the largest ship ever owned by the Bibby Group. On 12th June 1976, when lying off Flushing, her engine room was extensively damaged following an explosion, resulting in the deaths of crew members, R Prescott and M Biggams. When she came off charter in 1978 she was renamed Derbyshire and laid up at Stavanger for 12 months. On 11th July 1980 she sailed from Seven Islands in the St. Lawrence estuary bound fro Kawasaki with a full 165,000 ton load of concentrated iron ore pellets. She berthed at Cape Town on 6th August. Five weeks later, on 9th September, she reported her position as 25.19N, 133.11E, 230 miles southeast of Okinawa. Six hours after sending her position she reported, at 0930, that she was hove to in a severe storm and adding that she would be late arriving. She was never seen again and disappeared without trace with the loss of 42 crew members and 2 officers wives during typhoon ‘Orchid’. On 24th October an empty lifeboat was spotted by the Taiei Maru 700 miles away in the Luzon Strait. The Derbyshire became the largest British built and owned ship to be lost at sea. The subsequent enquiry blamed ‘Orchid’ but the families of the victims and the Trade Union believed that a design fault caused the ship to break in half before an SOS could be sent especially in view of the fact that a smaller ship, the Alrai, formerly Athelmonarch, had survived the typhoon. They based their belief on the fact that cracks had been found at Frame 65 in five similar bulk carriers built by Swan, Hunter and cited the fate of the ill fated Kowloon Bridge, formerly the English Bridge, which broke her back after drifting ashore in Eire. If it could be proved that the Derbyshire was lost due to a design weakness rather than an ‘Act of God’ then a claim for compensation, estimated at £60,000,000, could be lodged. In October 1987 a second enquiry declined to examine the design fault thesis as there was no evidence and no one had survived to testify as to what had happened. On 23rd January 1989 following a House of Lords decision the Wreck Commissioner issued a statement saying that the loss was unexplained and that there was no specific reason for the loss. However, the families of the victims and the Unions were not satisfied and in 1994 the International Transport Workers Federation financed an expedition which eventually found the wreck lying some 2.5 miles deep, 400 miles east of Okinawa. The Department of Transport appointed Lord Donaldson to review the new development and he concluded that a detailed underwater survey would cost around £2,000,000. Funded partly by Britain and partly by the European Union the survey was conducted in two phases during 1997 and 1998 during which 153,774 electronic stills and some 200 hours of high definition film was taken. By pasting together the individual photographs it was possible to produce, as a single picture, large expanses of the wreck in clear black and white images. With the new evidence to hand and in view of certain allegations made against the crew in the first enquiry the Deputy Prime Minister ordered, in December 1998, a full reopening of the formal enquiry in the High Court. The hearing commenced on 5th April 2000 and continued for 54 days during which time the evidence was fully examined. Mr Justice Colman concluded that ‘ On the basis of the condition of the wreckage and of the data derived from the model tests conducted at MARIN, it can be concluded with reasonable confidence that the initiating cause of the loss was the destruction of some or all of the ventilators and air pipes located on the foredeck by sustained green water loading over many hours in the course of Sept.8 and probably Sept. 9. Water was therefore able to enter the bosun’s store, machinery spaces and probably the ballast tanks in substantial quantities and, possibly to a minor extent, the fuel tank. The Derbyshire then developed a trim by the bow which, although imperceptible from the bridge, had the effect, as the bow dropped lower and lower, of accentuating green water loading on No.1 hatch cover as the sea conditions became more severe in the course of that day. By about 1700, those conditions had deteriorated so greatly that there was likely to have been green water loading in excess of the collapse strength of No.1 hatch cover. Once the hatch cover gave way, water would enter No.1 hatch, very rapidly filling the large ullage space above the cargo and thereby causing the ship to go still further down by another 3.7m. It is estimated that the filling of No.1 hold might take as little as five minutes or as much as 16.5 minutes. This flooding in turn caused the green water loading on No.2 hatch cover progressively and rapidly to increase until it exceeded the collapse strength of that hatch cover and water then entered No.2 hold. No.3 hatch suffered the same fate. At that point, the Derbyshire was irretrievably lost”. No blame was attached to the crew for the loss of the ship. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE was built in 1969 by Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (Clydebank Division) at Clydebank with a tonnage of 22189grt, a length of 633ft 6in, a beam of 90ft 2in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. Launched on 25th September 1968 she was built as the car carrier Volnay for Aidan Shipping Ltd of Glasgow with Harrisons (Clyde) Ltd of Glasgow as managers. Acquired by Bibby’s in 1977 she was converted into a cargo carrier by removing the car decks and renamed Northamptonshire. In 1980 she was sold to Hong Fat Shipping Inc. and renamed Andaman Sea for management by Yick Fung Shipping & Enterprises Co. Ltd of Hong Kong. She was acquired by Sea Friend Maritime Inc. who renamed her Argaman Sea in 1985 and in 1991 her name was changed to Milta when she was purchased by Milta Shipping Co. of Valetta with Pigassos Maritime Inc. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up.

STAFFORDSHIRE (3) was built in 1977 by Ateliers et Chantiers de Dunkerque et Bordeaux at Dunkirk with a tonnage of 41677grt, a length of 724ft 5in, a beam of 112ft 2in and a service speed of 17 knots. Launched on 11th April 1977 for Bibby Navigation Ltd she was a liquified atmospheric gas carrier capable of carrying four different liquids ranging from propane to anhydrous ammonia. She was delivered in September 1977 to United Gas Carriers Corp of Monrovia with Bibby Bros. as managers and was promptly laid up in the Clyde estuary where she remained for 20 months. In 1982 she was chartered to store liquid petroleum gas off South Korea. Her port of registry was transferred to Hong Kong in April 1984 but management of her was controlled from the Isle of Man. By 1989 she was carrying liquid butane/propane from the Middle East to Europe and in 1995 was the largest ship in the Bibby fleet. She is currently owned by the China Ocean Shipping Co. (COSCO) and operating as the Yuanda. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

LANCASHIRE (5) was built in 1972 by Seutelvens Verkstad at Frederikstad with a tonnage of 2527grt, a length of 289ft 2in, a beam of 45ft 6in and a service speed of 13 knots. She was built in 1972 as the Leiv Eriksen for I/S Leiv Eriksen of Oslo with Einar Bakkevig as manager. A liquified gas carrier she was acquired by Bibby’s in 1987 and renamed Lancashire. In 1989 she was sold to Weststar Shipping Co. of Nassau who renamed her Joule for management by Gazocean S. A. of the Bahamas. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up.

DORSETSHIRE (3) was built in 1980 by Nippon Kokan K. K. at Tsurumi Yard, Yokohama with a tonnage of 30875grt, a length of 718ft 6in, a beam of 106ft 8in and a service speed of 15 knots. A petroleum mixed products tanker with 7 pumps she was launched on 14th March 1980 as the Freeport Chief for Horn Shipping Inc. with Anders Jahre of Monrovia as manager. In 1988 she was owned by Chief Shipping Co. of Monrovia and managed by Jahre Shipmanagement A/B. She was purchased by Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd and Britain Steam Ship Co. in 1989 and renamed Dorsetshire. After two years she was sold to Spartan Shipping Inc. of Monrovia who renamed her Protank Orinoco and she is currently owned by the Ranger Marine S. A. of Piraeus with the same name.

BIBBY LINE – Wartime Managed Ships

Wartime Managed Ships

EMPIRE PRIDE was built in 1941 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 8418grt, a length of 495ft, a beam of 64ft 4in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was launched as a troopship on 15th May 1941 for the Ministry of War Transport with Bibby Bros. & Co. as managers and delivered in the following September. With the capacity to carry 2000 men in wartime she was, in 1945, operated for the Ministry of Transport by Bibby’s in troopship livery. Replaced by the Devonshire (2) in 1954 she was decommissioned in June of that year and sold to Charlton Steam Shipping Co. of London, a Chandris subsidiary, and renamed Charlton Pride. She was converted into an emigrant carrier on the Australia and New Zealand assisted passage run. In 1956 she was purchased by Donaldson Line for £600,000, reconverted to carry cargo only at Rotterdam and renamed Calgaria for their Canadian service. She commenced her first voyage on 21st March from Rotterdam to Halifax, Nova Scotia and back to Glasgow and was then positioned to Avonmouth for runs to Canada and South America. In April 1963 she was sold to Fortelza Cia. Nav. and renamed Embassy for a final loaded voyage to Hong Kong where she arrived on 9th July for demolition.

FELIX ROUSSEL was built in 1930 by Ateliers et Chantiers de la Loire at St. Nazaire with a tonnage of 16774grt, a length of 561ft 10in, a beam of 68ft 4in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was launched on 17th December 1929 and completed in November 1930 for Les Services Contractuals des Messageries Maritimes. Deployed on their Marseilles – Far East – Yokohama service she commenced her maiden voyage on 26th February 1931. In 1935 her fore end was lengthened by 26ft at La Coitat at which time she was given a sloping stem. Her tonnage was increased to 17083grt and her speed to 18.5 knots. She returned to service on 15th May 1936 and on 11th July collided with the China Navigation Co’s Yunan and the River Yangtse. On 20th March 1940 she sailed from Marseilles bound for the Far East and on 13th May, during her return voyage, was detained at Port Said. In the following July she was taken over by the Royal Navy at Suez and a new crew, which was mainly French, was signed on. Thereafter she trooped between Bombay and Suez, was placed under Bibby management and then operated a shuttle between Malaysia and Suez. Early in 1942, when in convoy east of Java, she was detached with Canadian Pacific’s Empress of Asia and Ellerman’s City of Canterbury to land the 11th Northumberland Fusiliers at beleagured Singapore. On 5th February whilst approaching Singapore she was attacked by 27 Japanese aircraft and sustained damage when hit with two bombs between the funnels, killing 12 army gunners. Her troops were landed and on 6th February she was attacked again. The Empress of Asia was destroyed but the City of Canterbury escaped with 2000 refugees and the Felix Roussel with 1100, all women and children plus unwanted civilians. During 1943-44 she trooped between Suez – Bombay/Durban/Australia and in 1945 took part in the first convoy back to Singapore On 16th April 1946 she was returned to Messageries Maritimes and on 25th June 1948 work was commenced at Dunkirk to restore her for commercial service. She resumed service on the Marseilles – Far East service on 22nd September 1950. On 24th April 1955 she was sold for $3,500,000 to Cia Internacional Transportadora’s Arosa Line and renamed Arosa Sun. She was refitted at Trieste for Atlantic service during which her promenade deck was glassed in, the number of lifeboats reduced and her passenger capacity increased to 60 1st Class and 890 Tourist Class. She made her first sailing on 20th August 1955. In December 1958 she was arrested at Bremen due to Arosa Line’s financial difficulties and when the company went bankrupt in 1959 she was taken over by a Swiss Bank and put up for auction. In 1960 she was acquired by Koninglijke Nederlandsche Hoogoven & Stalfabrieken and converted at Ijmuiden into a workers accommodation ship. On 28th march 1974 she arrived at Bilbao where she was broken up by Hierros Ardes.

PRESIDENT DOUMER was built in 1933 by Soc. Provençal de Construction Navale at La Ciotat with a tonnage of 11898grt, a length of 468ft 6in, a beam of 64ft and a service speed of 17 knots. She was launched on 22nd January 1933 for the Marseilles – Suez – Madagasgar service of Messageries Maritimes but due to the depression work on her was delayed and it wasn’t until 6th June 1935 that she commenced her maiden voyage from Marseilles to the Far East. On 21st June she had to put into Aden with engine trouble and, after transferring her passenger to other company ships, returned to Marseilles where she arrived on 7th July. Her maiden voyage eventually recommenced on 15th November. In 1938 improvements to her engines increased her speed to 18 knots. When World War 2 was declared on 3rd September 1939 she was requisitioned for troopship duties. On 18th April 1940 she sailed from Brest with troops for Norway with French Line’s Flandre and Paquet Lines Djenne and escorted by three warships. She landed her troops at Salangenfjord, north of Narvik, on 28th April and during the voyage 4 torpedoes were fired at the convoy by U-47 which all missed. Shortly afterwards she re-embarked her troops when the Allies evacuated Norway. On 29th May 1940 she was at Port Said when France fell to the invading Germans and, on 19th July, was taken over by the British. Apart from 74 crew members and 20 naval marines the rest of her crew were repatriated to France by the Athos 11. She was then handed over to Bibby’s who managed her as a troopship. On 30th October 1942, during a voyage in convoy from Freetown to UK in bad weather, she was torpedoed by U-604 north east of Madeira with the loss of 260 lives.

FORBIN was built in 1922 by Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerraneene at Le Havre with a tonnage of 7291grt, a length of 417ft 10in, a beam of 55ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was launched on 12th April 1922 and served French ports and the French African colonies with the occasional trooping voyage to Indo-China as required. When France fell in July 1940 she was at Gibraltar, taken over by the British authorities and allocated to Bibby’s for management. On 9th June 1944 she was sunk at Arromanches as part of Mulberry ‘B’ harbour, Gooseberry 5 (Corncob). She was raised after the war but being beyond repair was broken up.

OCEAN VISCOUNT was built in 1942 by Permanenete Metals Corp at Yard No.1, Richmond, California with a tonnage of 7134grt, a length of 441ft 6in, a beam of 57ft and a service speed of 11 knots. She was completed in June 1942 for the Ministry of War Transport and allocated to Bibby Bros & Co. for management. After the war, in 1948, she was acquired by Clan Line Ltd and renamed Clan Kennedy. She was sold to Eddie Steamship Co. of Keelung in 1959 and broken up in Japan during the following year.

LINCOLNSHIRE was built in 1972 by Swan, Hunter & Tyne Shipbuilders Ltd at Hebburn-on-Tyne with a tonnage of 19799grt, a length of 186.84m, a beam of 26.8m and a service speed of 16 knots. She was launched on 12th July 1971 for Bibby Freighters Ltd and completed in the following March as a liquid gas carrier capable of carrying 8 different types from propane to anhydrous ammonia. Under the management of the Manx Ship Management Ltd she was chartered to Mundo Gas in their livery. Her port of registry was transferred to Hong Kong in 1984 and in 1991 the management company’s name was changed to Bibby International Services (IOM) based in Nassau, Bahamas. She is currently owned by Bibby Gas Carriers Ltd. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

HEREFORDSHIRE (4)/STOLT DEVON was built in 1985 by K. K. Taihei Kogyo at Akitsu with a tonnage of 7145grt, a length of 123.1 metres, a beam of 198 metres and a service speed of 13 knots. Sister of the Shropshire she was launched on 24th November 1984 as the Shoun Tenacity for Shoun Tenacity Inc. of Panama and delivered in June 1985. In 1989 she was purchased by Legend Maritime Co. S. A. of Panama and renamed Stainless Master. When she was acquired by Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd in 1991 she carried the name Burns but her vendor was unspecified. Renamed Herefordshire she was managed by Bibby International Services (IOM) Ltd and flew the Panamanian flag. In 1995 she was owned by Bibby’s Herculanium Shipping Ltd with the same managers and flying the Bahamian flag. Her port of registry was moved to Panama and her name changed to Stolt Devon in 1997 when she was chartered to Stolt Tankers with whom she continues to operate.

CHESHIRE (5) was built in 1989 by N. V. Boelwerf S. A. at Temse with a tonnage of 19719grt, a length of 165.5 metres, a beam of 26.5 metres and a service speed of 16.2 knots. Launched on 10th March 1989 she was ordered by Exmar S. A. and purchased on the stocks by Bibby’s, financed by a Belgian Government loan. Flying the Belgian flag she was managed by Exmar for five years and, when delivered in the June, was painted in their livery. When she came off charter in 1994 her ownership was transferred to Bibby Shipping (Cayman) Ltd and her management was handled by Bibby International Services (IOM) Ltd of Douglas. She now operates for the company flying the isle of Man flag. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

MARINOR was built in 1991 in Welgelegen, in The Netherlands with a tonnage of 4,950grt,a length of 112.3 metres, a beam of 18 metres and a service speed of 14 knots. An oil, chemical and molasses tanker with stainless steel tanks, she was previously owned by Botany Bay and was bought by Bibby Line in 1998. She is part of the company’s fleet. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

OXFORDSHIRE was built in 1997 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan with a tonnage of 22,289g, a length of 169.9 metres, a beam of 27.4 metres and a service speed of 17.3 knots. Launched on 13 June 1997 she is a liquefied petroleum gas carrier and is on long-term charter to Exmar. Owned by the Bibby company Huskisson Shipping Limited she is managed by Bibby International Services (IOM) Ltd

SHROPSHIRE (5)/STOLT CORNWALL was built in 1985 by K. K. Taihei Kogyo at Akitsu with a tonnage of 7145grt, a length of 123.1 metres, a beam of 19.8 metres and a service speed of 13 knots. An oil, chemical and molasses tanker with stainless steel tanks she was launched as the Shoun Telstar for Shoun Telstar Inc. of Panama and delivered to them in May 1985. In 1989 she was sold to Imperial Legend Shipping Co. S. A. of Panama who renamed her Stainless Fighter and two years later was purchased by Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd, Bahamas who changed her name to Shropshire. Her ownership was re-registered in 1994 as being with Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd and Britain Steamship Co. with her management being controlled by Bibby International Services (IOM) Ltd. of Nassau flying the Bahamian flag. She is currently chartered to Stolt Tankers Inc. as the Stolt Cornwall. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

STOLT DURHAM was built in 1995 by Societa Esercizio, Viareggio, Italy with a tonnage of 12,2457grt, a length of 139 metres and a beam of 21.25 metres. Owned by the Bibby company Rumford Tankers Limited she has previously traded under the names of Botany Trader and Stolt Trader. Part of the Bibby fleet she is chartered to Stolt Tanker Inc. with the name of Stolt Durham and flies the Cayman Island flag. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

BOTANY TRIUMPH was built in 1997 by Juliana Constructora Gigonea S.A. of Gijon in Spain with a tonnage of 19,000grt,a length of 148.4 metres and a beam of 23 metres. She was launched in 1997 for Botany Bay, Australia and in 2000 was bought by the Bibby company Gaston Limited.Part of the Bibby fleet is chartered to Stolt Tankers Inc. and flies the Panamian flag. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

STOLT KENT was built in 1998 by Naval Gijon, Spain with a tonnage of 12,141g, a length of 174 metres, a beam of 28 metres, and a service speed of 15 knots.She is an oil, chemical and molasses tanker with stainless steel tanks. Owned by Bibby Transport Limited, Isle of Man she is managed by Bibby International Services (IOM) Limited and flies the Isle of Man flag. (Photo: Fotoflite)

BIBBY LINE – Offshore Diversification Units

Offshore Diversification Units

BIBBY ALTONA was built in 1993 by Neptun Industrie (Rostock) G.m.b.H. with a tonnage of 8448g and measuring 94.1 x 26.2 x 3.9 metres. Sister of the Bibby Kalmar she was completed as the Floatel Altona for Grizzly Shipping AB and acquired by Bibby’s on 28th February 1995. Renamed Bibby Altona, with accommodation for 620 persons and flying the Bahamian flag, she was stationed in Hamburg on a contract with the City of Hamburg to accommodate refugees where she is still based
(Photo: Bibby Line Group)
BIBBY CHALLENGE was built in 1976 by Rotterdamsche Droogdog Mij B.V. with a tonnage of 11897g and measuring 91.5 x 27.4 x 6.1 mettes. She was completed as the pontoon barge Daring Turtle and, in 1993, was converted into an accommodation unit by NSS Stalkstruction AB at Hunnebostrand in Sweden and renamed Bibby Challenge. With accommodation for 624 persons in 290 rooms on four decks the cabins are situated around the outside of a central public space. Her facilities include a cafeteria and bars as well as a ‘mother and child’ room. She is currently under contract to the City of Hamburg where she has been based accommodating refugees since 1995.(Photo: Bibby Line Group)

BIBBY GOTEBORG was built in 1974 by Argo Shipbuilders, Greece, with a tonnage of 3,940g and measuring 92 x 27.4 x 6.09 metres. Built as a North Sea barge she was, in 1991, converted into an accommodation vessel with 154 cabins. Bibby Line purchased her in 1998 and went on charter to Eurest and Wood GMC. She is registered in Barbados and is currently on charter to Fleet Support Ltd (FSL) at Portsmouth Naval Dockyard.(Photo: Bibby Line Group)

BIBBY KALMAR was built in 1993 by Neptun Industrie (Rostock) G.m.b.H. with a tonnage of 8448g and measuring 291ft 5in x 85ft 6in x 12ft 10in. She was completed as the accommodation barge Floatel Kalmar with the capacity for 472 persons for Grizzly Shipping AB. Acquired by Bibby’s on 28th February 1995 she was renamed Bibby Kalmar and stationed in Hamburg on a contract with the City of Hamburg until May 1996. Thereafter, she was moved to Norway where she was engaged by various dockyards accommodating construction workers and continues to do so. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

BIBBY MALMO/BIBBY BERGEN was built in 1955 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7828g and measuring 95 x 27 x 7 metres. Her hull was built as an oil tanker but inverted to act as a pontoon and in 1973 she was converted to an accommodation barge and was used as such by different owners over the years. She was purchased by Bibby Line Limited in 1998 together with the Bibby Goteborg. She went on charter with Eurest and Wood GMC in the following 18 months. In 1999 Bibby Line decided to strip all the accommodation off and renew it. She was renamed Bibby Bergenand went on to charter with BP in Shetland and finished her charter in late 2001. She was mobilised back to Stavanger, Norway, where she is awaiting orders.(Photo: Bibby Line Group)

BIBBY MARINIA was built in 1980 by Orensten & Koppel A. G. at Lubeck with a tonnage of 3941g and measuring 49.6 x 32 x 4.87metres. A non-propelled self elevating platform using Gusto Engineering hydraulic gear her facilities included a heliport for 1 Sikorsky S-61N helicopter, a Manitowac 50 ton mobile crane and a 10 ton crane. She was built in 1980 as Biber 500, a crane, pile driving trenching rig anchored on 4 legs with 4 x 5 ton Delta Flipper anchors controlled by 4 hydraulic winches to a maximum depth of 150ft. In 1982 she became the Safe Marinia when she was acquired by Consafe Offshore A/B of Vastra Frolunda in Sweden and in the following year was converted by Fartygskonstructioner A/B of Gothenberg into an accommodation and maintenance platform, equipped with 2 fully enclosed lifeboats, for 130 men. She was acquired by Bibby Line Ltd in 1989, renamed Marinia and modified for service in the China Sea by Sabah Shipyard at Labuan for utilisation on the coastal shelf for Sarawak Shell. On 29th March 1995 she was towed to Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates on Anchor Marine Transport’s submersible Barge AMT Transporter by International Transport Santania Inc’s tug Santania. She was later renamed Bibby Marinia and is still operates for the company. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

BIBBY PROGRESS was built in 1976 at New Ross, Ireland with a tonnage of 12611g and measuring 91.4 x 27.4 x 6.1 metres. She was built as the oil rig supply barge Viking Barge 1 and in 1990 was converted into an accommodation unit and renamed Bibby Progress. She is an air conditioned ‘coastel’ with accommodation for 310 persons in 155 rooms with the capability of housing up to 620 by adding extra beds. Her facilities include a restaurant, bars, conference facilities, 2 passenger lifts and laundries. Although equipped to link up with shore supplies she is equipped with self lighting generators. In 1995 she was stationed at Dordrecht and after that was based at the Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific where she was deployed accommodating members of the French Foreign Legion. Having built up a reputation for being suitable for housing military personnel she was subsequently chartered by the US Navy on three occasions and by the Italian Carabinieri in Genoa and Naples. She is currently based in the Naples area of Italy. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

BIBBY RENAISSANCE was built in 1991 in the Ukraine with a tonnage of 10,924g and measuring 95 x 22 x 5 metres. She was purchased by Bibby in 1998 from a shipyard in Denmark, and towed to Barrow-in-Furness for a specific project which, unfortunately, never came off. She is a floating steel hull, no internal fittings, but with all decks fitted. Currently at Barrow – in-Furness, she is available for charter. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)
BIBBY STOCKHOLM was built in 1976 by Nederlandsche Dok en Scheepsbouw Mij with a tonnage of 4144g and measuring 92.7 x 27.4 x 6.1 metres. Completed as a barge she was converted into an accommodation unit, with the capacity for 628 persons, in 1992 and renamed Floatel Stockholm. On 28th February 1995 she was purchased by Bibby’s from Grizzly Shipping AB of Gothenberg and renamed Bibby Stockholm. From 1995 to May 1996 she was stationed in Hamburg, housing immigrants and foreign workers, under a contract with the City of Hamburg. From there she was towed to Dordrecht where she is currently on charter to the Dutch refugee Agency (COA). (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

CASA MARINA was built in 1965 at Amsterdam with a tonnage of 2734g and measuring 45.5 x 17.6 x 2.6 metres. She was completed as an oil rig support pontoon and upgraded for use by Bibby’s in 1987 and subsequently deployed at Oslo to house Selmewr-Furuhnolmen workers in the November. She had accommodation for 280 persons in 70 superior double glazed cabins and, on the maindeck, a mess hall and kitchen, a large lounge and the crew quarters, all with central heating and forced air ventilation. Designed for small harbour or esturial work she was less self contained than larger vessels and required light and water connections from ashore. She was refurbished in 1994 and was stationed at Hellevoetsluis in the Netherlands on charter to Centrale Opvang Asielzoekers as a workers hostel until July 1995. After a long period laid up she was, during late 2000 and early 2001, re-configured as an office/canteen barge and is currently on charter to Canary Wharf Contractors Ltd in London where she is scheduled to remain until mid-2003. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

MALIN VIKING was built in 1975 as a North Sea barge by Scheepswerven in Bolnes, in The Netherlands with a tonnage of 4906g and measuring 91 x 27.4 x 6 metres. She was purchased in 1993 in Norway and did numerous jobs on the Norwegian coast as an accommodation barge. The accommodation part was removed in 2001 in Stavanger (Norway) and she is now lying as a flat-top barge in Stavanger. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

TRIDENT BIBBY ONE was built in 2000 by Arab Heavy Industries, UAE, with a tonnage of 2,434g, a length of 50.2 metres, a beam of 42.6 metres and leg lengths of 79.2 metres. A self-propelled self-elevating platform using Searex designed electro- hydraulic type rack and pinion elevating system. Her facilities include a helideck suitable for Sikorski S76, Bell 214 or Bell 412 helicopters, two pedestal 70 ton cranes. She is equipped with two totally enclosed lifeboats, for 60 people each, in addition to six life rafts for 20 people each. She completed her first charter to Dubai Petroleum Construction in May 2001 and was then employed by DOPET for a maintenance programme in Qatar waters. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

 

BIBBY LONDON was purchased from Williams Shipping, Southampton, as Wilcarry 750 in August 2000.She measures 40 x 12.8 x 2.75 metres and has a tonnage of 337g.She was renamed Bibby London, re-registered in Barbados and towed to Tilbury Docks where two floors of modules were added to the barge. She was then towed to Canary Wharf where a final floor was added on location. On the first floor there are toilets, changing rooms, lockers and a canteen. The second and third floor offer office space to project staff. She is on charter to Canary Wharf Construction Limited until late 2002. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

 

DMS VENTURE was built in 1965 in Germany measuring 278ft 8in x 205ft 11in x 17ft 10in. She was completed as the six leg jack up barge Offshore 242 and, in 1981, was upgraded for work in the tropics as an accommodation unit. On 18th January 1995 she was acquired as a joint venture with Doha Marine Services, Qatar, under contract with Maersk Oil Qatar, as part of a fleet producing 60,000 barrels of oil per day plus gas. She was renamed DMS Venture (DMS = Doha Marine Services) and in June 1995 was towed to Qatar for modification by Bibby’s associate company Offshore Design Engineering.

The history of Bibby Line and its ships has been extracted from
Merchant Fleets 29: The Burma Boats-Henderson & Bibby
by Duncan Haws
Available from TCL PUBLICATIONS
and with the help of Christina Spencer, the Bibby Group archivist,
to whom we extend our grateful thanks.