We would like to thank Sea Breezes for permission to reproduce these articles
Our detailed history of the fleet of Liverpool's Lamport and Holt Line is concluded this month, covering the past 20 years' developments and bringing the history to the present day
The Lamport and Holt Fleet
an history by P. M. Heaton
The other ship, built in the same year as the Murillo (3), but by Short Bros., of Sunderland, as the Empire Pendennis, was placed under the management of Ellerman's, and in 1946 became the Vasconia for Cunard, and the Fresno Star for Blue Star in 1951. She traded as the Millais for Lamport's.
A further "R" class vessel appeared from Bartram and Sons, Ltd., Sunderland, in 1957; she was a sister ship of the Raphael, and named Ronsard, was registered at Bermuda in the ownership of Salient Shipping Co. (Bermuda) Ltd., not transferring to the Liverpool register until 1960.
During 1957-58 it is interesting to note that the Romney, under the command of Capt. Metcalf, completed six voyages between Montreal, the West Indies and Georgetown; her extra capacity was most useful on this service.
The second ship to bear the name Sallust was transferred back to Booth after seven years in the fleet, reverting to her former name of Dunstan, and at the same time another ship in the Booth fleet transferred to Lamport's. Amazingly this was another Dunstan, which had been built in 1945 in the U.S.A., launched as the Tulare, and completed as the Coastal Challenger.
Acquired by the Panama Shipping, Company in 1946, she was renamed Pachitea on bareboat-charter to Booth, and bought outright by the latter company in 1954 to become their Dunstan. She naturally became the new Sallust for Lamport's on the New York service.
In 1958 the Raeburn, after a mere six years, was transferred to Blue Star for service to the North Pacific, becoming their Colorado Star. She was a particularly fine vessel, and as was the case with a number of such transfers, she remained registered in Lamport's ownership until 1972, when Blue Star, having commenced container services on this route, she was transferred to the Austasia Line and renamed Mahsuri, registered at Singapore.
During those 14 years trading to the U.S. West coast, Lamport's continued to be her agents and loading-brokers at Liverpool, as they were for the rest of the Blue Star fleet at that port.
This year marked the arrival of a small motorship of just under 1,000 gross tons, built as the Montrose in 1955. She became the Vigilante and traded from New York and Montreal. During her years on this route her management, like that of the Vamos, was to change on occasions to Booth Line.
During 1958 the Delius and Defoe both reverted back to Lamport and Holt, and their former names, but the Delane remained with Blue Star as the Seattle Star until sold out of the group in 1961. After a delivery voyage as the Kettara VI, she arrived at Hong Kong on October 13, 1961, for breaking up.
The following year the Sallust (3), after only one year on the New York service, was transferred to the Austasia Line. Renamed Malacca, she traded as such until1962 when sold to Kie Hock Shipping Company, of Hong Kong, and having sailed from Kawasaki for Singapore on October 25, 1967, she was lost without trace. The Memling (3) arrived at Flushing on October 23, 1959, where she was broken up.
Two small motorships werre built in 1959 for the New York service. They were particularly suitable for the Amazon trade, since they were able to :reach the Peruvian port of Iquitos. They were the Siddons of 1,282 gross tons from George Brown, Ltd., Greenock, and the similar Spenser from Noderwerft Koser and Meyer, Hamburg.
During the year a 3,OOO-ton refrigerate9 ship was delivered from the yard of Brooke Marine Ltd., Lowestoft. Named Constable, she was at the time the largest vessel delivered from this yard. A fast ship, with clipper-like lines, she was followed by a sister, the Chatham, early the following year from the Linthouse yard of A. Stephen and Sons, Ltd. Both were for use principally between Dominica and Preston and Barry on charter to Geest, but also trading to Trinidad with an occasional trip to Santos and much later to the Eastern seaboard of the United States from Dublin.
Their much older consorts, Balzac and Boswell were renamed Carroll and Crome, to fall into line with this "C" class, but were quickly transferred thereafter to Blue Star, becoming the Norman Star and Roman Star. In the same year they passed to the Booth Steamship Co. Ltd., as the Basil and Bede.
First to leave the group was the Bede in 1963, when she became the Greek Victoria Elena, and was subsequently burnt out following a fire in a cargo of cotton on January 16, 1967. Her sister, Basil, was sold in 1964, and after a succession of names and owners (1964 Eleni K, 1966 Eleni Kyriakou, 1969 Olga, 1970 Georgios Markakis, 1973 Nikos), was finally broken up in 1973, after a useful career of 34 years. In that time she had carried no less than 11 names, five while owned within the Vestey Group.
During 1960 other disposals were the Sheridan (2), Roscoe and Millais (3). The Sheridan, transferred to the Singapore-based Austasia Line as the Matupi, was sold in 1964 to Kie Hock Shipping Company, of Hong Kong, becoming the Tong Lam. She was resold in 1968 without change of name to Asia Selatan Enterprises Ltd., and in 1970 to Sakota Ltda. S.A., Panama. On October 27, 1970, she went aground and became a total loss while on passage North Korea to Chittagong.
The Millais was sold for further trading to the Grosvenor Shipping Co. Ltd., who renamed her Grosvenor Navigator. She arrived at Kaohsiung on September 9, 1966, for breaking-up.
March 16, 1961, saw the arrival of the Murillo (3) at Vigo for breaking up, and the Delius, like her sister Seattle Star (ex-Delane), after a delivery voyage as the Kettara VII, arrived at Tokyo on February 24, 1%2, for breaking-up. The Lalande, after becoming the Uncle Bart, arrived at Moji for demolition on September 8, 1961.
In 1961 a new motorship named Sheridan (3) (1,535 gross tons) joined the fleet from T.. van, Duijvendijk's Scheepswert N.V, Lekkerkerk, for the New York service, while the Spenser (4) was transferred to the Booth Line and renamed Valiente. The following year saw the arrival of a sister ship from the same yard as the Sheridan, which was named Spenser (5).
Meanwhile the service to Asuncion direct from the United Kingdom by the Verdi and Virgil continued, supplemented as required by the time-chartering of additional tonnage. These small ships usually loaded machinery, general cargo and spirits at either London or Liverpool, and made calls outwards and homewards at Dakar and Montevideo for refuelling and stores. They did not always make it as far as Asuncion, depending on the level of the Rivers Parana and Paraguay.
Capt. F. Martin made three voyages in the Verdi during 1961-62, and only on one of these was he able to make it as far as Asuncion. On another voyage he was warned of the situation by the master of the Dutch vessel Nashira, who on learning that the chartered Dita Smits was stranded further up river, turned back to Santa Fe where his cargo was discharged for transhipment into even smaller vessels. His example was followed by the Verdi.
On another occasion the Verdi was able to go as far as Pto. Praia, only 50 miles from Asuncion, where she moored to the river bank and discharged into lighters.
During 1962, while homeward bound, the Virgil, under the command of Capt. R. P. Willis, broke down, her main thrust bearing having broken beyond repair, and after days drifting helplessly in mid-Atlantic, the Verdi (Capt. Martin) which was outward bound was contacted, and commenced to tow the Virgil at 12.25 hours G:M.T. on April 3, in position 05.13 N. 22.46 W.
Two mooring ropes tied end to end were used, paying out a little extra each day to compensate for the strain, and the vessels arrived back at Dakar Roads at 21.15 hours G.M.T. on April 10, where repairs were effected.
During 1962 seven ships were disposed of by Lamport and Holt, as follows: the Devis (2) after 18 years afloat, arrived at Spezia on July 4, 1962, where she was broken up. The Sargent passed to Greek owners as the Pamit, -being resold in 1966, and taking the Liberian flag as the Bambero. She finally arrived at Castellon for demolition on March 3, 1970.. The Roscoe was broken up and the Lassell was sold for further trading. The other three units passed to other Vestey group companies, the Chatham and Constable going to Blue Star, who renamed them Mendoza Star and Santos Star respectively.
They continued trading mostly between Santos and London, and later were used to inaugurate a service between the River Plate and the Mediterranean, being lengthened during the mid-sixties. They eventually passed. to, the Italian flag as. the Calavittoria and Calagaribaldi of Calmedia S.p.A. di Nav.
The Siddons (4), only three years old, was bareboat-chartered to Booth, under the name Veras. This left the two "S'" class ships Sheridan and Spenser trading from New York in conjunction with the vessels of, the Booth Steamship Co. Ltd.
In 1963 the sale of the Verdi and Virgil took place, both passing to the Dutch flag as the Kilo and Metre respectively. They were quickly taken on time-charter by Lamport and Holt's wholly-owned subsidiary, Metric Line, trading from Liverpool to Rotterdam.
Later in that year the Verdi put into Swansea Bay in distress, her deck cargo pf sodium having started to explode. She was beached and the crew rescued by the Mumbles life-boat which had considerable difficulty in catching her in the particularly bad weather on that November night. She was subsequently repaired and returned to service.
The other disposal that year was the Rossetti (2) which was transferred to Booth and renamed Boniface for service between Liverpool, the West Indies and the Amazon.
Four ships were to enter the fleet however. Two medium-sized ships, the Wanstead and Woodford were time chartered from Watts, Watts and Co. Ltd., being renamed Raeburn and Rossetti for the duration of the charter. Almost a year later both reverted back to their former names at the conclusion of the charter, and the much larger Weybridge was then chartered for a few months, and she was renamed for this period Rossetti also. The other acquisition were transfers from Blue Star, the Catalina Star (ex-Fremantle Star) and Columbia Star (ex-Patagonia Star), which had both previously traded for Lamport and Holt as the Dryden. The former was renamed Devis and the latter reverted to the name Dryden.
The Debrett was disposed of during 1964, becoming the Ambasciata, and arriving at Osaka on December 28, 1964 for breaking up. She was followed the next year by the Rubens (ex- Siddons) which passed to the Booth Line as the Bernard for service from Liverpool.
The last of the "D" ships, the Defoe, was sold in 1966. She was renamed Argolis Star, trading as such for a further three years before arriving at Shanghai on October 29, 1969 for breaking up. Her place in the fleet was taken by the Rubens (3), which dated from 1.951, having been completed as the 'Crispin by Wm. Pickersgill and Sons Ltd., Sunderland. She had passed to the Austasia Line in 1953, as the Mandowi, reverting back to Booth earlier in 1966, before transferring to Lamport and Holt.
The year 1967 marked the withdrawal of Lamport and Holt Line tonnage from New York, when the two remaining ,ships, Sheridan and Spenser were transferred to Booth and renamed Cyril and Cuthbert respectively. This connection, which had lasted for almost 100 years, was carried on alone by the Booth Line unti1 1977 ,when they withdrew.
Three moderately. sized vessels were transferred from Booth in this year, the Bernard (ex-Rubens, ex- Siddons) which became the Rossini, her third name in the Lamport fleet, there already being a Rubens in the fleet at this time; the Boniface (ex- Rossetti) which reverted back to her former name; and a ship with an interesting career, which also came from Pickersgill's.
This vessel, laid down for Booth, was completed as the Malay for the Austasia Line of Singapore in 1953, and renamed Mashuri in 1964. She became the Benedict in 1966, and the Renoir for Lamport and Holt. All three were particularly useful on the Brazil service from the United Kingdom.
The following year saw the departure of the Dryden (4) for breaking up, arriving at Kaohsiung in November 1968. Her place was taken by the Dunedin Star of 1950, from Blue Star, which was renamed Roland.
During the next three years four ships were disposed of, while none were acquired. This was due in some part to the growing of a number of national flag shipping companies, and the routing of cargo on these vessels. The four ships were: 1969: Devis (3), 1970: Rossini and Rossetti, and 1971: Renoir.
In 1972 the Blue Star liner Canadian Star, built in 1957 joined the Lamport and Holt fleet to become the Raeburn. During that year she loaded on one occasion on the Blue Star Line berth at Liverpool for South Africa, but the remainder of her service since has been spent on the services to Brazil and the River Plate from Liverpool, Glasgow and Swansea. The following year saw the departure of the Rubens (3) for further trading under the Greek flag. This left the fleet consisting of the five "R" class ships, all trading from the United Kingdom.
During 1974 the group acquired premises at 30 James Street, Liverpool, from the Pacific Steam Navigation Company. This building was erected in 1892 as Oceanic House and was originally the headquarters of the White Star Line. The building was refurbished and. renamed Albion House, and coincided with the establishment .of a new company, under the title of Blue Star Ship Management Ltd., Which now has responsibility for the ship husbandry of all the ships owned and/or operated by Lamport and Holt Line, Ltd., Booth Steamship Co, Ltd., and Blue Star Line.
This company is based in Albion House, and during the early part of 1975 the Lamport and Holt Line and Booth Line managements also moved there. Thus, the connection between Lamport and Holt Line, and the Royal Liver Building, which had been their headquarters since 1912, came to an end.
During April 1975, to mark the opening of these new offices, the "Journal of Commerce" issued a special supplement, and a section of this was devoted to the history of Lamport and Holt. The following is an extract:
"Over the past 20 years there has been a dramatic change in South America's trade with Europe and with North America. Only those who have seen for themselves the growth of industrial Brazil and the countries of the River Plate region, can appreciate what has taken place within two decades. This dynamic development has produced spectacular sky- scraping cities, expanding industries, and exploitation of mineral and agricultural resources on a hitherto undreamed of scale.
"No longer are the South American countries relying solely on their pastoral and agricultural resources, and acting as markets for imported manufactured goods. Today these nations themselves export a considerable range of manufactured and processed goods. Their cities rival those of the Northern Hemisphere: Rio de Janeiro, with over 4 mn., greater Sao Paulo, with about 8 mn.; Buenos Aires and its environs, with over 8 mn. people; and Montevideo, now with more than 1¼ mn.
"Cargo from Brazil these days includes footwear, copper tubes, textiles and other finished products. There is still a large movement of coffee, cotton, cocoa and timber. But there is an increasing tendency for these to be shipped in semi-manufactured or processed form; soluble coffee, cocoa, butter, timber products such as parquet, door lippings, plywoods, and a wide range of veneers and hardwoods.
"Exports from Argentina now include motor vehicle parts and iron and steel products as well as canned meat and fruit, wine as well as wool and animal foodstuffs in bulk, in processed forms such as pellets, ex- tracts and meals.
"Ships now take to Brazil and the River Plate countries sophisticated machinery, machine tools, and other equipment for the new factories. Sometimes whole factories or blast furnaces ate carried. Specialised pieces of equipment, often of considerable weight as well as size, take the space on deck once occupied by railway locomotives and rolling stock.
"Lamport and Holt vessels have taken out to Rio de Janeiro some of the construction material for the great Rio/Niteroi bridge, to span the bay between Rio de Janeiro and its northern satellite, Niteroi. They also have carried materials for the Tucuman Dam and similar projects forming part of Argentina's development.
"When the present 'R' class ships were built for Lamport and Holt, provision was made for carrying vegetable oils in bulk, in four deep tanks of about 250 tons. These have been coated with epoxy resin, to reduce cleaning costs and at the same time enable the carriage southbound of bulk liquid plasticisers, detergents and other chemicals, and of homeward cargoes of vegetable oils:
"As part of the industrialisation and development of countries such as Brazil and the Argentine there has been a considerable expansion of their' national shipping lines, and these to- day carry a considerable share of the trade.
"During the 1970s the service between the U.K. and the River Plate, for example, has been operated by Lamport and, Holt together with the Argentine national line, Empresa Lineas Maritimas Argentinas, and Houlder Brothers (as the River Plate Service), with sailings from Liverpool, Glasgow and Swansea.
"In Liverpool, Lamport and Holt Line acts as agents for E.L.M.A., and as joint loading brokers, with Houlder Brothers, for the River Plate Service.
"In common with other trades there has been rationalisation also in that to and from Brazil; and now Lamport and Holt run a service in conjunction with Blue Star Line, Houlder Brothers, and Royal Mail Lines, the ships of all four lines in this trade now being pooled as the Brazil Service.
"In 1968 Empresa de Navagacao Alianca, a privately-owned Brazilian shipping company, started their Alianca Line service with new ships mostly built in Brazil and flying the Brazilian flag. Lamport and Holt were appointed their agents and still handle their regular sailings to and from the West coast of the U.K.
"Apart from its activities as shipowners, Lamport and Holt also acts as agents for a number of services in trades other than those to South America. When the company became part of the Vestey group, business previously dealt with by the Blue Star Line's office in Liverpool was transferred to Lamport and Holt, who became Liverpool agents for the Blue Star Line.
"They now also act as agents and loading brokers for the Blue Star Port Line service from Liverpool to South and East Africa; and as agents for the Johnson ScanStar container service operated from Liverpool by ships of Blue Star, Johnson Line, and the East Asiatic Company, to the Pacific Coast of the U.S.A. and Canada. Since 1974 they have also been loading brokers for the Booth Line service from Liverpool to the Amazon, via Trinidad and Barbados.
"Lamport and Holt are also general agents in the U.K. for Frota Oceanica Brasiliera, of Rio de Janeiro, who maintain a cargo liner service between Brazil/River Plate and the Far East and Japan, via South Africa and Singapore, a service which was inaugurated in 1969 when the Roland was chartered by them, for one round voyage."
The fleet was temporarily reduced to three ships with the sale of the Roland in 1975, and the Raphael in 1976, both for further trading.
Towards the end of 1975 a small bulk carrier division was formed under the name Lamport Bulk Carriers, and although to date no ships have been acquired for this venture, the new division is getting equipped and ready to move into the bulk carrier business as and when market conditions are right.
During June 1976, it was announced that the Lamport and Holt Line in association with the Blue Star Line, had placed an order with Austin and Pickersgill Ltd.; Sunderland, for the construction of four SD14 cargo ships of the latest Series 4 design. These vessels, worth more than £20 mn., will have a deadweight of about 15,000 tonnes, and will provide cargo capacity of 13,500/14,000 tons and a service speed of 15 knots.
Mr. Edmund Vestey, chairman of both the Lamport and Holt Line and Blue Star Line, said at the time of the announcement, that "these vessels are very versatile and will be suitable for a number of our trades. In particular we have in mind -our Lamport and Holt general cargo trade to South America - but these ships can also be used as bulkers in the international market."
The delivery of the first vessel from the builders is due at the end of 1978, and delivery of the other three will be effected between January / April 1979.
They can be employed within a number of trades in which Lamport's and Blue Star are interested, but subject to conditions in world markets and in the trades to the East coast of South America nearer the time of delivery.
In their standard form these vessels can meet present requirements in these trades, but consideration will be given to the possibility of minor modifications. These might be in connection with cargo-handling provisions, so that any of the vessels utilised for South America would be able to provide some container capability.
This would be in line with present indications of interest shown by shippers both in the United Kingdom and South America in moving towards the introduction of container loads to substitute break bulk shipments of higher-valued general cargo.
Lamport and Holt believe however that there will be requirements in these trades for some years ahead for vessels with space suitable for the carriage of steel and steel products, cereals (in bulk and palletised form), as well as traditional raw and semi- processed materials such as wools, cottons, coffees, cocoa and the wide variety of products currently shipped from the East coast of South America.
In compiling this history of the Lamport and Holt fleet, I would like to thank the many people who have helped with information, particularly Mr. D. A. Barber, general manager of Lamport and Holt Line Ltd., and members of his staff; the World Ship Society, Central - Record team, especially Mr. G. H. Somner for his assistance with the sailing ship fleet list; Mr. W. A. Laxon, of Auckland, New Zealand and individual photographers credited in the text.