Unit History: Bank Line
Andrew Weir & Co. / Bank Line
Andrew Weir entered the shipowning business in 1885 in Glasgow when he purchased the barque WILLOWBANK and eventually controlled one of the largest fleets of sailing ships under the British flag. In 1896 the company purchased their first steamship, but it was 1912 before the last sailing ship was sold. In 1905 the company was registered as Bank Line and the head office was moved to London, although the ships continued to be registered in Glasgow.
In 1917 the United Baltic Corporation was formed with 50% of the shares held by Andrew Weir & Co. and 50% by East Asiatic Co., Copenhagen. However, this was managed as a seperate company and is the subject of another fleet list.
The tanker trade was entered in 1920 with the establishment of the British-Mexican Petroleum Co. and this passed into the control of Andrew Weir & Co. in 1930 and subsequently became part of the Anglo-American Oil Co. Motorships were built from 1923 for the service between Rangoon and South Africa with accommodation for 12-1st, 20-2nd and 400-emigrant class passengers.
In 1925 a French subsidiary was formed and named Cie. Venture-Weir S.A, Paris and operated services between Antwerp, Dunkirk, Havre, Bordeaux and West African ports. However, by 1928 this company returned to the oil distribution trade. In 1925 the Lago Shipping Co. was established to ship crude oil from Lake Maracaibo to the refineries at Aruba, but control of this company passed to F. J. Wolfe in 1936. The service between Calcutta, Rangoon, Colombo and South Africa was taken over from Bullard, King & Co. in 1933 and became known as the India Natal Line. Ships on this service had accommodation for 50-1st, 20-2nd and facilities for 500 native passengers.
In 1935 MacAndrews & Co. were taken over by United Baltic Corporation, which allowed access to the Spanish trade. Many of the company’s ships were lost in WWII but were rapidly replaced after the war and the company continued to expand. It is one of the widest ranging shipping companies in the world and is still trading successfully.