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The Bank Line, magazine of Andrew Weir and Company Limited

​The Bank Line, house magazine of Andrew Weir and Company Limited

Lord Inverforth and the high seas: newly deposited shipping archives of Andrew Weir and Company Limited

The archives of City of London-based shipping company Andrew Weir and Company Limited have been deposited at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) by A W Ship Management Limited with the assistance of the Business Archives Council for Scotland (BACS). The records document the development of the firm founded in 1885 by Scottish-born Andrew Weir (later Lord Inverforth), and the companies and vessels which were later brought under the Andrew Weir Group including ships belonging to The Bank Line. Richard Wiltshire tells more.

History

Andrew Weir and Company Limited was founded in 1885 in Glasgow, Scotland by Andrew Weir (1865-1955) when he acquired his first sailing ship ‘The Willowbank’. In 1896 Andrew Weir moved to London and in the same year acquired his first steamship. The ships were deployed on routes worldwide and with further expansion the head office moved to the City of London in 1905 when a subsidiary The Bank Line Limited was formed. A member of the Baltic Exchange and Minister of Munitions, Andrew Weir became Lord Inverforth of Southgate in 1919. He was succeeded by his son Morton Weir and his grandchildren Roy and Vincent Weir had active involvement in the company from the 1950s.

Other subsidiary companies included the United Baltic Corporation Limited which was founded in 1919 as a joint partnership with the East Asiatic Company to operate passenger and cargo services to Poland and the Baltic States from the East India Docks in London. By the 1950s Andrew Weir and Company Limited had expanded into insurance underwriting and broking on shipped commodities.

In 2014 the owners of Andrew Weir Group sold its shipping line to meet pension fund debts and Andrew Weir Shipping Limited went into voluntary administration. The assets were sold to a new company A W Ship Management Limited. Cheryl Brown, Business Archives Surveying Officer for the Business Archives Council for Scotland, learnt about the closure and contacted the company to establish if historical records of Andrew Weir had survived. She arranged a survey visit with Daniel Taylor of A W Ship Management Limited inviting Richard Wiltshire, Senior Archivist, Business Archives at LMA and representative of the Business Archives Council on the Crisis Management Team for Business Archives.

Surveying Andrew Weir archives, April 2015

​Daniel Taylor, AW Ship Management Ltd with Richard Wiltshire, LMA and Cheryl Brown, Business Archives Council for Scotland

The Business Archives Council for Scotland, the Business Archives Council and the Crisis Management Team for Business Archives all aim to promote the preservation of the business history of companies through their business archives. BACS actively surveys business records of live businesses with a basis in Scotland, but also those which have been liquidated or bought up. In these instances, the historical records of a company are frequently at risk of destruction or damage as they can often be seen as no longer having business value by their owners. A W Ship Management Limited, however, was keen to preserve surviving records they had inherited and welcomed survey and subsequent deposit at LMA.

Archives

The collection consists of three linear metres of records. Highlights include Board meeting minutes (1940s-80s); a scrapbook for the United Baltic Corporation Limited (subsidiary)’s Baltic Cruise passenger containing service leaflets, brochures, signs, rail services, sailing schedules and posters for holidays cruises to the Baltic (1933-40); illustrated ‘The Bank Line’ House Magazines of the Andrew Weir Group of companies giving news on staff including shipping crew (1975-83) with photographs and artwork depicting the firm’s ships including the four-masted steel 2237 ton barque ‘Springbank’ built by Russell for Andrew Weir's Bank Line in 1894.

The records are accessioned under reference B15/149 and are available by prior appointment. Microfilms of original Bank Line shipping personnel cards from 1930s-80s, giving details of voyages, remarks on performance and pay are also to be deposited in due course (the original cards no longer survive). The microfilms will be subject to restrictions under data protection legislation.

No individual ship log books or registers survive in the collection. However, further records of the company are held elsewhere. These include a log book for the barque Elmbank (1893-4) at Glasgow City Archives (reference TD574) and a book of Charter parties (circa 1900-60) held at the National Maritime Museum: The Caird Library, Manuscripts Section.

LMA would like to thank A W Ship Management Limited for safeguarding and depositing their records, and the Business Archives Council for Scotland for notifying us of the archives and their important ongoing role surveying and promoting the preservation and deposit of Scottish-based businesses.

Additional information websites

AW Ship Management Limited
Business Archives Council for Scotland
Business Archives Council
For guidance on business archives including information about the Crisis Management Team visit the Managing Business Archives website

Published:
06 October 2015
Last Modified:
26 September 2018

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