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Lamport & Holt Line

History

The Lamport and Holt Line was founded in 1845 by William James Lamport, originally from Lancaster, and George Holt, from Liverpool - initially as a partnership, then as Lamport & Holt Ltd. Lamport was later involved in the framing of the first Merchant Shipping Act which resulted from Samuel Plimsoll’s campaign to improve conditions of seamen and safety at sea.

The company initially traded to India, South Africa, and the West Coast of South America in particular the River Plate. A tradition grew up of calling its ships after famous scientists, artists and writers. Lamport & Holt carried mail for the British and Belgian governments, operated a coastal passenger service for the Brazilian Government and carried frozen meat and coffee. The firm became a public company in 1911 but behind the scenes Sir Owen Crosby Philipps was negotiating to acquire the company. In 1910 he had taken over Elder Dempster to add to his existing control of Royal Mail and the Lamport and Holt families accepted shares in these two companies in exchange for their shares in Lamport & Holt Ltd. The company moved first to Drury Building in Water Street and to the Royal Liver Building in 1912.

Lamport & Holt had started a New York – River Plate passenger service in 1902 and after the Royal Mail take over, much grander ships were acquired for this service. They all carried names starting with the letter “V”. Photographs of three of these ships are in the collection. At the start of WW1 the fleet stood at 36 vessels of 199,000 grt. During the war 10 ships were lost, but 8 were delivered. A major post-war expansion programme was undertaken and the fleet reached a peak of 50 ships of 322,857 in 1923, including two new passenger liners.

Sir Owen Philipps became Lord Kylsant and continued to recklessly expand the Royal Mail group, raising larger and larger loans, until he was borrowing money against fictitious profits to pay the interest and instalments due on existing loans. In these parlous days Lamport & Holt suffered the tragedy of the loss of its liner “Vestris”. She is the only large passenger liner (over 10,000 grt) to ever founder in heavy seas. She went down on 12 November 1928, two days out of New York, with the loss of 112 lives. This caused uproar in the American press and the passenger service was suspended.

In 1929 Royal Mail Line defaulted, for the second time, on payment of an instalment due on a large Government loan and the Treasury set up an inquiry to investigate the affairs of the giant shipping and shipbuilding group. In 1930 Trustees were appointed to untangle those companies that could be saved from the collapse. Lord Kylsant was charged with fraud and imprisoned in 1931.

Lamport & Holt was placed in the hands of a Receiver who set about the task of stabilising the company’s finances. Ships were laid up on a rota basis, while the 41 vessel fleet was reduced to a more practical size. Shares in an Argentinean shipping company and 7 ships were sold in 1930; 3 in 1931; 4 in 1932; 4 in 1933 and finally 2 in 1934. In 1934 the restructured company was sold to new investors as Lamport & Holt Line Ltd.

At the start of WW2 the fleet stood at 21 ships of 141,003, with a further two fitting out. After many losses due to enemy action during the WW2, the company was taken over by the Vestey Group in 1944. At the end of the war the fleet was down to 9 ships.

In 1946 Vestey also bought Booth Line. The post war integration of the operations of these two shipping companies with Vestey’s Blue Star Line, led to considerable number of fleet changes. In 1959 Lamport & Holt owned 19 ships, but from that point the fleet numbers steadily reduced.

The container ship 'Churchill' (ex “New Zealand Star”) was the last ship to carry Lamport & Holt livery until it was transferred back to Blue Star Line and renamed 'Argentina Star' in 1991.

Ships

Vessel Type Launched/Completed Tonnage DWT Builder
Archimedes No Info Aug 1911. Yard No: 620 Gross: 6869 Net: 5068 Russell & Co. Port Glasgow
Balfe Cargo / Passenger 424,000 G. 10/11/1919. Yard No: 522 Gross: 5369 Net: 3200 8075 D & W Henderson & Co Ltd. Glasgow
Biela Cargo July 1918. Yard No: 400 Gross: 5298 8075 Short Bros Ltd. Sunderland
Bronte Cargo / Passenger 424,000 G. 1919. Yard No: 474 Gross: 5030 Net: 3200 8175 A. McMillan & Son Ltd. Dumbarton
Browning Cargo / Passenger 424,000 G. 20/06/1919. Yard No: 481 Gross: 5030 Net: 3205 8075 A. McMillan & Son Ltd. Dumbarton
Bonheur Cargo / Passenger 424,000 G. 17/06/1920. Yard No: 547 Gross: 5327 Net: 3200 8075 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Boswell Cargo / Passenger 422,136 G. Nov 1920. Yard No: 550 Gross: 5333 Net: 2997 8109 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Carroll No Info 16/08/1939. Yard No: 661 Gross: 3022 Net: 1785 Burmeister & Wain Skibs A/S. Copenhagen
Constable Cargo 26/06/1959. Yard No: 264 Gross: 3099 Net: 1600 2400 Brooke Marine Ltd. Lowestoft
Defoe Cargo 669,000 G. 28/02/1945. Yard No: 1182 Gross: 8641 Net: 5603 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Delane Cargo / Passenger 662,000 G. Jan 1938. Gross: 6054 Net: 3709 10469 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Delius Cargo / Passenger 590,000 G. 12/04/1937. Yard No: 980 Gross: 7783 Net: 4814 10470 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Devis Cargo 662,000 G. 21/12/1937. Yard No: 1002 Gross: 6054 Net: 3709 10469 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Devis Cargo / Passenger 724,224 G. 06/10/1944. Yard No: 995 Gross: 9883 Net: 6185 11760 Lithgows Ltd. Port Glasgow
Dryden No Info 1911??
Dryden Cargo 724,224 G. 06/10/1944. Yard No: 995 Gross: 9883 Net: 6185 11760 Lithgows Ltd. Port Glasgow
Euclid No Info July 1911. Yard No: 179 Gross: 4877 Net: 3119 Northumberland SB Co. Ltd. Newcastle
Herschel No Info
Holbein No Info 1915?
Lalande Cargo / Passenger 569,000 G. 1920 Gross: 7453 Net: 4536 10520 D & W Henderson & Co Ltd. Glasgow
Lalande Cargo / Passenger 524,450 G. Nov 1940. Gross: 6902 Net: 4067 8927 Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Laplace Cargo / Passenger 569,000 G. 1919 Gross: 7327 Net: 4500 10500 A. McMillan & Son Ltd. Dumbarton
Lassell Cargo 562,000 G. 1943. Yard No: 2238 Gross: 7176 Net: 4380 10685 Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards Inc. Baltimore
Leighton Cargo / Passenger 569,000 G. 1921 Gross: 7421 Net: 4500 10500 A. McMillan & Son Ltd. Dumbarton
Linnel Cargo / Passenger 569,000 G. 1921 Gross: 7424 Net: 4500 10500 A. McMillan & Son Ltd. Dumbarton
Memling Cargo 557,089 G. 08/12/1942. Yard No: 474 Gross: 7063 Net: 4241 9624 Short Bros Ltd. Sunderland
Millais No Info 07/11/1916. Yard No: 460 Gross: 7224 Net: 4314 12992 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Govan
Millais Cargo 426,500 B. 01/09/1942. Yard No: 439 Gross: 6782 Net: 4162 C. Connell & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Murillo Cargo 311,000 B. 1915 Gross: 7206 Net: 4432 8200 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Phidias Cargo 508,000 G. 1913 Gross: 5623 Net: 3555 9467 A. McMillan & Son Ltd. Dumbarton
Raeburn Cargo / Passenger 450,580 G. 05/10/1956. Yard No: 508 Gross: 6291 Net: 3639 9460 Caledon Shipbuilding & Eng Co., Dundee
Raphael Cargo / Passenger 606,800 G. July 1953. Yard No: 336 Gross: 7917 Net: 4715 10250 Bartram & Sons Ltd. Sunderland
Renoir Cargo / Passenger 365,525 G. 04/10/1952. Yard No: 332 Gross: 4300 Net: 2419 1000 Wm. Pickersgill & Sons. Ltd. Sunderland
Roland Cargo 777,920 G. 1949. Yard No: 623 Gross: 7344 Net: 4067 11210 A. Stephens & Sons. Ltd. Glasgow.
Romney Cargo / Passenger 636,734 G. April 1952. Yard No: 1214 Gross: 8237 Net: 4980 10550 Cammell, Laird & Co. Ltd. Birkenhead
Ronsard No Info Sept 1957. Yard No: 363 Gross: 7848 Net: 4699 10250 Bartram & Sons Ltd. Sunderland
Rossetti Cargo 588,917 G. July 1950. Yard No: 471 Gross: 5664 Net: 2739 8546 Caledon Shipbuilding & Eng Co., Dundee
Rossini Cargo 487,035 G. Oct 1952. Yard No: 328 Gross: 4495 Net: 2385 7250 Wm. Pickersgill & Sons. Ltd. Sunderland
Rubens Cargo 435,000 G. Aug 1951. Yard No: 326 Gross: 4472 Net: 2559 Wm. Pickersgill & Sons. Ltd. Sunderland
Sallust Cargo 350,235 G. 1948. Yard No: 315 Gross: 2993 Net: 1589 4915 Wm. Pickersgill & Sons. Ltd. Sunderland
Siddons Cargo 487,035 G. Oct 1952. Yard No: 328 Gross: 4459 Net: 2385 7250 Wm. Pickersgill & Sons. Ltd. Sunderland
Spenser Cargo 415,803 G. 1935. Yard No: 711 Gross: 6334 Net: 4428 6751 Bremer Vulkan, Vegesak
Swinburne Cargo 365,985 G. 1918 Gross: 4665 Net: 2874 7555 A. McMillan & Son Ltd. Dumbarton
Tintoretto No Info 1902?
Vandyck No Info
Vauban Cargo / Passenger 20/01/1912. Gross: 10660 Net: 6699 8400 Workman, Clark Ltd. Belfast
Voltaire Passenger 14/08/1923. Gross: 13233 Net: 7960 8500 Workman, Clark Ltd. Belfast


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