MacAndrews Line



William MacAndrews left his Scottish hometown of Elgin for Liverpool in 1770, to start a business selling fresh fruit imported from Spain in small fast schooners. Despite a succession of European wars, the business prospered and was passed on to his sons. The Liverpool business changed names from time-to-time as additional partners came and went. Robert MacAndrews & Co was founded in London in 1853 as shipbrokers and shipowners. The firm acquired its first small steamer for use in the Spanish trade in 1857. Several Spanish subsidiaries were established, some as fruit exporters and others as shipowners. By 1900 the company had 23 ships under the Spanish flag and 7 under the British flag. The fleet gradually changed to a smaller number of slightly larger vessels and by 1914 consisted of 10 Spanish and 8 British ships, the largest being 2,233 GRT.

During WW1 the firm lost 7 ships, but it took over Liverpool based Hall’s Line. In 1917 the MacAndrews family decided to sell the business and accepted an offer from Sir Owen Crosby Philipps. A new company MacAndrews & Co Ltd was formed as a subsidiary of Philipps’ Royal Mail Group. All of the ships were transferred to the British flag.

The MacAndrews fleet was rebuilt and expanded, initially using war-standard vessels, then new motor-ships built by Harland & Wolff, the Royal Mail Group’s shipbuilder. 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 1929 Royal Mail Line defaulted 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.

MacAndrews & Co Ltd was operated by the trustees until the end of 1935, when it was bought by Andrew Weir & Co Ltd, as a subsidiary for their United Baltic Corporation. In total, 21 ships were acquired. At the outbreak of WW2, the fleet strength was 20 vessels. These small fruit carriers were ideal for the Admiralty as anti-aircraft ships, convoy rescue vessels and store carriers. Half the fleet was lost to enemy action and 104 crew members were killed in action.

The post war rebuilding programme modernised, rather than expanded the fleet. In 1959 the company had 12 ships. Ten years later containerisation was introduced and by 1973 the fleet was down to 3 ships, plus chartered tonnage. In 1977 these 3 ships were transferred to United Baltic Corporation, but MacAndrews continued operations using group and other chartered vessels. An integrated road/sea service was introduced in 1977 under the name MacPak, using ro-ro and container tonnage.

In 2001 the MacAndrews name was replaced by AWS Iberian Services and the following year the business was sold to the French CMA-CMG.


Page Link Ships on Page
MacAndrews Line Ships (1):
Carpio to Pinzon
Carpio, Cervantes, Churruca, Cid, Cisneros, Pacheco, Palacio, Pinto (1928), Pinto (1947), Pinzon
MacAndrews Line Ships (2):
Ponzano to Vives
Ponzano, Pozarica, Ravens Point, Velazquez, Villegas, Vives

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