Andrew Weir Shipping and Trading Co.Ltd (Bank Line) – connection to Sha Lo Wan Mine, Lantau

HF: Tymon Mellor’s article, Sha Lo Wan Mine, includes, “A local company, The Bank Line (China) Ltd was interested in production of the ore for shipment to Japan, through Andrew Weir & Co, a local “reputable firm” as advised by the superintendent of Mines in a memo dated 7th January, 1953.”

Here is an introduction to this British shipping company and a brief mention of the establishment of a Hong Kong branch. More information about the company in Hong Kong, especially in connection with Sha Lo Wan mine, would be welcomed.

1885 Andrew Weir (1865-1955)  first acquired a sailing ship in Glasgow. The name of Weir’s ships included the word “Bank” from the outset.
Andrew Weir - Lord Inverforth image

Andrew Weir – Lord Inverforth

1896 First steam ship was bought.

1905 Andrew Weir registered Bank Line Ltd. Bank Line operated services between Europe and the South Pacific. Since this year all ships have been registered in that company or one of its subsidiaries. At the same time the first of many branches were established overseas in New York, Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and Hong Kong.

Bank Line Advert

1912 Last of the sailing ships were disposed of.

Bank Line lost many ships to enemy action in both WW1 and WW2.

1919 Andrew Weir and Co (Bank Line) and the East Asiatic Co., Copenhagen, founded United Baltic Corporation,  operating passenger and cargo services from Poland and the Baltic States to London.

1935 Robert MacAndrew was acquired by Andrew Weir and Co Ltdas a subsidiary for their United Baltic Corporation.

2003 The Bank Line (South Pacific) service was sold to The China Navigation Co Ltd, the deepsea shipping arm of the Swire Group.

Stephen Davies added these comments in March 2018:
“The slight muddle in your piece on the line is that Andrew Weir & Co (later via a subsidiary Andrew Weir Shipping Ltd.) was the parent company in London that owned and operated the Bank Line (and thus The Bank Line (China) Ltd.) and Andrew Weir & Co, Far East, Ltd (post-war anyway) in HK, and not really any sort of separate reputable local HK firm.

Andrew Weir & Co seems now only to be involved in marine insurance, although there is a subsid, Andrew Weir Investment Company Limited. Also trading (with I don’t know what links, although addresses of the HQ and quite different from Andrew Weir & Co., so I suspect some sort of a spin-off dating from the 2014 liquidation) are AW Ship Management, AW Crewing Services, Andrew Weir Yacht Management, St Helena Shipping and a small shipping company, Foreland Shipping Limited, all trading out of one office in the City.”


  1. Grace’s Guides Andrew Weir and Company
  2. The Ships List – Andrew Weir & Co / Bank Line
  3. Wikipedia – Andrew Weir the man

This article was first posted on 21st December 2014.

Related Indhhk articles: Sha Lo Wan Mine


  • i joined the m.v. Westbank at Bromborough on the Mersey as a Deck Appretice in 1955. A truly marvellous shipping company that showed me the world. I remember the above letter head, showing the inchanga and the Isipingo. Are there any similar cargo ships offering passenger places any where in the world?

    • Good to hear from you John. You must have visited Hong Kong during your time with the company.

      I enquired many years ago about going on a container ship from Hong Kong to Europe. Possible but very expensive!

      However, when I enquired three or four years ago it didn’t seem to be possible because of concerns about lack of medical assistance on board coupled with fears of insurance claims and the general security worry of being hijacked by the passengers. Modern times.


  • Peter McKee

    Had many a happy time sailing on hazelbank and forthbank as 6th-4th eng starting on 1973 open a new world for me

  • Michael

    Dear all,

    I am a French writer and I’m looking for information about cargo passenger ships having passed by Singapore a few decades ago.
    To be more specific, I’m working on a novel in which one of my characters leaves Chennai/Madras for Hong Kong in the Summer of 1980.
    From various sources, I found out that he could have embarked on the Chidambaram (Indian Shipping Corp.) in Chennai to reach Penang and then Singapore before sailing to Hong Kong on another boat, probably the Kota Panjang (Pacific International Line). However, I would love to have this confirmed, and additionaly have more info such as the dates of departures and arrivals of such journeys or the cost per passenger.
    If you had records, archived newspapers or any other kind of material in which I could find this info, I’d love to hear from you.

    Sincerely yours,

    Michael Gabout

  • Bruce Atkins

    Hi, I joined Bankline in January of 1975 after completing a fitting and turning apprenticeship at the Commonwealth Engine works in Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. I started off as a 6th Engineer and ended up a 2nd. I had nearly 7 very enjoyable years at sea with Bank Line sailing on the Sibonga. Larchbank, Riverbank, Sprucebank and Fleetbank. I was lucky enough to visit most countries in the world and I believe the skills and knowledge I built up over this time really set me up for the remainder of my career ashore.


    Bruce Atkins

  • John Huw Owens

    I served my time as a Deck Apprentice from 1955 to 1959 on the Rowanbank, and twice on the Westbank. The training and experience gained was excellent, but unfortunately the length of the voyages meant that I changed to Furness Withy for the remainder of my Seagoing days in 1972.

    I don’t know how I have received this email, but I’m always interested to learn anything about the Bank line, with whom I was able to see the world at a tender age, when one could have a good night out anywhere with a British £1 note.

    • Hello John

      Good to hear from you, and very interesting to read about your time working for the Bank Line. I have just returned from a holiday and will contact you directly in the next couple of days.

      Best wishes
      Hugh Farmer

  • The story of Andrew Weir is an admirable one, a man who reached the top of the shipping industry at a time when there were no additional tools to manage maritime transport, which was extremely difficult to do in my opinion.

  • D MacNiven

    I recently bought a house built originally by Andrew Weir and have begun research on his activities.
    I would be interested in any Bank Line posters and wonder if you had any suggestions as to where I might start looking.

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