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Ellerman Wilson Line Ships

The Ellerman Wilson Line was another very large customer of the Henry Robb shipbuilders, and had 24 ships built by the Henry Robb Shipyards, making Ellerman Wilson Line the largest customer out with the British Admiralty.

They had many more built before Robb started in 1918, with many ships built for Elelrman Lines by Ramage & Ferguson, ships such as Estrellano Ship No 223 launched in 1910 for Ellerman Liverpool Line.



The MV Salmo (Ship No 496) one of the many fine Ellerman Wilson Ships built in the Leith Shipyards. One of the so called "S" Class ships from around the mid 1960's.

She was re-named City of Athens when the Ellerman group of Companies reorganised in 1973.

The Wilson Line was founded in the early 1800' and would grow to become the largest privately owned steamship fleet in the world, creating huge wealth for it's owners the Wilson family. Based in Hull, its main traffic was to and from Scandinavia and the Baltic states, although they also carried cargoes to the U.S.A., the Mediterranean and onto India.


During World War I the company lost so many of its ships that they were forced to sell out and they were purchased by the Ellerman Line in 1916, this meant a change of name to the Ellerman Wilson Line with the Wilson Line remaining somewhat independent from the rest of the Ellerman group. Many ships were replaced by the Ramage & Ferguson shipyard just after the end of the First World War.


Following further losses during the Second World War a huge rebuilding programme was started and the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb were to benifit to the tune of around 24 ships eventually. In 1983 during another world economic crisis the entire Ellerman group was put up for sale and fell into the hands of the Trafalgar House group of companies, unable to compete in the new Ro-Ro world of shipping, they were again sold on and taken up by P & O in 1991, the last remaining four ships were sold off, and with it the last remains of what was once the largest independent steamship company in the world was consigned to history.



MV Trentino Ship No 407 under a dark sky, looking just as a ship should look. She was managed by the Wilson Line.


Henry Robb built ships for the Wilson Line and Papayanni Line both parts of the Ellerman Wilson Group.


Papayanni Line

George Michael Papayanni was a Greek national who established himself in London in 1832, chartering vessels for trade with the Mediterranean, generally importing dried fruit and exporting manufactured goods. In 1844 he shifted to Liverpool which was closer to the manufacturing centres. The move into ship-owning was made in 1855 when the “Arcadia” was delivered.


The company was purchased by John Ellerman in 1901 and continued trading on its traditional routes as Ellerman & Papayanni. The Papayanni name finally fell into disuse in 1973 with the reorganization of the Ellerman Group.


You will be able to follow the adventures and tales of all the Ellerman/Wilson/Papayanni ships built at Leith going back to the first ships that were built for the Line by the Ramage & Ferguson Shipyard. They are all chronicled in the series of books on The Ships Built at Leith.

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