Closer to home, short sea and coaster companies too were active in their respective trades with several of these sending their vessels on ocean-going transatlantic voyages in the 1950s.
Smaller harbours too had their local ship owners. Here in Montrose J. M. Piggins operated a small fleet of steam coasters.
However, there is still a faint flicker of light showing as was seen in Montrose at the end of January when the port of Inverness appeared on the stern of the Scot Venture. Saltires were seen on either side of her funnel. She arrived up the coast from The Wash port of King’s Lynn to load softwood logs for discharge at Tilbury.
Scotline has 11 ships on time charter and two under commercial management. The company is well established in the timber and forest products trade, having two terminals at Rochester and an independent timber handling facility in the Highland capital. The 3050-ton deadweight, 90m Scot Venture was built in The Netherlands in the Tille shipyard in 2004.
Across the North Sea in The Netherlands, ship-owning is still a major activity. During the past year a large percentage of Dutch owned and managed ships have been seen registered at Delfzijl, on the River Eems.
In addition, a further dozen or so other places have appeared on the sterns of ships flying the horizontal red, white and blue of the Dutch national flag. These included Aalten, Amsterdam, Breskens, Bruinisse, Den Helder, Druten, Hoogezand, Kampen, Rotterdam, Spijk, Ten Boer, Werkendam and Zwijndrecht, with some locations better known than others. Then there’s Urk. The name appeared near the stern of the multi-purpose cargo carrier Western Rock.
The island port is a municipality and town in Flevoland province, first mentioned in the 10th Century as an island in the Zuiderzee that became part of the Ysselmeer in the 13th Century after a series of incursions by the North Sea. In the early 20th Century seabed areas were reclaimed. Fishing was the mainstay of the local economy and still is important.
Religious life is very traditional with active conservative congregations of the Dutch Reformed Church. A prominent local memorial to lost fishermen of the past named Urker Vrou, is of a woman looking out to sea vainly waiting for the return of her husband and sons.
The history of the owners of Western Rock dates back to 1775 when Jurjen Jans Hartman, son of Jan Lambertus Hartman, was born. Both were recorded as “skipper”. Based on that mention, Hartman Seatrade came into being and this seafaring family is now in its eighth generation.
Hartman Marine Group was formed in 2003 tracing its beginnings through a succession of captain/owners. The group now has three distinct sectors each drawing on long experience of maritime trading built on centuries of nautical tradition on Urk.