PortCities London

The ships of Gustaf Erikson

Gustaf Adolf Mauritz Erikson (1872-1947) was an unusual shipowner in many ways. His background was typical enough. Born in the Åland islands, with a largely Swedish population but now part of Finland, Erikson came from a seafaring family. His father was a skipper and co-owner of several ships, and Gustaf first went to sea at the age of 10. He obtained his master's certificate, and after 20 years skippering vessels he gave up the sea and became a shipowner.

All the Scandinavian countries had a tradition of buying older vessels second-hand and using them on routes where they would still be profitable. Thus hundreds of Scandinavian sailing vessels still sailed the oceans long after most lines had switched to steam.

Erikson took this even further. He continued to buy older sailing ships well after World War I. He employed the larger vessels on the Australian grain run, where they were could still compete with steamships.

Thanks to Erikson, several elderly iron barques, among the most beautiful ships still afloat, made regular journeys into London in the inter-war years. The larger vessels brought Australian grain to Millwall and the mills of the Royal Victoria Dock.

 


The 'Grace Harwar' at the Rank Premier Mill.

The 'Grace Harwar' at the Rank Premier Mill.

The 'Grace Harwar'.

The 'Grace Harwar'.
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