Forwarder resurrects the Ellerman brand to create new British liner

Container analysts at Alphaliner have provided details on a new British shipping line. UK-based forwarder Uniserve, which had chartered some ships last year, has gone a step further, creating a dedicated liner subsidiary, Ellerman City Liners.

Ellerman City Liners has started a regular China to the UK service, the GB Express, which turns in approximately 60 days using four chartered ships ranging in size from 2,464 to 5,060 teu. The ships call at Taicang, Ningbo and Dachan Bay in China and Tilbury in the UK.

Alphaliner explained in its most recent weekly report that Uniserve had initially started chartering vessels as extra sailers, but since the ongoing capacity shortage and port congestion is not expected to ease soon, it decided to organise itself as a carrier for the longer term.

Uniserve is the UK’s largest privately-owned logistics provider. Its ocean freight business is called UniOcean, with the new service carrying UniOcean branded containers (pictured).

The Elllerman brand dates back to 1892, becoming one of the largest British shipping lines prior to World War II. The brand disappeared in 1991 when it was acquired by Andrew Weir Shipping.

The name Ellerman City Liners was revived last year by Iain Liddell, the chairman of Uniserve, who started his career in shipping as a clerk with Ellerman.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. From memory Sam, (and it’s been an eon since my freight forwarding days!) I think it was Andrew Weir Shipping that acquired Ellerman not Andrew War!

  2. Looking forward to the return of “City of ….” names – once a common sight in Calcutta and Singapore.

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