The Loftsman
Leith Shipyards

A history of the Ships built at the Henry Robb Shipyard in Leith, Scotland. Also a testimony to the men who built the Ships and to all who sailed in them.
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Home Ships Built in Leith 1918 to 1939 GEORGE SALT - Yard No 225 - Motor Tug - Blackfriars Lighterage - Built 1936

Leith Shipyards

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GEORGE SALT - Yard No 225 - Motor Tug - Blackfriars Lighterage - Built 1936

Photo still to go in. 

Single Screw Motor Tug GEORGE SALT Ship No 225
Owners    Blackfriars Lighterage & Cartage Co Ltd
Registered    London Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Single Screw Tug Launched    07/05/1936
      Handed Over    June 1936
Ship Details          
Length Overall     Launch Details    
Length B.P.    75' 0" Weather    
Beam    19' 0" Time to Water    
Depth Mld      9' 0"      
Draught    8' 3"      
G.R.T.    77 tons      
Engines    4SCSA 8cyl 12.5"x19" Mirrlees Bickerton and Day diesel engine, producing 122nhp      
Props    1      
Speed    10 knots      
Other known names    1948 Renamed Sao Cristovao    
Current Status    Removed from Lloyds register in 1966    
Content on the motor tug GEORGE SALT will be added as and when available. 

The Tug GEORGE SALT at work towing lighters

in this photograph from  

Ships History

Once a ship had been built and launched she then had to be out-fitted, and then complete sea trials
before being handed over to her new owners, who would look to have that ship at sea, as long as possible to
pay for her build costs and of course to make the company good profits.

To this end one company may have had no requirement for a particular ship after a time and would then sell her on just like any other disposable commodity.

Hence a ship may have had a few owners and would go through many changes and names during what was
hoped for a long and successful working life.

The Single Screw Motor Tug GEORGE SALT was another in the long line of Tugs built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb Ltd, ordered by the Blackfriars Lighterage Company another of the many towing Companies working on the River Thames.

Delivered to Blackfriars Lighterage & Cartage Co Ltd., London. 1936 Owners Frederick Leyland Ltd., London. 05-1946 Sold to Lamport & Holt Line Ltd., London for service in Brazil.

Departed Langstone Dock Liverpool for South America. 7-1946 Owners Cia de Navegacao das Lagaos, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. (Thanks to TugTalk)

We try here to give as full an account of her history as time and research permits, if you know of missing info
or you have any photographs of her, then please get in touch and we shall update her story as we go along.


The following story was recently sent into the website from a newspaper cutting by Francis.

In July of 1946 the small River Tug GEORGE SALT left the port of Liverpool, England for a momentous journey of some 6,000 miles to her new home port in Brazil.

On board were her small crew of eight men all from the Liverpool area, and this was a voyage that none of the men would forget.
When they speak of the might of the Atlantic Ocean these brave men knew just what that meant.

One of the men had even compared his three and a half years as a prisoner of war in Germany as a holiday camp compared to the thirty day journey over the Atlantic.

This was not just an ex-prisoner of war but an experienced seaman of some 18 years, and he describes the trip as the worst journey at sea he ever undertook.

The mighty Ocean was in a particularly fowl mood the month that they set out first for Las Palmas then down on down to Dakar on the African West Coast before setting out westward for the South Americas.

The only one on board that was not sea sick was the redoubtable Skipper for the Journey, all else was extremely sick for the whole 30 days of the journey.

Across the South Atlantic they went to Pernambuco, down to Rio de Janeiro, before heading to her final destination Rio Grande de Sol, where the old Leith built tug was destined to work on the rivers for another twenty years or so before being deleted from the Lloyds register of shipping.


 The reporter from this Liverpool newspaper had a pretty well known name as it turned out in later years!

One of the crew members from this eventful voyage in fact took more than two years to work his way back from South America via the outback of Australia.

Crew member of the GEORGE SALT has the long way round to get back to the U.K.

This is a photo of my brother Jim (Sweetman) in Australia, after he missed his ship, the George Salt In the Rio Grande. S.America.  Stranded there without his ship’s papers, he had to take a job on whatever beat-up boat would take him.  Landing in Australia, he worked as a lumberjack, as my father and uncle worked hard to get his ship certification back.  Two years later he returned home to Anfield, Liverpool.

Photograph was sent in by Jim's sister Francis and is shown here by permission


Tales from the Ship

Here you will find the stories from the men and women who sailed on the ships, what was it really like to be working on a ship in a raging sea and in the pitch dark of night, the real stories some funny some sad, some good and some bad.

Dedicated to all the brave men and women who sailed the vessels from the Leith Shipyards.

Should you know of anyone who may have sailed on her, then please feel free to get in touch so that we can add the story here.

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0 #4 Frances Monaco 2016-01-19 02:27
Regarding my brother Jim and his 'adventure' delivering the
George Salt across the Atlantic. I have a photo of him taken
in Australia, working as Wa lumberjack, as he struggled to find a way home to Liverpool. I will forward it to you if you would like.
0 #3 Guest 2015-12-22 00:21
Please notify me of any updates! Thank you, Fran Krumm (formerly Frances SWEETMAN
0 #2 Frances Monaco 2015-10-30 13:26
Frances Monaco with more on Jim Sweetman's harrowing voyage across the Atlantic on the tugboat George Salt. There first stop was Rio Grande before final delivery further down the coast.
Needless to say, the crew was very happy to be on dry land, even for just a few hours. However, time got away from Jim and when
he arrived at the dock, the George Salt had left but was out in the water in plain sight waiting for the tide. So he hired a rowboat to take him out to the ship. However Captain Westmore refused to allow him on board.
So Jim was left there. All his possessions were on board, plus his very important ship's papers, without which most ships will not hire him. So he somehow found a local mission, similar to the Salvation Army gave him a bed. Eventually he was able to be taken on by a ship, mostly manned by fugitives from the law. He ended up in Australia. It was 2 years later he finally came home to Liverpool.
0 #1 Frances Monaco 2015-08-18 14:31
Hello--Frances Monaco (nee Sweetman) here. From Liverpool--now live in U.S.
My brother, James (Jim) Sweetman was a crewmember on the George Salt when she left Liverpool for South America. I have a copy if a Liverpool Echo piece of that journey. Frances

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