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 1946 to 1984 CAVALLO - Yard No 406 - Diesel Cargo & Passenger Vessel - Ellerman Wilson Line - Built 1951

Leith Shipyards

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CAVALLO - Yard No 406 - Diesel Cargo & Passenger Vessel - Ellerman Wilson Line - Built 1951


M.V.CAVELLO was a single screw motor vessel, built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb.
 The MV CAVELLO Ship No 406  
Owners   Ellerman Wilson Line/Wilson Line Ship
Registered    Hull Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Motor Cargo/Passenger Launched    17/11/1951
      Handed Over    
Ship Details          
Length Overall    296' 5" Launch Details    
Length B.P.    290' 0" Weather    
Beam    48' 6" Time to Water    
Depth Mld     28' 3"      
Draught    15' 9"      
G.R.T.    2,340      
Props    1      
Other known names   1971 re-named Maldive Venture    
Current Status        
Content on the MV CAVALLO will be added as it becomes available. 

The classic looking Ellerman Wilson Line M.V.CAVALLO underway on yet another voyage.

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 Motor Vessel CAVALLO was one of a two ship order from the Ellerman Wilson Line, these beautiful looking cargo ships were part of the Ellerman Lines expansion plans for there fleet at the start of the 1950's a time of growth in shipbuilding and in the carrying of goods across oceans now at peace, for a while. They had accomodation for 12 passengers in an age when jet travel was still in its infancy, and for those passengers who could afford it the accomodations were quit luxurious at the time, with a high quality of workmanship and finish they were the only way to travel in the 1950's.

The standard of accomodation including the passengers lounge and dinning lounge along with cabin fittings would not have looked out of place in a high class hotel at the time, the ship joiners at Henry Robb turned out some very fine work indeed.

The M.V.CAVELLO was the first ever motor vessel built for the Ellerman Wilson Line, and the workers at the Leith shipyards of Henry Robb crafted her into a beautiful looking vessels.

The MV CAVALLO was used to transport goods and cargo to Canada for a while and also on the shorter routes to Scandanavia.

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.



Leaving port with another full cargo.

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.




 A Galley boy at sea as told by Chris Bond (with photo's courtesy of Chris)

I only have a couple of pictures taken during my Cavallo Days plus the postcard one which is already on your website. I only had a small Kodak Brownie and film / processing was expensive when you were

only earning £12 per month with no days off until you paid off, I still loved my time at sea though.

My working time was mainly peeling potatoes (by hand) for 47 crew and 12 passengers and cleaning the galley after each meal, we worked from 0600 to 2000 including overtime with a 2 hour break in the afternoon and on the way back to the UK we worked most nights until 2200 painting the ship ready for the arrival into West India Docks London where the shore management would do an inspection.

We had a really good Captain named Fred Briggs and during the 12 months I spent on her she was a very happy ship. The normal route for the Cavallo was Mediterranean, Malta,Tripoli,Cyprus,Syria,Lebanon etc.and the trips were 6 to 7 weeks long. We took over from another Ellerman Wilson ship at one point and did a couple of trips to Scandinavia.

We carried 12 passengers, mostly elderly people who not only had the money for the fare but could go away for 7 weeks at a time.

Apart from the episode in Sweden with the dockside crane collision I can't recall any other momentous events it was mostly routine.


CAVALLO passing through the Keil Canal 1957 (Looks like the local ladies are out in force to wave goodbye watched by a somewhat stern police man)

(photo courtesy of Chris Bond)


 From Eddie on the Hull mariner's forum which you can find at

The Cavallo was launched on 19/07/1951 and completed in November the same year by Henry Robb Ltd at Leith, she was the 3rd vessel of that name owned by the Ellerman's Wilson Line of Hull.

She was sold in July 1971 along with the Trentino, to the Maldive Islands and re-named Maldive Venture, she was sold for scrap to the Metal Scrap Trade Corporation of India and arrived at Calcutta on 23/08/1980 for demolition.

Details: O/No 185099, tonnage 2,340 gross, 1,251 net: Dimensions 296.5 x 48.6 x 15.9 feet. She was the 1st motor ship built for the Ellerman's Wilson Line with accommodation for 12 1st class passengers.

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 #5 stuart johnston 2016-06-01 12:22
re my tower bridge expeience also did this on the m.v. Aaro another fine ship from Leith.
+1 #4 stuart johnston 2016-06-01 12:11
My proudest moment on Cavallo was at the wheel as cadet going under Tower Bridge once and berthing at wharf immediately after th bridge on the south side of the river. even though i was carrying out the river pilots instructions it was still a bit nerve racking.!
+1 #3 stuart johnston 2016-01-05 13:05
Great little ship, all my trips were down to the med on the NAAFI run malta, cyprus with baked beans and mars bars! malta was always an attraction for the crew with strait street aka "the gut" being very popular. remember one trip when on deck duty one morning local police chief came aboard to see the captain as he had a number of the crew in the local jail. captain advised him that he would send down his officers to sort things out only to be advised "they are your officers captain! happy days..
+1 #2 stuart johnston 2015-12-23 18:06
great to read this, I was a cadet on the cavallo during the 1960-1964 period but also served on the palermo, livorno, aaro and rollo. will never forget this time of my life went to all med ports, scandinavia. cavallo was a great little ship and apart from one particular ist mate all the crews were great. could relate many good stories..
+1 #1 Chris Bond 2011-09-29 18:59
I did 6 trips on the Cavallo during 1957 as Galley Boy.
On one of the trips at a Swedish Port the name of which I can't remember we knocked over one of those huge dockyard cranes as we came in to tie up, I seem to remember they wouldn't allow us to depart until Ellerman wilson left a deposit to pay for the damage.
Good old days on my first ship the
MV Cavallo

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