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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CICERO - Yard No 437 - Passenger/Cargo - Ellerman Wilson Line - Built 1954



The classic looks of the steam ship CICERO from the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb
 SS CICERO Ship No 437  
Owners    Ellerman Wilson Line
Registered    Hull Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Passenger/Cargo Launched    30/06/1954
      Handed Over    
Ship Details          
Length Overall    309' 8" Launch Details    
Length B.P.    290' 0" Weather    
Beam    48' 6" Time to Water    
Depth Mld     27' 0"      
Draught    17' 9"      
G.R.T.    2499 tons      
DWT    2520 tons      
Engines    Triple expansion steam engine      
Props    1      
Speed    13 knots      
Other known names   1970-Maldive Builder    
Current Status        
As info on the SS CICERO becomes available it will be updated here. 

With her classic Ellerman Wilson Line looks the SS CICERO Ship No 437

(Photo credit unknown)

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 steam ship CICERO was one of three such ships ordered by the Ellerman Wilson Line and she was launched from the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb in 1954.

She was primarily used on the Hull to Gothenburg service.

Along with her sister ship Rollo, she was the last steamers sailing with Ellerman's Wilson line when they were sold in 1970.

She had space for 12 passengers in, for the time high class accommodation. Her dinning room had leather upholstered chairs and crockery and cutlery monogrammed with the company's initials.

She was strenghtened for ice navigation and was state ot the art for her time mostly welded construction and with her hull and double bottoms being pre-fabricated before being erected on the berth.

She served for 16 years with the fleet, before being sold to Maldives shipping company.

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.



Classic lines of the SS CICERO shown above (photo credit unknown)


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.

So if you know any of the men or women who may have sailed on her, then please feel free to get in touch and we shall add the story here. 

The following is from a story as told by Ray:-

Ellerman Wilson Line

I was with this company on a couple of their ships, first was the Cicero.

I sailed on this one for a few months, always found them to be very cliquey.
I was in the catering dept., galley boy was my title, probably the lowest rating on the ship.
It was my job to peel the potatoes and prepare the veg, a job some use to think 'a hardship', I didn't mind it as you could just mentally go off into another world.
I never did understand this.....there use to be this 'saying' and it seemed more used in the galley than anywhere else on the ship...

you'd be busily getting about your chores and the cook would shout....'pass that tin', to which you'd reply 'which tin' back would come, 'the tin that rin-tin-tin **** in'!
it use to be so annoying when you fell for it, you'd swear you wouldn't get caught again, but often did, you in turn would try it on others and would get equally annoyed when they DIDN'T fall for it.

I worked with the cook and the assistant cook, I got on alright with them, though they were cliquey, the cook would allow me to do certain things other than just the jobs I mentioned earlier, he'd let me do the steam pudding that was on the menu, it was a good feeling when it turned out just as good as the cooks' would have.

One of my jobs was to keep the toilet near the galley clean, a job I detested, amongst other things I had to scrub the floor, one day I decided to find a quicker way to do it, I put some Harpic in a bucket and added some (I think) soda crystals then filled the bucket with really hot water, well, the reaction that frothed up and gave a horrible gas off, I swilled it onto the floor, afraid that some-one would come and want to use the loo.
Later I noticed that the floor tiles had pit marks in them, the solution was that powerful, surprised I didn't end up killing somebody.

I left the Merchant Navy for a few months shortly after this, then couldn't settle ashore, went back and joined the Silvio, this time, along with my galley boy duties I had duties that were usually done by the pantry boy, just involved washing plates and cutlery.

Nothing remarkable about this ship.

On both ships we went to either Sweden or Norway, which I did a fair amount in my time at sea, the only really remarkable place I ever went was in 1966 I went to New Zealand, with a company called Federal Steam Navigation on a ship called the Dorset, best ship I ever worked on, most beautiful country I ever visited. 



Part of a General Arrangement drawing of the steam ship CICERO

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

The Cicero was launched on 05/03/1954 and completed in June the same year by Henry Robb Ltd at Leith, she was the 2nd of 3 vessels of that name owned by the Ellerman's Wilson Line of Hull. On 06/09/1964 she arrived at Gothenburg from Hull with a fire on board in a cargo hold containing alcohol, this was extinguished by the local fire services.
She was sold in September 1970 to the Maldive Islands and re-named Maldive Builder, she was sold for scrap leaving Karachi on 29/06/1977 arriving at Gadani Beach on 30/06/1977 for demolition.
Details: O/No 185180: tonnage 2,499 gross, 1,028 net: Dimensions 309 '8'' x 48'.8'' x 17'.9'' with accommodation for 12 1st class passengers.

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