Tate & Lyle's interest in the lighterage of raw and refined sugar started in October 1938 with the formation of the Silvertown Services Limited, shipping was not developed until 1950, when three steamships were purchased. Management of these ships, named SUGAR PRODUCER, SUGAR TRANSPORTER and SUGAR REFINER, was entrusted initially to Messrs. R. S. Dalgliesh & Company Limited of Newcastle, until January 1953, when Kentships Limited became Managers, and following this, later in the year, the ships were traded direct from the West Indies to a new wharf at Plaistow Refinery, London.
In 1951, a year after the Group purchased its first ship, a new Company was registered called Sugar Line Limited, as a joint venture of Tate & Lyle, the United Molasses Company and the West Indies Sugar Company Limited. The purpose of this Company was to run a fleet of larger bulk carriers, which, although too large to use the Plaistow jetty, were small enough to use wharves at Liverpool, Greenock, Montreal and Toronto, and the first ship was named CRYSTAL CUBE.
Silvertown Services Shipping Limited was formed in 1956 to acquire the foreign-going fleet from Silvertown Services Limited and to replace the steamships with modern bulk carriers, and Kentships Limited then continued their activities as Chartering Brokers for Tate & Lyle and as Agents.
Over the next few years the fleet of SUGAR pre-fixed ships operated by Silvertown Services Shipping Limited, and the fleet of CRYSTAL pre-fixed ships managed by Athel Line Limited expanded, until in late 1961 the two fleets were combined under the title of Sugar Line Limited and operated from the Company's premises at Clyde Wharf, Silvertown, E. 16.
Following this, after the United Molasses Company Limited joined the Tate & Lyle Group in March 1966, their bulk carriers, M. V. ATHELPRINCE and M.V. ATHELPRINCESS were transferred from Athel Line to Sugar Line, and re-named SUGAR EXPORTER and SUGAR IMPORTER.
A programme of replacing older units of both fleets is presently in hand. The newest additions, namely SUGAR CRYSTAL and SUGAR PRODUCER for Sugar Line, and ATHELDUKE, ATHELDUCHESS and ATHELKNIGHT for Athel Line, incorporate all the latest features of modern design, with particular emphasis on safety and crew comfort.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.