53°24′5.9″N 2°58′51.3″W / 53.401639°N 2.980917°W / 53.401639; -2.980917

Bibby Line
Company typePrivate
HeadquartersLiverpool, United Kingdom
Key people
Jebb Kitchen (MD)
OwnerBibby Line Group Ltd
WebsiteBibby Line homepage
The Danube was a steam and sailing ship built for Bibby Line in 1856 and sold to Leyland Line in 1873

Bibby Line is a UK company concerned with shipping and marine operations.

Its parent company, Bibby Line Group Limited, can be traced back to John Bibby who founded the company in 1807. The company along with the group is based in Liverpool.[1]

It owns the Bibby Stockholm, used in August 2023 to accommodate asylum seekers at Portland Port before it was evacuated on 11 August 2023 due to legionella on board[2] and amid fire safety concerns.[3]


The cargo steamship Derbyshire was built by Harland and Wolff in 1897, survived the First World War and was scrapped in 1931
The Bibby Line passenger ship Oxfordshire, built in 1912, serving as a hospital ship in the Second World War
The cruise ship Fairstar, which was built in 1957 as the Bibby Line troopship Oxfordshire
Bibby Sapphire is a diving support vessel built in 2005

The Bibby Line was founded in 1807 by the first John Bibby (1775–1840). The history of Calderstones Park in Liverpool notes that 'although John Bibby & Co was founded in 1807, the year Britain abolished the slave trade, the family’s business activities and investments can be traced back further. Prior to abolition, as a metals trader and ship broker, John Sr. held a stake in three slaving voyages on the ships Harmonie, Eagle and Sally.' [4] The ships can be found on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database using the voyage IDs 81106, 81732, 83481, which shows a total 787 enslaved people were transported on ships owned by John Bibby, of whom 75 did not survive the voyages. (*Note: The company has not addressed an open letter from the Refugee Council requesting it acknowledge potential links to the transatlantic slave trade.[5]).

After John Bibby was attacked and murdered on 19 July 1840, his sons John and James took ownership of the Bibby Line.[6][7]

It was one of the first businesses in the world to fit its entire fleet with radio, by the British based Radio Communication Company.[8]

Along with other British ship owners, it endured hard economic conditions in the 1970s and 1980s, but survived through diversification into floating accommodation. The group diversified in the 1980s into separate divisions, including Bibby Financial Services which was formed in 1982. The parent company is now called Bibby Line Group, and is a £800 million global business, operating in 14 countries, employing 4,000 people in sectors including retail, financial services, distribution, shipping, marine and infrastructure.[9]

Since 2007, Bibby Line Group and its employees have donated over £10 million and thousands of volunteering hours to over 1,000 charitable causes.[10]

In 2008, the Bibby Line Group continued to diversify with the purchase of the construction asset hire company Garic UK. Bibby Line Group’s investment enabled Garic to remain a key market player, in a competitive sector. Currently, Garic has four sites across the UK and is one of the most trusted specialized plant and welfare facility providers in the UK.[11]

In July 2023, an open letter signed by over fifty NGOs and campaigners, including the Refugee Council, called Bibby Marine, as owner of the Bibby Stockholm, to acknowledge its founder John Bibby's links[12] to the Atlantic slave trade and to end the practice of containing asylum seekers on its vessels.[13] Later that month, a Guardian report highlighted safety concerns on board the Bibby Stockholm, including potential overcrowding along with narrow corridors and a lack of lifejackets on board.[14] The Times also reported there were concerns about fire safety, noting it could become 'a floating Grenfell'.[15] On 11 August 2023 legionella was found to be on board and a water sample taken on 15 August 2023 confirmed this to be of 'the most deadly strain' of legionella pneumophila, found in the ship's kitchen's galley pot wash hose.[16]



Bibby Line has a fleet of accommodation barges and Service Operation Vessels.[17]

Current fleet


Vessels currently operated by Bibby Line include:

Former fleet


Vessels that have previously operated for Bibby Line include:

  • Brixham
  • Cheshire - operated by Bibby Transport suffered a cargo fire in August 2017 off the coast of the Canary Islands during a passage from Norway to Thailand with a cargo of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. The cargo in all five of the ship’s cargo holds burned for two straight weeks. Shipping Watch reports that 'toxic gases had M/V Cheshire's cargo exploding and made it rain fertilizer'.[20] In 2021 the Norwegian Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that crew negligence was a key factor in the loss of the Cheshire and ordered Bibby Transport and Singapore-based operator J. Lauritzen to pay compensation and costs totalling around US$30m.[21][22] Safety4Sea reports: 'Ruling that Bibby and Lauritzen were liable to pay damages, the court said it had found evidence of a ‘negligent breach of clear and repeated instructions’ by the ship’s crew, who had failed to ensure that all heat sources in the cargo holds were disconnected before loading. The judgment further states that a light by a ladder in cargo hold 4 had probably been left on from the time of loading and, most likely, had not been disconnected until four days after that,– by which time the heat around the lamp had started the chemical reaction. "The instructions were to disconnect the power supply, not just to turn off the switches. That such disconnection probably only took place after four days is in itself clearly reprehensible," the court pointed out. The court also decided that the crew were negligent in failing to act more quickly when the first signs of problems with the cargo had been detected.'[23]
  • Derbyshire - Lost on 9 September 1980 during Typhoon Orchid with all 44 hands onboard. Largest British vessel ever lost at sea.
  • Harlington
  • Herefordshire - wrecked on Cardigan Island in 1934 while on the way to be scrapped[24]
  • Hertfordshire
  • Kiel
  • Kowloon Bridge
  • Leicestershire - sold, renamed Heraklion and sunk in the Aegean Sea in 1966
  • Oxfordshire (1912) - official number 131454, recorded travelling Liverpool - Marseilles - Port Said - Colombo - Rangoon, departing Liverpool 2 March 1923. [UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890–1960, Liverpool, 2 March 1923]
  • Oxfordshire (1957)
  • Rmeil
  • Shropshire
  • Somersetshire[25]
  • Worcestershire[26]
  • Yorkshire - sunk by U-37 in September 1939 with the loss of 58 lives[27]

Current operations


As of 2023 the Bibby Line labels itself a diverse company which has three separate services split into: Financial Services, Marine Services, and infrastructure applications. These businesses within the Bibby line group, operate across multiple countries and currently it is recorded to employ 1300 colleagues. It is now recording management of 1 billion pounds in funds.[28]

After suffering through COVID-19 and ultimately undertaking a restructuring it was recorded that generally after working at a net loss they were able to run more profitably. In reports sent to the Uk companies house it can be seen that in December 31, 2021, the group made a net profit of £35.5m, compared with a net loss of £29.9m in 2020.[29]


Generation MD Management tenure Key events
First John Bibby 1807–1840 Creation of the Bibby Line in 1807
Built fleet of 18 vessels
Established Mediterranean trade
Some trade with Bombay and Canton
Second James (son) 1840–1897 Fleet of 23 steam ships by 1865
Association with Harland and Wolff
James ‘retires’ in 1973
James establishes limited liability

company in 1890

Separation of owners and managers
Third Arthur

(nephew of James)

1897–1935 Consolidates links with Burma
Seven ships less than 10 years old in 1914
Fleet requisitioned for World War I
Post-war turbulence
Focus on Burma trade
Fourth Harold

(Arthur's son)

1935–1965 Fleet requisitioned for World War II
Decline of Far East trade
Containerisation and air travel
Fifth Derek

(Harold's son)

1965–1985 Two bulk carriers from Japan in 1965
Borrowed finance
Oil shocks of 1970s
Marine diversification
Regained financial control
Appointed Simon Sherrard MD
Diversification into financial

services and logistics

Sixth Michael

(Derek's son)

2000 to present Continued diversification
Rapid growth of the business


Since 1965 Bibby has come into its modern era of leadership with the fifth generation, Derek Bibby becoming MD. He led diversification into new areas specifically financial services and infrastructure applications. Following his retirement Simon Sherrard was appointed the first non-family managing director and helped continue to modernize and drive diversification before handing over to the sixth generation Michael Bibby in 2000. Since then Bibby Line has continued to rapidly grow and diversify further and Michael stepped back from managing director to chairman. Currently the board is composed of 5 members; Jonathan Lewis the Executive Director (Group Managing Director, ), and the Non-Executive Directors including: Sir Michael Bibby Bt. DL (Chairman), David Anderson (Senior Independent), Susan Searle, and Geoffrey Bibby.[31]

Financial Services


Bibby Financial Services was set up in 1982, is seen to be the UK’s largest independent invoice finance company. It offers services providing factoring and invoice discounting financial support for growing SME's. Through It aims to “help businesses around the world grow, combining international scope with expert local knowledge”.[32] In a report released in 2023 it note that it employed 900 people and had expanded to nine different countries. After a restructuring of the company in 2020 profits were reported to have increased by 2022 from£132.4m to £150.5m for 2022 while its pre-tax profits increased from £255,000 to £9.4m.[33]

Marine Services


Bibby Marine Limited, established in 1982, currently has 1 "Wavemaster" that can operate up to 30 days at a time and 1 Bibby Challenge that contains 337 rooms known as the Bibby Stockholm. This has led to the current dominant trait of the Bibby Line fleet being the application of these vessels for “walk to work service” where special operations ships, "Wavemasters", can take off shore workers out to their remote locations. Part of this then also extends into floating off shore worker accommodation locations providing floating barges where workers can live on or off duty. These marine services aim to provide cost effective and environmentally friendly options for workers on large scale marine infrastructure projects. There have been large controversies with Bibby Stockholm which aims to provide support housing for asylum seekers. Claims of prison like conditions were claimed and according to the financial times governments were only saving £9.28 per person per day.[34]



Existing for the last 30 years and employing 230 people, "Garic" has worked in the welfare and plant hire market. This is through the “hire and sell welfare accommodation, modular buildings, plant and storage products, tower lights, environmental solutions, wheel washing, dust control and site shelters”. These can be set up, serviced and broken down by Garic and are generally aimed towards fields like construction, infrastructure, industrial, house building, water and waste, power, utilities and renewables and commercial property sectors. They have moved into sustainable sectors as is one of their goals as seen in an article where Garic promotes sustainable solutions to business growth on the ground.[35]

See also



  1. ^ Merchant Navy Career with Bibby
  2. ^ Taylor, Diane (14 August 2023). "Legionella on the Bibby Stockholm barge: five questions for Home Office". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 September 2023.
  3. ^ Syal, Rajeev; Taylor, Diane (31 August 2023). "Fire safety report demanded five changes on Bibby Stockholm". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 September 2023.
  4. ^ Reader, The. "Calderstones Park and its links to slavery: What we know so far" (PDF). The Reader.
  5. ^ Santos-Pedro, Nick (3 July 2023). "An Open Letter to Bibby Marine". Refugee Council. Retrieved 10 September 2023.
  6. ^ "Shipping Line Histories - Bibby Line Group". The Ocean Liner Virtual Museum. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
  7. ^ "RECORDS OF BIBBY LINE". The National Archives. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
  8. ^ "Bulletin of the British Vintage Wireless Society Vol.23 No.3" (PDF). bvws.org. 1998. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  9. ^ "(Homepage)". Bibby Line Group. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  10. ^ "Social Responsibility". Bibby Line Group. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  11. ^ "Our Story". Bibby Line Group. Retrieved 29 June 2023.
  12. ^ "Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade - Database". www.slavevoyages.org. Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  13. ^ Santos-Pedro, Nick (3 July 2023). "An Open Letter to Bibby Marine". Refugee Council. Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  14. ^ Allegretti, Aubrey; Taylor, Diane (27 July 2023). "First 50 people coming to Bibby Stockholm asylum barge despite safety worries". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  15. ^ Dathan, Matt (9 September 2023). "Bibby Stockholm 'could become floating Grenfell'". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  16. ^ Taylor, Diane (8 September 2023). "Deadliest legionella strain found onboard Bibby Stockholm". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  17. ^ "Fleet Locations – Bibby Marine". www.bibbymarine.com. Retrieved 16 July 2023.
  18. ^ Forsyth, Ian (16 April 2010). "Bibby acquires Sapphire in £34m deal". Energy Voice. Retrieved 16 July 2023.
  19. ^ Taylor, Diane (11 July 2023). "Housing asylum seekers on barge may only save £10 a person daily, report says". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 16 July 2023.
  20. ^ "Toxic gases had M/V Cheshire's cargo exploding and made it rain fertilizer". shippingwatch.com. 27 December 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  21. ^ "Norwegian court rules crew negligence key factor in loss of Cheshire ordering Bibby Transport to pay compensation". www.nautilusint.org. Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  22. ^ "J Lauritzen Singapore Pte Ltd v Yara Asia Pte Ltd | CML CMI Database". cmlcmidatabase.org. Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  23. ^ "Norwegian court decided crew negligence a key factor in loss of Cheshire". SAFETY4SEA. 24 January 2022. Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  24. ^ "Storm of 1934 changed Cardigan Island forever". Western Mail. 30 December 2010.
  25. ^ "HMS Worcestershire (F 29)". uboat.net. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  26. ^ "HMHS Somersetshire". uboat.net. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  27. ^ "Loss of the Yorkshire and the City of Mandalay". Old Mersey Times.
  28. ^ "Home". Bibby Line Group. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  29. ^ "Bibby Line Group returns to profit following key disposals linked to realignment | TheBusinessDesk.com". North West. 23 August 2022. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  30. ^ Jones, Oswald; Ghobadian, Abby; O'Regan, Nicholas; Antcliff, Valerie (September 2013). "Dynamic capabilities in a sixth-generation family firm: Entrepreneurship and the Bibby Line". Business History. 55 (6): 910–941. doi:10.1080/00076791.2012.744590. ISSN 0007-6791. S2CID 153480048.
  31. ^ "Board & Executive Team". Bibby Line Group. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  32. ^ "Bibby Financial Services". Bibby Line Group. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  33. ^ Robinson, Jon (6 July 2023). "Bibby Financial Services eyeing 'sustainable profitability'". Business Live. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  34. ^ Clare, Horatio (22 July 2023). "A boat to stop the boats? Bibby Stockholm and the battle over asylum". Financial Times. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  35. ^ "Putting your business on track with sustainable site solutions". RailBusinessDaily. 3 October 2023. Retrieved 9 October 2023.