The Pamir - The early years

Up until this point, we have been focussing on the methodology of Lloyd’s Register’s digitisation initiative so before we jump into the pilot project we have decided to conduct a test to trial the techniques and workflows designed by the Heritage & Education Centre to determine their weaknesses, strengths, omissions and excess. The documents of the ship “Pamir” have been chosen for this purpose (See here for why we chose to use the Pamir as our guinea pig!). Cataloguing is the first part of the digitisation pre-pilot process. It involves putting the documents in date order, foliating (a fancy word for numbering!) the documents and finally the cataloguing itself. There are all sorts of documents within the boxes of this ship, making this journey one of discovery and learning about both the digitisation process and the life and eventual demise of the Pamir in particular. The first box is mainly survey reports and correspondence, which will give us in depth information on the ship and any issues that arose during her service. The correspondence can be very detailed, elaborating on any problems and containing views of the individuals themselves. Whereas the second box is more visually exciting with enormous plans, colourful works of art and incredible amounts of hand drawn detail.

This first post focuses on the early part of the Pamir’s life up until the First World War.

The earliest survey report we have for her is from October 1905, although she was launched in June of that year. The information suggests that there were earlier documents relating to her during the building process itself, as the first survey was on the 9th March 1905. Unfortunately over the years, the archive as a whole has gone through several culls, where material that was considered not to be important was disposed of – of course, now we think that it is all incredible but back then the collection was not so lucky! However, we do still have a very large percentage of the collection, which is more than enough to build up a picture of the Pamir’s life. The first report has all of the ship’s identifying details on it, such as her name, date of build, builder, master and so on. This is confirmed by the ship’s first entry in the Register Book in 1906/1907. She was the third of a series of 8 sister vessels built between 1903 and 1926 for Ferdinand Laeisz.



She was surveyed in Hamburg by George Dykes. We’ve managed to find Mr Dykes’ employee information from our staff bibles, which is below! (His salary has been blocked out).


The Pamir was a barque, meaning a sailing vessel with three or more masts having the fore- and mainmasts rigged square and only the mizzen (the aftermost mast) rigged fore-and-aft. (See Wikipedia for more in depth information) The surveyor, Dykes, comments that it is an extremely well made ship and that all of the alterations previously suggested by Lloyd’s Register have been carried out. It seems that in her early days she was as safe as a ship could be, with excellent qualities and workmanship so she was given the 100A1 classification. This along with the Maltese cross you can see in the register book and on the report, means that she was built to Lloyd’s Register’s rules to ensure that the vessel was safe for people and cargo.

Although earlier in our history LR had a grading system for the hull and sails (A,E,I,O,U-decreasing quality of the hull and G, M, B later changed to 1, 2, 3 for the rigging and sails), by this point in Lloyd’s Register’s development, this system had been changed to an all or nothing approach; the ship was either built to Lloyd’s Register’s rules or not. It is from LR that the famous symbol of quality A1 originates! When iron ships were sailing the seas, the classed notation was changed to 100A1, allegedly because it was thought that iron ships would live for 100 years, although no evidence has been found of this in the committee minutes! Thus she was classed 100A1 in 1905.


You can see Dykes’ in depth comments below.


The Pamir changed master in 1909 but the quality of the vessel remained and only minor repairs and cleaning were needed. In 1909 it also appears that the surveyor George Dykes may have had an apprentice, Carl Priess, who doesn’t appear in the staff bibles as a full time employee until 1911.


During the years leading up to the advent of the First World War, two further surveyors were watching over the Pamir: G. Metelmann and John S. Gardiner.



The ship first needed repairs in 1913 under survey by G. Metelmann and due to some resulting issues, the survey was partly held whilst waiting for repairs to be made.


The second special survey then took place in Antwerp, likely because that was the next port to be visited. Here surveyors looked at the repairs and adjustments that had been requested by their colleagues and on return to Hamburg, the rest of her was also examined in dry dock to ensure she followed LR’s rules. The owners had repaired her well and she went into 1914 in good condition with an 100A1 Lloyd’s Register classification.


The Pamir in Dry Dock waiting to be surveyed

To be continued….

Do you have stories about the Pamir, Lloyd's Register or merchant ships in general? We would love to hear from you!