Our Heritage


Heritage 1

At the time when Napoleon was causing havoc in Europe, the Americans had won their war of independence and Liverpool was beginning to exert itself as a port.

John Bibby began trading as a shipowner in Liverpool with his partner John Highfield. 

By 1836 the Bibby fleet consisted of 18 ships and John had moved the business forward independently of his partner.


Heritage 2

By 1840 John had become a very wealthy and influential man, owning a sizeable fleet and a thriving metals business. However tragedy struck,  when he was attacked and brutally murdered on the 19th July 1840. John was found by a local farmer near Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, face down in a pond. He was just 65.

The case of this murder has never been closed, and still sits in the archives of the Merseyside Police. John's death left his sons with a prosperous business and together John and James took the helm of the Bibby Line.



Heritage 3

During the 1850's the Bibby business either built or acquired 23 vessels due to the growth in steam charters.

James Bibby made the decision in 1870 to retire from the business, giving his 'loyal' employee and general manager power of attorney. However, he had his trust severely betrayed when his ambition outstripped his loyalty and he decided to give the company his own name. Fortunately, James' private yacht the Jason continued to sail under the Bibby Line flag in the Royal Yacht Squadron thus enabling the Bibby Line to continue. 



Heritage 4

In 1859 Bibby Line's Venetian was the first vessel built by the Belfast shipyard Harland & Wolff. Of the first 23 ships built by the yard 18 were for the Bibby Line.

Gustav Wolff acknowledges their debt to James Bibby saying that the business would never have gone on as it had, had it not been for the friendship and assistance of James Bibby. In total the Harland & Wolff shipyard built 37 ships for Bibby Line, the last of them in 2003.



In 1880 Arthur Wilson Bibby, now the guiding force in the fortunes of the Bibby Line realised the vast potential of the Burma trade and ordered two new steamers from Harland & Wolff - Lancashire and Yorkshire.

In 1899 the Yorkshire was the first of the Bibby fleet to be engaged as a troopship in the Boer War and became known during this phase as 'No. 14 Transport'.



In 1891 Bibby Steam Ship Co. was established under the management of Bibby Bros & Co leading an assault upon the worlds shipping lanes. 

The Lancashire recorded the best time for the run to Burma in 23 days and 20 hours, gaining the reputation for reliability by never having had a voyage disrupted.


Heritage 7

In 1893 Bibby Line was placed on the approved list for Government officials and their families travelling to Burma and the Far East.

This was viewed as a good way of managing the risk of either market suffering from a downturn. Both the Yorkshire and the Lancashire were converted to take up to 70 passengers. These majestic liners became recognisable around the world with 4 elegant masts and pink black-topped funnels.





Heritage 8

In 1902 and with Arthur Wilson Bibby at the helm Bibby Line became one of the "Four B's" and was voted by the Trade Unions as "the ideal type of employer".

The other three were Birchalls, Blue Funnell and Booth Line - Bibby Line had the distinction of being the longest established of the four.


Heritage 9

At the outbreak of WWI the Bibby Line ships were requisitioned to serve as hospital ships, troop ships and armed merchant cruisers. Oxfordshire alone carried 53,000 wounded during the war.

By the end of the war Bibby Line had carried over 200,000 British and 25,000 American troops. The Worcestershire became a casualty of this war.



Now under the leadership of Sir Harold Bibby and at the outbreak of WWII, Bibby Line consisted of eleven ships, all of which were requisitioned for the war.

The Yorkshire, the ship bought to replace the ill fated WWI Worcestershire was the first casualty, followed by Shropshire (renamed HMS Salopian), both were torpedoed whilst on duty. On D-Day, four of the vessels operating as troopships, the Cheshire, Devonshire, Lancashire and Worcestershire carried 10,000 men.


Heritage 12

With Sir Derek Bibby now at the helm the company more than trebled its overseas earnings and the total tonnage of the Bibby Line in the 1970s exceeded one million tons.

Sir Derek made an exhausting but successful bid to keep the company afloat through the worst years that the shipping industry had ever seen.

In 1965 Bibby Line in partnership with Clarksons, Houlder Brothers, Bowstring, Silverline and British Steamship Company established the Seabridge Consortium operating bulk carriers and oil-bulk-ore vessels.



Heritage 13

Bibby Line started a long association with the LPG sector in 1968 with an order for the gas carrier Wiltshire.

This specialist market performed well and she was joined in 1972 and 1974 by the Hampshire and Devonshire.

In 1970, Bibby Line was awarded the highest honour that can be bestowed on a UK company - The Queens Award to Industry and again in 1976 and 1982 with The Queens Award for Export Achievement and in 2001 for Enterprise.


Heritage 15

In October 1980 came the tragic loss of the oil-bulk-ore carrier Derbyshire with all hands.

She was overwhelmed by a typhoon in the South China Sea. This remains to this day Britain's biggest peace time loss.


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Bibby Line became involved in 'factoring' in 1981.  For the first couple of years the factoring business was run from Bibby Line's acounts department, then it migrated to its own department, and in 1985 became Bibby Financial Services Ltd. Today it is operates world wide with thousands of clients globally. 

In following year (1982) Bibby Line began to diversify its maritime business to include interests such as Coastels and jack up platforms.


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In 1985 Sir Derek Bibby employed the non-family member Simon Sherrard as Managing Director, later becoming Chairman, of the newly established parent company Bibby Line Group.

Bibby Distribution (BDL) was also formed this year, as changes to the domestic movement of goods towards the use of third party contractors prompted the business to take a stake in a warehousing and distribution contractor.  Further acquisitions and developments, have meant BDL now operate 2,400 trucks and trailers, with 105 depots around the UK, and more than 2 million square feet of warehousing accommodation. 


Ship -Management

Manx Ship Management was formed in the Isle of Man, to employ seafarers serving on Bibby Line and third party vessels, changing its name to Bibby International Services (IOM) in 1991 and then renamed again to Bibby Ship Management (Western Europe) in 2008.

Bibby Ship Management was acquired by V Group in March 2016.


Bibby HQ

In 1992 the company moved its head office to105 Duke Street, a building dating from 1800.  First used as a newspaper office it ceased to operate in 1840 and in 1852 the building became Liverpool's first public library until 1860.

Michael Bibby, the eldest son of five children to Sir Derek and Lady Bibby also joined the business this year as finance director for Bibby Line. 


Heritage 17

In 2000 Michael Bibby became Managing Director of Bibby Line Group, parent company to the divisions.

After the passing of his father Sir Derek Bibby in 2002, Michael inherited the baronetcy to become Sir Michael Bibby Bt.


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The offshore business began trading as a division in its own right in 2003. 

With a base in the oil and gas capital of Aberdeen; Bibby Offshore aims to become a global provider of dive support services to the industry.

During 2006 Bibby Line Group purchased two new businesses. A health & safety advisory service - Bibby Consulting & Support (sold in 2013) and GreenAcres Woodland Burials.

This bold acquisition strategy continued to add to the diverse range of activities that the Group had chosen to build, investing in them to create divisions of the future and add to the services offered to our clients. 


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Bibby Line Group celebrated its Bicentenary in 2007. A year long calendar of events took place with three main streams - fundraising, volunteering and celebrating.

The company launched a £1million sponsorship deal with a youth charity and offered match funding for all money raised for any charity chosen by employees. By the end of the year,£1.2m was donated to over 350 charitable causes.

During 2007 the business also acquired a majority stake in the growing retail fascia group Costcutter. This move supported the Group in achieving a £1bn turnover for the first time. 


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This year also saw the Group continue to diversify with the purchase of the construction asset hire company Garic UK.

This business has a clear strategy to be the market leader. Bibby Line Group's investment has enabled Garic to achieve this in a competitive sector.



Bibby Line Group purchased 100% of Costcutter and established the Bibby Retail Services division.

This division went on to purchase the retailer Rhythm & Booze in 2012 and continues to exploit new opportunities to grow this division.

In the following year (2012) Bibby Marine also acquired the hydrographic and geophysical survey firm, Osiris Projects (renamed Bibby HydroMap in 2015).


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Our Costcutter business form a strategic partnership with Palmer & Harvey (P&H) to launch the Buyco joint venture buying company. 



After 30 years with the Group - 15 years as Chairman and previously as Group Managing Director for 15 years, Simon Sherrard retired. Simon has been instrumental in the transformation of the Group into a diverse and growing £1.72bn global business.

Simon has been succeeded by Paul Drechsler, who in 2015 was also appointed President of the CBI, the UK's largest business organisation, and appointed honorary CBE for his significant contribution to voluntary and charitable services.


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Bibby Line Group's strength and success lies in its diversity. A global business operating across a range of industries which is bound by its values to ensure consistently outstanding service and a thirst for innovation.


Our two hundred years of history as a business is both our foundation and the inspiration which teaches us to always be looking and thinking ahead. The past has shown us that strong values and a willingness to evolve will always ensure our future and underpin the services we offer to clients in a changing business landscape. Here is a snap shot of our journey so far this century. 

Key Dates

  • 1807  Bibby Line began trading
  • 1914  Ships requisitioned for WWI
  • 1944  Troopships carry 10,000 men in WWII
  • 1970   Bibby Line was awarded the highest honour - The Queens Award to Industry
  • 1972  Bibby Line had over 1m DWT in ships
  • 1981  Financial services division established
  • 1982  Coastel fleet established
  • 1985  Distribution division established
  • 2002  Financial services is trading in the USA, Europe and Australia
  • 2003  Offshore division established
  • 2006  Bibby Consulting & Support acquired
  • 2006  GreenAcres Woodland Burial Parks acquired
  • 2007  Bicentenary celebrations held across the global business
  • 2007  Majority stake of Costcutter acquired
  • 2007  1bn turnover achieved
  • 2007  Corporate Social Responsibility programme launched
  • 2008  Garic business acquired
  • 2008  Bibby Ship Management established
  • 2011  Bibby Line Group take 100% ownership of Costcutter Supermarkets Group  
  • 2012  Osiris Projects acquired
  • 2012 Business and employees together donate £5m to charitable causes since 2007
  • 2013 Costcutter forms a strategic partnership with Palmer & Harvey.
  • 2015 Paul Drechsler succeeds Simon Sherrard as chairman

Our Timeline Continues

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Bibby Line Group appoints John Cresswell as new CEO

Bibby Line Group has appointed John Cresswell as Chief Executive Officer to lead to Group through its next phase of growth and investment. John will join Bibby Line Group on 1st May 2...> Read more

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Sir Michael Bibby elected President of the UK Chamber of Shipping

Sir Michael Bibby, Managing Director of Bibby Line Group, was elected President of the UK Chamber of Shipping at the organisation's Annual General Meeting in London on 15th March. He ...> Read more

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Bibby Offshore - Completion of Recapitalisation

Bibby Offshore Holdings Limited is delighted to announce that it has completed the recapitalisation of its balance sheet announced on 5 December 2017. The comprehensive agreement o...> Read more



Bibby Offshore reaches agreement with 80% of its noteholders to recapitalise the business and strengthen its financial position

Bibby Offshore Holdings Limited ("Bibby Offshore" or the "Group"), is delighted to announce that it has reached a comprehensive agreement on the recapitalisation of its balance sheet...> Read more



Bibby Marine Services signs contract with Total E&P for Bibby WaveMaster 1

Bibby Marine Services are delighted to announce they have signed a contact with Total E&P Netherland to charter the new Damen designed and built 'Walk to Work'(W2W) Service Op...> Read more