What are the Ship Annals?

The Ship Annals are an archive collection held at Lloyd’s Register Foundation that relate to the ships that we classed from the 1834 onwards. The Annals hold all kinds of fascinating documents from elaborate drawings of machinery to simple forms and they are central to our pilot digitisation project. The information they give can have a multitude of uses for different people and in different disciplines and the ships they document can have been built as early as the 1770s. Take a look at some examples!

Survey Reports

Survey reports are the most prolific documents in the Ship Annals. There were many different types including annual Surveys for Repairs and Special Surveys which were undertaken every 5 years. Surveyors had a checklist of elements that they had to survey and judge in order to arrive at their recommended class.

They show us information about ships, their masters, builders, ports, surveyors, repairs, trade, time periods and so on. It is this richness that makes them perfect for our first digitisation project. They are likely to be of great use to the public and they certainly get us interested!

Survey Report

Ship Plans

We also have ship plans of all shapes and sizes and various formats. This one of the Bakuin is too long for the table!












Shelter deck of the Bakuin

Whereas this plan whilst still large, is more manageable.


The plans are all hand drawn and are often coloured using a watercolour technique that can make them seem really quite artistic. The degree of detail can be simply astounding, from these large examples to small sketches that can appear on the survey reports.

Machinery Plans

There are also some incredible machinery plans for all the engineers out there. Again many of these can be huge but they are beautifully detailed.

IMG_0278 (2)
A boiler plan


Some of the files have correspondences stored alongside them that often relate to the documents themselves and the events they record. These can be particularly intriguing as they demonstrate the people involved in surveying and their trials and tribulations.

Lloyds Register Foundation
Correspondence on the Pamir from 1957

Steel Certificates and Receipts

There are also intriguing little snippets of information on the economics of ship building and repairs from the companies that supplied them.


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Steel receipt from David Colville & Sons 1886



Steel Certificate
Correspondence on the Pamir from 1951



The collection also holds some hidden gems in the form of photographs that informed the surveys. They demonstrate the potential damage that ship owners could be faced with and some can be truly terrifying.

Gandara 4
Photographs from the Gandara when she ran aground in 1927. 

The Wreck Reports

These reports do not always relate to an actual “wreck” as the title suggests. They were actually used when a vessel was disclassed, meaning it could have gone out of service, been broken up, moved to a different classing society and a multitude of other potential reasons. The example below however, is for the Pamir that was involved in a terrible wreck in 1957. Attached to it are some news reports from the time.

The information held in these items has far-reaching possibilities and a multitude of uses from formal research to family genealogy. By properly digitising these items we hope to set up a website that we can upload these images to, alongside searchable information. Exciting times!


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