The Handy Shipping Guide was published weekly on Saturdays, from 30 April 1887 until December 1988. It is an important source of detail for economic and maritime history research, covering a period of just over a century. It supplements both Lloyd's Weekly Shipping Index and Lloyd's Loading List (the National Maritime Museum only holds certain issues of both) and is therefore a useful research tool.
The Guide contains various important sources of information:
- A list of all foreign, continental and coastwise ports and the ships presently to sail thereto. This gives details of all vessels that were being loaded or prepared for voyages, by destination port (arranged alphabetically by port). In this way, it offers much the same information as Lloyd’s List, but by destination, not current position
- Arrived outwards from home ports. This lists every ship that has arrived at an overseas port in the preceding week, having left a UK port (but including vessels registered in any country), alphabetically by ship name. This list is not broken down by destination.
- Cleared Outwards. Organised by port, then date, then alphabetically by ship name, this lists all vessels in British ports that have cleared customs in preparation for departure in the preceding week. This information was gathered directly from the Customs service.
- Entered Inwards. This is again a list based on customs information, listing all vessels coming from overseas ports into the UK and entering customs
- Homeward Bound. This lists all UK registered ships that had left foreign ports bound for the UK and had not yet returned, with notes such as 'long overdue', when relevant. It is arranged by port of departure, then alphabetically by ship.
- Lists of Loading Brokers. These lists provide the contact details of loading brokers, arranged by (British) port.
The format of the Guide varies slightly over time, and from 1945 until the end of its publication, only the first list is included. It is also worth noting that there is an extensive range of advertisements for shipping companies and support industries, with full indexes.
The Handy Shipping Guide is a rare publication, and the Library is fortunate to have a significant collection. However, there are several gaps in our holdings. We have the following issues available for consultation:
January 1887–March 1890
December 1899–December 1900
January 1910–December 1910
January 1920–December 1920
January 1930–December 1930
January 1938–December 1988
To order these journals, please order via the library catalogue, changing keywords to journals. Please note that each year is split into 4 volumes due to the size of each bound volume, so it will be best to have a specific week/year range in mind. Please email the Library team at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Other guides which may be useful for researching the Merchant Navy are:
- Research guide C1: The Merchant Navy: Tracing people: Crew lists, agreements and official logs
- Research guide C2: The Merchant Navy: Tracing people: Master mariners, mates and engineers
- Research guide C4: The Merchant Navy: Sources for enquiries
- Research guide C5: The Merchant Navy: Sources for ship histories
- Research guide C6: The Merchant Navy: The Mercantile Navy List
- Research guide C8: The Merchant Navy: Wrecks, losses and casualties
- Research guide C9: The Merchant Navy: World War One
- Research guide C10: The Merchant Navy: World War Two
- Research guide C12: The Merchant Navy: Ship registration and Custom House records
- Research guide H: Lloyd's Research Guides
For general research help see:
- Research guide A2: Principal records for maritime research at the National Maritime Museum
- Research guide A3: Tracing family history from maritime records
Although care has been taken in preparing the information contained in this document, anyone using it shall be deemed to indemnify the National Maritime Museum from any and all injury or damage arising from such use.