The History of Cockfield Knight

Cockfield, Knight & Co. Ltd. was established in 1981 on the initiative of Jim Cockfield and John Knight, and with the encouragement and support of Smith, Hogg and Co. Ltd.,who were at the time, fellow shipbrokers and agents based in Hartlepool. 

Smith, Hogg and Co. Ltd. also owned Amundsen and Smith Ltd., at the Port of Seaham.

Cockfield Knight is the youngster of the group; Smith Hogg and Amundsen and Smith having been established in 1904 and 1919 respectively. Having said this, the company feels it has inherited the tradition and legacy of a once well known name in Middlesbrough shipping circles, that of T.A.Bulmer Ltd.

Founded in 1875 by the brothers Thomas and Alfred Bulmer, the company survived in family control for nearly a century. Like many a family owned company, later generations developed other interests and lacked the will to remain at the helm. In the early 1970's the Bulmer family sold out to the Peckston Group whose collapse in 1980 was the catalyst in establishing Cockfield Knight.

Neither Jim Cockfield nor John Knight had any family connections with Bulmers, although both remembered their time with the company with affection. Jim Cockfield died in July 2002, and could claim a virtual lifetime spent in their employment, rising from office boy to director, having commenced his shipping career on leaving school in 1936. At an age when most would have contemplated retirement, he boldly committed energy and resources into establishing Cockfield Knight. John Knight was a more recent recruit, joining T.A.Bulmer Ltd. in 1974, having commenced his shipping career with "The Ben Line", Edinburgh based ship owners, long established in the Far East liner tradesConsidering Jim started his career when the company was already well into its second half century it seems amazing that he could recall one of the founders, Alfred Bulmer. Alfred must have been but a boy himself when the company was established. Jim remembered him, some 60 years later, calling in the office, and continuing his duties as Japanese Consul. As well as representing numerous British ship owners, T.A.Bulmer and Co. was also proud to agent the well-known Japanese flag carrier, NYK Line, and, no doubt, these links were in part responsible for Alfred's appointment as Consul.

 In 1926 Bulmers published their renowned "Blue Book", a number of copies of which survive. NYK Line's advertisement is reproduced here. Cockfield Knight is proud to have inherited the association with this ship owner whom they continue to represent in the North East of England, although nowadays calls are rare. In spite of this, a bond of friendship continues to exist, not only with us, but also with the town and people of Middlesbrough.

The following is an extract from Tees Packet, the journal of the Tees and Hartlepool Branch of the World Ship Society:- 


"The NYK Line and their Captains had a long and established relationship with the Civic Authorities and people of Middlesbrough and this lead to a number of cherry trees being brought from Japan for parks in Middlesbrough. The first presentation was on March 31st 1931 when Captain Taketa of the "Kashima Maru" took part in a tree planting ceremony at Stewart Park., Marton. In May 1932 more cherry trees from Japan were planted in Stewart, Pallister and Albert Parks by Captain Watanabe who was now Master of the "Kashima Maru" to commemorate many happy visits to the Tees. … In April 1985, as part of the NYK Line Centenary celebrations and as a mark of continuing friendship, 9 cherry trees were presented to the people of Middlesbrough to replace those planted in the 1930s. Doctor Yoshio Watanabe, the son of Captain Watanbe and Mr. Kaneyoshi Moriya, the Managing Director and General Manager of the NYK Line, London took part in the tree planting ceremonies with the Mayor of Middlesbrough, Councillor Malcolm Kirk in attendance".

Shortly after start up in 1981, a localised dock strike prejudiced the company's future. One of their, and Smith Hogg's, major principals, Hoegh Ugland Auto Liners transferred their vehicle and car export services, from Tees Dock to the Persian Gulf and Far East, back to Southampton. For a company in its infancy, this was a major blow, although, fortunately, other riverside berths and terminals were not affected by the strike. Since those early days, the company has expanded its customer base, and now represents a number of respected owners, charterers and other principals, involved in a wide variety of trades. We believe we have consolidated our position and built our reputation by offering a professional service with integrity.

In addition to agency, shipbroking and associated activities, the company is proud that both Jim Cockfield and, since 1991, John Knight have held the position of Honorary Consul for the Federal Republic of Germany. Although Jim retired from day to day involvement a few years ago, he retained a keen interest in the well being of the company, up until his death.  During 2006 Nigel Hogg retired and moved to the South of France. Smith, Hogg and Co continued for a short time but unfortunately went out of business in July 2008

During June 2009 Amundsen Smith became part of Seaham Port Service, which is part of the Victoria Group.

During 2010 John Knight was considering retirement and commenced the search for a buyer for Cockfield Knight. He approached AV Dawson Ltd, as historically Cockfield Knight always close ties with AV Dawson Ltd acting as ships agent for more than 50% of the vessels using their berths. Therefore on 5th April 2010 ownership of Cockfield Knight passed to AV Dawson Ltd  The new owners wished Cockfield Knight to continue to offer superior independent port agency services to all users of the North East Ports and have backed the strengthening of the agency team.

Contact Cockfield Knight

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Dinsdale House

Riverside Park Road




T: +44 (0) 1642 230111
F: +44 (0) 1642 231651


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