The History of CockField Knight

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

Cockfield Knight was 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 Limited. 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.

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. Over the years, Cockfield Knight has consolidated its position and built its 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. Jim retired from day to day involvement in Cockfield Knight but 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 as historically Cockfield Knight always had close ties with the business, acting as ships agent for more than 50% of the vessels using its berths. On 5 April 2010 ownership of Cockfield Knight passed to AV Dawson. The new owners were keen that Cockfield Knight would continue to offer superior independent port agency services to all users of ports in North East England and build on its strong reputation.