Book Review
Tramp Ships
Tramp Ships - An Illustrated History
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by: Felix Bustelo [ FBUSTELO ]


Tramp ships were ships that did have a fixed schedule or published ports of call. They were essentially nomads steaming wherever they had to go to either pick up and offload bulk cargoes such as coal, timber, grain or really just about anything. These ships where the backbone of the sea trades for almost 100 years and trampers came in many shapes and sizes. These fascinating ships and the work that they did are beautifully covered in this hard cover book.


This book consists of 192 pages which are illustrated with over 300 high quality photographs that document the history of the trampers. The book is divided into 13 chapters and an introduction. The introduction discusses what exactly is a tramp ship and goes on to cover the different facets of the operation of these ships. Each chapter covers the evolution of the tramp ship, starting with early British ships from the 1860s and subsequent British designs. British dominance started to meet strong competition in the 20th century from other European countries and eventually American and Canadian and even Asian ship builders and these ships are covered in later chapters. The effect of merchant ship losses during both World Wars on ship design and production are covered in two chapters. All good things must come to an end and the traditional tramp ship was no exception, as the hodgepodge fleet gave way to larger and more efficient modern bulk carriers.


Roy Fenton does an excellent job of telling the story of the tramp ship in words and photographs. It is quite astonishing to see the variety of ship designs over time but at the same time you can clearly see the lineage and common elements. Each photograph is supplemented with a detailed caption and you can clearly see Mr. Fenton’s love for these ships and the breadth of his expertise in the subject matter. I own several other books that are “illustrated histories” on merchant ships and liners but none of these go into the same depth as this book does.


I don’t think that merchant shipping gets as much face time in terms of both model kits and reference books as warships do, so it is very satisfying to see such a well-done book cover these overlooked vessels. If you have an interest in merchant shipping or are looking for a reference to help build a model of a tramp ship, by all means buy this book.
Highs: Excellent quality photos, good depth of subject matter given the format.
Lows: None that I could think of.
Verdict: I highly recommend this book if you are interested in merchant shipping or are looking for a good reference for a modeling project.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-84832-158-8
  Suggested Retail: 60.00
  PUBLISHED: May 24, 2014

Our Thanks to Casemate Publishing!
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About Felix Bustelo (fbustelo)

I am primarily a ship modeler but I am starting to expand my horizons, so to speak, by building some aircraft and armor models. Kitmaker sites have certainly helped me with this endeavor as well as my ship modeling. I started building models in 1971/72 when I was 6 or 7. I have fond memories o...

Copyright ©2021 text by Felix Bustelo [ FBUSTELO ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved.


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