Ahlmark Lines, based in Karlstad, is Sweden’s oldest shipping company. It has been involved in trade between Sweden and the UK and Continent since its formation in 1847, with forest products the major part of cargo carried.

With a conspicuous ‘A’ on their funnels and usually named after lakes in Sweden, Ahlmark ships are a familiar sight in UK east coast estuaries.

Ahlmark offers scheduled liner sailings to the UK comprising three or four sailings per week from Lake Vanern and one or two from the Norrland coast of North Sweden.

The ships are classed to the highest standard of ice-capability so they can navigate on Lake Vanern and in the Gulf of Bothnia during the severest of winters.

The company operates modern cargo vessels capable of loading at ports located close to production sites. Discharging ports in the UK include Hull, Rochester, Boston and Montrose. A fortnightly service from Holmsund to Dublin is also offered.

In 2001, 580,000 tonnes of cargo were carried to the UK, including 650,000m³ of sawn timber. Other forest products carried include paper, pulp and poles.

Ahlmark has built a reputation and customer base second to none in the Swedish forest product business, with the ability to provide flexibility and personal customer contact.

Besides its head office at Karlstad on Lake Vanern, Ahlmark also has an office in the north of Sweden at Harnosand. Through these offices it maintains close contact with shippers’ offices/sawmills and is able to receive bookings and adjust sailings to best cater for demand.

Because Ahlmark offers a liner service it can accommodate shipments of all sizes. Small shipments with just-in-time requirement can usually be covered.

To emphasise its commitment to the UK, Ahlmark recently opened an office in Hull. Ahlmark Shipping (UK) Ltd has been set up to provide a more direct link with customers and contractors and work closely with them to provide a service to the highest standards.

Ahlmark Lines has seen a gradual growth in its forest products business in recent years and to cater for this it has updated port facilities, particularly at the Port of Hull.

Hull offers non-tidal berthing facilities and large storage areas; much of the storage at the Ahlmark Terminal in Hull is covered warehousing to cope with the increasing demand for covered storage for timber. The port owner, Associated British Ports and its associated stevedoring company Northern Cargo Services have supported Ahlmark Lines in this expansion, resulting in a close relationship between these partners.

For deliveries to UK customers, Ahlmark works closely with ET Morris & Sons which provides transport from Hull and Boston.

Recently the line transferred its weekly Lake Vanern sailing from Boston to Hull, providing two weekly sailings from Kristineham to Hull. Boston will continue to be served with a monthly service from Lake Vanern.

For the south, the line has frequent sailings into Transit Port Services at Rochester. Transit prides itself on providing a specialised terminal for handling forest products.

Scottish receivers are catered for through the Port of Montrose, with a fortnightly service from Lake Vanern. Montrose has many years’ experience handling forest products, with regular sailings from North America as well as Scandinavia.