At the age of just 18, William McAndrew from Elgin in Scotland, started trading; importing fruit from mainland Spain and Portugal, and the Azores. He opened offices in London and Liverpool.
Two of William's eight sons, Robert and William Peter, were running the offices of William McAndrew & Sons in London and Liverpool, respectively. With the passing of time, Robert concentrated on shipping and shipowning under the name of McAndrew & Co in London. His brother, William Peter, established a trading company in Liverpool with John Cunningham, under the name of McAndrew & Cunningham.
The first McAndrew Line steamship; the 315 gross tons Acor, was built in Glasgow. She transferred to Spanish registry in 1859 and changed her name to Cervantes
John Cunningham set up a subsidiary company in Seville - Juan Cunningham y Compañía ("JCYC") – which concentrated on fruit exports and was later acquired by Robert McAndrew & Co.
Robert McAndrew & Co embarked on an extensive expansion programme, opening branch offices throughout Spain, as well as building and acquiring new vessels which were registered in Spain. 27 new ships were contracted for, most ranging in size from 600-700 gross tons.
It is believed that Robert's son, George, incorporated the vowel "a" in the company's name to make it easier to pronounce in Spanish and Portuguese. So McAndrew & Co became MacAndrew & Co.
As more ships were added to the combined fleets, services were increased, but the general pattern of London and Liverpool sailings remained the same as it had been 10 years earlier.
The fourth generation of the McAndrew family sold the business to Royal Mail Group and a fleet replacement programme began in 1919.
Express services were inaugurated from London and Liverpool to Barcelona. The company’s first motorships, Pizarro and Pinzon were launched in 1921. Cisneros, the last of the long line of MacAndrews steamships, was built and continued to trade until the early 1950s. All subsequent additions to the fleet were motor ships.
The company was renamed MacAndrews & Company Limited when it was transferred to Andrew Weir Shipping.
Pozarica, of 1,893 gross tons, was launched and served as a fruit carrier for MacAndrews. Unfortunately, she was sunk by a torpedo off the North African coast in 1943.
On September 3rd 1939, the fleet consisted of 20 vessels. Of these, five motor ships and four steamers were lost and one ship, Florentino, was taken over by the government and sunk as a blockship at Zeebrugge in 1940.
MacAndrews invested in ‘explorer-type’ vessels, modified and improved to suit the specific requirements of the Spanish and Italian trades.
Cervantes entered service, bearing the same name as the company's first steamship.
The company was acquired by CMA CGM, the world’s third largest liner company. MacAndrews faces the new millennium transporting goods between the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsula, and has extended its services to include India, Pakistan, East Africa and the USA.