WITH the Tees Valley major jetting off to the Far East on a trade mission, it felt timely this week to look at a book produced in 1926 when you could sail your freight from Middlesbrough Docks to anywhere in the world.

The book was produced by shipbrokers Thomas and Alfred Bulmer, who were agents for the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) line and doubled as Japanese consuls. Nearly all Japanese merchant ships sailed under the NYK flag in the 1920s, and you could reach Yokohama – the steamer port for Tokyo – in 49 days. Yokohama is 11,423 miles as the steamer sails from Boro.

Such was the close connection between Middlesbrough and Japan that the Bulmer brothers persuaded several of their Japanese captains to bring flowering cherry trees over which they ceremonially planted in Middlesbrough parks in the 1930s.

The book, which has been kindly lent to us by Mike Lee of Darlington, who works in international freight logistics, shows that you could send your freight to Hamburg in Germany every ten days, to Alexandria in Egypt every month, to Leghorn in Italy every fortnight, to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanganyika every month, to Capetown in South Africa every 14 days, to Bombay and Madras in India every week, to Vladivostock every fortnight, and Australia and New Zealand every 14 days.

These pictures from Bulmer's "Blue Book" transport us back to a lost age of ocean travel from our doorstep.