Lowry sailed on S.S. Fagervik from Preston Docks, England to Norway on the 11 August 1931. This journey was the basis for his re-discovered novel In Ballast to the White Sea.
For many years, there was considerable speculation by Lowry commentators about Lowry's voyage to Norway. The speculation arose mainly because of the lack of documentary evidence of the trip, conflicting accounts by Lowry, misunderstandings by Margerie Lowrie drawn from what Lowry had told her of the trip and statements from his brother Russell Lowry.
The evidence for the trip was analysed by Hallvard Dahle in his article "A Norwegian At Heart": Lowry and the Grieg Connection in Sherrill Grace's 1990 book Swinging The Maelstrom: New Perspectives On Malcom Lowry. Further detail on Lowry's trip to Norway can be found Gordon Bowker's Pursued By Furies Pgs 124-131.. We can assume that Fagervik was "in ballast" on her return trip to Norway hence the title of Lowry's proposed novel. She appears to have been involved in the lumber trade from Scandinavia as can been seen in the above photograph which shows her in Bristol near the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The timber unloaded at Preston was destined for the Lancashire coalfields for use as pit props. The photograph below of Preston Docks in the 1930s shows the extent of the trade.
S.S.Fagervik was built in Larvik, Norway in 1922. By coincidence Larvik was the place in Southern Norway, where another of Lowry's literary heroes Knut Hamsun was living when he wrote Growth Of The Soil which was instrumental in him winning the Noble Prize For Literature in 1920.
The Fagervik kept that name until 1934. Her pre war history consisted of being delivered from Hølens Verksted, Larvik in December 1922 as turbine vessel Fagervik to Nilson, Nyquist & Co. D/S A/S, Oslo, 1758 gt, 1032 net, 261.2' x 41.2' x 17.8', 2 TU (de Lavals Ångturbin A/B, Stockholm, Sweden), 222 nhp. She was sold in January 1934 to A/S Havlide (O. & H. Holta A/S), Skien and renamed Haalegg. She was converted to steamship in 1935 when a 4 cyl. Compound, 850 ihp engine was installed (Fredrikstad mek. Verksted, Fredrikstad).
She was bombed and sunk by German aircraft at Narvik on May 17-1940, or sunk by British warships at Narvik on Apr. 13-1940? (or possibly both?).
After the war, she was raised and repaired in 1945, renamed Bodø for A/S D/S Vestfart (Erling Sannes), Bodø; owned by Erling Sannes, Bodø from 1947. Sold in September 1951 to Olaf Pedersens Rederi A/S, Oslo and renamed Sunny Boy. Sold again in January 1952 to Aug. Bolten, Wm. Miller's Nachf., Hamburg and renamed Otterberg. Sold in 1959 to Cia. de Vapores Kyrinthos S/A, Beirut and renamed Taxiarchis, renamed Archangelos Michael in 1960. Sold in 1965 to A. Frangistas, Piræus and renamed Diamondo. Broken up at Split in 1969.