Fairplay (magazine)

Fairplay was a weekly news magazine devoted to the international merchant shipping industry, delivering “content tailored for its core audience of ship owners, managers, operators and charterers.“[1] It was founded by Thomas Hope Robinson in 1883 and remained in continual publication until 2018.[2] Since 2011, Fairplay's publishing company IHS Fairplay is a division of IHS Markit.[3]

CategoriesTrade magazine
FounderThomas Hope Robinson
Year founded1883
CompanyIHS Markit
Country United Kingdom
Based inCoulsdon


Startup and development

After Thomas Hope Robinson had lost his money at the stock exchange in 1883, he tried a new career as publisher by starting Fairplay weekly with borrowed money. His intention was to “speak out, loud and bold … for the shipowner, as an advocate, not a judge”.[3] In the first issue he wrote: "There is so little Fairplay in the world. If our own efforts succeed, we shall have taken the first steps towards promoting the habit of calling things by their right name and looking at them through uncoloured spectacles."[2] The enterprise was successful and soon increased in size and revenue. The publisher's son Gordon Hope Robinson (died 1953) took over in 1912 and Fairplay remained a family business until 1973.[3] It was then taken over by the Financial Times before a management buyout in 1978 created Prime Publications.

Data management

The company began publishing directories in the 1960s and data management became a sector of growing importance, resulting in the 1964 cooperation with International Shipping Information Services, which became FIRS, Fairplay International Research and Statistics.[3] In 1973, the Fairplay company was taken over by the Financial Times group, before a management buy-out in 1979, one of the first in the UK, transferred ownership to Prime Publications.[2] Prime improved the data management sector by storing information in databases and started to sell directories on CD-Rom in the 1990s.[3]

Internet age

Fairplay was the first maritime publication to start an internet and email daily news service, in 1996. Its data management activities led to a joint venture with Lloyd's Register in 2001, known as Lloyd's Register–Fairplay Ltd (LR Fairplay). This new enterprise was then the sole provider of IMO numbers. The next years saw several acquisitions of other companies and in 2004, a partnership with HITT NV of the Netherlands, which created AISLive, a broadcast system for tracking vessel movements. Fairplay was acquired by IHS in 2008, including 50% of LRFairplay, and the corporation also bought Lloyd's Register's 50% share of that maritime data business in 2009.[3]


In 2011, the Fairplay publication company was renamed IHS Fairplay.[3] It produced the weekly magazine in print, a digital edition, a daily email newsletter, and the monthly magazine Solutions.[1] Additionally, Fairplay's website provided up-to-date news and information for registered users (“up to five free articles every thirty days“) and subscribers.[4] The organisation was based in Coulsdon, UK, has offices in America, Singapore, Sweden and a network of correspondents worldwide. In September 2018 it was announced that Fairplay would cease publication by the end of 2018, with the last issue due to print the first week of December.[5][6]


  1. "About Us About Fairplay". Janes.com. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  2. Hogben, Rick (1983). A Sharp Lookout. London: Fairplay Publications Ltd. pp. 165, 174. ISBN 0905045483.
  3. Miller, Greg. "History of Fairplay". Fairplay.IHS.com. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  4. "Fairplay". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  5. Chambers, Sam (27 September 2018). "Maritime media stalwart Fairplay bows out at 135/". Splash247. Asia Shipping Media. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  6. "Fairplay to cease publication". Fairplay. IHS Fairplay. 27 September 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
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