Cork history, Maritime History

Kinsale Shipping Company, 1881-1918

Kinsale Shipping Company, 1881-1918

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

The west Cork port of Kinsale conducted a good trade with the Continent in medieval times and was involved in the provisions trade for trans-Atlantic ships in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. But as the eighteenth century progressed so the port of Cork captured an increasing part of the provisions trade so that by the early nineteenth century Kinsale port was much reduced in activity. The second half of the nineteenth century saw a brief increase in trade with the cod fishing boats but when the cod shoals moved westwards as the century neared its closed so the fishing boats went to Baltimore with their catch as that port was nearer to the fish stocks and had a railway track at the pier head to allow the faster transit of the fish to market.[1] In the early 1870s a local coal and grain merchant, Thomas Crowley (his father-in-law, Joseph Hosford, was chairman of the Kinsale harbour board) commissioned William Westacott of Barnstaple to build a number of schooners for his own use.[2] The 1901 census records that Thomas Crowley was 59 years old and a member of the Church of Ireland living in Fisher Street. He was married to Eleanor Hosford Crowley and had one daughter, Marion, and a son, Gerald. Living in the house in 1901 was Thomas’s nephew, Joseph Garde.[3] By 1911 Joseph Garde was managing clerk to the company of Thomas Crowley & Son, corn merchant.[4]

 

Kinsale

Kinsale Harbour (photographer unknown)

In 1881 three families (Acton, Crowley and O’Neill) came together in Kinsale to form the Kinsale Shipping Company to revive the port and increase trade. The company took over ownership of most of the vessels belonging to Thomas Crowley and commissioned a number of its own vessels in the succeeding decades. The Company was mostly involved in the coastal trade between Ireland and Britain with occasional passages to France.[5] In February 1905 Thomas Crowley died and was succeeded as managing director of the Kinsale Shipping Company by his son Joseph Crowley.[6] Thomas Crowley made his son Joseph executor of his will along with Joseph Garde (accountant) and left effects worth £9,144 16s 4d.[7] In 1910 Thomas Crowley of Fisher Street in Kinsale was given as the manager of the Company and Fisher Street was given as the company’s address.[8] In 1915 Joseph Crowley was again the manager.[9] Joseph Hosford Crowley was a member of the Church of Ireland and married to Emma Hall Crowley. He was the father of Allan Crowley and Muriel Crowley.[10] In 1901 he was an estate agent living at Denis Quay in Kinsale.[11]

The Kinsale Shipping Company seems to have prospered well over the years. But the First World War saw a number of its vessels lost to enemy action while other vessels were lost to storms and sea accidents. In 1918 the Company went into liquidation and the Company’s surviving vessels (James O’Neill, Marion, Old Head, and Sidney) were purchased by the Sarnia Shipping Company of Guernsey.[12] The vessels belonging to the Company imported to Kinsale the usual coastal cargoes of coal, clay, iron, cement and salt while exporting pit props, fish and barley. In the good years each vessel visited Kinsale about fifteen to twenty times per year,[13]

List of vessels owned by the Kinsale Company

Colleen (80211): The Colleen was a schooner of 80 tons built at Barnstaple in 1880 by Westacott.[14] In 1882 she was owned by the Kinsale Shipping Company with 95 registered tons.[15] In 1894 she was reduced to 80 registered tons.[16] On 29th February 1904 the Colleen sailed up the River Bride, a tributary of the River Blackwater, to collect pit props and sailed down river on 18th March.[17] In 1913 she had an auxiliary engine installed of 26 horse power. In 1915 her measurements were 85.3ft X 23.9ft X 9ft with tonnage of 104 gross and 83 net tons.[18] In late 1917 the Colleen left Appledore following repairs but went straight into a storm which blew the vessel into Padstow where she remained for October and November 1917. On another passage the Colleen lost her foremast and was driven into Mounts Bay in Cornwall. The crew managed to extract the vessel but were driven onto the rocks near Mullion, north of the Lizard. All the crew were saved but the vessel became a total wreck.[19]

Harlequin (80209): The Harlequin was built at Barnstaple in 1879 with a schooner rig and having 85 registered tons. In 1880 she was owned by Robert Heard of Kinsale.[20] By 1882 she was owned by the Kinsale Shipping Company.[21] In 1892 the Harlequin was reduced in tonnage to 77 tons for some unknown reason.[22] On 26th October 1896 the Harlequin (under the command of William Parker of Braunton) was in collision with the steamer Ouse at Barry Roads in South Wales. The crew were saved but the vessel became a total wreck and was subsequently blown up to clear the channel.[23]

James O’Neill (115120): the James O’Neill was a built at Connah’s Quay in 1903 while another source says it was in 1905.[24] A third source gives 1905 as the year she was built.[25] The builder was that of Ferguson & Baird.[26] The three-masted schooner of 140 tons was described as a beautiful vessel. This vessel was under the command of Captain William O’Donovan until May 1908.[27] In 1906 the vessel was 98 registered tons and in subsequent years.[28] In April 1908 the James O’Neill went aground on Taylor’s Bank in the Mersey while on a passage between Cork and Garston. She was towed to Newferry for repairs and successful went on to Garston to discharge her cargo of timber. More permanent repairs were later conducted at Connah’s Quay.[29] In 1915 the signal hoist of the James O’Neill was JHBC and was registered at Cork like other vessels belonging to the Kinsale Shipping Company as Kinsale wasn’t a recognised port for registration.[30]

In 1918 the James O’Neill was purchased by the Sarnia Shipping Company of Guernsey and in 1920 was sold to W.A. Munn of St. John’s, Newfoundland for use in the cod trade. On 2nd March 1923 the James O’Neill was crushed by ice off St. Pierre and was abandoned by her crew before she went under.[31]

Marion (96108): The Marion was a schooner of 79 tons built at Appledore in 1891 by John Westacott, son of William Westacott of Barnstaple who had built a number of vessels for the Kinsale Shipping Company.[32] In 1900 her signal hoist was MJHN.[33] Captain James Cummins was the master of the Marion before he moved to the James O’Neill in 1908. In May 1897 the Marion was caught in a severe storm in the Bristol Channel and lost her sails. Yet she managed to make it to Newport in South Wales where she stayed for twelve days under-going repairs. After returning to Kinsale the Marion collided with a French vessel on a subsequent passage requiring the Kinsale Shipping Company to pay damages to the French.[34] In 1918 the Marion was sold with other Kinsale Company vessels to the Sarnia Shipping Company of Guernsey and re-registered to there.[35] In January 1921 the Marion disappeared while on a passage from Runcorn to Fowey with no survivors.[36] It was claimed that the Marion was in collision with the SS Rose some distance off Little Mouse in North Wales at the time of her disappearance.[37]

Old Head (76863): the Old Head was a schooner of 97 tons (105 gross tons) that was built at Barnstaple in 1878. She was commanded by Tim Cummins of Kinsale.[38] She was initially owned by Thomas Crowley of Kinsale.[39] By 1882 she was transferred to the newly former Kinsale Shipping Company.[40] In 1910 she was still owned by the Kinsale Shipping Company.[41] In April 1917 the Old Head was attacked by a U-boat off Coningbeg Lightship but was saved by the arrival of the Dusty Miller and towed to Rosslare. In October 1917 the Old Head developed a leak while on a passage from Swansea to St. Brieuc but made it into Padstow where she remained for four months. While at Padstow she had a small engine installed. But her career as an auxiliary schooner was short lived as in February 1918 the Old Head went ashore onto rocks near Gunwalloe, east of Penzance and broke up. Thankfully her crew were all saved.[42] Another account says that the Old Head had a further two years of trading. In 1920 she was owned by the Sarnia Shipping Company of Guernsey.[43] In March or May 1920 (sources differ on which month) the Old Head struck a rock in Shoreham harbour in March or May 1920 while brining stones from Cherbourg and sank.[44]

Sidney (106278): the Sidney was a schooner of 112 gross tons (93 net) built at Appledore in 1897 by R. Cook & Son. In 1914 a new 26hp Bergius engine was installed which reduced her tonnage to 89 tons.[45] She was built for the Kinsale Shipping Company and remained in their ownership until 1918. Captain Sheat was the master of the Sidney. In April 1917 the Sidney was leased to the Royal Navy for eight months at a rate of £1 12s 6d per day.[46] In May 1917 the Sidney (renamed the Glen) engaged the German submarine UB39 with her 12 pounder and 3 pounder guns and succeeded in sinking the U-boat south of the Needles. Other sources say the U-boat sank after hitting a mine. The Sidney went on to later attack four more U-boats.[47] In 1918 the Sidney was sold to the Sarnia Shipping Company of Guernsey along with other vessels belonging to the Kinsale Shipping Company and registered to Guernsey. In 1920 the Sidney was recorded as measuring 89.8ft X 22.6ft X 9.9ft and having 112 gross tons and 85 net tons. Her signal code was JNBD.[48] The Sidney was still registered in 1930 to the Sarnia Company measuring 92 tons but disappeared from the records after that time.[49]

T. Crowley (76857): The T. Crowley was a schooner of 78 tons that was built by William Westacott of Barnstaple in 1877. The two-masted schooner measured 89.5ft X 21.3ft X 9.5ft. Her first passage out of Kinsale was under Captain Robert Fowler.[50] Later the T. Crowley was under the command of Captain Parker. In July 1877 the T. Crowley imported iron to Kinsale from Gloucester to build the new Brandon River Bridge.[51] In 1880 the T. Crowley was still owned by Thomas Crowley of Kinsale.[52] By 1882 ownership of the vessel had passed to the newly established Kinsale Shipping Company.[53] In January 1882 the T. Crowley got stuck fast on Puffin Island near Beaumaris and her damaged looked so severe that she was removed from Lloyd’s Registered. But a few months later the vessel was refloated and repaired and in January 1883 returned to Lloyd’s Register.[54]

On 10th March 1917, while about fifteen miles south of Hook Head, the T. Crowley was torpedoed by a German submarine. The vessel was lost but thankfully all the crews were saved. The Germans claimed the vessel was working for the British navy at the time. It would seem that the Germans had good intelligence but hit the wrong vessel. In April 1917 the Sidney (also owned by the Kinsale Shipping Company) was requisitioned by the Royal Navy for a number of months.[55]

 

kinsale_marina9

Kinsale Marina (photographer unknown)

Vessels claimed as owned by the Kinsale Company

Ellen Dawson (20897): The Ellen Dawson was a schooner built at Kinsale in 1857. She was of 78 registered tons and her signal code was NDCF.[56] It is said that she was once owned by the Kinsale Shipping Company.[57] In 1870 and 1880 she was owned by Joseph Hosford of Mann Street, Kinsale.[58] Hosford was the father-in-law of Thomas Crowley, manager of the Kinsale Shipping Company.[59] The Ellen Dawson doesn’t appear in the records after 1880.

Esmeralda: The Esmeralda was said to be once owned by the Kinsale Shipping Company and was under the command of Captain Greenway.[60] As yet shipping records fail to support this suggested ownership.

George Brown (8456): The George Brown of Cork had a signal code of KCGR and was registered at 88 tons.[61] In 1870 the George Brown was owned by Joseph Hosford of Kinsale.[62] In 1873 the George Brown made a profit of £147 15s on eleven passages carrying coal, corn and wood.[63] As the George Brown was declared a wreck in 1879, two years before the Kinsale Shipping Company was formed, she couldn’t have been owned by the Company but instead was associated through her owner Joseph Hosford with Thomas Crowley of the Kinsale Company like the Ellen Dawson.

Hannah (8354): this vessel was said to have been once owned by the Kinsale Shipping Company.[64] She was of 96 registered tons and her signal code was KBSV. In 1870 the Hannah was owned by Joseph Hosford of Mann Street, Kinsale.[65] Crew lists for the Hannah in the years 1863 to 1877 exist in the national Archives of Ireland.

 

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[1] Thuiller, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), p. 70

[2] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 91

[3] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai000540259/ accessed on 13 June 2020

[4] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001960365/ accessed on 13 June 2020

[5] Thuillier, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), p. 70

[6] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 92

[7] http://www.willcalendars.nationalarchives.ie/reels/cwa/005014914/005014914_00057.pdf accessed on 13 June 2020

[8] Mercantile Navy List, 1910, pp. 735, 891

[9] Mercantile Navy List, 1915, p. 539

[10] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001960365/ accessed on 13 June 2020

[11] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai000540237/ accessed on 13 June 2020

[12] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 92

[13] Thuillier, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), p. 70

[14] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 174

[15] Mercantile Navy List, 1882, p. 234

[16] Mercantile Navy List, 1894, p. 397

[17] Camphire Bridge Log Book, p. f4 (manuscript in private keeping)

[18] Mercantile Navy List, 1915, p. 124

[19] Thuillier, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), p. 71

[20] Mercantile Navy List, 1880, p. 315

[21] Mercantile navy List, 1882, p. 325

[22] Mercantile Navy List, 1892, p. 456

[23] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 91

[24] Thuillier, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), p. 70 for 1903; Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 174 for 1905

[25] Mercantile Navy List, 1910, p. 736

[26] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 92

[27] Thuillier, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), p. 70

[28] Mercantile navy List, 1906, p. 658

[29] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 92

[30] Mercantile Navy List, 1915, p. 826

[31] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 92

[32] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 91

[33] Mercantile Navy List, 1900, p. 599

[34] Thuillier, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), pp. 70, 71

[35] Mercantile Navy List, 1920, p. 878

[36] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 92

[37] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 103

[38] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 91

[39] Mercantile Navy List, 1880, p. 449

[40] Mercantile Navy List, 1882, p. 457

[41] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 174

[42] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 92

[43] Mercantile navy List, 1920, p. 916

[44] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), pp. 92, 106

[45] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 91

[46] Thuillier, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), p. 70

[47] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 92; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SM_UB-39 accessed on 13 June 2020

[48] Mercantile Navy List, 1920, p. 544

[49] Mercantile Navy List, 1930, p. 1192

[50] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 91

[51] Thuiller, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), p. 70

[52] Mercantile Navy List, 1880, p. 539

[53] Mercantile Navy List, 1882, p. 545

[54] Scott, R.J., Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: The last years of the Western seas traders (Lydney, 2012), p. 91

[55] Thuillier, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), p. 70

[56] Mercantile Navy List, 1880, p. 262

[57] Thuiller, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), p. 70

[58] Mercantile Navy List, 1870, p. 117; Mercantile Navy List, 1880, p. 262

[59] Thuiller, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), p. 70

[60] Thuillier, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), p. 70

[61] Mercantile Navy List, 1860, p. 320

[62] Mercantile Navy List, 1870, p. 154

[63] Thuillier, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), p. 70

[64] Thuiller, J., Kinsale Harbour: A History (Cork, 2014), p. 70

[65] Mercantile Navy List, 1870, p. 166

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