James P Corry & Co.
was founded by Robert Corry who was born in County Down, Northern
Ireland in 1800. By 1826 he had established a timber importing
business from Canada and in that year purchased his first
sailing vessel, the 325grt Chieftan, followed, in 1840, by
the 198grt Summerhill. In 1843 he became the owner of the
1433grt Queen of the West as a result of unconventional circumstances.
Built in New York for Woodhall & Minturn Ltd of Liverpool
she stranded during a gale near Carrickfergus in Ireland.
Robert Corry purchased the ship together with her cargo of
American cotton and by selling the cargo cleared his costs
and had the ship repaired. She continued to serve under the
Corry flag until 1875.
In 1851 Robert's son William
joined the company which had become Corry & Co. and in
that year the 1132grt Persian joined the fleet. This was followed,
in 1852, by the 519grt barque Alabama , which was built in
St. John's, Nova Scotia, and the ship rigged Saint Helena,
811grt, which was also built in Canada. Because of his contacts
in Canada Robert Corry tended to have his ships built there.
Timber was plentiful and, providing the building cost was
favourable, it was more economic to construct wooden hulled
ships in Canada. When completed the ships would load timber
and undertake a profitable maiden voyage across the North
Atlantic to Great Britain. Under this policy the 1060grt Charger
was built at New Brunswick in 1856.
In 1859 the company extended
its operations to India by deploying the Charger on the Calcutta
route to exploit the jute trade. The expansion into the India
trade led to the eventual transfer of the shipowning activities
of the company from Belfast to London. By this time shipowners
in general were becoming interested in íron hulled
ships as they were less vulnerable to 'hull rot' and, consequently,
a fleet replacement programme was initiated.
The Corry's went to Harland
& Wolff in Belfast in 1860 and commissioned the first
of twelve almost identical ships, eleven of which were given
names prefixed by Star of... setting the precedent for future
ship naming and the birth of the Star Line. The Jane Porter,
named after the wife of William Corry, was the first sailing
ship built at Harland & Wolff's Belfast yard. The first
of the 'Star's', the Star of Erin, was built in 1862 and,
thereafter, the Corry sailing ships became famous for their
splendid condition and elegance. In 1874 the company's largest
sailing ship, the 1981grt Star of Russia, entered service.
Not only were the ships prefixed with 'Star of...' they were,
with one or two exceptions, named after countries.
James P.Corry was created baronet
in 1885 and thereafter spend most of his time looking after
the Belfast timber trade. In the following the company took
delivery of their last sailing ship the Star of Austria which
was built by Workman, Clark & Co. at Belfast, a shipbuilder
with whom a close relationship evolved as they were both interested
in the development of refrigerated cargo spaces.
In 1887 the company took delivery
of their first steamship, the Star of Victoria, named in celebration
of Queen Victoria's 50th year on the throne, quickly followed
by the Star of England. Hitherto, the company's sailing ships
were their proudest achievements but the introduction of these
two vessels was to herald the beginning of even greater achievements
in the frozen meat trade. However, on completion the ships
were deployed on the India jute run. By this time founder
Robert Corry's grandson, James P. Corry, was chairman of the
the company which had become James P. Corry & Co. Ltd.
In 1889 G.D. Tyser & Co.
chartered the two steamships for their Colonial & Union
Co. service to New Zealand and had refrigeration plants installed.
The management of Corry's recognised the potential and after
six voyages they paid Tyser's for the cost of the refrigeration
plant and continued to work with them on a commission basis.
In the same year Alexander McDonald, a former employee of
Workman, Clark & Co., joined the company to advise on
the refrigeration aspect of all Corry's future pre- Commonwealth
& Dominion buildings which were to be constructed by Workman,
The company moved to larger
premises at 9-11 Fenchurch Street, London in 1891 and during
that year Sir James Corry died. He was succeeded as Chairman
by his son Sir William Corry Bt and from thereon shipping
became the company's prinicipal business.
In 1898 the Star of Bengal,
the Star of Russia and the Star of Italy were sold bringing
to an end the company's deployment of sailing ships. It was
the management's intention to enter the Argentinian frozen
meat trade and with this in mind the Star of Ireland was built
in 1903. She was smaller than other vessels in the fleet and
was soon joined by the older Star of New Zealand in order
to operate a two ship service on the run to the River Plate.
In 1912 in conjunction with
Thomas B. Royden & Co. and G.D. Tyser & Co. agreement
was reached with the Government of the State of Victoria to
carry emigrants to Melbourne. Five ships were earmarked for
the service with Corry's providing two, Tyser's providing
two and Roydens's one. Corry's had two larger ships delivered
in 1914, the Star of Victoria (2)and the Star of England (2)
each capable of carrying 1000 emigrants and with three quarters
of their cargo space equipped with refrigeration plants.
On 23rd January 1914
J.P. Corry's Star Line, Thos. B. Royden's Indra Line, Tyser
& Co. and Wm. Milburn's Anglo-Australian S.N. Co. incorporated
the Commonwealth & Dominion Line which was later to become
Port Line in 1937.
The history of James P Corry & Co. and its' ships has
been extracted from
Merchant Fleets 21: Port Line by Duncan Haws
to whom we extend our grateful thanks.
Available from TCL PUBLICATIONS