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JAMES P. CORRY & CO.

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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.

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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, Clark.

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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 Fleet
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

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