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Maritime Personalities (2)

Sir Samuel Cunard (1787-1865) - was a British shipowner who operated a fleet of sailing ships out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. When, in 1838, the British government invited shipowners to tender for replacing the sailing brigs on the transatlantic mail service with steamships, Samuel Cunard joined forces with one of the best known engineers of the day, Robert Napier, to make a bid. In their tender they agreed to build steamships and would guarantee to operate two return voyages to America every month throughout the year. The British government accepted the tender and, together with George Burns of Liverpool and David MacIver of Liverpool, Cunard formed a company and placed an order for four wooden paddle steamers. The transatlantic operation began in 1840 with sailings between Liverpool and Boston. In 1859. Samuel Cunard was knighted for his outstanding services to the British shipping industry.

Sir George Burns (1795-1890) was a British shipowner who ran a fleet of small sailing ships between Glasgow and Liverpool.. In 1938, together with Samuel Cunard and others, he managed to acquire the government contract to carry the mails to North America and, as a result, founded the Cunard Line. He was succeeded as the Chairman of Cunard by his son John, who, in turn, was succeeded by his son George.

Sir Donald Currie (1825 - 1909) - started his career with Cunard Line but, in 1862, decided that he wanted to go it alone. He started his own venture with a fleet of sailing ships operating out of Liverpool to Calcutta under the name of the Castle Line and in 1872 began operating to South Africa from London with steamships. In 1900 Currie's Castle Line merged with the Union Line to become the well known Union Castle Line. But Currie also had other ideas, notably, the use of fast merchant ships as auxiliaries or armed merchant cruisers in time of war. In 1880 he began a campaign in Parliament to persuade the Admiralty of the viability of the concept and the fact that they were later used in that role is largely due to Currie's persistence.

Sir Walter Runciman (1847-1937) was born in Dunbar, Scotland and , at the age of 12, ran away to sea sailing in many ships before obtaining his master's certificate in 1871. He commanded the sailing barque Althea before being given the command of a steamship. After 25 years at sea he came ashore in 1884 and founded a shipping company, Moor Line. Although the company prospered, severe war losses between 1914 -1918 meant that the company had to be wound up. Runciman started a new company in 1924 and in 1935, acquired a controlling interest in the well-known Anchor Line. He was also an author, writing his autobiography Before the Mast and After in 1924, and an enthusiastic yachtsman.

 

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