Shaw, Savill & Albion

Shaw, Savill & Albion

Source: Duncan Haws

Robert Shaw and Walter Savill were both employed by Willis, Gann & Co the leading shipbrokers in the New Zealand trade and in 1858 both decided to leave and set up business in their own right, neither were to know at the time that Shaw Savill was to become one of the most well known and respected British Shipping Companies in the world. Lord Ashley made the first sailing for the company on the 28th of May, she was closely followed by the Lord Wolsey, both for the Intercolonial Royal Mail Steam Packet Co's coastal services.

Shaw, Savill appointed David Nathan as its agent in Auckland and in Wellington Bowler, Son & Co, in its U.K. advertisements the company styled itself as "The Passenger's Line of Packets" thus from the outset letting its intentions known to the general public. At the same time Patrick Henderson & Co's Albion Shipping Co., of Glasgow was already operating on the New Zealand emigrant trade and was also the dominant company, which operated from the Clyde. Sadly Robert Shaw died from a heart attack at the age of forty one on the 24th of November 1860, he was replaced by James W. Temple who insisted that the name of Shaw be retained in the company title.

In 1862 Bowlers of Wellington were taken over by Levin & Co., and subsequently took over Shaw Savill's duties, a position they were to occupy for the next 100 years. Shaw Savill at this particular juncture owned no ships and chartered ships in for the carriage of cargo and passengers to New Zealand and during 1862 they developed a close working relationship with the Park Brothers another brokerage house, which also operated out of Glasgow. Invariably these ships were owned to some extent by their Captains and managed by companies such as Friend & Partners of Liverpool. Ships could be owned by their Master, managed by Friend's, chartered by Park's and operated by Shaw Savill and if that wasn't confusing enough the ship would fly the flag of the broker whilst loading and that of its owner at sea!

During the early sixties the British Government was actually encouraging the carriage of settlers to New Zealand and with voyages taking up to nine months Shaw Savill required up to twelve ships to maintain a regular service. To this end it started to purchase its own ships and also relied heavily on Park Brothers to secure appropriate ships as and when, by 1865 it was operating fifteen ships on the New Zealand service. The following year Shaw Savill's contribution to trade with New Zealand had risen to sixty-eight ship voyages and Albion by now was operating eight ships of its own with a number on charter.


©Tom Rayner Collection

Built: 1869 by Chas. Connell of Glasgow.
Tonnage: 1,161gt.
Engine: Ship Rig.
Passengers: 70.
Hull Iron, two decks.

Zealandia was specially designed for the carriage of emigrants to New Zealand and she made her maiden voyage on the 28th of August, an eighty-four day voyage. Her Master, Captain James White, was swept overboard and lost in 1871 and in 1877 she rammed and sunk the barque Ellen Lamb damaging her bowsprit in the process. To Shaw Savill & Albion in 1882. In 1892 she completed a record of thirty three round voyages but a year later, deemed not suitable, she was sold to J.P. Haegerstrand of Sweden but retained her name.

She was renamed Kaleva in 1908 and later in the year was registered with Russian owners, Aktiebolaget Imatra, Viborg. In March of 1911 she was stranded on the Northumbrian coast and her last known whereabouts were recorded in 1919 when she was serving as a barge at St. John, New Brunswick.

1873 heralded the arrival of the New Zealand financed New Zealand Shipping Company Ltd and during its first year of operation succeeded in making thirty-seven voyages a significant threat to the British operators. In 1875 over a hundred and forty ships sailed from London bound for New Zealand, half were operated by Shaw Savill, a third by NZSC with the remaining being taken up by Albion, however of the forty-nine vessels back loading for the UK a half were operated by NZSC the rest seeking cargoes elsewhere. Albion operated its only steamer Taiaroa on the New Zealand coast but as the trade proved unprofitable she was eventually sold to the Union S.S. of New Zealand.

After considerable discussion spanning many months Shaw Savill and Albion Line decided to advertise their services to New Zealand in 1878 and from that moment advertised themselves as the "Passenger Line & the Albion Line". In February of 1879 Shaw Savill and N.Z.S.C. chartered the Dutch flagged Stad Haarlem as a joint venture, sadly this proved to be a failure, fortunately later more success was forthcoming when the two companies used Money Wigram's auxiliary steamers on the steamer berth. Prior to amalgamation Money Wigram's Norfolk and Durham made their final charter sailings for Shaw Savill in 1881.


©Tom Rayner Collection

Built: 1881 by Harland & Wolff, Belfast.
Tonnage: 4,367g, 2,670n.
Engine: Single screw, 2x2 cylinder compound.
Passengers: 70 1st Class.

Coptic was originally constructed for White Star Line along with her sisters Doric and Ionic and all three were chartered to Shaw Savill's running partner N.Z.S C., the fourth ship of the class, Arabic was not included in the deal. In 1882 Coptic sailed for Oriental & Occidental Line on its San Francisco-China service. 1884 saw the introduction of Shaw, Savill & Albion-White Star service from London to Cape Town, Port Chalmers, Lyttelton and Wellington; having been fitted with refrigeration machinery she made her inaugural voyage on the 26th of May. She underwent extensive modernisation in 1894 and her builder replaced her outdated compound engine with a triple expansion, she was then placed on Oriental & Occidental's Pacific routes.

Coptic was sold out of the fleet in 1906 to Pacific Mail S.S. Co. and registered to the Persia S.S. Co. of London as Persia. Sold to Toyo K.K. of Tokyo in 1915 and renamed Persia Maru, she was finally scrapped in Japan in 1926.

1882 was the year of amalgamation between Shaw Savill and Albion, the implementation date being the 1st of January 1883. John Greenway was appointed as the new company's manager and the first members of the board of directors were as follows; Chairman, C.T. Ritchie M.P., Walter Savill and James Temple of Shaw, Savill & Co., Peter Denny the Chairman of Patrick Henderson & Co., James Galbraith, manager of the Albion Line, James Galloway of Hendersons, James Park of Park Brothers and Edward Pembroke of Galbraith, Pembroke & Co., George Turner was appointed company secretary. Sadly within days of its formation the company's first manager died and John Potter of Potter, Wilson & Co., and Lewis Potter & Co., ship-owners of some esteem was appointed to replace him, the combined fleet totalled thirty-one vessels. Five ships were retained by Walter Savill and ran as Shaw, Savill and Co, these were supplemented by a further three ships owned by Captain John Leslie.

In its first year of operation the company ordered two new 5,000-ton steamers from the yard of William Denny for delivery in 83/84. The ships were intended to carry mails to New Zealand but before they could be delivered the company chartered five smaller ships from various companies to serve on the route, they were to run in tandem with ships from NZSC. In 1884 Shaw, Savill & Albion commenced its association with Ismay's White Star Line (more correctly known as the Oceanic Steam Navigation Co.) and chartered Coptic, Doric and Ionic when they had completed their charter to NZSC, replacing the previously chartered smaller vessels.

Shaw Savill's Board also appointed a sub committee to plan its future fleet requirements, it comprised Messrs Denny, Galbraith and Galloway.


© Shaw Savill Society

Built: 1884 by William Denny & Bros, Dumbarton.
Tonnage: 5,031grt, 3,229nrt, 4,220dwt.
Engine: Single screw, triple expansion 4 cyl/ 2 L.P., by Builder, 12-14 knots.
Passengers: 95 1st Class, 52 2nd Class, 670 Steerage, Crew 106.
Launched 8th of September 1884.

Like her sister Arawa she was built to Admiralty Armed Cruiser regulations and commenced her maiden voyage on the 13th of January 1885 to Hobart via the Cape, homeward bound was via Cape Horn hence the term " Round the World service". Both ships were named after legendary canoes that made the voyage carrying the Maoris to New Zealand. In 1889 two voyages had to be cancelled due to the Great London Dock Strike. Due to her dual design Tianui was able to complete a 4,500 mile voyage when her engine room machinery failed in 1893. The Spanish Government chartered both sisters for trooping duties to Cuba in 1896, operated by Cia Trasatlantica Tianui became Covadonga. In 1899 both ships returned to Shaw Savill and after an extensive refit Tianui was chartered once more, this time to the Allan Line, however, her stay was brief and she was sold to Anchor Line in the November becoming Astoria. She was sold for breaking on the 14th of July 1910 and worked commenced the following year.

The following year James Galbraith died and on his return from New Zealand John Leslie took up the vacant position. John Leslie had been employed on the company's behalf in New Zealand establishing its operation and one of his first directives was to correct the company's shortage of freezer space by instigating the fitting out the Helen Denny as a cold store at a cost of £2,550 and having her sail out to Dunedin. In this year also the New Zealand Government actively commenced to encourage the settlement of the islands and instigated the Homestead System whereby land was given free gratis providing the recipient stayed for five years and built a dwelling on the land within the first eighteen months. The emigrant traffic surged, Shaw Savill's operating profit and losses showed that the steamers lagged somewhat behind its sail ship compatriots, steam lost £9,781 whilst sail turned in a modest profit of £89,833.

Shaw Savill& Albion had to increase its cargo carrying capacity as exports from New Zealand grew apace in 1886, however this was somewhat tempered by a price war with G.D. Tyser & Co who carried meat for Nelson Brothers, a meat shop chain belonging to the Nelson Line, this state of affairs was to continue until 1893 when Tyser withdrew from the Conference. In 1888 Shaw Savill made an agreement with Tasmanian Steamers Pty whereby passengers landed in Tasmania were transhipped to the mainland as second class passengers by the latter company.


© W.S.S.

Built: 1889 by William Doxford & Sons, Sunderland.
Tonnage: 3,583grt, 2,342nrt.
Engine: Single screw, triple expansion, 385 NHP by Builder, 10 knots.

Known as the" New Zealand Thief " she was designed as an economical meat carrier having a refrigerated capacity of 136,640 cubic feet. She suffered a broken tail shaft when rounding Cape Horn in her year of build and had to be towed to Montevideo by the steamer Gulf of Corcovado. Sold to Houston Line in 1903 becoming Hesione. On the 23rd of September 1915 she was torpedoed and sunk by U41when 86 miles south east of Fastnet.

1889 was the year of the infamous Great London Dock Strike in which the work force went on a protracted and acrimonious stoppage, all over an extra 6d a day, in today's money it equates to two and a half new pence, as in most cases of this nature it was the Dockers themselves who lost out. As a result of the strike Shaw Savill sought to employ its own work force, as did other London based companies, Shaw Savill went a step further by looking into the feasibility of directing its fleet to other U.K. ports. Another decision reached by the company was to extend its cargo fleet, which would concentrate on the carriage of meat leaving its passenger ships to trade solely in the carriage of people. A famous name entered the U.K. market that is still in use today in this year, that of New Zealand Butter when the controlling body for dairy produce came into being, The NZDP Board. James Galloway retired and the mail contract was renewed albeit under different terms, the changes didn't bother Shaw Savill but its running partner NZSC was less pleased.


© Tom Rayner Collection

Built in 1890 by William Gray & Co, West Hartlepool.
Tonnage: 4,045grt, 2,642nrt.
Engine: Single screw, triple expansion, 415 NHP, 10kts, by Central Marine Eng Co.
Launched 4th June, completed August 1890, crew 47.

In July of 1906 her yards were removed and in the November she ran aground on a rock that subsequently broke her tail shaft and buckled her propeller blades. It took twenty-one days to complete a temporary repair before she was able to make landfall at Madang, New Guinea, after further repairs she sailed reaching Sydney on the 13th of January 1907. She was sold to the Vestey organisation and chartered to the Russian government for use in the salmon fisheries in Siberia in 1909 and was renamed Graf Muravieff. In September of 1911 she returned to Vestey's and renamed Brodmore and in January of the following year passed to Blue Star management. She was sunk by UB-43 when on passage Majunga-U.K. carrying a cargo of frozen meat on the 27th of December 1917, in a position 70 miles north west of Marsa Susa.

In 1892 assisted passages ceased thus marking a downturn in passengers carried, this was offset by an increase in cargoes carried due to the Dairy Industry act, which set new guidelines as to the quality of New Zealand produce. In April of this year Walter Savill resigned as Managing Director and was replaced by James Temple.


© T. Rayner Collection

Built: 1893 by Harland & Wolff, Belfast.
Tonnage: 7,755grt, 5,489nrt.
Engines: Twin Screw, 2 x Triple expansion, 700 NHP, 15 knots.
Passengers: 104 1st Class, 114 3rd Class.

She made her maiden voyage to Wellington from London calling at the Cape, commencing on the 28th of December and arrived 37.5 days later. Her registered owners were Oceanic S.N. Co and her freezer capacity was 71,000 carcasses, brine replacing cold air for the first time as the cooling medium. She was used as a troop transport during the Boer War in 1902 and in 1906 beached in the Catwater at Plymouth after a fire in her cargo of wool. Transferred to Red Star in 1907 and became Gothland under Belgian registry. She reverted to White Star in 1911 becoming Gothic once more and placed on the company's Australian service. Back to Red Star in 1913 reverting again to Gothland. In June of 1914 she ran aground on the Gunner Rocks, Scilly thankfully all those onboard, some 281 were safely evacuated from the ship. Between 1914 and 1918 she served on the North Atlantic route and after a comprehensive refit in 1919 continued as before. Laid up in 1922 she entered service once more on the Antwerp-Vigo-Havana-New York route before being scrapped in 1925.

With a change of heart the New Zealand Government established its " Advances to Settlers " thus paving way for the emigrant trade to recommence, prospective passengers could borrow money at low rates of interest and an office was opened in London for that purpose in 1894.

C.T. Ritchie was appointed President of The Board of Trade in 1895 and resigned from Shaw Savills board; Edward Pembroke replaced him. With an increase in trade the company moved its office from Leadenhall Street to more spacious offices at Billiter Street.

1897 saw an agreement over the carriage of mutton and wool, each company promising to pay the other in the event of over carriage. Both Gladys a sailing ship and Delphic entered service this year on the company's joint service, Gladys was one of four sailing ships bought by the company for general duties at the end of the 1890's. The company's Managing Director James Temple died in 1898 and was not replaced.


© A.Duncan

Built: 1899 by William Denny & Bros, Dumbarton.
Tonnage: 6,237grt, 4,024nrt, 8,080dwt.
Engine: Single screw, Triple expansion by builder, 678 NHP, 12 knots.
Passengers: 4 1st Class, 209 Emigrants, 84 Crew.
Launched 15th December 1898, completed February 1899.

She had a capacity for 80,000 carcasses and commenced her maiden voyage on 26th of February 1899. Requisitioned for War work she sailed from Wellington, New Zealand on the 1st of October 1899 carrying New Zealand troops for service in South Africa. Avoided disaster when a torpedo narrowly missed when off the Lizard in 1917. She was sold to the Ellerman Bucknall Line in 1926 and renamed City of Pretoria, two years later she was scrapped at Barrow.

By 1900 the Boer War had swung in favour of the British and the company transferred Ionic to the Aberdeen Line leaving Gothic and seven cargo ships to maintain its New Zealand operation.


©Tom Rayner Collection

Built: 1901 by Harland & Wolff, Belfast.
Tonnage: 12,234grt, 7,833nrt, 13,925dwt.
Engines: Twin screw, 2 x 4 Quadruple expansion by builder, 4,800 IHP, 14 knots.
Passengers: 121 1st Class, 117 2nd Class, 450 3rd Class.
Launched 17th August 1901.

Built for Shaw, Savill & Albion - White Star's joint service and made her first sailing London to Wellington on the 13th of February 1902. Her design incorporated a high capacity for frozen meat and for a high volume of passengers to be carried. Due to a Dock strike at Wellington in 1912 New Zealand farmers had no option other than to load their own carcasses for shipment. On February 28th 1916 she embarked British prisoners of war at Santa Cruz, which had been taken there from the German Raider Moewe, by the prize ship Westburn, the latter was later scuttled. The Liner Requisition Scheme took her up in 1917.

She commenced her normal commercial service in January of 1920 and in the May rescued eighty passengers and crew from the American ship, Munamar, of the Munson Line, which had run aground near San Salvador, they were later landed at Newport. Sold in May of 1928 for use as a whaling factory ship to Brunn & von der Lippe, Tronsberg and converted at Smiths Dock, Tees and renamed Pelagos. She was captured by the German Raider Pinguin on the 15th of January 1941 along one other factory ship, one depot ship and eleven whale catchers, Pelagos was sent with a prize crew onboard to Bordeaux and was eventually attached to the 24th submarine flotilla based in Norway. Sunk at Kirkenes on the 24th of October 1944 and was raised by the Norwegians a year later and put back into service, she was finally broken in Germany by Eckardt & Co of Hamburg in 1962.

In 1902 Gothic, Karamea and Maori were engaged in the repatriation of troops as the conflict in South Africa had ended with the signing of a treaty on the 31st of May. Athenic, Corinthic and Ionic had all entered service this year, owned by White Star; they operated on the joint service involving both companies. During this year also Pierpoint Morgan's International Mercantile Marine was formed with a capital of £24,000,000, ostensively to purchase the assets of White Star Line and its managers Imrie and Ismay & Co.

Bruce Ismay was named as head of the International Mercantile Marine Corporation and replaced Clement Griscomb on his retirement due to ill health. Due to I.M.M.C.'s incompatible fleet serving on the Atlantic service the New Zealand routes became more and more controlled by Shaw Savill, the Preferential Trade Act (British Goods) only served to enhance Shaw Savill's already preferred position.

Assisted passages to New Zealand recommenced in 1904 and continued until the First World War intervened. Walter Henry Savill was appointed to the board on the death of James Galloway and the company commenced a service to New Zealand from Glasgow and Liverpool.


© W.S.S.

Built: 1904 by Harland & Wolff, Belfast.
Tonnage: 7,062grt, 4,540nrt.
Engines: Twin screw, 2 x Quadruple expansion, 808 NHP, 13 knots.
Passengers: 12 1st Class, 1,000 Steerage.

Mamari was the first steam ship built by Harland & Wolff for Shaw Savill and she made her maiden voyage on the 15th of December. Her funnel was taller than that of her sisters Matatua and Kia Ora and when carrying emigrants she was fitted with two extra lifeboats fitted just forward of the bridge. Whilst being dry-docked at the Calliope dry dock, Auckland she shifted on the keel blocks, this resulted in a large wave that killed two workmen in 1906. From March to June of 1910 she made a record round the world voyage. During the war she was used under the Liner Requisition Scheme from 1917 onwards. In 1927 she had to put into Port Stanley for repairs having struck an iceberg and the following year was renamed Gerolstein for Arnold Bernstein for the transport of cargo only. She transferred to the Atlantic route in 1933 having been fitted out to carry 190 Tourist Class passengers Antwerp-New York. 1938 saw her being transferred to Red Star Line ownership and in the May of the following year Holland America acquired the company name selling Gerolstein to H.C. Horn where she was renamed Consul Horn. In June of 1942 a mine off Borkum sank her

1905 George Thompson & Co converted the Aberdeen Line into a limited liability company; both Shaw Savill and Oceanic took up shares comparable to their boardroom representation at Aberdeen Line. A freight war broke out in 1906 between the joint service companies and those of foreign owned companies, Shaw Savill pushed for a Conference where across the board rates could be agreed, fortunately for the joint service New Zealand was accorded Dominion status which made it all the more difficult for the interlopers to compete. This action however did not prevent all foreign ships from trading but the advent of the First World War slowed their progress.


© A. Duncan.

Built: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend.
Tonnage: 9,372grt, 5,985nrt.
Engines: Twin screw, 2 x Triple expansion by Wallsend Slipway, Newcastle, 899 NHP, 14 knots.
Passengers: 200, Crew 80.

Jointly built by Shaw Savill and White Star and specifically designed for the carriage of frozen meat and three classes of passengers, she made her maiden voyage on the 22nd of August. Outward bound from Cape Town she lost her starboard propeller but proceeded at a much-reduced speed of nine and a half knots in 1909. She trooped between 1914-15 and was taken up under the Liner Requisition Scheme in 1917. It wasn't until 1921 that she re-entered commercial service via the Panama Canal. Converted to Cabin Class in 1926. On the 25th of May 1928 she made her final company sailing before being sold to Arnold Bernstein becoming Konigstein for use as a cargo/car carrier. In 1931 she was fitted out to carry 190 Single Class passengers on the Antwerp-New York service. Van Heyghen Freres bought her for scrap in 1939 but before work could commence Cie. Maritime Belge purchased her and renamed her Gandia for further service. She sailed in convoy on the 15th of January 1942 from Liverpool in ballast with a crew of seventy nine, unfortunately she encountered heavy seas and was soon in the wake of the main body of ships. Eventually she was spotted by U-135 and subsequently torpedoed and sunk. Because of the rough sea two of the lifeboats were destroyed when an attempt to launch them was made but the remaining two were able to get away. Of the crew of seventy nine only four made it to one of the boats and ten to the other.

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