Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Thomas and James Harrison

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of Mersey Chambers, Old Churchyard, Liverpool, Ship owners.

London Office: Dock House, Billiter Street, E.C.

1853 Thomas Harrison (1815-1888) and his brother James Harrison (1821-1891) took over the brandy importing business of Samuel Brown and Son and Co; the name was changed to Thos. & Jas. Harrison.

1857 Bought their first iron-hulled sailing ship, the Philosopher.

1862 Started sending sailing ships to India, the Far East and Central and South America.

1863 The Harrisons withdrew from the London brandy service; instead steamers were sent to Spain and Portugal for wine. Brandy was also exported out of Liverpool for Demerara.

1870 The Fire Queen was the first Harrison ship to sail to India via the newly opened Suez Canal.

1871 the Charente Steamship Company was established to take on the ownership of the ships with Thos. & Jas. Harrison as managers.

1884 the Charente Steamship Company took Limited Liability.

1914 Owners of the Harrison Line and Rennie Line of steamers

Regular services between Liverpool and Calcutta, West Indies, Mexico, New Orleans, Galveston, Brazil, South Africa, Red Sea Ports and East Africa, and Tonnay-Charente, France.

Direct service from Antwerp, Swansea, Glasgow, and Liverpool to North Pacific Ports, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, &c.

Rennie Line: London and Middlesbrough to S. Africa.

WWI Harrisons lost 27 out of 70 ships

1934 After the Great Depression, they acquired the Gulf of Mexico routes of the defunct Leyland Line.

WWII Harrisons lost 30 of 46 ships including the famous Politician, of "Whiskey Galore" fame.

Postwar: Replacements were 10 Liberty and 6 Empire type ships

1947 to 1955: Twenty motor ships were built for Harrisons by Doxfords.

1970 Harrisons bought three bulk carriers,

1982 During the Falklands War, 3 three container ships were chartered as aircraft supply and transporters, including the Astronomer which was later purchased and converted into a helicopter base.

By 1987 the Charente fleet was reduced to only three but several other ships were chartered or managed by Thos. & Jas. Harrison.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Merseyside Maritime Museum [1]