City of Cork Steampacket Company Archive Descriptive List


City of Cork Steam Packet Co Ltd

and Dodo transported troops to the Crimean War [U370/G/044-045]. In 1871, in light of high volumes of trade, it was decided to split the company in two. The City of Cork Steam Packet Co Ltd was set up to handle 'coastal' trade with Britain, while the original company was incorporated in 1872 as the Cork Steam Ship Company Ltd, retaining foreign routes. It lost many vessels during World War I, and was wound down in the 1920s, the new British & Continental Steamship Company of Liverpool taking over its flag and other assets. At the Cork Steam Ship Company's final meeting on 25 March 1927 it was resolved 'that the liquidator be empowered to destroy the books and records of the Company after three months from the date of the meeting' [Smyth, p197]. The City of Cork Steam Packet Co Ltd was administered from the Company's offices at Penrose Quay, Cork, initially trading regularly with Liverpool, Milford, and London. In the 1880s a dispute with cattle dealers caused much disruption [U370/A/006]. In 1883 Ebenezer Pike was succeeded as chairman and managing director by his son Joseph Pike. The Company participated in popular 'grand tours' of picturesque west Cork and Kerry, naming several vessels after locations on the tour itinerary. Excursion and 'daylight' cruise were particularly popular in the 1930s [U370/D/002]. A new port at Fishguard, opened by the Great Western Railway Company in 1906, came to replace the Milford route [U370/D/001]. The Company experienced labour troubles in 1908-09, including a strike organised by James Larkin, but at the eve of World War I was trading very successfully. Routes operated from Cork to Fishguard, Liverpool, Bristol, Plymouth (and Southampton and London), and Newport-Cardiff (this last was coal and cargo only, the others included passenger services). A Cork-Le Harve service was later added. The War, however, took a heavy toll, and in 1918 the Company was bought out by Coast Lines Limited, through the British & Irish Steam Packet Company (acquired a year earlier). RW Sinnott was appointed manager, and the Company continued to trade under its own name. In 1936 it was brought under the management of the British & Irish Steam Packet Company (1936), under the overall control of Coast Lines [U370/B/056]. Throughout its history the Company suffered losses of vessels and lives at sea, including the loss of the Sirius in Ballycotton Bay in 1847. Losses in World War I included the Inniscarra, the Lismore, and the Ardmore [U370/C/029]. The sinking of the Lismore (II) in 1924 was later found by the Irish Free State's first investigation into a maritime disaster to have been caused by the movement of cattle [U370/C/025]. Losses in World War II included the Ardmore (II) in 1940, proven in 1998 to have been caused by a mine [U370/C/024]. Several new ships were built after the war, reusing former names such as Innisfallen and Glengariff. The latter's final voyage on 7 Dec 1963 marked the end of the Cork-Liverpool service [U370/D/018]. In 1965 the Irish government took over the British and Irish Steam Packet Co Ltd, together with its subsidiary City of Cork Steam Packet Company. Coast Lines Ltd were taken over by the P&O Line (formerly Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company) in 1971. *In 1836 a company called the Cork Steam Packet Company was set up as a partnership headed by Thomas Somerville Reeves, with 222 subscribing members [U370/S/001]. This company may have failed to prosper and ceased operations; or, it may have been absorbed by the new City of Cork Steam Ship Company created in 1843. Kennedy and Smyth make no reference to the 1836 company.

©Cork City and County Archives 2014

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