looking for the 'Bob and Harry' a wooden steamship from Newcastle.

paul scray
15th February 2012, 20:11
I’m trying to help a friend trace not only his ancestors but information about his great many times fathers steam ship. Unfortunately where he lives high up in the Pyrenees his internet connection is all too frequently lost… that’s where I come in. Anyway… this is what he sent me….


My g.g.grandfather was master of a small steamship in the last quarter of the 19th century. This ship, the “Bob and Harry”, was too small to appear in Lloyd’s Register, but I have found her in the Mercantile Shipping Lists. She was a wooden steamship, built in 1870 in Newcastle upon Tyne: length 64 feet; breadth 19 feet; depth of hold 7 feet; net tonnage 25; gross tonnage 50; engine 14 hp, screw propelled.

Her home port was Newcastle (where gggfather lived). In the 1881 census she is recorded as being in port at Pittenweem, Scotland, with a crew of three: gggfather as “master”, his son as “engineer”, and an 18 year old lad as “fireman” ie stoker. From various sources her routes were from Newcastle to the ports of Fife, ie: Burtisland, Kirkaldy, Pittenweem, Crail... occasionally as far as Dundee. She seems to have been on long term charter (or a similar arrangement) to a merchant shipping firm based in central Newcastle who, from trade directories, seem to have dealt in such commodities as bagged coal, salt, pig iron, and lumber, while at the same time acting as approved shipping agents for Armstrong and Whitworth’s massive Tyneside shipbuilding and armaments business.

My questions are:

What sort of vessel was she? What did she probably look like? From her size and the trade she seems to have served, I have assumed she was something like an earlier version of a Clyde Puffer operating a bit in the style of Para Handy… albeit some 50 years earlier and in a different setting – would this be roughly correct ?

Also as I have stated above, the records suggest she may have carried coal, salt, iron… but all these commodities were, at the time, produced both in Newcastle and in Fife, while lumber was required equally at both destinations. So I’m a bit confused as to what her cargoes actually were. Any guesses anyone?

And finally gggfather’s occupation is always given as “master mariner” which I took to be owner/captain. But in the mercantile lists it is the Newcastle shipping agent who is given in the box labelled: “Sole Registered Owner or Managing Owner where there are more Owners than One”. So is a ship’s master not necessarily her owner?

As an ex seaman myself, I’ve already answered some of his questions but preferred to post it in its entirety… as a new boy here, I maybe jumping the gun, but then there’s no time like the present to start… I have to say after having a look around… what a cracking place this is… I just wish I’d have been directed here years ago. Cheers Paul.

Weyport
7th March 2013, 17:51
Hi, I'm going to try and attatch a picture of the Bob & Harry in Dundee Harbour which was taken 1888 and published in the Dundee Evening Telegraph on Saturday July 7th 1962. ..I came across the photo whilst researching the River Tay's sand dredging trade....no good, file too large for the site...I'll try via email. Rgds Paul

Erimus
7th March 2013, 20:28
And finally gggfather’s occupation is always given as “master mariner” which I took to be owner/captain. But in the mercantile lists it is the Newcastle shipping agent who is given in the box labelled: “Sole Registered Owner or Managing Owner where there are more Owners than One”. So is a ship’s master not necessarily her owner?



Whilst there could be single ownership it was practice that shares in vessels were, and possibly still are, in 64ths......so a Master may have had some of the shares which enabled profit to be retained.........Often Shipping Agents may also have been the long term charterers or even owners, certainly that was still the case when I came into the profession in 1958.

geoff