HARRISON LINE (Mini Gallery)
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(T & J Harrison Ltd)
      The Charente S.S. Co. Ltd.

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The steamship CROFTER was built in 1951 by J. Readhead & Sons of South Shields, 8,377 gross tons, 468 ft overall length.  Single screw, one triple expansion reciprocating steam engine and Bauer-Wach low pressure turbine, 12 knots, by the builders.
The CROFTER and FORESTER were the last steamers built for the company and the CROFTER was the last in service. She was sold in 1971 and broken up in 1977.

For upwards of 140 years T & J Harrison have been involved in shipping, modestly in the early days but with increasing investment from the 1860s.  The company, which was founded as a family partnership in 1853,  remained wholly private.  The first ventures were into the wine and particularly brandy trades of the Charente  and it was the Charente Steamship Company which was founded in 1871 and expanded in 1884 to own the ships, with Thomas and James Harrison as managers.  By this time, however, the partners were looking further afield.  Their first steamers were the GLADIATOR and the COGNAC, both built in 1860, and their sailing ships from 1863 ran on a regular Indian service, with steamer operated schedules to the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil soon added.  The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 was a benefit to steam  but New Orleans became a major target for Harrison ships, which from 1857 were mostly named after trades and professions starting with the full-rigged ship PHILOSOPHER.  The last sailing ship was sold in 1889 and the company settled to steady development on established routes, the Mediterranean, India, the Gulf, Caribbean, Brazil, then from 1902 South Africa.  The Rennie Line to Natal was bought in 1911, the ships with the 'In' names, two of which were passenger liners, more 'In' named passenger ships being added for the South African and West Indian services.  Twentyseven ships were lost in the First World War but in 1917 Rankin, Gilmour of Liverpool was bought, followed in 1920 by the Crown Line of Glasgow and Scrutton's of London. Seven Frederick Leyland ships were acquired in 1933 and four came from Furness Withy two years later. Second World War losses totalled thirty, so from 1947 a big replacement programme was started with the company's first motor ship, the HERDSMAN, delivered from Doxford's of Sunderland who built a further twentyone.
 
A new look came in 1960 with the ADVENTURER and her 180 ton Stulcken derrick, and a newer look still in 1973 with the three bulk carriers of the Wayfarer class, with container ships following in 1977. The funnel markings remained unchanged in colour since 1865, but earlier ones seemed to have been plain black.  The houseflag dates from about 1853. 

Funnels: Black with red band between two white bands.
Hulls: Black with red boot-topping
Routes: 
(A)  Liverpool & U.K. ports to India via Suez,  some returning via Ceylon also.
(B) Glasgow,  Middlesbrough, U.K. and Continental ports to South & East Africa.
(C) Glasgow, Liverpool and U.K. ports to East Africa via Suez.

The following is a list of Harrison vessels as at 1955.  This list was published by Ian Allen Ltd. and was compiled by H.M. LeFleming.

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Early sailing vessels excluded,  around 300 ships,  steam and diesel driven,  have featured in the Harrison fleet since it came into being in the late 1800s.  After WW2, and with post-war purchases ignored most of the surviving ships built to company specification (nearly twenty in all) were of the familiar three-island type.   So too were the first post-war ships of 1947 onwards.  These, however, marked the switch to diesels and so represented the beginning of the end of the traditional extra tall funnels.

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Courtesy Laurence Dunn Collection & SM Aug/92

Above the  "ADVENTURER"  (1960/8,401 grt) was the first of the engines-aft Stuicken-equipped heavy lift ships and could handle loads of up to 180 tons.  Sold in 1979 to become the Greek  "ELEFTHERIA", she lasted until 1985.

New thinking in terms of design and layout first showed in a long-forecastle series built between 1951 and 1954 by Doxfords,  these being followed by a sequence of Stuicken-equipped ships designed to handle extra heavy loads.  For the smaller West Indian traders a new style profile was developed,  one in which the machinery was nearly but not quite aft.
In the 1970s the company took delivery of its first bulk carriers,  five in all,  which was followed by two pairs owned by Hong Kong subsidiaries.  Later in that decade the first box ships made their debut,  also the 52,000 ton CITY OF DURBAN,  in which the company had a third interest.

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Courtesy Laurence Dunn Collection & SM Aug/92

Above, the "FACTOR" (1948/6,538 grt) was the last of six similar ships from various yards which represented the end of the three-island type, also the company's switch to diesels.
Never renamed,  the "FACTOR" was scrapped in 1972.

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Courtesy Laurence Dunn Collection & SM Aug/92

The "BARRISTER" (1954/8,366 grt) was one of a 13-knot Doxford-built quarter that formed part of a 10-ship sequence built 1951-54 which, besides having a long raised forecastle, introduced a short but taller superstructure.

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Courtesy Laurence Dunn Collection & SM Aug/92

The "EXPLORER" (1961/6,950 grt) and "DALESMAN" were designed for the West Indies trade, to which they introduced a new engines-nearly-aft profile.  They were also the company's first to be built in Holland.  Sold in 1979, she was finally scrapped in 1985.

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Courtesy Laurence Dunn Collection & SM Aug/92

Above, the "CRAFTSMAN" (1972/10,219 grt) was the ninth and last of the company's Stuicken-equipped heavy-lift ships.  Also the most powerful, she could handle 500-ton lifts.  Kept until 1981, she then became the Greek "FORUM CRAFTSMAN".

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Courtesy Laurence Dunn Collection & SM Aug/92

The 1,200 TEU 21 knot "ADVISER" (1977/27,867 grt)  was one of a series built in Poland for the multi-flag CAROL service to the Caribbean, on which two Harrison ships - she and the "AUTHOR" were operating into the mid nineties.  To minimize vibration the funnel was kept well away from the bridge.

Many thanks to both Duncan Hawes and Edward Paget-Tomlinson for this brief history and CROFTER profile

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