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Smith Brothers & Co.

Details about Smith Brothers & Co.

The following short history has been compiled by Bert Spaldin.

The firm of W.A. Smith was begun by William Abbey Smith and his elder brother Charles Edward, and as Smith Brothers & Co. worked for the West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Company. In 1898 the brothers acquired two ships from their old firm, the Flambro and the Goldsbro, and in the following year a further ship, the Webster, which they renamed Knaresbro to match the nomclemature of their other two vessels. All three ships had been built in the town by William Gray, and indeed William Cresswell Gray held shares in the ships.

Goldsbro had been named at her launch on May 24th, 1887, by the triplet daughters of the late Captain Young who had run the company until his death in 1885. The vessel was an improved ‘welldeck’ type whose C.M.E.W. engine gave her a loaded speed of 9 knots.

Flambro was launched on October 4th, 1887, the naming ceremony being performed by Miss Amy Barraclough, whose father was the manager of the company. The Webster was launched on March 18th, 1893, also being named by Miss Barraclough. The ship had large hatchways to facilitate the loading and unloading of cargo, was fitted with steam winches, and had iron shifting boards for the carriage of grain. She achieved a speed of 11.5 knots on her trials, before proceeding to Cardiff to load her first cargo on April 28th.

During their time with the brothers, all three ships traded world-wide. For example, the Goldsbro loaded coal at Barry for Tenerife, then went on to Philadelphia and from there to Granton and Cardiff where she loaded a cargo of coal for Colombo. She then sailed to the rice ports to load for Europe.
In 1905 she was sold to Spanish owners and after passing the the hands of a number of other owners, was eventually torpedoed and sunk in the Bay of Biscay in 1918.

The following year the Knaresbro was lost on the coast of Jutland. She had sailed from Baltimore on February 13th, with a cargo of 3,966 tons of maize bound for Svenborg in Denmark. On March 5th she went aground near Lemvig. A report was received from Lloyd’s that she was on a sandy bottom with a moderate swell running but that she was bumping heavily. A further report on the 9th stated that she was full of water and the crew had left her. A later report from the Mate, David Dickenson, said that an unusually strong current and thick fog caused the ship to go ashore on the Jutland coast. When the crew left the ship they had to get through the breakers and there were hundreds of people on shore to assist them. They lost all their belongings and were taken first to the town of Ferring and then to Copenhagen from whence they were sent home by the Shipwrecked Mariners Society.

Neither of these ships were replaced and with the sale of the Flambro in 1907 to the same Spanish owners who had purchased the Goldsbro, the brothers’ shipowning days were over. The Flambro was lost in 1916, Under Norwegian ownership, when on a voyage to Sunderland.

Family History:

Charles Edward Smith was born at Cowesby, Yorkshire on 5 March 1855 to parents Charles and Sarah (nee Gowland). Charles was married at Hartlepool to Elizabeth Leng in 1881. On the 1891 census the couple were living at Scarborough Street with their son and daughter and Charles was listed as a superintendent marine engineer. By 1901 the couple were living at 'Cowesby' 48 Clifton Avenue with their two children.

Charles died aged at Hartlepool on 25 February 1930 leaving effects of £16,943. His widow, Elizabeth, died in 1959.

William Abbey Smith was born on 26 April 1863 at Bradford to parents Charles and Sarah (nee Gowland). William was married at Knaresborough to Mary Hilda Swale in 1891. By 1911 the couple were living at 'Roseberry Villa' Clifton Avenue.

William died at Hartlepool on 18 March 1850 leaving effects of £4,523.

Obituary in Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail – Monday 20 March 1950.

WILLIAM ABBEY SMITH, J.P., one of the best known personalities in the business world of the Hartlepools for more than 50 years, and a magistrate for 26 years, died at his home, 32 Hutton Avenue, West Hartlepool, on Saturday. He would have been 87 next month. Born at Low Moor, near Bradford, in 1863, Mr. Smith came to West Hartlepool in 1869 and entered the service of the West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Company at the age of 14, eventually becoming the company’s manager. At the turn of the century, he became a ship-owner himself with a fleet of three, which he operated in partnership with his brother, Mr. C. E. Smith. Later he turned his attentions to insurance and personally conducted business as a broker in Stockton Street, West Hartlepool, until within four weeks of his death. In 1926 Mr. Smith was elected to the Town Council as a representative of the North-East Ward, and served until 1932 when he was defeated at the poll by Mr. W. T. Potter. J.P., the present president of the National Union of Railwaymen. Mr. Smith took his seat on the Magisterial Bench in 1920 on the same day as Mr. Chas. A. Sage, who celebrated his 80th birthday on Friday, was appointed. Mr. Smith sat on West Hartlepool’s Youth Committee as the representative of the Hartlepools Chamber of Commerce, of which he was a member for many years, and he was also a manager of St. Joseph's Convent and St. Cuthberts School.

He was a founder member of the West Hartlepool circle of the Catenian Association - the Roman Catholic association of business and professional men - and was the circle’s first president. Mr. Smith also took a keen interest in local badminton and was vice-president of the Hartlepools and District Badminton Association. He leaves widow and one son and there are two grandchildren. Requiem Mass will be sung at St. Joseph's Church, West Hartlepool, to-morrow.


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