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West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Company Limited

Details about West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Company Limited

The West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Company (WHSNC), was founded in 1856 by Ralph Ward Jackson and Robinson Watson and was controlled by the West Hartlepool Harbour & Railway Company. The company was primarily engaged in the North-East coal trade, but also operated a twice weekly service to Hamburg, and a fortnightly service to St. Petersburg.

In 1862, a power struggle between “Railway King” George Hudson and Ralph Ward Jackson, effectively resulted in the company being taken over by local shipbuilders Pile, Spence & Co.

When they went bankrupt in 1866, the WHSNC was taken over by Christopher Maling Webster (of Pallion Hall, Sunderland), with Management of the fleet being given to his son-in-law, Captain W.J. Young, who subsequently became a partner. When Captain Young died in 1886, Thomas Barraclough became the company's Manager. Christopher Webster died in 1893, and was succeeded by his son Ernest Alfred.

In 1899, the Company merged with that of J.E. Guthe under the amended name of West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Company Limited, (though still referred to as the WHSNC), with Sir Christopher Furness as Chairman, and J.E. Guthe as Managing Director.
Ernest Webster and Thomas Barraclough now formed their own company as Webster & Barraclough.

Over subsequent years, the WHSNC owned or managed more than a hundred different vessels, and although still in existence today, the Company no longer operates ships.
For a more detailed history of the WHSNC, see 'The West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Company Limited', by B.G. Spaldin and H.S. Appleyard, published by the World Ship Society in 1980.

Family Histories:

Captain William Joseph Young was born on 2nd September 1828 at Tynemouth, Northumberland to parents Joseph and Phillis Young. He became an attorney in the firm of Young, Harrison & Young of which his father was head. He eventually became Clerk to the Borough Bench of Justices before steering his interests to shipping. William married Mary Frances Webster (daughter of Christopher Maling Webster) at Bishopwearmouth on 24 May 1864. The couple had five children in their ten years of marriage. Mary died in July 1876.

Amongst other achievements William was one of the earliest commanders of the Fourth Durham Artillery Volunteers, a chairman of the Hartlepool Port and Harbour Commissioners and a director of the North Eastern Railway Company from 1882 until his death in 1885.

William died aged 58 on 3 November 1885 at ‘Roseville’ Wolviston leaving effects of £41,423.

Obituary in the Yorkshire Gazette – Saturday 7 November 1885.

We regret to have to announce the death, on Tuesday, at his residence, Wolviston, near Stockton, of W. J. Young, after a lingering illness. The deceased gentleman, who was born in 1826, was a lawyer profession, and succeeded his father, the late Mr Joseph Young, who retired from legal practice at Sunderland, to live at Hartford House, Northumberland, as a country gentleman. Mr William Joseph Young entered early into the firm of which his father was the head—that of Young, Harrison, and Young—and in due time became clerk to the Sunderland magistrates. He married the daughter of C. M. Webster, of Pallion. On the failure of Pile, 'Spence, and Co., Limited, the fleet of steamer's owned by the firm and engaged in the Hamburg, Gothenburg, and other trades, were sold to Messrs. Webster and Young, and Mr Young left Sunderland for the West Hartlepool district, settling at Wolviston. For nearly twenty years Mr Young has been connected with the commerce of West Hartlepool, and has given largely of his time and ability to promote its interests. He was appointed chairman of the Port and Harbour Commission, a magistrate for the county, and representative of the West Hartlepool section at the board of directors of the North-Eastern Railway and only one honour that the Hartlepools could give was denied to him. On the retirement of Mr Thomas Richardson from the representation of the borough, Mr Young became the Conservative candidate, his opponents being (now Sir) Isaac Lothian Bell aud A. Kenealev ; and after an exciting contest Bell was elected.


Christopher Maling Webster was born at Bishopwearmouth on 17th May 1812 to parents Rowland and Mary (nee Maling) Webster. He was married at Bishopwearmouth on 14th August 1839 to Mary Laing. (Daughter of James Laing, Sunderland shipbuilder)  They had ten children during their 22 years of marriage.

Christopher died aged 82 at Sunderland on 7 August 1894 leaving effects of £258,019.

Obituary in the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette  - Wednesday 8 August 1894.

We regret to announce the death of Mr Christopher Maling Webster, J.P., of Pallion Hall, which took place at a quarter seven o'clock last night at the advanced age of 82. Deceased enjoyed remarkably good health up to the last two or three years, and never became seriously ill until about three weeks ago, when the natural decay consequent  on old age manifested itself, and resulted in his death. During his illness was constantly attended by Dr Maling and Dr Robinson, and everything that medical skill could suggest to prolong life was taken advantage of.  The deceased, who was the son of the late Rowland Webster, and, on his mother's side, descended from the same family as the Burdons of Castle Eden, was formerly in business in Sunderland as a wire rope manufacturer at Deptford, when he amassed a considerable fortune.  He retired many years ago and the business is now conducted by his two nephews, Mr Webster, J.P., and Mr Herbert Webster who are the sons of the deceased’s late brother, Mr Henry Robert Webster.  He married a sister of Mr James Laing, J.P., D.L., and had a family of ten children, of whom three sons and four daughters survive him.  His eldest daughter married the late Mr W.J. Young, formerly a solicitor in Sunderland and borough justices' clerk. Both of them died some years ago. The late Mr Webster was one of the oldest J.P.’s for the county of Durham, having been appointed on the 3rd of February 1855, and we believe that only one other county magistrate now living (Mr Pemberton) was appointed prior to that date. His chief activity in public affairs was centred on the operations of the River Wear 'Commission, to which body he was elected as a representative of the landowners on the 16th November, 1842. He took a conspicuous part in the amalgamation of the docks in 1859, and on the 14th March1866, was elected chairman of the Commission. This important position he continued to occupy position he continued to occupy till the 11th March 1868, when he was succeeded by the present chairman, Mr James Laing. Mr Webster still remained a member of that body, and was in periodical attendance at the meetings up till a little over a year ago, when he practically ceased to attend.  For several years he was the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Commission, and during an honourable connection with that body he brought to bear upon its deliberations the excellent business ability which had always distinguished him in his own undertakings. Deceased also had not fulfilled any magisterial duties for some years, and, apart from his connection with the River Wear Commission and the magisterial bench, took no active part in public affairs. Though leading the life of a retired gentleman he was much interested in shipping, and was the sole owner of the shipping firm known as the known the West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Company, All his vessels being registered at Hartlepool. Some years ago he purchased the Pallion estate from the representatives of the late Mr John Goodchild, the well-known Sunderland banker, and has resided there ever since.  He was one of the old-fashioned Whigs, but in the political cleavage of recent years embraced the Unionist creed, though he always called himself a Liberal. However, he at no time took a prominent part in party politics. In religion he was a staunch son of the Church of England. He was well-known throughout the town and district, more especially among the old standards, and was widely respected. His son is Mr C.M. Webster.



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