Furness Withy



Thomas and Christopher Furness first got involved in shipping in 1878. In 1883 Christopher bought a share of Edward Withy’s shipyard and in 1884 owned the entire company. Christopher Furness set up the Wilson-Furness Line in 1885 with Thomas Wilson and they started services between Newcastle and New York. The fleet had grown to 18 vessels by 1891 and the company Furness, Withy & Co was set up.

Business grew and with it a whole set of companies and transactions which are very difficult to follow. Chesapeake & Ohio SS Co., Ltd was set up in 1892 and jointly operated a service to Boston with Frederick Leyland & Co. The Wilsons & Furness-Leyland Line was set up in 1896 and Manchester Liners Ltd in 1898. Furness Withy acquired the rights of the Canadian & Newfoundland SS Co. in 1898 and sold the Wilsons & Furness-Leyland Line in 1901. In 1902 Furness, Withy purchased Gulf Line Ltd with their trade to South Africa and Australia and took over the management of Neptune Steam Navigation Company in 1906 - purchasing the fleet in 1910. Shortly afterwards the company took over Agincourt Steam Ship Co., Norfolk & North American Steam Navigation Co., London Welsh Steam Ship Co. and acquired a 50% holding in Houlder Bros & Co. In 1912 they acquired the White Diamond Steam Ship Co. and set up George Warren & Co. (Liverpool) Ltd was formed. In 1914 they bought a 50% share in Johnston Line and bought Prince Line Ltd. in 1916. By this time the Furness, Withy group owned 215 ships.

Further companies were established - Rio Cape Line (1917), Bermuda and West Indies SS Co. (1921), and Warren Line Ltd. (1922). Further dealings towards the end of the 1920s included the sale of London Welsh Co., the purchase of a share in Cairn Line, the liquidation of Gulf Line and acquisition of the Red Cross Line. After the failure of the Kylsant shipping empire, Furness Withy gained control of Shaw, Savill & Albion Line in 1933, set up Johnston-Warren Line in 1934 and took a substantial holding in Royal Mail Lines in 1937 and took over management of Bowater Steam Ship S Co in 1939.

Furness Withy took control of Houlder Bros in 1968 and acquired Kaye, Son & Co in 1973.

In 1980 Furness Withy ceased to be a publicly owned company when it was purchased by the Tung Group of Hong Kong. In 1990 it was re-sold to its present owner, R.A. Oetker. Furness Withy Chartering is a successful London and Melbourne based dry cargo ship operating and broking company, which is now wholly owned by the Oetker Group, one of the largest private firms in Germany and claims Furness Withy as its original parent company.

In January 2023 I was contacted by Toni Mazur who provided the following additional information:

Furness Withy ran a regular service between Liverpool and Halifax during the '50s and there was a Furness Withy Pier in Halifax Harbour.

There is further information about this and a menu from the ship his grandmother travelled to Canada with the details of the 1948 ship Newfoundland HERE.


Page Link Ships on Page
Furness Withy Line Ships (1):
Dromore to Pacific Fortune
Dromore, El Uruguayo, Monarch of Bermuda, Newfoundland (1925), Newfoundland (1948), Newfoundland (1964), Nova Scotia, Oakmore, Pacific Explorer, Pacific Fortune
Furness With Line Ships (2):
Pacific Norwest to Sycamore
Pacific Northwest, Pacific President, Pacific Ranger, Pacific Reliance (1927), Pacific Reliance (1951), Pacific Shipper, Pacific Stronghold, Pacific Unity, Pinemore, Sycamore

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