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NORTHERN STEAMSHIP CO., LTD.

A SUCCESSSFUL CORPORATION. In these Southern Seas it seems curious that the people of one of the smaller colonies of Australasia should take the lead in forming steamship companies and successfully conducting them. Such, hewever, is so, for New Zealand has in the U.S.S. Company one of the largest and best managed shipping companies in the world. Of the local steamship corporations those that are confined to trading between the ports of New Zealand, the Northern Steamship Company, of Auckland, is unapproached by any of its competitors. No purely local company of the Australian group is more efficiently managed, and the story of the Northern Company is the history of the development of Auckland. The cry of the "neglected North" does not apply to the Northern waters, for they are churned day by day by the propellers of the steamers of this company.' Prior to 1881 local shipping was very disorganised ; there was no regular communication between the various ports, and the small steamers that carried, on the intermittent traffic were owned privately. Amalgamation of interests was then brought about, and a small syndicate was formed. The following steamers were bought to begin with: Rowena, Argyle, McGregor, Staff a, Douglas, and the Iona; the lastnamed is now moored in the Auckland Harbour, and, as one of the pioneer vessels, is in striking contrast to the modern p.s. Wakatere; ■ , .Captain Alexander McGregor (managing' director), Messrs D. B. Cruickshank, James McCosh Clark, J. MacFarlane, W. Thorn Ball, Thos. Morrin, and Donald McKehzie composed the first board of directors. The late Mr. Cruickshank, during life connected with so many important enterprises, was the first chairman of directors, and continued to act in this capacity up to the time of his widely lamented death in 1895. He was then succeeded by another equally vigorous business man, the late Mr. James MacFarlane, who died in July, 1899. The present board of directors is composed of Captain H. J. Anderson (chairman), Messrs. W. S. Wilson, A. H. Nathan, J. R. Gray, and M. A. Clark. Captain Alexander McGregor was the first manager and retired in 1888, and was succeeded by the present able head of affairs, Mr. Charles Ranson.

Soon after the steamers already mentioned were purchased, the popular s.s. Wellington, 429 tons, was bought, and the Clansman, 591' tons, Gairloch, 373 tons, and Glenelg, 288 tons, were built on the Clyde. When Mr. Ranson took the appointment of manager there were only nine steamers employed; to-day there is a fleet of twentyeight, totalling upwards, of 5000 tons—a marvellous increase in twelve years. Like all business concerns of any magnitude in the colony, the company had its vicissitudes, and the settlers and travelling public, when they demand , reductions in passage money and freights, and .additional steamers, involving an outlay of perhaps thousands of pounds sterling, are apt to forget that there is something due for past unrewarded enterprise. From 1881 to 1890, nine years, no dividend was paid on the large investment of capital, and then at the end of this period only the modest dividend of 2£ per cent. This was the turning-point in the affairs of the company, and in 1891, 5 per cent, was declared, from 1892 to 1896, 6 per cent, and since then 7 per cent., which is by no means, a large interest on the capital when the risks incurred are considered. Compared with the charges—freights and passage money—ruling in other parts of New Zealand and Australia, the Northern Company have been generous to a degree in fixing their tariff of rates. With the large fleet the corporation have at its command they control the trade of an extensive coastline; and a tourist taking voyages over the routes their steamers cover would see the most interesting and beautiful parts of New Zealand.

The s.s.v Clansman, a luxuriously-appoin-ted vessel of 591 tons, of great steaming power, conducts a weekly service to the Northern ports, Russell, Whangaroa, and Mangomii. Those wishing to visit the beauty spots of the colony can do nothing better than by taking a return ticket to Mangonui from Auckland'' in the Clansman. The Bay of Islands,, with its trading centre at Russell, shows to the traveller magnificent bays and harbours, fringed with luxuriant semi-tropical vegetation. As an historical spot Russell is intensely interesting, for it was here thai, the first capital of the colony was established, and across the Bay itself the famous Treaty of Waitajigi was signed. , Whangaroa Harbour, equal in grandeur, and almost as rich in tropical growth as that Vavau, of the Tongan group in the Southern Pacific, ond of extreme interest to those who revel in the past—-the taking of the ship Boyd by the Maoris, and other equally notorious events—is next reached. Mangonui, the third port of call, is just as attractive as the preceding places; and : the tourist, by the time he returns to Auckland, feels amply repaid by what he has seen for the small outlay in cash. The smart, graceful s.s. Wellington, 429 tons, in conjunction with another steamer, carries out a daily time-table with Whangarei, the fruit garden of New Zealand, and where such staple industries of the province are conducted, as timber getting, coal mining, and dairying. Just as interesting are the trips in the companv's steamers to the golden peninsula of Coromandel; to the maizegrowing districts of Tauranga, Whakatane, and Opotiki; and to Raglan, New Plymouth, and Wanganui on the West. The company's West Coast trade has so increased within ' recent; years that in

order .to cope with the extension, a new steamer, the s.s. Ngapuhi (named after the northern fighting tribe), has had to be built. .It -is>fitted with twin- screws, has the most luxurious accommodation, and is in every, respect one of the most modern and best-equipped vessel naval architecture can devise. She is on her way out, and should 'arrive in Auckland early next month. One of!the- latest additions to the company's fleet is the powerful sled-built paddle-steamer Wakatere, 440 tons, fitted with electric light, handsomely, appointed,; and capable of carrying over 1000 passengers. This fine vessel is mainly employed in the ThamesAuckland trade ; : and at Christmas time she is the most popular excursion steamer in the harbour. : The twin-screw steamer Taniwha, 262 tons, built locally, and lit with electricity, is also '. deserving of mention ; the great gold mining districts of Karangahake, Waitekauri, and Waihi, are kept supplied by this boat, together with the Waimarie, '245 tons, and other vessels, running between Paeroa and Auckland. Although the Northern Company carry annually upwards of 120,000 passengers, they hold a record, in that since their formation not a single vessel or a single life has been lost by shipwreck. Over £45,000 are distributed annually in wages to nearly 500 employees by this vast local concern., :-\ ■ Mr. Ran son, whose distinguished abilities are recognised throughout commercial circles in Auckland, is a native of Ipswich, England. In 1875 he arrived in Wanganui, and came to Auckland, in 1888, when he took over the management of the Northern Company, the success of which ; within recent years has so amply proved him to be possessed of great organising and administrative powers. ■; : , \ • • In 1899 the company removed their offices from Palmerston Buildings to their handsome two-storey brick building in • Quaystreet, which was erected at a cost of £5000, on Harbour Board land, leased from that body for 50 years. It has a frontage of 66ft to the street, and a depth of 85ft. No more convenient site could have been selected, as the company's wharf is just below, only a few yards distant. The building contains a handsomely fitted public office, also manager's, and other offices, and boardroom, all of which are splendidly appointed to enable the work to be carried on expeditiously. Mr. John Kerr is the accountant. The office staff is represented by 20 efficientclerks. ; :

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Bibliographic details

NORTHERN STEAMSHIP CO., LTD., New Zealand Herald, Volume XXXVII, Issue 11487, 26 September 1900, Supplement

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NORTHERN STEAMSHIP CO., LTD. New Zealand Herald, Volume XXXVII, Issue 11487, 26 September 1900, Supplement

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