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Aberdeen White Star Line

There's a jaunty White Star Liner, and her decks are scrubbed and clean  
And her tall white spars are spotless, and her hull is painted green.
Don't you smell the smoky stingo? Ech! ye'll ken the Gaelic lingo
Of the porridge-eating person who was shipped in Aberdeen.
- Brady.

George Thomson Jr - 1804-95, Clipper Ship Owner. Born in Woolwich and educated at Aberdeen Grammar School, he developed his own business as a Ship Insurance Broker in 1825. He became principal owner of the world famous shipping line The Aberdeen White Star Line, which included the fast tea clipper the Thermopylae. He was elected Dean of Guild in 1840-41 and Lord Provost of Aberdeen in 1847 George Thompson served as Provost of Aberdeen from 1847 to 1850. The highlight of his term of Office was welcoming Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to Aberdeen Harbour on 8 September 1848. They were on their way to Balmoral for the 1st time. This was the 1st occasion a Monarch had visited Aberdeen since 1650. A crowd of 80,000 people turned out to greet her.

George Thompson (always known as George Thompson Jr to distinguish himself from his grandfather) was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School. He then joined the Aberdeen office of the London Shipping Company. In 1825, aged 21, he set up his own business as a Ship & Insurance Broker, with offices in Aberdeen. In the same year his name 1st appeared as a subscribing owner of a small Aberdeen ship, and his ship owning interests rapidly developed. He also traded the imports which his vessels brought back to Aberdeen.

In his 1st 15 years George Thompson operated a seasonal liner service to Canada and built up a fleet of 12 vessels with trades extending to Cuba, South America, the Baltic, the Mediterranean, South Africa and the Far East. 1840 saw the launch of the 1st ship built at Walter Hood's Yard in Aberdeen for George Thompson, and this yard built most of his ships up to 1881. They included some of the world's finest Clippers.

In 1842 one of his ships undertook an emigrant charter to New Zealand, and in the same year his first ship visited Australia.  By 1846 his ships had become established in the Australian trade. Initially this was to Sydney, but with the discovery of gold at Ballarat the ships also traded to Melbourne. George Thompson first established the Aberdeen Line (or Aberdeen White Star Line to distinguish it from Rennie's Aberdeen Line) on the Australian trade in his own right in 1856. From that time, Thompson's ships were distinguished by their green-painted hulls, their white masts and yards and the red and blue House Flag with the 6-pointed white star which gave rise to the alternative name. George Thompson entered the China tea trade in 1848. A regular voyage pattern was soon established: London to Australia with passengers and general cargo; Australia to China, Japan or Russia with coal; and thence via a Chinese Port with Tea.

John T Rennie's 'Aberdeen Direct' Line of Steamers.  John T. Rennie died in 1878 and his 3 younger sons John, Alexander and David joined their brother George to continue the business. In 1882 a new steamship the DABULAMANZI was completed by Hall, Russell & Company at Aberdeen and in 1885 the MATABELE was delivered. By 1890 the Company owned 6 steamers mostly with Zulu or ‘In’ names. In 1895 the last sailing vessel the QUATHLAMBA was sold.

The famous clipper Thermopylae was designed for this Tea trade.  On her maiden voyage in 1869 she broke records for London to Melbourne, Newcastle (NSW) to Shanghai and Foochow to London. Ousted from the tea trade by steamers in 1879, Thermopylae was deployed as a wool clipper on the Australian trade. In both the Chinese tea trade and the Australian wool trade her chief rival was Cutty Sark. Thermopylae was one of only two composite (i.e. iron and hardwood) ships owned by George Thompson. Thereafter his ships were mainly constructed of iron. They included Patriarch and Samuel Plimsoll. George Thompson had adopted the famous loadline recommendations long before they became mandatory in 1890.

In 1881 Walter Hood's yard was sold, as the Age of Sail was coming to an end. From then on the Line built up an initial fleet of 5 Steamers: Aberdeen, Australasian, Damascus, Thermopylae ll and Nineveh ll. Initially they steamed out to Australia via Cape Town and returned via the Suez Canal, but from 1895 they came back via Cape Town. Thompson died in 1895. His safety track record as a ship owner had been exceptional, seldom losing a ship, and despite his early profession he never insured his ships against loss. Instead he invested the money he had saved in insurance premiums in the purchase of new ships and the maintenance of his existing ships. In this way he developed what has been called 'one of the greatest Lines in British Merchant Navy History'.

George Thompson was a generous supporter of the Free Church of Scotland, and has been described as Aberdeen's most generous benefactor of his age. He supported an extension of the Royal Infirmary and bestowed money on Aberdeen University to provide bursaries in medicine.  In later life he lived at Pitmedden House, his estate to the West of Aberdeen. He was a Deputy Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire. He is buried with his wife and some of their children in the family plot in the United Free Church graveyard at Dyce.

MR GEORGE THOMPSON - Proprietor of the Pitmedden Estate from 1864 is commemorated by a double monument erected in the United Free Church graveyard of Dyce. It bears the inscriptions:-
In Memory of George Thompson, Jr of Pitmedden and Rainnieshill, Lord Provost of Aberdeen from 1847 to 1850. Member of Parliament for the City of Aberdeen from 1852 to 1857. Born at Woolwich, 23rd June. 1804; died at Aberdeen, 11th April, 1895. and of his wife since 1830, Christiana Little, youngest daughter of the late Professor James Kidd, D.D. Born at Aberdeen, 12th September, 1806; died there 17th January, 1874. and of their children, Agnes Elizabeth. Born at Aberdeen, 3rd November, 1841; died there 28th January, 1844. and James Kidd. Born at Aberdeen, 16th January, 1849 ; died at Pitmedden, 17th November, 1870. Also in memory of Stephen Thompson, of Hamilton Terrace, London, eldest son of George Thompson, Jr. Born at Aberdeen, 29th June, 1833 ; died at London, 26th July, 1877.

George Thompson, junior, was the son of Andrew Thompson, of the H.E.I.C.S. In 1825 he commenced business in Aberdeen as a ship and insurance broker, and was the originator of the well-known " Aberdeen Line," of which his son-in-law, Sir William Henderson, was afterwards the head. A portrait of Mr Thompson, by Sir George Reid, R.S.A., is hung in the Art Gallery of Aberdeen.

The Pitmedden House itself had been badly damaged by fire in 1818 but was rebuilt during the 1860's probably by Thompson. Today, only the north wing contains visible fragments of the 17th Century grand dwelling. It has been well documented that the fire caused the destruction of family portraits, papers and the, all important, plans of the original layout of the Garden. Indeed, the National Trust is still keen to discover references to, or sketches of Seton's Great Garden in its earlier years.

The Keith family bought the Pitmedden Estate at auction in 1894. Major James Keith CBE (1879 - 1953) was one of the country's most influential agricultural improvers of his time, with a desire to combine traditional farming methods with the increasing sophistication of mechanical engineering. A shrewd businessman, keen to increase productivity, Keith successfully evolved his own style of farming.

ABERDEEN LINE, between London and Australia via South Africa, is managed by the owners, Messrs. George Thompson & Co. (founded at Aberdeen), who have long occupied a prominent position in the Australian cargo and passenger trades, due to the " runs " of their noted clippers to Melbourne and to Sydney, the general high standard of their fleet, and its exceptional immunity from loss over more than half a century. Their S.S. Aberdeen, built in 1881 was the earliest ocean steamer to demonstrate decisively the superior merits of triple-expansion engines.

The name "Aberdeen White Star Line" dates back to the late 1830's, as a trade name for George Thompson's fleet of ships which traded, in the steam era, between London and Australia. The name was chosen because of the 8-pointed (later 6-pointed) star on the house flag and because it would also distinguish the line from both the other fleets sailing from Aberdeen (the line's home in the age of sail) and from the Liverpool-based White Star Line. At that time there was no relation between the 2 "White Star" lines. 

There was a very close connection. In 1895, George Thompson, Jr., the son of Aberdeen's founder, died; in 1904, Sir William Henderson, the line's Chairman, died. After the passing of these 2 important figures, and faced with the need to raise capital to stay competitive, the firm was incorporated as George Thompson & Co. in 1905, with the controlling interest held by Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. and Shaw, Saviil & Albion, Ltd. (White Star also owned a substantial interest in SSA, with which it had operated a joint service to New Zealand since the 1890's, and effectively controlled SSA.) Harold Sanderson, White Star's General Manager (and later Chairman of both White Star and SSA) was installed as Chairman of the Aberdeen Line. So, although the "Aberdeen White Star" name originally had nothing to do with the Ismay line, by 1911 it accurately though inadvertently described the line's ownership.  When SSA acquired the Aberdeen Line after the breakup of Lord Kylsant's Royal Mail Group which included White Star, SSA and Aberdeen - in the early 1930's. 

Aberdeen Line / Aberdeen & Commonwealth Lines
Set up in 1825 by George Thompson of Aberdeen to run sailing ships to the St. Lawrence with a few passengers and returning with timber. By 1837 he was running a fleet of 12 sailing vessels and trading to South America, the Pacific, West Indies and the Mediterranean and in 1842 commenced regular London - Australia sailings. In 1882 a regular steamship service was introduced between London and Australia and in 1899 all ships of the line were fitted to carry frozen produce.  In 1905 the company came under the joint control of White Star Line and Shaw, Savill & Albion Line, but retained it's own identity. White Star Line purchased the Australian Government owned Australian Commonwealth Line and it's fleet in 1928, but in 1931 the Kylsant Shipping Group which owned White Star Line, collapsed. In 1932, the Aberdeen Line was purchased by Shaw, Savill & Albion and in 1933 the fleet of the former Australian Commonwealth Line which had not been fully paid for, was also acquired and the Aberdeen & Commonwealth Line formed. In 1936 Funess Withy & Co.,took control of Shaw Savill & Albion, in 1938 the Aberdeen name was dropped from the title and in 1957 the last of their ships was scrapped and the company disappeared after 132 years of trading.

Some Aberdeen White  Star Ships In The Australian and New Zealand Trade

‘ASCALON’ (Inset) Built 1868.
Wood ship of 938 Tons.
Length: approx. 190 ft.
Breadth: approx. 31 ft.
Depth: approx. 21 ft.
Built for George Thompson and Co - White Star Line. Sold to Trinder, Anderson and Co in 1881.

They ran her for 9 years and then sold her to the Norwegians in 1890.

She was wrecked on the 7th of February 1907 at Annalong while bound from Runcorn tor Moss.

She was a passenger ship on the Australian run and entered the wool trade for a short spell in the 1870’s [Passenger and General Carrier] 

‘AVIEMORE’ Built 1870 at Aberdeen for the White Star Line.
Wood ship of 1091 Tons.

Length: 214.9 ft.
Breadth: 36.8 ft.
Depth: 22.2 ft.
Master: Captain Mark Breach then Captain T. Ayling.
Last wooden vessel owned by the White Star Line [George Thompson and Co].

She was sold to the Norwegians and turned into a floating oil refinery.

She was still there for the Norwegians in 1915, re-rigged as a barque.[Passenger Liner and finally General Carrier]

‘ARISTIDES’ Built 1876.
Iron ship of 1661 Tons.
Length; 260 ft.
Breadth; 39.5 ft.
Depth; 24.5 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for Geo Thompson and Co.
Launched March 1876 as the flagship of the White Star Line.
Master; Captain Kemball then Captain Poppy.

She was lost under this Captain in June 1903. [Passenger and General Carrier]

ANEMONE -   205gt 1840 Aberdeen (The first of the Line to visit Australia - Melbourne - in 1840..)

ALEXANDER HARVEY -  272gt 1840 Aberdeen (Voyages to Adelaide and South America 1848-1851)

AGNES BLAIKIE -  381gt 1841 Aberdeen (Under new owners made two visits to Australia in 1852)

PRINCE OF WALES - 516gt 1842 Aberdeen (Carried 100 emigrants to New Zealand in 1852, voyages to Sydney 1847-1853)

The Maid of Judah was sold to Cowlislaw Bros., of Sydney, in 1870. In December, 1879, she left Sydney for Shanghai, coal-laden, with Captain Webb in command, and the following June was condemned and broken up at Amoy.

NEPTUNE -  323gt 1844 Aberdeen (Inaugurated the Lines regular trade with Sydney in 1846 - Scottish emigrants outbound and wool inbound)

LORD METCALFE - 495t 1845 Quebec (Voyaged to Bombay and Australia 1852-1854)

OLIVER CROMWELL -  527gt 1847 Aberdeen (made 3 voyages to New Zealand 1850-52)

JOHN BUNYAN -  526gt 1848 Aberdeen (Australian wool trade 1856-1859)

CENTURION (1) -  w3s 656t 1850 Aberdeen (Australian wool trade from 1856)

WALTER HOOD - 937gt 1852  Aberdeen  ( In maiden voyage reached Sydney in 80 days)
The Walter Hood was wrecked near Jervis Bay Lighthouse, New South Wales, on 27th April, 1870, when bound from London to Sydney with general cargo, her captain and 12 men being drowned.

WOOLLOOMOOLLOO -  654gt 1852 Aberdeen  (Australian wool trade 1856-1859)
The Woolloomoolloo ended her days under the Spanish flag and was wrecked in 1885.

‘OMAR PASHA’ Built 1854. Wood ship of 1124 Tons. Length; 207 ft. Breadth; 36 ft. Depth; 22 ft. Built by Hood of Aberdeen for the White Star line. She was burned at sea in 1869 while bound for England from Brisbane, Queensland. [Passenger ship]

‘DAMASCUS’ Built 1857. Wood ship of 964 Tons. Length; 194.4 ft. Breadth; 33.6 ft. Depth; 20.6 ft. Built by Hood of Aberdeen. Sold to the Norwegians and renamed Magnolia’ Master; Captain Laird. Owned by O. Svendsen of Christiania in 1881. She was stranded on September 1st 1893 at Bersimis where she became totally wrecked. [Passenger Liner]

TRANSATLANTIC -  614gt 1857 Aberdeen (In the Australian trade when completed)
The Transatlantic was rebuilt in 1876;
in 1878 she Was owned by J. L. Ugland, of Arendal; and on 15th October, 1899, when bound to Stettin from Mobile, she foundered in the Atlantic.


STRATHDON (1) -  1,011gt 1860 Aberdeen (Made a passage of 78 days to Melbourne in 1878
The Strathdon, under the name of Ziverver, did many years' service with the Peruvian flag at her gaff end. She was broken up in 1888.

The Queen of Nations, under Captain Donald, went from Plymouth to Melbourne in 87 and 84 days; but the fastest of these earlier clippers was the well-known Star of Peace, which made four consecutive passages to Sydney of 77, 77, 79, and 79 days under the redoubtable Captain Sproat.  A picture of this fine clipper, representing her off the Eddystone light when homeward bound.  She was a very rakish looking craft with long overhangs and carried a heavy press of sail, which included double topsails, skysails, main and mizzen sky staysails and also 3 cornered moonsails stretching to the truck of each mast.  The Queen of Nations was wrecked near Woolloagong, New South Wales, on 31st May, 1881, when bound out to Sydney. All hands were saved except one.

COLONIAL EMPIRE -  1,305gt1861 Quebec (In Australian wool trade)

CHRISTIANA THOMPSON -  1,079gt 1866 Aberdeen (In the Australian trade)
The Christiana Thompson went to the Norwegians and was renamed Beatrice Lines. She was wrecked near Umra in Norway on 7th October, 1899.

Inset - George Thompson

‘GEORGE THOMPSON ’ Built 1865. Wood ship of 1128 Tons. Length; app 170 ft. Breadth; app 36 ft. Depth; app 22 ft. Built for the ‘White Star’ line and was sold to Nicol of Aberdeen who then sold her to J.Bamfield of Sydney NSW. She was finally bought by the Chileans and was wrecked at Carlemu on the 13th of June 1902. She was a very well known passenger liner on the Australian run. [Passenger Ship]

The celebrated Star of Peace, after being run for some years by Burns, Philp & Co., of Sydney, was converted into a hulk at Thursday Island, being only broken up in 1895.

The Wave of Life was sold to Brazil, and sailed as the Ida until 1891, when she was renamed Henriquita, Finally she was condemned and broken up in March, 1897.

‘MORAVIAN’ Built 1858.
Wood ship of 996 Tons. Length;199.5 ft.
Breadth; 33.5 ft.
Depth; 21 ft.
Built by Wm Hood of Aberdeen, Scotland for George Thompson. Registered; Aberdeen NLTQ. Master; Captain Hayling in 1881.

She was built for the Aberdeen ‘White Star’ line and was painted Aberdeen Green with white decks and bottom. She also had a gilded streak and scroll work.

She did her time in the Austalian passenger trade and was sold to J. E. Ives of Sydney. She was converted to a Hulk and then was broken up in March 1895. [Passenger liner]


The wooden sailing vessel 'Moravian', shown at anchor in Far Eastern waters. She was built in Aberdeen 1858 by Walter Hood. Many of the vessels built at Hood's yard were destined for George Thompson Junior's Aberdeen White Star Line. He set up the company in 1825 to send sailing ships to the St. Lawrence with a few passengers, returning with timber. By 1837 he was running a fleet of 12 sailing vessels and trading to South America, the Pacific, West Indies and the Mediterranean. From 1842 the vessels sailed mainly to Australia in the emigrant and wool trade. The 'Moravian' was subsequently sold to J.E. Ives of Sydney and ended its days as a hulk before being broken up at Sydney in March 1895..

The Kosciusko, like the Maid of Judah, was bought by Cowlislaw Bros., being broken up at Canton in 1899.

‘NINEVAH’ Built 1864. Iron ship of 1174 Tons. Length; 209 ft. Breadth; 36.5 ft. Depth; 22.7 ft. Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George Thompson Jr. Master; Captain J.Ross. Registered; Aberdeen, VWLS. She was nicknamed ‘Lucky’ because of her accident free career, she was sold to Goodlet and Smith of Sydney, NSW and was finally abandoned in the North Pacific in February 1896. [Passenger and General Carrier] 

The Lucky Nineveh.- The Nineveh  built the same year as the Ethiopian, was an extremely lucky ship in her freights and passengers and made a great deal of money. Old Stephen Thompson was so pleased that he gave Captain Barnet a banquet at the Holborn Restaurant, and all through the dinner kept toasting "the lucky Nineveh,"

Nineveh ll

The Ethiopian, on her first voyage to Melbourne, went out in 68 days under Captain William Edward. She sailed her last voyage under the British flag in 1886. She was then rigged as a barque, and on her passage home from Sydney had a remarkable race with the iron Orontes, belonging to the same owners. The 2 vessels cast off their tugs together outside Sydney Heads, sighted each other off the Horn, were becalmed together in the doldrums, spoke the same ship off the Western Isles; and when the chops of the Channel were reached, the Ethiopian was hove to taking soundings in a fog, when the Orontes came up under her stern within hailing distance. Finally the Ethiopian got into the East India Docks one tide ahead of the Orontes, thus winning the race and a considerable sum in wagers.

The Ethiopian was sold to the Norwegians. In October, 1894, when bound from St. Thomas to Cork, she was abandoned near the Western Isles. She was afterwards picked up 15 miles from Fayal and towed into St. Michael's, where she was condemned.

The Harlaw was wrecked at Hongkong in 1878

Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 25th Sept 1878:
Particulars from G. Thompson, Jun. and Co. re wreck of ship HARLAW near Shanghai 31st July. At 3am a pilot was taken aboard and ship got underway up the river. About breakfast time she struck heavily, with wind freshening to a gale more sail was spread, but instead of taking the ship off she listed heavily to port and the boats were ordered out.  All of the men in the dingy, which was the first to leave, were drowned except two.
Two of the men in the long boat were washed overboard, the remainder reaching House Island and being taken to Shanghai next day by a Chinese junk.

A court of enquiry has exonerated Captain and officers of all blame, but pilot has been suspended. Names of those drowned are:- George Cowie, Steward, Aberdeen; John Doig, London; A. Dalgairn, ordinary seaman, Aberdeen; George Littlejohn, D.S., Aberdeen; Coppel and Parker, 2 seamen shipped at Sydney; apprentices Mitchell, Crombie and Black, all Aberdeen.
North China Morning Post gives this account of wreck of dingy:-
William Buyers, 2nd Officer, was ordered by Capt. Stephens to take charge of dingy. Only he and able seaman Thomas Lawrie are saved (7 including the 3 apprentices were drowned from dingy). Buyers interviewed by our reported said "about noon we pulled towards the ship, I swam to it and got the jib sheet and a box of Indian corn flour. At sundown we made the lightship, but was unable to fetch her.  Between 10 and 11 o'clock at night she shipped a sea filling her to the thwarts and the boat went down. Most of men climbed on the upturned boat and every time she rolled 1 or 2 would be missed. I was in the water and gripped by the Steward. My trouser leg tore away and I did not see the Steward again. I came to the surface and found the boat with only 1 man, able seaman Thomas Lawrie, still there. About 5 in the morning Lawrie was washed off. I swam to him and with difficulty got him back to the boat, which we managed to get upright and get inside. It was very rough.  Lawrie was again washed out and again I got him back.  About an hour before sundown we attracted the attention of a junk by waving a plank from the bottom of the boat. The junk took us aboard and fed us, we having been away from the ship with nothing to eat or drink since about 9.30 the previous morning".

‘JERUSALEM’ Built 1867. Wood ship of 901 Tons. Length; 196.5 ft. Breadth; 33.7 ft. Depth; 20.7 ft. Built by Hood of Aberdeen for the White Star Line. She was an Australian passenger ship and remained in that trade until sold to the Norwegians. Master; Captain Mark Breach then Captain Largia. Registered; Aberdeen HVLF.  She left New Brunswick under the Norwegian flag on the 28th of October 1893 and was never seen again. G Thompson owned her in her Aberdeen days. [Passenger liner]
The Jerusalem, like many of the others, was converted into a barque in her old age. In 1887 she was bought by the Norwegians. On 28th October, 1893.  §be left New Brunswick for London with a cargo of pitch-pine and resin and never arrived, the usual end of timber droghers on the stormy North Atlantic.

The Jerusalem. These wooden clippers were often very tender coming home with wool.  A most exciting race with the large American ship Iroquois. She was homeward bound from the Colonies, flying light and very crank, a not uncommon condition with a wool cargo. The Yank was first sighted on our quarter, the wind being quarterly, blowing moderately, though squally at times. Whilst the wind remained so the Iroquois had no chance, but when it freshened the Jerusalem heeled over to such an extent that it necessitated sail being taken in. Soon the American was ploughing along to leeward carrying her 3 topgallant sails and whole mainsail and going as steady as a die, whilst the Jerusalem was flying along with fore and main lower topgallants and reefed mainsail, but heeling over to such a degree that one could barely stand upright, the water roaring up through the lee scuppers, and during the squalls lipping in over the rail. '*In a short time the topgallant sails and mainsail were handed and preparations made to reef the fore topsail. By this time, however, the Iroquois had just passed the beam, when, apparently, her skipper, satisfied to have passed us, snugged his ship down to 3 reefed topsails and we shortly after lost sight of her in a blinding squall."  To see this ship when moderately light was a great pleasure, her lines were the perfection of symmetry. In one day 324 miles were got out of this ship ; she was one of the first to carry double top-gallant yards." As a matter of fact, the Jerusalem was generally considered the fastest ship in the fleet next to Thermopylae, She made several very good passages from China in the seventies of under 110 days. Captain Crutchley , in his book My Life at Sea, gives an instance of her speed, in describing how she raced ahead of the tea clipper Omba, both ships being bound up the Channel with a strong beam wind. On this occasion, however, it was the Omba which was the tender ship, as she could not carry her royals though the Jerusalem had all plain sail set.

‘MILTIADES’ Built 1871.
Iron ship of 1671 Tons.
Length; 240.5 ft.
Breadth; 39.3 ft.
Depth; 23.3 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George Thompson.
She was an attractive ship and was put into the passenger trade to Australia. Master; Captain Perrett until 1885, then Captain Harold Ayling. She went out of the Australian trade in 1874 and she entered the New Zealand trade. She almost ended her career after this change, for she became hung up on a reef and was lucky to be pulled off by a passing steamer.  Her captain was somewhat superstitious and she was not seen near New Zealand for almost 20 years. She was sold to the Italian owners of the tea clipper, ‘Titania’ after the White Star Line decided to sell off their sailing ships. ‘Miltiades’ kept sailing up to the late 1930’s. [Passenger Liner]

‘THYATIRA’ Built 1867. Composite ship of 962 Tons. Length; 201 ft. Breadth; 33.9 ft. Depth; 21.7 ft. Built by Walter Hood for George Thompson’s White Star Line. She was sold to J.W.Woodside and Co of Belfast in 1894. In July 1896, she was wrecked on Pontal Da Barra when bound from London to Rio. [Passenger Ship and Tea Clipper - Inset]

The Thyatira, Thompson's first composite ship, was also a very ticklish vessel to handle when wool -laden. On her maiden voyage she went out to Melbourne in. 77 days, but took 96 days to get home, during which passage she gave her officers much anxiety owing to her extreme tenderness.  The Thyatira was bought by J. W. Woodside & Co., of Belfast, in 1894. In July, 1896, when bound from London to Rio with general cargo, she was wrecked at Pontal da Barra.

Captain Mark Breach's First Encounter with his Owner
Captain Mark Breach, one of the best known of the Aberdeen White Star Captains, entered the employ of the firm as 2nd mate on the newly launched Thyatira. The Thyatira was on the berth for Melbourne when he joined her. On his 2nd day aboard he was superintending the stowage of cargo in the hold, when old Stephen Thompson came down to have a look round. The Thyatira’s owner happened to be smoking a fine meerschaum pipe, and young Breach, being completely ignorant of the identity of the visitor, immediately went up to him and informed him in no uncertain language that his lighted pipe was dead against all rules and regulations. Mr. Thompson, without disclosing his identity, at once apologised and returned his pipe to its case. Presently when the visitor had departed, the mate asked Mr. Breach what he had been talking to Mr. Thompson about. And one may well imagine that the new second mate was somewhat scared when he learnt that it was his owner to whom he had been laying down the law.  However, the mate comforted him by telling him that Stephen Thompson had been very pleased and prophesied that he would be a good servant to the company.  Mark Breach afterwards served as mate of the Miltiades, then commanded the Jerusalem, Aviemore, and finally the famous Patriarch. The Thyatira was a very favourite ship and made some very good passages. She and the Jerusalem both loaded tea home from China on more than one occasion, and made passages of under 110 days in the N.E. monsoon .

21st September 1877 Death of Stephen Thompson

The Aviemore
The Aviemore was the last of the wooden ships, and at the date of her launch, the 1st iron ship built for Thompsons, the celebrated Patriarch, had already proved herself such a success as to put all idea of building any but iron ships in the future out of the question. The Aviemore was bought by the Norwegians. In October, 1910, she left Sandejford for the South Shetland where she was converted into a floating oil refinery. Later she was resold to the Norwegians, an image of her taken in Bristol in 1915, rigged as a barque with a stump bowsprit.

‘AVIEMORE’ Built 1870 at Aberdeen for the White Star Line. Wood ship of 1091 Tons. Length: 214.9 ft. Breadth: 36.8 ft. Depth: 22.2 ft. Last wooden vessel owned by the White Star Line [George Thompson and Co]. She was sold to the Norwegians and turned into a floating oil refinery. Master: Captain Mark Breach then Captain T. Ayling. She was still there for the Norwegians in 1915, re-rigged as a barque. [Passenger Liner and finally General Carrier]

SALAMIS’ Built 1875. Iron ship of 1079 Tons. Length; 221.6 ft. Breadth; 36 ft. Depth. 21.7 ft. Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George Thompson and Co. Master; Captain Phillips Snr.  She was built on the same design as that most wonderful and fastest of clippers, ‘Thermopylae’. She was about 100 Tons heavier and 10 feet longer but she also was a very speedy ship. She was sold to the White Star Line for use in the Australian passenger trade and after very good service, was sold to the Norwegians. They converted her to a barque and they eventually wrecked her on the 20th of May 1905 on Malden Island in the South Pacific. [White Star Passenger Liner]

The Smyrna was an iron hulled Clipper sailing ship built in Aberdeen by Walter Hood in 1876. She had 3 masts and 2 decks and a tonnage of 1372 gross. It measured 232ft 3in in length, 38ft 5in in breadth and 22ft 2in in depth. The vessel was launched as a wool clipper operating between Britain and Australia. Smyrna made the voyage numerous times, on one occasion in 1887 making it from Sydney to Aberdeen in 96 days. At the time of the accident the ship was owned by Geo. Thompson and Company of the Aberdeen White Star Line.  Bound for Sydney she was rammed in fog off Southampton and sank uninsured in 1888.  At approximately 10.30am, Moto's Captain Digman was at the wheel when the Symrna was spotted on the port bow. The Moto reversed engines and over the next few minutes very nearly stopped, but inevitably collided with the Smyrna, 1,305gt 1876 Aberdeen (Australian wool trade)

Aberdeen Journal, 16th & 30th Dec 1863:
To be sold by public roup at Lemon Tree Hotel, Aberdeen, 24th December 8 x 64th shares of ship COMMODORE belonging to sequestered Estate of William Beverley (upset price £570) and on 31st December 14 x 64th shares belonging to Sequestered Estate of George Thomson (upset price) £500). Beverley & Thomson both Merchants, Aberdeen.

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Last modified: 01/09/2013