The Chamber of Shipping

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of a series of minutes, from the Chamber's Executive Council and other committees, along with related reports, 1878-1985; a set of financial ledgers, 1965-1971; correspondence regarding the founding of the Chamber, its early years, miscellaneous letters, and related circulars and subject files, 1874-1980; publications, including books from the Chamber's library, 1916-1968; miscellaneous items, including charter parties, articles of association and ephemera from Chamber of Shipping dinners and functions, 1897-1981; a set of photographs, showing Chamber staff, the investiture of a new president at the Chamber's annual meetings, the staff of related organisations, and other subjects, 1940-1990; and a set of statistics regarding British shipbuilding, 1948-1961.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Chamber of Shipping was founded in 1878, and in many ways was an organisation that acted in tandem with the Shipping Federation (MSS.367/TSF). Whilst the Federation itself dealt with matters affecting sea-going personnel, and the wider sphere of industrial relations, the Chamber was more concerned with general commercial and economic issues. At its outset, the Chamber's Executive Council was made up of 12 members, each one representing their local association. These included the London General Shipowners' Society, the Hull Chamber of Commerce and Shipping, the North of England Steam Shipowners' Society, based in Newcastle, and the shipowners' associations of Liverpool, Glasgow, North Shields, Sunderland, Greenock, Belfast, Hartlepool, Cardiff and Bristol. However, with more associations joining the chamber, this number grew, and by 1898 the Council stood at 30 members. Each association, depending on its size, was allowed votes within the Council, and could propose resolutions to be discussed at the Annual Meetings.

The Chamber worked very closely with other shipowners' organisations, with many of them holding their meetings at the Chamber's offices in London. These groups included the British Sailing Ship Owners' Association (MSS.367/BSS), the Coastal Tramp Shipowners' Mutual Association Ltd. (MSS.367/CTS), the Lighthouse Advisory Committee (MSS.367/LAC), the London and District Coasting and Short Sea Tramp Shipowners' Association (MSS.367/LDC), the London Deep Sea Tramp Ship Owners' Association (MSS.367/LDS), and the Shipowners' Parliamentary Committee (MSS.367/SPC). In 1921, the Chamber inaugurated the International Shipping Conference (MSS.367/ISC), a body that was to have a long lasting influence on the issue of safety at sea, bringing British shipowners into closer contact with their foreign counterparts.

British shipowners were also brought closer together through the work of the Chamber, in the creation of the General Council of British Shipping in 1941 (MSS.367/GCB). Within this body, the Chamber was able to work closely with the Liverpool Steam Ship Owners' Association (MSS.367/LSS), which had maintained its independence since the creation of the Chamber. The Shipping Federation (MSS.367/TSF) was also a part of this body, acting in a largely advisory role but also giving the organisation a greater balance and breadth of concern. This process was continued after the war, when it was felt that those challenges facing shipowners had changed a great dealt. Acknowledging this change, the General Council was dissolved, and in 1963 the Liverpool Association became a full member of the Chamber.

In 1975, the Chamber combined with the Shipping Federation to create the General Council of British Shipping. This body then changed its name again in 1991, once more becoming the Chamber of Shipping. It continues to operate today under this name.

Reference: L.H. Powell, The Shipping Federation: A History of the First Sixty Years, 1890-1950(London 1950); Chamber of Shipping Annual Reports, 1878-1897, 1922-1923, 1942-1943, 1944-1945, 1945-1946, 1946-1947, 1947-1948, 1950-1951, 1952-1955, 1963-1964, 1967-1968, 1975-1976.(MSS.367/COS/1/4/1, 8, 28, 30-33, 36, 38-40, 48, 52, 53).

Conditions Governing Access

The archive is open to all bona fide researchers.

Archivist's Note

An authority file exists for this corporate body.

Custodial History

The archive was deposited by the Chamber of Shipping in December 1995, as part of the larger collection of British Shipping Federation records.

Accruals

  • November 1998 MSS.367/COS/5/2/1, donated by Professor Richard Goss, University of Cardiff.