Cardiff's early shipowners were prominent members of the Chamber of Commerce. In 1875 they founded the Cardiff Shipowners' Assocation., to watch over and defend the interests of shipping. Sir Edward Stock Hill served as the Association's first chairman from 1875-1881. It was made a limited company in 1884, becoming Cardiff Incorporated Shipowners' Association. The Chamber of Commerce provided secretarial services for the association.
Local matters that concerned the association included pilotage, coal trimming and the seaman's strike 1911. Members of the Association also played active roles in the affairs of the Chamber of Shipping, and lobbyed the railway companies which owned most of the major ports in South Wales.
In 1912, the Association comprised of 77 member companies and controlled almost 750000 gross tons of shipping. A dispute over voting between 1912-1914 led to a breakaway shipowners' association being formed, the Bristol Channel Shipowners Association. The two associations were reconciled in Jan 1914, with the Bristol Association being wound up. The Cardiff Association agreed to alter its name to The Cardiff and Bristol Incorporated Shipowners' Association.
Membership peaked in 1921, with 149 individual members, but by 1941 this had declined to 59. The association hit financial difficulties in 1961, due to falling membership