Records of Walter Runciman & Co Ltd, shipowners, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Certificates of Incorporation 1915 and 1942
  • Memoranda and Articles of Association 1893-1942
  • Minutes 1915-1973
  • Agreements 1900-1935
  • Take-over papers 1895-1973
  • Board papers 1911-1937
  • Novocastrian Shipping Co Ltd 1902-1917
  • Shareholding papers 1912-1975
  • Financial records 1892-1980
  • Correspondence 1886-1924
  • Property papers 1920
  • Personnel papers 1894-1944
  • War service 1925
  • Newspaper cuttings 1890-1966
  • Fleet lists 1894-c.1906
  • Building agreements and correspondence 1893-1949
  • Purchase of vessels 1893-1925
  • Valuations 1917
  • Mortgages on vessels 1920-1928
  • Sale of vessels 1897-1942
  • Voyage accounts 1886-1891
  • Specifications 1934-1946
  • Tables of Freeboard 1912
  • Plans 1890-1946
  • Staff magazines 1967-1979
  • Publications 1890-1965
  • Shipping conferences 1955-1967
  • Photographs 1865-1979
  • Runciman family papers 1912-1933

Administrative / Biographical History

The origins of Walter Runciman & Co Ltd lie in the seafaring career of Walter Runciman, first Baron Runciman of Shoreston (1847-1937), born in Dunbar, Scotland. In 1853  the family moved to the coastguard station at Cresswell, Northumberland, England. In 1885  Walter purchased his first ship and in 1889  he formed the South Shields Steam Shipping Co Ltd, of South Shields, Tyne & Wear, England. The business expanded rapidly and the head offices were moved to Newcastle-on-Tyne, England in 1892. By 1895 Walter Runciman owned 20 steamers, 11 in his own name and 9 under the South Shields Steam Shipping Co Ltd, which changed its name to become Moor Line Ltd in April 1897  . At the same time, Walter Runciman & Co, a partnership of Sir Walter Runciman and his son, also Walter, entered into a Management Agreement to be ships‰?? managers for Moor Line Ltd. By 1904 there were 23 steamers divided between Walter Runciman & Co, Moor Line Ltd, and the North Moor Steamships Ltd to be found in ports all over the world. At the start of World War I the Runciman group of shipowners had 40 vessels, 21 of which were lost during the war. Incorporated on 10 December 1915, Walter Runciman & Co was a company limited by shares. It was formed to take over the partnership business of Walter Runciman and Co which now consisted of steamship managers, owners and brokers. In 1919 Sir Walter foresaw a slump in demand for shipping, and the remaining ships, 13 in all, were sold to Western Counties Shipping Co Ltd. When that company failed in 1922, Sir Walter bought 8 ships back at a greatly reduced price and began trading again as an owner. In 1920 Moor Line Ltd went into voluntary liquidation, and a new Moor Line Ltd, a public company quoted on the Stock Exchange, was created in November the same year. Walter Runciman & Co Ltd were appointed General Managers and Secretaries of the new Moor Line Ltd, by virtue of a new Management Agreement between the two companies. In 1937  , following the death of Lord Runciman, it changed its name to the Runciman Shipping Co Ltd. In November 1941, a scheme for the reconstruction of Walter Runciman & Co Ltd was approved by the company directors. The company went into voluntary liquidation and authorised the liquidator to carry out the reconstruction. The new company was to be registered in the same name and was to carry on the same business. Resolutions to this effect were carried at a General Meeting of the company which was held in December 1941, and Walter Runciman & Co Ltd was re-incorporated in 1942  . In March 1947 the Runciman Shipping Co Ltd amalgamated with Walter Runciman & Co Ltd, taking its name. In 1965  , Walter Runciman & Co Ltd were the managers of Moor Line Ltd of Newcastle-on-Tyne, England when it acquired Anchor Line Ltd from the United Molasses Co Ltd. In 1966 Moor Line Ltd purchased the managing company Walter Runciman & Co Ltd and decided to move their administrative offices from Newcastle-on-Tyne, England to Glasgow, Scotland and have the management of the two companies, Moor Line Ltd and Anchor Line Ltd, under one roof. In 1968  , Moor Line Ltd changed its name to Walter Runciman & Co Ltd and transferred the ownership of the entire fleet to Anchor Line Ship Management Ltd, a newly created company. Runciman Shipping Ltd was formed for the day-to-day management of all the vessels. In that year, Anchor Line Ltd gave up the Glasgow ‰?? USA trade, but became agents for Cunard Brocklebank Ltd, handling all Atlantic Container Line traffic from Scotland and providing ancillary shore services for containers. The base was at Braeside, Renfrew, Renfrewshire, Scotland. The Runciman Group expanded again in 1969 with the acquisition of the Currie Line, of Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland and in 1972 Anchor Line Ltd acquired George Gibson & Co Ltd, also of Leith. In 1976  , the Anchor Line Company Ltd structure was recast. It retained ownership of the vessels and had responsibility for shipping policy. There were five operating Divisions: Anchor Line Eastern Services Ltd (concerned with Eastern commercial activities); Anchor Line Ship Management Ltd (handling the bulk carriers and any managed vessels); Currie Line Ltd ( concerned with European services, mainly with charted tonnage, warehousing and road haulage); George Gibson & Co Ltd (concerned with the gas tanker fleet); Runciman Shipping Ltd (dealing with the administration). Anchor Line Eastern Services Ltd, Anchor Line Ship Management Ltd and George Gibson & Co Ltd were all active in 2005.


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Permanent Loan : Richard Tapley : 11 November 1994; Deposit : Tim Lowry, Anchor Line plc : Edinburgh EH6 7EL : December 1994

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures

Custodial History

Material stored in the premises of the various companies' offices, prior to deposit in Glasgow University's Business Record Centre in the 1980s


None expected

Related Material

Glasgow University Archive Services: GB 0248 UGD 255/01, Records of Anchor Line Ltd; UGD 255/03, Records of Moor Line Ltd; UGD 255/04, Records of The Leith, Hull & Hamburg Steam Packet Co Ltd; UGD 255/05, Records of Currie Line Ltd; UGD 255/06, Records of The Isaac Line; and UGD 255/07, Records of George Gibson & Co Ltd.

Location of Originals

This material is original


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Fonds level description compiled by Vikki Laidlaw, Hub Project Assistant, 30 August 2005.

Geographical Names