Albert Vincent Reade, 1864 - 1940
The Manchester Liner " Regiment" at Trafford Wharf August 25th 1930

inscribed dated and signed on the reverse " The Mc Liner Co / "ML Regiment " / at Trafford Wharf / Aug 25 / 1930 / A Vincent Reade

pencil and watercolour
22 x 29 cm. (8.3/4 x 11.3/4 in.)


The first vessels acquired by ML direct from Furness Withy were purchased in 1921. The former START POINT and GRAMPIAN RANGE were renamed MANCHESTER PRODUCER and MANCHESTER SPINNER and traded on Furness Withy's UK to West Coast US/Canada service. In 1922 one of a class ordered by Furness Withy was delivered to ML as MANCHESTER REGIMENT and in 1929 the REXMORE of 1918 was purchased to replace vessels serving a Philadelphia-UK trade which had been decimated by slack demand and subsidised American flag competition. She was renamed MANCHESTER EXPORTER and had a good career, not being sold until 1947 and eventually scrapped in 1958


Manchester Liners was an associate company of the Furness Group. This combine included Houlder Bros., Prince Line, Shaw, Savill & Albion Lines and the Johnston Warren Lines Ltd. Funnel markings were dark red with black top and black band. Hulls were black with red boot-topping.

Routes included:
(A) Manchester to Quebec & Montreal (summer) or St. John, N.B. and Halifax (winter).
(B) Manchester to U.S. Atlantic coast ports.
(C) (Small ships) Manchester to Toronto, Hamilton, Welland & Wallaceburg, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and home calling at Preston

Manchester Liners was associated with Furness Withy right from the start, as Sir Christopher Furness took up 150,000 pounds of the company's shares on incorporation in 1898. The remaining 200,000 pounds required was raised by Manchester interests, including the Ship Canal Company.

The Line's first two vessels were acquired for 60,000 pounds en bloc from Elder Dempster in 1898 and these also had Furness Withy connections. Built in 1889/90 for Johnston Line as QUEENSMORE and PARKMORE, Elder Dempster took over the ships in 1896/7, together with the Avonmouth-Canada service on which they operated, and took the opportunity to sell them on to ML in 1898 as the Avonmouth service was not proving a success. At 360 feet the QUEENSMORE was the largest ship to reach Manchester from Canada, and just 10 feet short of what conventional wisdom believed was the maximum safe length for the canal.

Manchester Liners was a cargo and passenger shipping company founded in 1898, based in Manchester, England. The line pioneered the regular passage of ocean-going vessels along the Manchester Ship Canal. Its main sphere of operation was the transatlantic shipping trade, but the company also operated services to the Mediterranean. All of the line's vessels were registered in the Port of Manchester, and many were lost to enemy action during the First and Second World Wars.

A successful switch from traditional to container shipping in 1968 was relatively short-lived, as the subsequent introduction elsewhere of much larger container ships meant that the company's vessels, which were restricted to a maximum length of 530 feet (160 m) imposed by the ship canal's lock chambers, could no longer compete economically. The line ceased operations in 1985.

The opening of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894 made it possible for large ocean-going ships to sail directly into the heart of Manchester. However, because of opposition from cartels of ship-owners based at Liverpool and other ports in the United Kingdom, shipping lines were slow to introduce direct services to the new Port of Manchester, which found it difficult to compete against the established ports.[3] New trading routes from Manchester to West Africa and Mediterranean ports were countered by the established shipping conferences sharply reducing their own charges and by inducing their customers to sign binding contracts. In some cases, after achieving their aims, the cartels re-imposed their old charges.[4] To help counter these "sharp practices", Sir Christopher Furness, of Furness Withy & Company, proposed in 1897 that a Manchester-based shipping line should be formed to encourage the use of the Manchester Ship Canal and docks. The public prospectus for Manchester Liners Ltd (ML) was issued on 10 May 1898, with an authorised share capital of £1 million. Furness' company became the largest shareholder, and he was appointed chairman. Other directors included representatives from the Ship Canal company and Salford Borough Council.[5] Robert Burdon Stoker, a director of Furness Withy, was appointed as ML's first managing director.

Manchester Liners decided from the outset to make Manchester–Canada their prime route, with a secondary route to the southern United States cotton ports of New Orleans and Galveston. Other lesser, sometimes seasonal routes, were added later. Two 1890-built 3,000 gross registered ton (grt) ships were bought for £60,000 in May 1898, and renamed Manchester Enterprise and Manchester Trader. The Trader made the shipping line's first voyage, setting out from Avonmouth for Montreal on 26 May, before docking in Manchester with a cargo of grain.[7]

The two secondhand vessels were joined in January 1899 by the newly built Manchester City of 7,696 grt, constructed by Raylton Dixon & Co of Middlesbrough. This steamship carried 1,170 long tons (1,190 t) of coal, burned at 70 long tons (71 t) per day, giving a speed of 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph), fast for her day.[8] She was a refrigerated vessel, designed to carry frozen meat and live cattle, and was claimed to be one of the largest meat-carrying ships then afloat.[9] She made a successful maiden voyage from Canada and up the new canal to Manchester, which she took two days to negotiate after stopping overnight at Irlam to give the crew a rest. The Manchester Guardian reported on 16 January 1899 that "there were many shakings of the head, not only in Liverpool, at the audacity of the attempt" and that "the canal pilots, on reaching Irlam, looked as if they had not been in bed for a week, as their eyes were bleared with exhaustion". The City discharged 450 cattle and 150 sheep at Manchester Corporation's Foreign Animals Wharf near the Mode Wheel locks in Salford. With an overall length of 467 feet (142 m), she was by far the largest vessel to have ventured up the waterway, and her successful navigation disproved the claim of Liverpool owners that only ships of 350 feet (110 m) or less could safely reach Manchester. The vessel continued to Manchester docks for further unloading, where she was met by the Lord Mayor, accompanied by a band and a festive crowd. This successful voyage did much to encourage other shipowners to use the new port. On her first voyage to Halifax, Nova Scotia in March 1899, the City took nine days and sixteen hours; and arrived before the mail boat, which had left the Mersey twelve hours ahead of her.

The ML fleet was joined by two new smaller 5,600 grt vessels, the Manchester Port and Manchester Merchant during 1899 and 1900, and further new vessels followed quickly thereafter. The basic sailing pattern to Canada was St John, New Brunswick, year-round and to Montreal when the St Lawrence River was ice-free.

Between 1899 and 1902, four Manchester ships and their crews were requisitioned by the United Kingdom government to transport troops, horses, and supplies to South Africa during the Boer War and its aftermath. Collecting points for horses and mules included Galveston and New Orleans (USA) and Buenos Aires and Montevideo in South America. Manchester Port made its second voyage to the Cape in 1900, then continued to Australia to bring troops to the conflict. On the first voyage after her return to ML, in January 1903, the first Manchester Merchant was lost while on passage from New Orleans to Manchester. A serious fire developed in her cotton cargo, and she was scuttled in Dingle Bay on the west coast of Ireland to douse the flames, but subsequently broke up in bad weather.

By 1904 the line was operating fourteen steamships of between four and seven thousand tons, several built by the associated Furness Withy shipyards.[15] Services to ports in eastern Canada were supplemented by regular sailings to Boston, Philadelphia, and the southern US cotton ports of New Orleans and Galveston. Between 1904 and 1908 ML deployed three vessels including the Manchester City to the River Plate route, serving other UK ports as well Manchester. The main return cargo was frozen and chilled meat, and the City set a record for the largest meat consignment up to that time. Lord Furness, as he had become, died in 1912 and was succeeded as ML's chairman by R. B. Stoker until his death in 1919. ML's fleet was maintained at 14 vessels during the last few years before the First World War. Eleven of their ships were deployed on the Canadian routes, carrying mainly manufactured goods outwards and meat and grain inbound.

At the start of the war in July 1914, ML had a fleet of fifteen ships.Most of the fleet continued to operate services to ports in eastern Canada and to USA including Baltimore, returning with war and other supplies. In August 1914, the Manchester Miller (1903) and Manchester Civilian (1913) were requisitioned as supply ships and sent with coal to the Falkland Islands to refuel the battlecruisers HMS Inflexible and HMS Invincible. As the Civilian was coaling the cruisers, the German vessels approached and the British warships cast off immediately to engage them.[19] In the ensuing battle Admiral Von Spee's battleships Scharnhost and Gneisenau, plus escorting cruisers, were sunk.The Civilian was later equipped with minesweeping gear. She returned in 1916 carrying supplies and equipment from Canada to the troops in France.

All vessels were fitted with defensive guns at the bow and stern. In June 1917 Manchester Port (1904) beat off a submarine attack with gunfire near Cape Wrath. Manchester Commerce (1899), outward-bound for Quebec City was sunk off northwest Ireland on 26 October 1914, with the loss of 14 crew, becoming the first merchant ship to be sunk by a mine.[21] On 4 June 1917 the second Manchester Trader, en route from Souda Bay in Crete to Algiers, was engaged in a running battle with U-boat U 65 before she was captured and sunk near Pantellaria island, with the loss of one crewmember. The master, Captain F. D. Struss, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and went on to complete 40 years service with the line after surviving another sinking in the Second World War.[23] A further nine ships were sunk by U-boats, seven of the losses occurring in 1917.

ML acquired seven ships between 1916 and 1918, four of which were sunk in 1917. Manchester Engineer, acquired secondhand in 1917, had a short but eventful career with ML. On 18 June, when bound for Archangel, she was chased by a U-boat but escaped when her naval escort arrived. On 16 August when sailing from the Tyne to St Nazaire with coal, she was torpedoed five miles off Flamborough Head and sunk. Manchester Division achieved fame on her maiden voyage from West Hartlepool to join a westbound Atlantic convoy at Plymouth when she rammed and sank a German submarine off Flamborough Head in October 1918. At the end of the war in November 1918, ML had twelve surviving vessels on strength.

Manchester Port, c. 1935, 7,291 gross tons, served ML on their Canadian routes until she was scrapped in 1964.
In 1921–22, ML's fleet was augmented by two second-hand vessels. Sailings were resumed to New Orleans, and the Baltimore service was extended to Norfolk, Virginia. Some ships including the Manchester Civilian and Manchester Spinner became regular carriers in the coal trade from Sydney, Nova Scotia. The Civilian made several round trips from the USA to Japan in 1923, carrying relief supplies after the Japanese earthquake.[25] ML took delivery of the 7,930 tons steam turbine Manchester Regiment in 1922, constructed on the Tees by the Furness Shipbuilding Company. This 12.5-knot (23.2 km/h; 14.4 mph) ship with a crew of 65 was the largest operated to date, carrying 512 cattle, plus hold cargo and was equipped with large derricks to assist in heavy goods handling. The Regiment's record from the Mersey Bar to Quebec was seven days nine hours. In 1925 her captain won the gold-headed cane traditionally awarded each Spring to the master of the first ship to break through the St Lawrence ice to reach Montreal, a feat repeated later by several other ML captains. ML's old head office in Deansgate, Manchester became inadequate and was replaced in August 1922 by a purpose-built five-storey modern building in St Ann's Square next to the Royal Exchange.

The line acquired two new vessels in 1925, but later that year its fortunes were adversely affected by competition from subsidised American firms on the North Atlantic routes; ML disposed of seven ships between late 1925 and 1930, reducing its fleet to ten vessels. The Regiment steamed 160 miles through a gale in 1929 to reach the sinking Glasgow steamer Volumnia. A lifeboat was launched to rescue the crew of forty-five. On return home, King George V awarded the Regiment's lifeboat crew the Silver Medal for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea and Manchester's Lord Mayor presented a silver salver from the Board of Trade to Captain Linton.[29] In 1933, amid the Great Depression, several ships were laid up; the Manchester Merchant of 1904 was disposed of for breaking up and the Manchester Civilian was sold to Greek owners. The public sailing programme for the 1933 summer season listed six ships as allocated to the weekly "Fast Freight Service" to Quebec and Montreal. The six steamers were advertised as being "fitted with fan or forced ventilation and all have cold storage accommodation". Most vessels were also able to carry up to twelve passengers. After a ten-year gap, three new vessels were commissioned between 1935 and 1938 as trade started to recover, maintaining the fleet at ten ships. The trio were equipped with automatic stokers for their coal-fired boilers and had greatly improved accommodation for the passengers and the crew.

ML had ten vessels at the start of World War II, but early in the conflict lost Manchester Regiment in December 1939, when outbound with general cargo for St John, New Brunswick. She was proceeding without lights when she was run down by the Pacific Steam Navigation's Oropesa, which had been detached from an eastbound convoy. While the ML fleet continued to be deployed on the North Atlantic routes during the war,[33] the company's vessels also undertook a wide variety of roles elsewhere during the conflict. Manchester City became a minelayer, then a naval auxiliary ship, working in the Far East. Manchester Progress was one of the last ships to leave Rangoon in 1941 before the Japanese conquest of Burma.[34] Manchester Commerce (1925) was deployed on Mediterranean convoys in 1942/43 and next year transported mules from South Africa to India for the Burma Campaign. Manchester Trader (1941) was fitted with extra crew quarters for use as a commodore ship on Atlantic convoys. Except for two supply runs to Bone, Algeria, she remained in the Atlantic theatre and served ML until 1963. Manchester Brigade, having survived the first World War, was sunk on 26 September 1940 after being torpedoed by U-137 when bound for Montreal in convoy off Malin Head, to the north of Ireland; 58 crew were lost.

Manchester Merchant, completed in May 1940, quickly became involved in "Operation Fish", transporting Britain's gold reserves to Canada, making two voyages with bullion valued in total at £4.5 million.] In late 1942 she was deployed on Operation Torch as a supply ship to North Africa. On 25 February 1943, she was torpedoed by "U 628" while part of an outbound Atlantic convoy; 36 of the crew of 65 including gunners were lost, but Captain Struss again survived, and received the OBE. Manchester Division (1918) bound for Table Bay was directed to assist the Blue Star Line's Dunedin Star which had beached on Namibia's rugged coast. The Division stood by in heavy swell for three days, rescuing 40 passengers and crew, before taking them to Cape Town. Manchester Citizen (1925) was also sunk by a U-boat, whilst on passage to Lagos on 9 July 1943 after surviving several supply runs for the Eighth Army. The last vessel to be "lost", albeit deliberately, was Manchester Spinner (1918), which had taken military supplies to India in 1942. On 7 June 1944, shortly after D-Day, manned by a volunteer crew, she led a line of Mulberry Harbour blockships and was sunk off Juno Beach Normandy to act as a breakwater, whilst troop reinforcements and stores were landed on the beaches. Her superstructure was then armed with anti-aircraft guns.

Two years after the opening of the Manchester ship canal, financier Ernest Terah Hooley bought the 1,183-acre (4,790,000 m2) country estate belonging to Sir Humphrey Francis de Trafford for £360,000 (£40.9 million in 2019). Hooley intended to develop the site, which was close to Manchester and at the end of the canal, as an exclusive housing estate, screened by woods from industrial units[97] constructed along the 1.5-mile (2.4 km) frontage onto the canal.

With the predicted traffic for the canal slow to materialise, Hooley and Marshall Stevens (the general manager of the Ship Canal Company) came to see the benefits that the industrial development of Trafford Park could offer to both the ship canal and the estate. In January 1897 Stevens became the managing director of Trafford Park Estates, where he remained until 1930, latterly as its joint chairman and managing director.

Within five years Trafford Park, Europe's largest industrial estate, was home to forty firms. The earliest structures on the canal side were grain silos; the grain was used for flour and as ballast for ships carrying raw cotton. The wooden silo built opposite No.9 Dock in 1898 (destroyed in the Manchester Blitz in 1940) was Europe's largest grain elevator. The CWS bought land on Trafford Wharf in 1903, where it opened a bacon factory and a flour mill. In 1906 it bought the Sun Mill, which it extended in 1913 to create the UK's largest flour mill, with its own wharf, elevators and silos.

Inland from the canal the British Westinghouse Electric Company bought 11 per cent of the estate. Westinghouse's American architect Charles Heathcote was responsible for much of the planning and design of their factory, which built steam turbines and turbo generators. By 1899 Heathcote had also designed fifteen warehouses for the Manchester Ship Canal Company.

Artist biography

Albert Vincent Reade was born in 1864, he was a portrait, landscape and still life painter. He studied at the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts and Colarossi's Paris, He exhibited  between 1901 and 1933 and lived in Manchester.