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Irvine & Co.

Details about Irvine & Co.

Robert Irvine built and owned the steamer Farnley Hall in 1871 and in 1872 the Minnie Irvine. By 1877 the Helena and the Agnes were added to the fleet and by 1880 the Colina and the Kathleen. In 1884 Robert became the major shareholder of the Fortunatus. The company ceased trading in 1903.

As well as the vessels built at their own yard there was the wood brig Ann & Sarah which was built by William Turnbull at South Stockton in 1846 and owned by R. Irvine from 1878 to 1879 when she was sold to Benjamin Huntley. The steamer Prompt which was built in Glasgow in 1853 and the steamer West of England which was built in 1866 at Seacombe. She was purchased from Liverpool in 1880 and had not been registered at Hartlepool at the time of her foundering in the same year.

Family History:

Robert Irvine was born on 15 October 1823 at Port Glasgow to parents Joseph and Margaret (nee Sharpe) Irvine. Robert married Agnes Gow on 25th May 1846 at Greenock, Scotland. In 1861 the family were living at Albert Terrace, West Hartlepool. By 1871 they were living at Orchard House, Stranton. Agnes died in 1882.

Robert went to sea aged 13 and served on the Henrietta of Port Glasgow until 1840. He carried on up the ranks on various ships until receiving his master’s certificate No. 71830 at Dublin in 1854. When Ralph Ward Jackson came to know Robert he employed him as master of the Queen, the Gipsy Queen and the Gitana in 1856, the Zingari in September 1855 and the Sheldrake in 1857. He was also employed by R.W. Jackson as his marine superintendent.

Robert died aged 79 on 31st March 1903 leaving effects of £104,238.

Obituary in the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette – Wednesday 1 April 1903.

The death occurred at Orchard House, West Hartlepool, yesterday, of Mr Robert Irvine. Deceased, who was 79 years age, was a native of Port Glasgow. His close acquaintance with Mr Ralph Ward Jackson (founder of West Hartlepool) resulted his coming to the latter town in 1856 as superintendent of the West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Co.'s fleet. Upon the amalgamation of the West Hartlepool Harbour and Railways Co. with the North-Eastern Railway Co. the steamers were sold, and Mr Irvine became a tenant of the latter company's Harbour Dockyard, where he founded the shipbuilding firm of Messrs R. Irvine and Co.; but in 1887 he handed over the management of this business to his sons, and himself became a shipowner, whilst the shipbuilding business was absorbed later the Irvine Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. Ltd. It was rather a pathetic incident that within an hour of his death the remains of his youngest son were interred at West Hartlepool Cemetery.


 Robert Irvine junior was born at Greenock, Scotland in c1846 to parents Robert and Agnes (nee Gow) Irvine. He married Louisa Foster at Halifax on 12th November 1874. By 1881 the couple were living at Louvine Lodge, Stranton with their two children. By 1901 they had moved to Beckingham, Kent.

Robert died aged 55 at Beckenham, Kent on 27th July 1901 leaving effects of £45874.

Obituary in the Shields Daily Gazette – Monday 29 July 1901.

The death took place at Beckenham, Kent, on Saturday, of Mr Robert Irvine, late of Ragworth Hall, Norton, a gentleman well known in shipping circles in the Hartlepools. Deceased, who was in his 56th year, had suffered from heart disease, but his death was painfully sudden. He was a son of Mr Robert Irvine, J. P., West Hartlepool, and was connected with him the business of Irvine and Co., shipbuilders, until it was transferred to the Irvine Shipbuilding and Dry Docks Company (Ltd.). Irvine was a Major in the D.V.A., retiring about a year ago, and was a musical composer of considerable ability. He leaves a widow, one son, and two daughters.


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