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National Maritime Museum

James Nourse Limited


Reference code(s): GB 0064 NOU

Held at: National Maritime Museum

Title: James Nourse Limited

Date(s): [1867-1967]

Level of description: Collection

Extent: I box

Name of creator(s): James Nourse Limited


Administrative/Biographical history:

After serving as master in a number of ships in the East Indies and Australia trade, James Nourse (d.1897) had his own ship built in 1861. In 1865 he settled on shore to own and operate more ships. He built up a fleet of sailing vessels with which he specialized in carrying contract labour between India and Guiana, the West Indies, Natal and Fiji. This trade was carefully regulated by the British and colonial governments. The ships were well-found with a reputation for healthy voyages, and sailing ships were employed at a time when many other trades had turned to steam. Cargo was a secondary consideration, but iron rails and salt were carried from England to India, rice and gunny bags from Calcutta and rice from Rangoon, sugar from the West Indies and Cuba and general cargo from the United States to Europe. After Nourse's death, the fleet was operated by his executors until 1903 when a limited liability company was formed under the title of James Nourse Limited. The sailing ships were gradually disposed of and replaced by six steamships. In 1917 the shares of the Company were acquired by P&O. During the inter-war years the older ships were replaced by new larger steamers, but the carriage of Indian labour to the West Indies was not resumed despite the demand there in the early 1920s for extra labour. There were, however, return voyages for those people who wished to be repatriated to India. Cargo became more important and regular monthly sailings were maintained from Calcutta and Rangoon to the West Indies and Cuba via the Cape. The India-Caribbean trade was discontinued in 1959 and the company engaged in world-wide tramping. In 1964 the management merged with that of the Ham Steamship Co Ltd and traded as Hain-Nourse Ltd until the reorganization of the P&0 Group in 1971.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of James Nourse Limited. They include: minutes, 1903 to 1929; Directors' reports and balance sheets, 1903 to 1946; registers of shareholders, 1955 to 1967; a small number of letters and Bills of Lading, 1867 to 1868; a rough notebook, 1875 to 1893; average adjustments, 1899 to 1964; freight fixtures, 1904 to 1964; movements, 1906 to 1914; copy letterbook, Calcutta to London, 1900 to 1906; personnel records, 1890 to 1963; and a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings, 1920 to 1950. (Section 3: NOU/: 3ft: 91cm) Ships' Plans: arrangement and capacity plans, as well as a number of others, of a dozen steam and motor ships built mainly on the Clyde between 1930 and the 1940s.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue online at the: National Maritime Museum website .


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The records were deposited on loan by P&O between 1971 and 1977.



Archivist's note: Edited by Sarah Drewery, Sep 2011.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: 2010-08-26

Ships | Vehicles | Transport

Personal names

Corporate names

India | South Asia