The ‘Firth’ Coasters
Gillie & Blair Ltd. have owned and managed coasters for over a century from an office in Newcastle. As a very young man, George Tulloch Blair set up in business in November, 1911 as a shipbroker and ship manager in the Baltic Chambers on Newcastle Quayside. He purchased the Glasgow coaster Ferrum of 271 grt shortly afterwards from the British Coasting Steamship Co. Ltd. (Young & Gillespie, managers) for £3,500. She had been laid up for sale on the Clyde at the Forth & Clyde Canal at Bowling for eighteen months, and the young Newcastle ship manager then registered her under the Ferrum Steamship Co. Ltd. to trade with coal from small North East Coast ports such as Seaham, amble and Berwick to London and the Channel ports. She was able to trade to the Thames at reduced London port dues due to having a very low net tonnage.
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